Wireless Routers

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by bluechipBMW, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. bluechipBMW macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    I live in a split-level home with below set up. I have all 3 wireless routers as independent wireless networks (different SSIDs). I’m not sure if this is the most efficient setup but hoping someone can tell me or make some recommendations?

    1. Ground floor (left side of the house)

    a. Optimum cable modem

    b. Optimum wireless router

    c. Airport Extreme Time Capsule (not set up for Wi-Fi; strictly for data backup)​

    2. Basement (right side of the house)

    a. Cat5e cable from Optimum wireless router to Netgear Ethernet 8 port gigabit switch This is what I have connected to the netgear:​

    i. Tivo
    ii. Xbox One
    iii. AppleTV
    iv. Smart Tv (2nd tv for gym room)
    v. Airport extreme (3rd generation)
    3. Living Room (right side of the house)

    a. Cat5e cable from Optimum wireless router to Netgear Ethernet 8 port gigabit switch This is what I have connected to the netgear:​

    i. Airport Express

    1. Should I leave the set up as is and have the SSIDs (password and etc) all the same?

    2. Should the Airport Extreme in the basement be connected to the cat5 coming from the optimum wireless router before the netgear?

    Thanks in advanced!
  2. getrealbro, Dec 27, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017

    getrealbro macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2015
    It seems that you have one too many wireless “routers” — the Optimum. And more switches than you really need.

    The best set up for wireless would be a “roaming network” where all the wireless access points (Airports) use the same Network Name and Password and are wired together via Cat5.

    You could do this by eliminating the Optimum Wireless Router and configuring your Airport Time Capsule as the overall wired and wireless NAT router. Then plug the cat 5 to your Netgear switches into it.

    You could simplify it even more by dropping the Netgear switches too. Just configure the Airport Extreme in the basement as a bridge and plug all the cat 5 into it. Then configure the Airport Extreme in the living room as a bridge and plug the incoming Cat5 into it.

    — GetRealBro

    OPPs: I forgot that the 3rd Gen airport Extreme only has a total of 4 ports. So you'll need to keep the Netgear switch in the basement or configure one of the devices to use wireless (e.g. the Apple TV).
  3. bluechipBMW thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    One other question...When I create a “roaming network” where all the wireless access points (Airports) use the same Network Name and Password...how does it know which Wifi I am connected it to? For example if I am in one part of the house and connected to the TimeCapsule but then move to another part of the house where the Airport Extreme has a stronger signal how will I know it connected to the stronger wifi? When I had them as different names I had to manually connect in order to access the one with the better signal strength.
  4. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    I agree with @getrealbro that the Optimum WiFi Router may not be necessary, and might be an added cost if you are renting it. ISP provided router often broadcast a "Guest" WiFi so other Optimum customers can use your WiFi... which could slow your internet speeds down.

    The 3rd Gen Extreme and Express (depending on version) are dual band 2.4/5GHz, but 5Ghz is 802.11n so max speeds on these WiFi access points will be no more than 150-300Mbps, probably ok unless your ISP service is faster. The Time Capsule, depending on version may be 802.11ac which can attain speeds up to 1300Mbps. Depending on the size of your home, the Time Capsule may be enough to cover the entire home.

    I would be more inclined to use Apple gear only. And, keep in mind, less is usually better when it comes to WiFi access points. So, start with removing the Optimum WiFi router, and setup Time Capsule as the router for the home. Take the AP Extreme and Express offline and test WiFi signal throughout the home. If you get good coverage, leave them out of the picture.

    If the upstairs signal is weak, use the Extreme with the same SSID and password as the WiFi on the Time Capsule. If, and only if necessary, add the Express back into the mix.

    As for SSID, using the same on all simplifies things. But, depending on what kinds of wireless devices you have, it might make sense to name 2.4 and 5Ghz different SSID (NETWORK & NETWORK5G). For example, if you have a number of older devices, cameras, etc that can only use 2.4, but have some newer things that can use 5Ghz, splitting the SSID can reduce the number of clients connecting to 2.4, resulting in faster speeds on each band. So, for 5Ghz capable devices, only setup the 5Ghz SSID.

    The thing to keep in mind is, 5Ghz has shorter range, but faster speeds. So, for an iPhone for example, the 5Ghz might be preferable, but the signal might not be strong enough to reach outside, garage, etc. So, these mobile devices that typically roam to the outer reaches of the 5Ghz range, setup both SSIDs so they can switch when needed. They will tend to use the 5Ghz, but might stay on 2.4 as you roam about since it is more stable to stay on the same network.

    The fact that you can use Ethernet to connect all the essentials is a big plus. Ethernet is generally a better solution due to less interference and more stable connections. As far as adding extra access points, ethernet is the way to go to connect them to your network, else you lose a lot of speed and capacity.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 27, 2017 ---
    Generally, you don't care. The OS considers signal strength, speed, and persistence. If you move to a place where a stronger signal exists, but the signal from TC is still viable, it may stay with TC to keep your connection intact (persistence). But, if there is a big difference in signal strength, it should automatically change to the Extreme.
  5. bluechipBMW thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    So I took both of your suggestions and decided to remove the Optimum router and connected the TimeCapsure in my office and the Airport Extreme in the basement (unfinished side). I walked around the house and did a speed test and found that the front bedrooms are persistently getting a weak signal. I'm not sure if the Express would help. I am attaching diagram of the house because I also thought the Time Capsule should be sufficient but clearly the signal gets weaker on the opposite side of the house. Any thoughts on why this may be happening? HouseWifiDiagram.png
  6. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    So, how difficult would it be to place the Time Capsule someplace closer to the center of the home? Maybe in that location, it alone could carry the load for the entire house? Generally, the recommendation is central and high, I am guessing the waves travel down better than up...
  7. bopajuice Suspended


    Mar 22, 2016
    Dark side of the moon
    All the items connected to your switch can be connected wirelessly no? You could get rid of the switch altogether. I am a fan of using one router if possible.

    I am not too familiar with the Optimum wireless router but it appears it is part of your internet package? With many of those types of routers you can shut off the wireless feature and use it as a switch to plug into an updated wireless router. I say get one good up to date router and place it in a central location. It does not appear any of the devices you list are transmitting in 802.11ac which is the fastest protocol at the moment. What device were you using to do speed tests?

    I used the AirPort Extreme base station and a time capsule in years past but found their range lacking. I currently use a Asus AC 5300 try-band. It could easily cover your whole house. It has three bands to take advantage of. One 802.11ac at 2.4 ghz, and two 802.11ac channels running at 5 ghz. The Tivo and smart TV most likely run at 2.4 ghz, the rest like the xBox One can do 5 ghz. I think your Time Capsule and Airport Express are limited to 802.11n.

    If you are concerned about speed and are doing speed tests you need to make sure your devices are using the right and fastest connection. There is a lot more involved. If there is a section of the house with poor service try connecting to a 2.4 ghz channel if your router offers it. It has more range than a 5 ghz channel but is also slower.

    You may also want to look at the Airport Utility and see what channels your express is using. If a neighbor is on the same channel are you are, or one even close to yours, that too can affect range. If you are using a MacBook you can option click on the wifi logo at top and it will tell you all the specs of your current connection.

    It sounds like you have a switch with five items connecting to one ethernet line on the Optimum wireless router. Which is good going straight to the source, but think I think you could do better speed wise. Cat5e can do gigabyte ethernet, but if you are running all five items at the same time, speeds may suffer a bit.

    Just some ideas.
  8. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    They do that simply to avoid obstacles interfering with the signal.
  9. bluechipBMW thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    Thanks getrealbro and techwarrior! I removed the optimum router and now using the Time Capsule as my main wireless router and connected the airport extreme (basement) to it as well. Both have the same network name and password. All is working better than I expected with no connectivity issues/slowness!
  10. bluechipBMW thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    By me making the Time Capsule as my main wireless router and connected one of the airport extreme (basement) and the other airport extreme (attic) all with the same network name and password is that same or similar to mesh wifi?
  11. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    Mesh is a buzzword for WiFi WAPs that extend each other wirelessly over a different frequency or band than what is used by the clients.

    Having WAPs wired into the network, using the same SSID, is preferred in my opinion. It's what I do at home and what businesses do as well.
  12. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    Your Airport wired networks are capable of 1Gbps throughput, and wireless is up to 1.3Gbps (if your Time Capsule is 802.11ac). When two or more Airport devices are used, they can "create" or "extend" a wireless network, depending on how they are interconnected. In your case, the Wireless bandwidth on the Extremes are up to 450Mbps (802.11n).

    When Airports use Ethernet, the 1Gbps wired connection is used to transfer data between devices. Both Airports "Create" their own wireless network for client connections and devote 100% of the radio capacity to handling client data transfers. So, the data bandwidth path in your case is something like:

    1.1: ISP < Up to 1Gbps> Modem <1Gbps> Router <1Gbps> Access Point <450Mbps> WiFi Client, or
    1.2: ISP < Up to 1Gbps> Modem <1Gbps> Router <1.3Gbps> WiFi Client

    When connected wireless (Extending the wireless network), half of each Airport's radio capacity is used for linking the two devices, the other half to client connections. In your situation, something like:

    2.1: ISP < Up to 1Gbps> Modem <1Gbps> Router <225Mbps> Access Point <225Mbps> WiFi Client, or
    2.2: ISP < Up to 1Gbps> Modem <1Gbps> Router <1.3Gbps> WiFi Client

    Mesh systems use an additional radio devoted to linking the two devices, so it would look like this (all probably use 801.11ac):

    3.1: ISP < Up to 1Gbps> Modem <1Gbps> Router <1.3Gbps> Access Point <1.3Gbps> WiFi Client, or
    3.2: ISP < Up to 1Gbps> Modem <1Gbps> Router <1.3Gbps> WiFi Client

    Mesh WiFi attempts to overcome challenges of wiring the two (or more) devices, and the split WiFi duties traditional devices used to handle wireless linking between devices.

    But, if all of the Airports were the latest generation (802.11ac), the speeds in the wired (Create) network would be the same as a Mesh, but likely at less cost and with less chance of radio interference slowing things down. In short, more reliable.

    The network name (SSID) and password are merely common access credentials making it easy to connect to whichever device has a stronger signal at your location.

    One last point. All of the above is bandwidth, ie how much data can be pushed through the connection per second. All packets travel at the same speed (more or less). So, if the amount of data is 100Mb for example, the apparent speed would be identical on all of the above configurations. As the size of data being transmitted exceeds one of the above limits, it will start to slow down the rate that packets are sent to allow the bottleneck in the path to keep up with the pace. So, for large file transfers you would want to do it from a connection in one of the above paths with fewer bottlenecks in the path (1.2, 2.2, or 3.x).
  13. bluechipBMW thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    Thank you for the details in response to my question. I'm not sure if I followed 100% but I get the gist of it. Unfortunately not all of my airport products are the latest. I haven't really noticed any performance issue but I do check the airport utility on my mac and oddly I see some of the devices connected to routers that are further away which is why I started to think if this is the write set up but since I don't see any performance issues I guess its ok t leave as is.
  14. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    There are several factors that go into which device the clients connect to. But, as you surmise, if it works, live with it.

    Chances are that 802.11ax will start to become available on new gear this year. The AX standard is designed for wider coverage (distance), faster speeds (multiple bands), and less contention from other Wireless sources. So, the day may be nigh when a single, well placed AX router will cover your whole home and all of this complexity will be in the rear view mirror.
  15. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    I agree: if it is adequate now, best to wait for the next protocol. Besides better radio performance, the bonus is that typically, the previous gen gear drops substantially in price. That alone would mean more bang for the buck for what is cutting edge today (AC).

    I would also add a +1 for wired, single SSID WAPs. I have two UBNT AC Lite APs covering a medium size house, and they are rock solid. I can go for 6 months or more without even thinking about them, with about a dozen devices connected, and one adult working from home 40+ hours a week.
  16. mark_scott_uk macrumors newbie


    Jun 3, 2018
    802.11AX may not be ready until 2019 but if it is then iPhone will not get it until the end of the year with the XII / iPhone 11 or 12, assuming they skip iPhone 10).

    In all honesty, until home routers and access points are updated, there will be no throughput benefits.
  17. zoiko192 macrumors newbie


    Jun 5, 2018
    I do not recommend a wireless connection between airport routers if the size of your house is very large and there are many networks. The airports only expand Wi-Fi coverage, they do not improve it, you can not notice much improvement if you are far away.
    To improve this, restart the airports and link them by ethernet cable.

    In order not to fill your house with ethernet network cables I recommend the use of powerline (plc), which by using the ethenet network cable send the data by electric current from your home.
    The powerline is sold by pairs one sends and another receives, you can place more than two so that they recive one. There is from $ 50 dollars, you can place it in any part of the house (it is better the place farther to take advantage).

    I also recommend the purchase of new airports, not necessarily an extreme or time capsule, I use express 2nd generation airports and they work very well. I can enjoy 802.11n technology.
    You can find used express airports for $ 30 dollars.

    By the way, it uses 5Ghz bands and automatic channel.

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16 December 27, 2017