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simplynando

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 15, 2016
331
301
Las Vegas, Nevada
I have a question that kind of stumps me, sorry for the long post. I’ve searched this issue here and few a few threads showed up but they’re outdated and don’t seem to ask the questions specific to my situation.

I have an Arris TG1682G modem/router supplied by the ISP (Cox). I live in a 3 bedroom apartment (about 1,500 sq ft) and the signal can be spotty in the master bedroom and most times provides no signal and a very weak connection. We recently got all stainless steel appliances and new cabinets in the kitchen so I’m sure that’s blocking a lot of the signal. The kitchen and laundry room is between the router and the bedroom.

I have a lot of tech in the place. A Nest Cam in the living room to watch the pets/security, Nest thermostat, a few HomeKit devices, 2 Apple TVs, 2 iPads, and some other random stuff. The apartment is on the second floor but our stairs are indoors, kind of like a townhouse entry. So the apt is upstairs, but the front door is downstairs and I have a Ring Doorbell there.

I recently bought a Netgear EX6100 that I put in the bedroom and hardwired with a CAT6 cable to the main router. It broadcasts a different SSID for the deadzones and the connection is great. The living room gives us about 280-310mbps and the new extended network gives us about 200-250mbps.

The extended network is used to connect an Apple TV, an iPad and occasionally a Nintendo Switch. There’s also 2 iPhones that we have to manually switch to the extender when we lounge in the room on our phones. Don’t act like you don’t browse your phone for 45 minutes in bed before going to sleep lol

It’s not bad having to manually switch the devices to the extended network, but is there some settings I can change on the extender to make it act similar to a mesh network? Or make the iPhones/iPads connect to the access point with the strongest signal? Just giving it the same SSID won’t work because the iPhone won’t automatically connect to the stronger access point.

I just want to try to make a seamless experience without having to invest in a mesh network. It’s still an apartment, I don’t think investing in an expensive mesh network setup is fully beneficial or needed.

Any help or advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,711
3,116
Thailand
If you set the SSID and passphrase the same, good devices will just swap over as required. The only difference between this and "mesh" network systems and a traditional wifi extender is that they (mesh) use a separate frequency for their wireless backhaul to the 'main' router. The difference between a "mesh" network system using wired backhaul, and what you want to do, is a company built around a buzzword.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,086
1,194
Baltimore, Maryland
Well, OP says same SSID isn't really working for his bad iPhone.

OP...what happens on the iPhone if you're in the extender area connected to the main router and then turn your wifi OFF and then ON? Does it switch to the extender?
 

simplynando

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 15, 2016
331
301
Las Vegas, Nevada
Well, OP says same SSID isn't really working for his bad iPhone.

OP...what happens on the iPhone if you're in the extender area connected to the main router and then turn your wifi OFF and then ON? Does it switch to the extender?

Not all of the time. I’ve tried that but it connects over to the main router again. Sometimes it’ll connect to the extender upon turning the WiFi back on, but it’ll only do it about 1/3 of the time. I can’t get a consistent behavior with it. I test it by trying to visit the Netgear extender’s portal, but if I’m not directly connected to the extenders WiFi signal, I’ll get this error page.
5A62290F-90A8-4C6D-B0BB-3D1E95F8D0BF.png
[doublepost=1549387077][/doublepost]
If you set the SSID and passphrase the same, good devices will just swap over as required. The only difference between this and "mesh" network systems and a traditional wifi extender is that they (mesh) use a separate frequency for their wireless backhaul to the 'main' router. The difference between a "mesh" network system using wired backhaul, and what you want to do, is a company built around a buzzword.

I can see that. Companies are quick to capitalize off of a buzzword. It just seems like more than just a buzzword when it’s not able to be easily replicated. Going the route that I did with hardwiring directly to the router seems like it should do the job better than a wireless option. It’s just frustrating that my iPhone can’t automatically connect to a stronger signal that broadcasts the same SSID.
I don’t even have any non-apple wireless devices that I can’t test this on. I have a Switch and a Kindle but there’s not really any way I can use those to see if they automatically swap to the correct network as intended
 

kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
1,064
336
I never had any luck with a wifi extender using the same SSID, whether iPhone, 2013 rMBP, or Kindle (paperwhite). The device would usually just drop off, often when it should have been able to see both wifi sources. I finally spent an afternoon rewiring things to move the house router from the back basement to the central utility room, and put in a better router - actually, a netgear Orbi base unit, expecting to have to use a satellite but hasn't been necessary.
 

simplynando

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 15, 2016
331
301
Las Vegas, Nevada
I never had any luck with a wifi extender using the same SSID, whether iPhone, 2013 rMBP, or Kindle (paperwhite). The device would usually just drop off, often when it should have been able to see both wifi sources. I finally spent an afternoon rewiring things to move the house router from the back basement to the central utility room, and put in a better router - actually, a netgear Orbi base unit, expecting to have to use a satellite but hasn't been necessary.

I've thought about moving my router but that would weaken the signal to my Nest cam, Ring doorbell, Apple TV 4K and the PS4 that's hardwired to the router.

I looked into Orbi since they have a cable modem router option but I feel like investing in a mesh system for an apartment is total overkill. Also, I feel like the timing is bad to invest in a new WiFi system as the WiFi 6 standard should start being adopted soon.
 
Last edited:

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,086
1,194
Baltimore, Maryland
Checking that you've exhausted all the possibilities...working with your existing gear...did you try putting the router's two wifi networks on fixed channels and the Netgear's on two fixed channels different than the router's? And tried that scenario using the same SSID and a different SSID?

Does anything need a 2.4GHz connection? If not, you could try everything with those off.

Also, the Netgear is in Access Point mode, correct?
 

simplynando

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 15, 2016
331
301
Las Vegas, Nevada
Checking that you've exhausted all the possibilities...working with your existing gear...did you try putting the router's two wifi networks on fixed channels and the Netgear's on two fixed channels different than the router's? And tried that scenario using the same SSID and a different SSID?

Does anything need a 2.4GHz connection? If not, you could try everything with those off.

Also, the Netgear is in Access Point mode, correct?

The Netgear is in Access Point mode. I haven't tried setting the channels up differently, they're both set to auto. I wasn't too sure if changing them would make much of a difference as I can't be certain what the other apartments have their networks set to. I've read up on the differences between the channels but I don't think I'm informed enough to make use of the information. What channel setup would you recommend?

I actually don't think I have any devices that need the 2.4GHz as they're all capable of utilizing the 5GHz connection. I've typically switched a device to 2.4 if it's too far from the router. I'll try switching those connections off.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,086
1,194
Baltimore, Maryland
The Netgear is in Access Point mode. I haven't tried setting the channels up differently, they're both set to auto. I wasn't too sure if changing them would make much of a difference as I can't be certain what the other apartments have their networks set to. I've read up on the differences between the channels but I don't think I'm informed enough to make use of the information. What channel setup would you recommend?

I actually don't think I have any devices that need the 2.4GHz as they're all capable of utilizing the 5GHz connection. I've typically switched a device to 2.4 if it's too far from the router. I'll try switching those connections off.

As 5GHz doesn't travel as far, neighbor networks on that band won't be as much a factor as it has been on 2.4GHz.

If you can determine what the clearest two channels are on 5GHz you could set the router to one of them and the Netgear to the other. Better if the channels aren't adjacent, I think.
 
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simplynando

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 15, 2016
331
301
Las Vegas, Nevada
As 5GHz doesn't travel as far, neighbor networks on that band won't be as much a factor as it has been on 2.4GHz.

If you can determine what the clearest two channels are on 5GHz you could set the router to one of them and the Netgear to the other. Better if the channels aren't adjacent, I think.

Shouldn't be too hard if I use the built-in Mac utility. I'm going to give that a try after work. Thanks for the advice!
 

simplynando

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 15, 2016
331
301
Las Vegas, Nevada
As 5GHz doesn't travel as far, neighbor networks on that band won't be as much a factor as it has been on 2.4GHz.

If you can determine what the clearest two channels are on 5GHz you could set the router to one of them and the Netgear to the other. Better if the channels aren't adjacent, I think.

UPDATE: this solution seems to have worked! Switched off the 2GHz. Changed the router to channel 40 and the Netgear to channel 44. iPhone and iPads switch between the 2 signals seamlessly! It appears the iPhones take a few minutes after being closer to the Netgear to actually make the switch, but that hardly seems like a problem!

Thank you for your input! I really appreciate it!
 
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