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Let's Talk About Networking (1 Viewer)

John Dirk

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As I've seen a few threads from members requesting help with a specific networking issue veer off into general discussions while leaving the OP's topic in the dust [I've probably been responsible for at least one such occurrence, so no judgement] I thought a general networking thread might be useful. I'm going to start with this excerpt by @Clinton McClure from another thread and we can go anywhere we want from here.

Mesh tends to get a bad rap but in reality it’s a perfectly viable consumer-grade solution. In a perfect world, my home would be 100% wired Ethernet but that’s not the case and mesh works just fine.

I don't know that I agree about Mesh getting a bad rap. As far as I know, I'm about the only person here that is generally unimpressed with it and even I acknowledge it as a good fit for many consumers. I have problems with any product that engages in potentially misleading Marketing tactics even though I realize that's essentially the whole point of Marketing and Mesh vendors are by no means alone in the practice. :cool:
 

JohnRice

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My question from that thread is about using mesh nodes, but connecting them by Ethernet, rather than having them wireless. You had suggested essentially creating two networks instead, but can’t most if not all mesh nodes be connected together by Ethernet to create the same result with a single network?
 

ManW_TheUncool

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My question from that thread is about using mesh nodes, but connecting them by Ethernet, rather than having them wireless. You had suggested essentially creating two networks instead, but can’t most if not all mesh nodes be connected together by Ethernet to create the same result with a single network?

IF you're in the market for a new setup and want best performance, definitely should give some consideration to ASUS's offerings me thinks. They seem to offer the best blends of all those worlds for those who would actually dig into this stuff a bit (and maybe want certain extra, useful features) and not need it to be completely plug-and-play-and-forget (though their ZenWifi mesh solution seems intended more for the latter... and actually doesn't work easily w/ "wired backhaul" much like various easy "canned" solutions):


I don't need the extra coverage now (in my ~800ft apt), but I did go w/ the RT-AX86U that would be a good choice to be the gateway router if going wired AiMesh. Had previously used their old flagship RT-AC5300 for several years, which actually served well enough going solo for a modest 3-story, 2700ft home (w/in its original context) -- I would probably go w/ 2x RT-AX86U or similar (for maybe ~$100 more) and just run one cat-6 wire between them both likely just placed at opposite ends of the middle/main floor, if buying now for that space.

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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My question from that thread is about using mesh nodes, but connecting them by Ethernet, rather than having them wireless. You had suggested essentially creating two networks instead, but can’t most if not all mesh nodes be connected together by Ethernet to create the same result with a single network?
Great question and, based on my [admittedly limited] experience, the answer is "no." In theory, connecting capable nodes via wired Ethernet should result in exactly what you are describing however, in practice, every system I tried [Google Nest, Netgear's Nighthawk and Orbi] required the nodes to have strong, reliable WiFi connections despite being connected via direct Ethernet. In my tri-level home, this made them useless. It boggled my mind but the result was consistent. This is one of those areas where I would love to be proven wrong, so please let me know if anyone has had a different experience.

Notwithstanding the above, however, separate AP's is still a far cheaper alternative for a few reasons.
  • The obvious. Basic AP's are cheap compared to Mesh nodes.
  • Basic AP's are manufacturer agnostic. It's all about the protocols.
  • If your Mesh router dies and can't be directly replaced, then the nodes are now paperweights.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Great question and, based on my [admittedly limited] experience, the answer is "no." In theory, connecting capable nodes via wired Ethernet should result in exactly what you are describing however, in practice, every system I tried [Google Nest, Netgear's Nighthawk and Orbi] required the nodes to have strong, reliable WiFi connections despite being connected via direct Ethernet. In my tri-level home, this made them useless. It boggled my mind but the result was consistent. This is one of those areas where I would love to be proven wrong, so please let me know if anyone has had a different experience.

Notwithstanding the above, however, separate AP's is still a far cheaper alternative for a few reasons.
  • The obvious. Basic AP's are cheap compared to Mesh nodes.
  • Basic AP's are manufacturer agnostic. It's all about the protocols.
  • If your Mesh router dies and can't be directly replaced, then the nodes are now paperweights.

I suspect the main issue w/ "wired backhaul" not working better, if at all, w/ many such mesh solutions probably comes down to poor and/or buggy software dev/support because that's simply not the intended market for them.

There's just not much reason to spend $$$ on the software for that given their target... and this particular tech market certainly doesn't seem accommodating toward that...

_Man_
 

JohnRice

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Great question and, based on my [admittedly limited] experience, the answer is "no." In theory, connecting capable nodes via wired Ethernet should result in exactly what you are describing however, in practice, every system I tried [Google Nest, Netgear's Nighthawk and Orbi] required the nodes to have strong, reliable WiFi connections despite being connected via direct Ethernet. In my tri-level home, this made them useless. It boggled my mind but the result was consistent. This is one of those areas where I would love to be proven wrong, so please let me know if anyone has had a different experience.

Notwithstanding the above, however, separate AP's is still a far cheaper alternative for a few reasons.
  • The obvious. Basic AP's are cheap compared to Mesh nodes.
  • Basic AP's are manufacturer agnostic. It's all about the protocols.
  • If your Mesh router dies and can't be directly replaced, then the nodes are now paperweights.
That’s what I’m looking for, because I once got a Linksys dual node mesh and for the life of me could NOT get it to work wired, despite claims it could work that way.

So…

If I go your way, when using an iPad or notebook, once it knows both networks, will it automatically switch to the stronger network as I move around? That might not even matter, since I get plenty of bandwidth anywhere in the house with the single router for surfing.
 

John Dirk

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If I go your way, when using an iPad or notebook, once it knows both networks, will it automatically switch to the stronger network as I move around? That might not even matter, since I get plenty of bandwidth anywhere in the house with the single router for surfing.
I believe this is dependent on the specific device. For IOS devices, if all of your AP's have the same SSID [network name] then they should automatically switch once the signal strength drops below whatever Apple considers an acceptable level. I don't do it this way because, in most cases, my wireless devices do not need to roam and I prefer they connect to the designated AP.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I believe this is dependent on the specific device. For IOS devices, if all of your AP's have the same SSID [network name] then they should automatically switch once the signal strength drops below whatever Apple considers an acceptable level. I don't do it this way because, in most cases, my wireless devices do not need to roam and I prefer they connect to the designated AP.

The ones that usually need top performance probably wouldn't do much, if any, roaming for most of us. I'm certainly not about to lug my DIY workstation PC rig nor NAS (nor the HT rig even though it actually doesn't need more than a reliably sustained ~100Mbps) around a big home, hehheh...

_Man_
 

JohnRice

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I believe this is dependent on the specific device. For IOS devices, if all of your AP's have the same SSID [network name] then they should automatically switch once the signal strength drops below whatever Apple considers an acceptable level. I don't do it this way because, in most cases, my wireless devices do not need to roam and I prefer they connect to the designated AP.
Wait. The APs can use the same network name and password as the main router?
 

Johnny Angell

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For my new Eero setup I’m going to get some news, shorter Ethernet cables. Is Cat 6 still the way to go?
 

John Dirk

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The ones that usually need top performance probably wouldn't do much, if any, roaming for most of us. I'm certainly not about to lug my DIY workstation PC rig nor NAS (nor the HT rig even though it actually doesn't need more than a reliably sustained ~100Mbps) around a big home, hehheh...

_Man_
Exactly. Other than phones, cameras and tablets I have pretty much eliminated the need for WiFi in my home. As often as I need to roam with my phone, tablet or laptop I'm happy to just manually switch to the fastest network but, in reality, I rarely even need to worry about it. I think a lot of people are more concerned with getting the fastest speeds possible relative to what they're paying their ISP for [which I can understand to a point] as opposed to speeds sufficient for the task at hand.
 

John Dirk

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Wait. The APs can use the same network name and password as the main router?
Absolutely. remember, we're talking about WiFi here so if the "router" is WiFi-enabled then it's basically an AP as well.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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For my new Eero setup I’m going to get some news, shorter Ethernet cables. Is Cat 6 still the way to go?

As @John Dirk noted, you could try that, but the Eero mesh solution might not actually play nice enough for "wired backhaul" to benefit. I guess try it w/out wire first and see if the performance satisfies before actually running wiring since you didn't seem to want to do that anyway.

IF it doesn't satisfy, but you still want to try mesh, you might be best off just returning it and try a different brand/model, particularly one that is supposed to allow wired backhaul to work well me thinks -- IIRC, Eero itself offers more than one (at different price points).

_Man_
 

JohnRice

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Absolutely. remember, we're talking about WiFi here so if the "router" is WiFi-enabled then it's basically an AP as well.
LOL! That's hilarious. All I need is a $50ish access point in my office, which is in the basement of the living room side of the house? I already have always had ethernet there, because I want my computers wired. I would just put it on a high shelf, near the ceiling (like my current one) to get good coverage upstairs. I had no idea multiple APs could be used to expand the same network using the same name and password. I thought you needed some kind of dedicated range expander, but they all seem to insist on being wireless.

So, that means I could also set up an AP on the second floor at work, which has ethernet, for better coverage up there?

Mix and match units, whatever you want? It doesn't matter that my main WiFi routers are Apple, the remote APs can be whatever? Just configure them with the same network name and password and you're good to go?
 

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We use Unifi access points. When we remodeled our bathrooms a few years ago, we had a lot of the walls open. So we took advantage of the situation to lay Cat6 cables to each room. For wifi, we have 2 access points upstairs and 1 centrally located access point downstairs. All support the same network. Originally we only had one centrally located AP upstairs too, but my son’s bedroom didn’t have good coverage so we added one in his room. Bonus for that AP is that it gives us coverage in the yard, too.
 

CarlLaFong

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I've tried setting up a router as a wireless access point (connected via a long ethernet cable) to my Verizon wireless router, so I could have better wifi on the second floor of my house. I bought a Netgear R6230 but for the life of me I can't get it to work as an access point (with the same SSID and password) as my regular wifi network. I have it set up as a separate wireless network, which works okay. Just frustrating despite following the instructions (written plus multiple online versions) carefully, I couldn't get it to just extend my existing wifi network. Maybe a Verizon issue? Thanks for letting me vent!
 

Johnny Angell

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As @John Dirk noted, you could try that, but the Eero mesh solution might not actually play nice enough for "wired backhaul" to benefit. I guess try it w/out wire first and see if the performance satisfies before actually running wiring since you didn't seem to want to do that anyway.

IF it doesn't satisfy, but you still want to try mesh, you might be best off just returning it and try a different brand/model, particularly one that is supposed to allow wired backhaul to work well me thinks -- IIRC, Eero itself offers more than one (at different price points).

_Man_
There’s a misunderstanding. I’ve got existing Ethernet cables being used where the router is. One for the Moca adapter, one for the bridge for the lutron light. They’re cluttering up the space and I just want to replace them. Is Cat 6 good enough for 1.5 ft Ethernet cables?
 

ManW_TheUncool

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We haven't actually said so far, but one potential problem w/ doing fully wireless (vs wired backhaul) mesh is that everything could be fine right now, but that can easily change (for the worse) as (things in) your environment changes.

Probably less likely in a large-ish footprint, freestanding house, especially out in the boondocks, but definitely probable in an attached home in densely populated city where that can change because of your neighbors...

_Man_
 

ManW_TheUncool

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There’s a misunderstanding. I’ve got existing Ethernet cables being used where the router is. One for the Moca adapter, one for the bridge for the lutron light. They’re cluttering up the space and I just want to replace them. Is Cat 6 good enough for 1.5 ft Ethernet cables?

Sure, even cat-5 should be good enough for that.

_Man_
 

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What I can't figure out on DIY mesh is...how? I go buy a couple TP-Link EAP225 V3 access points. How do I make them "mesh"? How do I make them work with my Apple Airport Extreme Base Station? Or I replace that with a new wifi router. How do I make that work with access points?

I've read a variety of tech articles on mesh, and the consistent recommendation is to use ethernet backhaul if available. And if you want, just buy some cheap access points and plug them in and use with your current router. But no one ever explains how to make that work. Does it just work? Or is configuration required?

Which is why I find Eero, et al so appealing: they do all the work and I don't have to develop a new hobby as a DIY home network adminstrator -- a hobby I most definitely *do not* want! :)

The best answer, though, is not to use Wi-Fi backhaul at all. If you can run Ethernet cable, you should—not only is it faster than Wi-Fi, it doesn't suffer from Wi-Fi's congestion problems. Under heavy network load, cheap wired access points like Ubiquiti UAP-AC-Lites or TP-Link EAP-225v3s absolutely smoke even the best mesh kits, if the mesh kits are limited to Wi-Fi backhaul only. Wired backhaul can also conveniently overcome RF-opaque obstacles—if you can't punch a signal through it or relay around it, running a cable through it works wonders!
Amazon product
 

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