Mesh / Hub and spoke Wifi router general thread

John Dirk

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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.
In this tier of product, the 3rd radio serves as a dedicated wifi backhaul channel which means the backhaul traffic doesn't have to compete for available bandwidth with your client devices but ALL wifi is half duplex. Even wifi 6 won't change that. In installations where the mesh satellites cannot be connected via wired Ethernet this is a great feature nonetheless.
 
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Ronald Epstein

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In this tier of product, the 3rd radio serves as a dedicated wifi backhaul channel which means the backhaul traffic doesn't have to compete for available bandwidth with your client devices but ALL wifi is half duplex. Even wifi 6 won't change that. In installations where the mesh satellites cannot be connected via wired Ethernet this is a great feature nonetheless.
John, could you explain that further?

You are saying all WiFi is half-duplex? I take that to mean if you have a 1GB connection you should only expect a max of 500mbps signal?

And WiFi 6 won't be any better than that?
 

DaveF

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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.
I think I follow. You've probably done all this, but if you wanted to try and see if performance could be improved you might check:
  • Is wifi faster when you're using only a wired pod?
  • In the middle of the house are you getting wifi via multiple hops (on floor three, is the wifi going from a (1) wired unit to (2) a wifi unit to (3) another wifi unit?)
  • If you turn off two units (e..g using only three units on Floor 1, Floor 3, and Floor 5) does performace get better or worse?

I'm just making guesses here, without knowing the construction of your home.

I've got a three floor (basement and two stories) home. Wifi router in the basement and bridge on the second floor cover the house. That's why I'd guess that three units total might do a 5-story home fine. But you might be in an older home with plaster walls or something that further degrades wifi.

All that said, for all practicality in 2020, 300 Mbps is probably plenty speed for most of your normal uses like streaming 4K and posting to HTF. You may only notice it when you're doing iOS updates, downloading Star Wars bootlegs, or uploading big videos to youtube. :)
 
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Clinton McClure

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In this tier of product, the 3rd radio serves as a dedicated wifi backhaul channel which means the backhaul traffic doesn't have to compete for available bandwidth with your client devices but ALL wifi is half duplex. Even wifi 6 won't change that. In installations where the mesh satellites cannot be connected via wired Ethernet this is a great feature nonetheless.
Yep, I mis-spoke and had to go back and re-educate myself really quick. You’re correct that all WiFi is half duplex. Since Eero uses multiple radios, it can use 2x2 MU-MIMO and run two half duplex signals simultaneously. While not full duplex, it’s much better than a single half duplex radio.

Ron - You will never see 1Gbps speeds with WiFi. Standing within three feet of my WiFi router nets around 400Mbps with my iPhone 7+ and about 300-350 Mbps on my 8-year old MacBook Pro. I would say if you’re currently hitting 300Mbps all over your house with WiFi, call it a day because you realistically aren’t going to get much better than that.
 
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John Dirk

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The best way to evaluate potential wifi purchases is to do an honest assessment of both your needs and your environment. Even a 5 floor home should be fine with a main router and a couple of strategically placed wired AP's, or mesh satellites if you prefer, as long as it is of typical [wood and drywall] construction. If it has a lot of concrete, glass or other wifi-unfriendly materials throughout then you will need to do some legwork and possibly accept some compromises. The goal here would be to locate the relative dead spots in your home with your wifi router located as centrally as possible. You would them do trial and error to place the satellites in a manner similar to the subwoofer crawl method we all know and love. Also, in a challenging environment, bringing wired Ethernet to the satellites will go a long way. There are plenty of free tools to help with this work. I personally use Netgear's Wifi Analyzer which is available in the Apple ecosystem.


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.
Approximately how long is this cable? If the length exceeds 300 ft your speeds and reliability could be compromised. An inline Ethernet switch can solve this problem.

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.
Wifi 6 is mostly intended to address the sheer number of wifi devices most people now have compared to several years back. It will allow multiple simultaneous streams [already available in wifi 5 but upgraded in wifi 6] and also allow each stream to carry traffic for multiple devices at the same time. The practical speed increase for any single device will not be significant compared to wifi 5 and, as always, all of your current wifi devices would need to have hardware support for wifi 6, which probably means replacing them.

There are already mid-priced wifi 6 routers and mesh systems available. The Netgear MR60 I tried is such a system. I paid about $250.00 for it at Costco. It supports 2x2 [as opposed to 4x4] streams and lacks a dedicated backhaul radio but the satellites do have wired Ethernet ports. I found it pretty ineffective in my 4500 sq ft home but it might be acceptable in smaller and differently laid out environments.

Costco also has the Netgear Nighthawk AX4300 currently priced at $199.00 for members. This is not a mesh system but it supports 6 simultaneous streams and actually performed better then the MR60 [when paired with a wired AP] in my home.

In summary, if you're in the market for a new router, definitely get one with wifi 6 support but don't rush out to buy one expecting any immediate benefit, especially if you already have a fairly modern setup that is performing acceptably. Wifi 6 does nothing to improve the main 2 drawbacks of wifi technology which are range and it's inherent half duplex nature.
 
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Ronald Epstein

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Good read, John. Thank You.

The cable I buried is 200'

I did a lot of reading about burying cable and how length affects the signal.
 

John Dirk

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John, could you explain that further?

You are saying all WiFi is half-duplex? I take that to mean if you have a 1GB connection you should only expect a max of 500mbps signal?

And WiFi 6 won't be any better than that?
Half duplex simply means a device can either talk or listen to the router at any given time. It cannot do both simultaneously. Wired Ethernet gets past this by using separate wire pairs for transmit and receive but wifi is locked by the limits of the assigned frequency spectrums.

The theoretical max is 433 Mbps but, with multiple streams in supported devices, the overall speeds can be higher. Once you factor in all of the issues common in most home environments [device placement, channel interference, etc] realistic expectations are probably in the 300 - 400Mbps range at best. The good news is that this is more than enough for practically any application. The [potentially] bad news for you is that your wifi will likely never keep up with your WAN bandwidth.
 

Clinton McClure

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I finally got an hour to evaluate my LAN yesterday and deploy my Eero mesh network. During the initial install, my ISP installed an Arris CODA-4582 Docsis 3.1 gateway modem/router combo. Since the house is older and the in-wall cabling was giving the tech fits, he installed two WiFi extenders to send the tv signal to the upstairs and living room TVs via WiFi. I had great signal and speed (200-300 Mbps) in the upstairs bedroom and bath, the living room (100-150 Mbps) dining room, and kitchen, but the signal really fell off in the downstairs guest bath, guest bedroom, and theater. The best speed I could get in those rooms was under 10Mbps and the bathroom was a complete dead spot. All devices were connecting to the gateway on a 192.168 network and it seemed they were all competing for bandwidth. The cable tv signal would also freeze for a few seconds every hour like it was buffering. After placing an Eero Pro upstairs where the gateway is and placing another downstairs in the kitchen and configuring a new SSID with a 10.10 IP scheme to keep all devices off the 192.168 except the two Arris extenders for the TVs, I now get between 200 and 300Mbps all over the house with the exception of the downstairs guest bedroom and theater. I am only pulling 30-50Mbps in those rooms but I can fix that by either buying a small decorative table and moving the downstairs Eero Pro to the foyer by the front doors (most likely option pending WAF), adding a third Eero Pro to the theater room to boost signal to that portion of the house (most expensive option), or adding a beacon or two. I was initially worried about running two WiFi networks in such close proximity of one another and them stomping all over each other, but I’m not seeing that. Double NATing is also not causing any issues.
 
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Ronald Epstein

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I am surprised the two WiFi networks weren't canceling each other out, Clint. Glad to see you were able to get an improvement with the setup.
 

Clinton McClure

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I am surprised the two WiFi networks weren't canceling each other out, Clint. Glad to see you were able to get an improvement with the setup.
I know. That was my primary concern but each has a different SSID and the cable tv network is a 192.168 prefix where the data network is a 10.10 prefix.
 

Clinton McClure

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I ended up repurposing a small plaster column that was out back on the patio and placing it in the living room / foyer area by the front doors and moved the 2nd Eero Pro from the kitchen. I’m now getting almost 300Mbps in the theater and guest bathroom and a solid 50+ Mbps in the guest bedroom. That’s good enough for me so I’m happy with it.
 

John Dirk

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I know. That was my primary concern but each has a different SSID and the cable tv network is a 192.168 prefix where the data network is a 10.10 prefix.
So you're essentially running 2 routers [and DHCP servers] in your setup?
 

Clinton McClure

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So you're essentially running 2 routers [and DHCP servers] in your setup?
Yes, although that wasn’t my first choice. I tried completely disabling WiFi from the Arris gateway modem and just using the Eero for everything but the media players didn’t like that at all and wouldn’t acquire signal. (I called them extenders before but I was wrong. I wasn’t home when I made my initial post and didn’t have the model numbers in front of me. One of them is a cable media player and the other is a cable IP set-top client. I’ll go back and edit my original post later.) Putting them back on the Arris fixed that issue. It was a holiday weekend and my ISP was closed so I didn’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole and mess up the cable; my wife wouldn’t be too happy with me. In my situation, running two routers and DHCP servers happened to work so I’m inclined to call it a “win” and move on.
 

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