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Author Topic: wifi dead zone  (Read 464 times)

grumpy old man

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wifi dead zone
« on: June 30, 2020, 11:34:55 AM »

I am seeking advice on improving wifi reception.

A friend has a dead zone in his living room, due to his house having thick stone walls, and is unable to connect tv to internet.  The wifi router is located on the upper floor and as the living room is not directly below this the wifi signal needs to pass through a thick stone wall, hence the dead zone. 

A tplink extender/booster has been purchased but it is not possible to locate this in a position to avoid internal stone wall and get a signal in living room.

This being the case one option would be to run an ethernet cable from router to tv point but this is not practical due to the distance, walls etc.

There are kits that will stream data over electrical wires and may provide a solution.  Do the two items of equipment need to be on same ring main?  Do they work?  Any recommendations?

Would a different router improve the situation?   One currently being used is that provided by their ISP, a Technicolor router.

Thank you

gom
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PhilipD

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2020, 01:42:10 PM »

Hi

A different router probably will not improve anything, they all work to the same Wi-Fi specification and power levels, besides the TV also has a Wi-Fi transmitter in it and that doesn't improve because of a new router.

Kits that stream over the mains are best avoided and the last resort only but do usually work. They will typically only work if all the mains comes from the same consumer unit/fuse box but it doesn't matter ff they are on a different ring main, although does increase the distance over which the signal needs to travel.

The best option is to run Ethernet cable, certainly for a TV as there is nothing more annoying than to be watching something for it stop and stutter and buffer.  Can you take the Ethernet cable to the outside and around into the living room?  Alternatively can you reposition the router so it is over the living room, although likely creating a dead spot somewhere else so perhaps not a solution.

Regards

Phil



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jelv

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 04:31:10 PM »

More experience of Homeplugs is very different!

I have 5 of TP-Link homeplugs, a mixture of 200mbps and 600mbps and they all talk to each other very happily even though they are are on different ring mains.

In the past I've had (at a previous house) I've had 200mbps plugs talking to each other when they were on ring mains connected to different fuse boxes (but on the same consumer unit). Our TV is connected using 200mbps homeplug.

My main PC (upstairs) is connected to the router (downstairs) using these, they are on different ring mains and speed tests are good, the one thing I do see is increased latency which for connecting a TV won't be an issue.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 04:33:44 PM by jelv »
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licquorice

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2020, 04:54:29 PM »

Yep, have to say I don't subscribe to the aversion to powerline adaptors that the purists have. They work just fine for me.
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grumpy old man

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2020, 06:08:07 PM »

Thank you for all of your replies, they are very helpful.

I agree Ethernet cable would be best option but good to know that powerline adaptors work and can be on different ring mains.  Will advise my friend accordingly.

gom
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j0hn

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2020, 06:14:19 PM »

My experience is the impact of using Powerline adapters depends on whether the incoming phone line runs near the mains supply.

My incoming feed ran parallel to the mains for a few metres and when using the Powerline adapters my FEC numbers jumped from 1,000's per min to 10,000's per min (or even as high as 100,000's per min).
On fastpath this was an increase in ES.

Removing the mains socket (and its wiring) next to the master socket completely removed any negative effect caused by the Powerline adapters.

I've not had any issues with homeplugs since, though I caution against their use as they can cause issues in the right (or wrong) circumstances.
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psychopomp1

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2020, 06:28:30 PM »

A different router probably will not improve anything, they all work to the same Wi-Fi specification and power levels, besides the TV also has a Wi-Fi transmitter in it and that doesn't improve because of a new router.

I don't know which School of Physics you went to Phil, but all routers are NOT the same despite radio power limits. A major difference between routers is the transmit/receive streams, so a 2x2 stream router is of a lower spec than a 3x3 router which in turn is lower than a 4x4 stream router. Of course the client has to support the same number of transmit/receive streams as the router in order to gain the maximum benefit but to simply state that "they all work to the same wifi specification" is a blanket statement which is totally wrong. How can a wifi 5 router which supports link rates of up 866 Mbps be the same as a 4x4 router which supports link rates of up to 1.7 Gbps? Even a 2x2 client is likely to perform better on a 4x4 router than a 2x2 router as the former will have much better/higher spec QCA or BCM radios - which is reflected in the cost of the router.

If all routers performed the same, then the likes of Tim Higgins on SmallNetBuilder.com wouldn't be wasting their time rigorously testing routers. Even routers which have exactly the same wifi specification have huge differences in real life performance when tested with the same wifi client under the same environment. Have a look at the router charts on SNB if you don't believe me...
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2020, 07:03:53 PM »

My own personal view would be, for a non techie getting data around a difficult home with WiFi resistant stone walls...

Best:  Wired ethernet
Second best:  Homeplugs
Last resort: WiFi, even latest versions

That said, my only experience with homeplugs has been of twice helping other people set them up after coming bundled with an ISP package.   Neither person subsequently reported any issues, but they were not techies and so as long as things seemed to work, they would not have delved down into router stats ‘looking for issues‘.
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tiffy

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2020, 08:52:48 PM »

I Know Homeplugs are generally scorned on this and other tech. forums and would generally agree that they should be a last resort.
However, I have used various makes in the past and have never had any real issues, I certainly would have been aware of any major impact as I monitor my stat's 24/7 via DSLStats on a RPi. (sad I know!)

Don't currently deploy any as my home LAN is all hard wired now, as SLM has said, this is always the best option if at all possible.
As my house is a timber framed bungalow, installing Cat.6 ethernet cabling and sockets was not that difficult, by the same token Wi-Fi coverage is not an issue as all stud walls, Wi-Fi only ever used for mobile phones and the wifes tablet.

If every other option is out of the question certainly try homeplugs, may be lucky and have little or no impact on your DSL.
Try to keep an eye on the line stat's if that's possible from before & after homeplugs deployment.
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benji09

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2020, 09:32:32 PM »

 I have played with Home Plugs, and I have found that it pays to plug them into a wall socket directly, and not into mains distribution/extension leads. Also a mains supply system is not the best form of data transmission line, so the same ring main helps a lot. Since the TV does not normally need to be that higher speed of data, I would have thought, with a bit of playing around, it would probably work perfectly O.K.  I would strongly suggest that you try it!   
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PhilipD

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2020, 07:39:13 AM »

I don't know which School of Physics you went to Phil, but all routers are NOT the same despite radio power limits.

The Wi-Fi specification and legal requirement is a power maximum of 100mW transmit power.  MIMO (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIMO) is about increasing the capacity of a signal to carry more data, it doesn't change how far a radio signal can propagate or what physical medium it can travel through, just how much data can be carried when the signal gets there.

If a thick stone wall is blocking all usable signal then at that point nothing else is going to help.  The only way to get the signal to pass through is for the radio waves to hit the wall with more power.  Two ways of doing this, either increase the transmit power, which isn't allowed, and even if it was or someone did this illegally, the TV will also need to break the legal requirements of Wi-Fi power levels and increase it's transmit power.  The other alternative is to go from a roughly omni-directional antenna of a typical domestic Wi-Fi router to a very directional one, such as those used for long distances outdoors, this will concentrate all the 100mW into a narrow beam helping the signal reach the other side with enough usable power left, but again, you still have the problem of the TVs signal being received back, and the stone wall may still block it anyway.

As for review sites and testing methodologies, mostly tests about Wi-Fi (where everything else is the same, i.e. same Wi-Fi standard and features) are actually testing the Wi-Fi points radiation patterns (which all vary by design or by accident), this means a test seen online showing a good range and throughput doesn't necessarily translate to the same in a persons own home with the same kit, and vice versa.  Unless the test uses very specialist equipment and good methodology, they should be treated as anecdotal, which basically applies to 99.9% of things seen on review sites and YouTube!

Regards

Phil
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psychopomp1

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2020, 09:13:38 AM »

@PhilipD
I assume you’ve not heard of higher powered (1000mW) DFS channels which are perfectly legal in UK? These channels might be a godsend in highly congested Wi-Fi environments (Usually not available on cheap routers). Though not really recommended to use if you live near an airport as the router will automatically kick you off such channels if it detects channel conflict with air traffic for example.

Re: smallnetbuilder, I suggest you read any router comparison report there to understand the testing methodology on SNB. Tim Higgins uses specialist testing equipment which is far far better than your average utube reviewer. SNB is easily the best site around for in depth router reviews. But of course if you think you can do better, why not setup your own site?
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displaced

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2020, 11:24:46 AM »

Those 1000mW Band B channels come with a few caveats though.

Most importantly, that 1000mW is at 5GHz, which needs twice the power to cover the range of 2.4Ghz signals and has far worse object-penetration.  So that wouldn’t be a solution to this problem.

Also, as you say, DFS means that if the access point gets even a sniff of aviation radar signals, it immediately turns off and (depending on config) switches to another channel.  I’m 15 miles from an airport (LCY) and get cut-outs due to radar several times a week.

For the OP, it doesn’t seem like there’s any real alternative to a wired connection, be that Ethernet or Powerline.  I’d give Powerline a try - but make sure you can return the units if they cause issue with your broadband connection.

(as some background, I tried Powerline ethernet, but it caused my VSDL modem to resync when in heavy use.  I don’t have any crazy-thick stone walls, so eventually settled on a couple of wired UniFi access points and a single wireless-mesh additional UniFi unit to cover the garden.  I’ve used DFS channels in the past, but recently moved away from them due to the aforementioned radar-related disconnections)
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 11:27:07 AM by displaced »
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PhilipD

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2020, 04:28:07 PM »

Hi

Those 1000mW Band B channels come with a few caveats though.

Most importantly, that 1000mW is at 5GHz, which needs twice the power to cover the range of 2.4Ghz signals and has far worse object-penetration.  So that wouldn’t be a solution to this problem.

Exactly and also we need to remember the TV might be able to hear the signal at 1000mW, but it will be stuck using 5GHz (if it even supports 5GHz) to try and get a signal back using normal power levels, so that isn't going to work.  You would need two access points using 5GHz at 1000mW and bridge them.  A lot of hassle and expense for something that might just stop working at random because a radar signal strays too close, which I've had happen to me and I'm no where near an airport, so stopped using any DFS channels.

Regards

Phil

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Chunkers

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Re: wifi dead zone
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2020, 05:08:12 PM »

I had similar problems in my house getting full coverage, I tried homeplugs and although they did work found their performance to be variable (and unreliable) - so I now avoid using them.

In the end I bit the bullet, ran ethernet cable and installed a second WAP - end of problem.

I tend to agree with the theory that most wireless routers perform very similarly, I have tested quite a few (using the same standard and set to maximum output power) I generally only see minor variation in range and speed. The problem is all the manufacturers make such outrageous claims about speed and range whilst glossing over the fact that they are all ultimately limited to the same power output.

I think a lot of non-techies get upsold a 'new router' as the solution to their wifi issues only to be disappointed when they get home.

One thing I can definitely say does make a difference is thinking carefully about where your wifi router is positioned e.g. moving it from the corner of the living room on the floor behind the TV  ::)

I can understand the reluctance to use cable as its messy and involves drilling holes etc but in my experience everything else involves some kind of compromise.

C
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