Mesh / Hub and spoke Wifi router general thread

DaveF

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I'm planning to upgrade my wifi system in the next 12 months; haven't decided if I'll do it before or after I upgrade home internet service the end of the year.

I don't know if I'll go with a smaller company like Plume...and risk them going under as the industry is consolidated by the huge tech companies buying up the competition. Or, my current preference of Netgear Orbi, which is a pretty good sized and big brand networking company -- assuming they don't integrate Alexa into all their devices. Or do I need to go against my preferences and have my wifi go through a company who's core business is hoovering up all my data to sell me off to the highest bidder, in order to have a product that will be supported for the next several years?

Interesting times. Interesting times.
 

JQuintana

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I'd opt for Google Wifi. I don't have anything to hide so this whole privacy paranoia thing doesn't bother me.

If you are Android, Google is the way to go. Integrates nicely and works great. Plus it's so compact in size.
 

DaveF

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Google WiFi isn't currently the performance/value leader based on reviews and comparisons I've read. That might change next year. And the choice also depends on your home layout and particular needs. Anecdotally, I have a friend with G wifi and likes it a lot. It's a fine solution. But recent reviews are Google's product has stagnated the past two years and there are better choices in 2019.

Add in the privacy / data collection concerns, and I'm glad there are still excellent options besides Google and Amazon.
 

DaveF

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For the sake of keeping track of my own network, and because I'm a nerd, I have a LAN chart I keep updated. This is the current revision, as of adding the Lutron Caseta Bridge. I think I've posted this elsewhere previously, but I can't find it. And this thread is kinda network general. :)

upload_2020-4-17_19-12-25.png
 

Dennis Nicholls

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Well this is interesting. IIUC the main enhancement of a mesh system is that it uses the same SSID and passwords throughout the system. Old-style range extenders required you to change net names as you moved about the house.

I bought a TP-link Archer C5 V2 router a few years back. For reason of boredom due to SIP Covid 19 orders, I wanted to fix the low speeds in the back bedroom at the far end of the house from the router. I bought a used/refurb TP-link RE200 range extender, installed it, and updated the firmware. At this point I discovered I had the same names and passwords throughout the house - basically a mesh system. This capability was not promised in the RE200 documentation.

It turns out that TP-link is marketing a "onemesh" capability across many of their routers and range extenders. https://www.tp-link.com/us/onemesh/compatibility/ If you separately purchase a router and range extender from their list, they work together to form a pseudo-mesh or real-mesh system.

What's strange is the two devices I have, the Archer C5 V2 and RE200 V2, are NOT on their list. My guess is the firmware upgrades I installed furnish the onemesh capability without it being promised.

See https://dongknows.com/tp-link-onemesh-wi-fi-system-review/
 
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John Dirk

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At this point I discovered I had the same names and passwords throughout the house - basically a mesh system. This capability was not promised in the RE200 documentation.
Not exactly. Wifi repeaters rebroadcast the wifi signals they receive from the router. Properly placed they can be helpful but even with optimal placement, devices using them will suffer wifi speed degradation. This is because the repeater can only talk or listen [half duplex] to the router at any given time. It cannot do both simultaneously [full duplex]. In practical terms, as long as your Internet speed is slower than your wifi speed [which is usually the case] you may not notice unless you have a lot of wifi devices competing for bandwidth at the same time. Those with super fast Internet connections will definitely notice.

The better way to address the issue is to use a wired access point instead of a repeater. This eliminates wifi between the AP and the router which should provide better overall performance and reliability. Nowadays you can probably find a cheap wifi router that supports AP mode for not much more than the cost of a repeater. The catch is it requires wired Ethernet at the AP location.

My recent excursion into mesh technology [Netgear MR60 system] left me unimpressed to say the least. I ended up returning to my wired AP solution. I have been very tempted to buy a Nest or Orbi system just to satiate my curiosity as to just how effective mesh can be. In my case, I don't really need it as I have gone to great lengths to eliminate wifi throughout my home where possible.
 

John Dirk

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I think the other main mesh advantage is dedicated backhaul channel(s).
This is true in higher priced solutions such as the Orbi [and probably Nest] line but some lower priced mesh solutions don't have dedicated radios for backhaul traffic. Some can provide the same functionality through wired Ethernet if available.
 
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John Dirk

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Of course the advantage of my system is I only paid $46 for both the router and the range extender.
I agree. If it meets your needs then why spend more money for faster performance on paper that will likely not translate into any tangible benefits. That said, my inner geek is never satisfied and tries non-stop to get me to upgrade both my network and my theater.
 

Clinton McClure

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Not exactly. Wifi repeaters rebroadcast the wifi signals they receive from the router. Properly placed they can be helpful but even with optimal placement, devices using them will suffer wifi speed degradation. This is because the repeater can only talk or listen [half duplex] to the router at any given time. It cannot do both simultaneously [full duplex]. In practical terms, as long as your Internet speed is slower than your wifi speed [which is usually the case] you may not notice unless you have a lot of wifi devices competing for bandwidth at the same time. Those with super fast Internet connections will definitely notice.

The better way to address the issue is to use a wired access point instead of a repeater. This eliminates wifi between the AP and the router which should provide better overall performance and reliability. Nowadays you can probably find a cheap wifi router that supports AP mode for not much more than the cost of a repeater. The catch is it requires wired Ethernet at the AP location.

My recent excursion into mesh technology [Netgear MR60 system] left me unimpressed to say the least. I ended up returning to my wired AP solution. I have been very tempted to buy a Nest or Orbi system just to satiate my curiosity as to just how effective mesh can be. In my case, I don't really need it as I have gone to great lengths to eliminate wifi throughout my home where possible.
I don’t know how the other companies are doing it but Eero Pro models have three radios so you should be at full duplex all the time. You can always put them all on Ethernet for true stability but they’re no slouch just using WiFi.

The utility corp to the city where we just moved installed a Hitron CODA-4582 DOCSIS 3.1 modem/router combo. Right now, I’m trying to decide if I want to deploy my Eero mesh network or get some Hitron WiFi extenders that use the RG6 cabling throughout the house as a gigabit wired backbone. I might just do that since there are already cable drops in all four bedrooms, the living room, and the sun room.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Just discovered this thread existed.

A few thoughts...

For the most part, I do love my eeros. I still have GEN2 which is supposed to be the best of the current offerings as it has multiple radios.

However, I can't say that everything has been perfect.

First, with a 1GB speed through Verizon Fios, I still can't get close to that in wireless speed in my home despite having 5 units spread throughout it. The best, at last check, was in the 300mbps range. That's a great WiFi speed, but I would have hoped to get better.

Next, I have occasional signal drops with the eero. The Wifi in the house goes completely down for about 10 minutes at a time. The Verizon WiFi router indicates a signal but the main eero that is hooked up to it shows a red outtage signal. This doesn't happen too often, though enough to become a nuisance.

Velop was mentioned in this thread. I would stay away from that. Before I bought the GEN2 eero I did try Velop. Bought a 4-pack from Costco. It didn't work well at all. Customer support was pretty bad. They stopped calling me back once they realized they could not fix the numerous issues I was having with their mesh system. I ended up returning it.

Really, the next thing I am waiting for is WiFi 6 or 5G

Verizon has a WiFi 6 router I could buy, but there currently isn't a mid-priced mesh system that supports it. I don't know if the WiFi 6 signal would be capable of reaching all the corners and floors of my large home with just the single router.

Next, I don't even have a WiFi 6 capable computer. Apple hasn't put one out yet. Even if I bought the Verizon WiFi 6 router, I wouldn't have any devices capable of using it.

So, right now I am in limbo. I am using a current mesh system that really can't provide the wireless speed I want while the next big format is still unreachable.

The next year or two will bring significant changes to wireless speeds.
 
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DaveF

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Just discovered this thread existed.

A few thoughts...

For the most part, I do love my eeros. I still have GEN2 which is supposed to be the best of the current offerings as it has multiple radios.

However, I can't say that everything has been perfect.

First, with a 1GB speed through Verizon Fios, I still can't get close to that in wireless speed in my home despite having 5 units spread throughout it. The best, at last check, was in the 300mbps range. That's a great WiFi speed, but I would have hoped to get better.

Next, I have occasional signal drops with the eero. The Wifi in the house goes completely down for about 10 minutes at a time. The Verizon WiFi router indicates a signal but the main eero that is hooked up to it shows a red outtage signal. This doesn't happen too often, though enough to become a nuisance.

Velop was mentioned in this thread. I would stay away from that. Before I bought the GEN2 eero I did try Velop. Bought a 4-pack from Costco. It didn't work well at all. Customer support was pretty bad. They stopped calling me back once they realized they could not fix the numerous issues I was having with their mesh system. I ended up returning it.

Really, the next thing I am waiting for is WiFi 6 or 5G

Verizon has a WiFi 6 router I could buy, but there currently isn't a mid-priced mesh system that supports it. I don't know if the WiFi 6 signal would be capable of reaching all the corners and floors of my large home with just the single router.

Next, I don't even have a WiFi 6 capable computer. Apple hasn't put one out yet. Even if I bought the Verizon WiFi 6 router, I wouldn't have any devices capable of using it.

So, right now I am in limbo. I am using a current mesh system that really can't provide the wireless speed I want while the next big format is still unreachable.

The next year or two will bring significant changes to wireless speeds.
To my understanding, you shouldn't need five units unless you're in a 10,000 sq mini-mansion or your home has interior walls that severely block wifi signals (not modern 2x4 and drywall construction). Eero recommends one unit for 1500 sq ft and three units for 5000 sqft.

I assume you have five beacons for a reason. But it makes me wonder if you have too many in too small a space and they're conflicting with each and causing your slower wifi?
Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 8.49.19 AM.png



It might be that you'd be better off with just a single monster router? Wirecutter has recommendations there too:
This guide covers standalone Wi-Fi routers. Any of our picks will easily outperform any router you got from your Internet service provider, or any router more than a few years old. These routers are a good fit for apartments or small to medium-size houses with three or four people on the network. If you have more people or a large house—more than 2,300 square feet or more than one floor—you should probably look at our mesh-networking guide instead. A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve considered adding a wireless extender or an extra access point in your house, get a mesh system instead.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Dave,

I don't know if they would conflict with each other or not.

I have a very large home floor wise. There are 5 floors.

On top of that, in order to get 1GB wired speed across my entire house, I had to bury ethernet cable in the ground across my property. So the cable goes out from the router on the top floor corner, goes around my house underground, and comes in the other end of my home into my living room.

If you are still following this, the main eero is connected to another at the other end of the house by this underground cable.

I am not really worried about finding alternatives right now. We really are in a difficult period of time between existing and future technology. I would rather wait another year or two and spend the money on a WiFi 6 system.
 
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DaveF

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I've been wanting to upgrade to a mesh system. But simply adding a wired bridge to my main router about four years ago, and then last summer upgrading to FIOS gigabit, it's been quite good enough for my needs.

I'm now thinking of waiting for affordable WiFi 6 mesh systems to come out in a year or two...or until my current hardware dies.
 

Ronald Epstein

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I've been wanting to upgrade to a mesh system. But simply adding a wired bridge to my main router about four years ago, and then last summer upgrading to FIOS gigabit, it's been quite good enough for my needs.

I'm now thinking of waiting for affordable WiFi 6 mesh systems to come out in a year or two...or until my current hardware dies.

That's the perfect plan, Dave. The technology is here. Just need hardware to support it (should arrive this year) and reasonably priced mesh systems to deliver it across our homes. Won't be long.
 
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