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Author Topic: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network  (Read 415 times)

michty_me

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WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« on: August 09, 2018, 01:44:16 PM »

As I now have an ever increasingly failing Netgear D7000 I might have to change out some equipment in the near future. My thoughts have been so far:

1. Adding an AC access point or extender to a room where I have my PS4 so I could ethernet into this point and it would be AC wireless back to the D7000. I would hope this would increase my throughput compared to using the PS4's built in 2.4Ghz WiFi? Would I likely see more throughput? Is it possible I may introduce more lag? (Is my terminology correct regarding AP and extenders, AP requires connecting via LAN, Whereas I could use the ethenet port on a device if it was an extender?)

2. I have been speaking to someone on OC forums who said they are using a Goggle WiFi mesh system and the throughput has doubled compared to just running on WiFi. The price seems a tad expensive though. I could probably find a cheaper mesh system but would I need a separate router for this?

I have been on the Asus website and noticed the RT-AC88U uses something called AiMesh and Asus also have a mesh network called Ayra. I don't believe these can be joined at present but there is talk of it happening in the future. If that ever materialises, who knows. It would have been the route I probably would have gone down.

I'm aware that devices wouldn't seemlessly switch between the router and extension. I wouldn't connect to the extension other than the PS4 via LAN cable.

Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: I have been informed, What I'm really referring to is a media bridge for option 1.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 02:37:28 PM by michty_me »
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Deathstar

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2018, 05:05:53 PM »

I done things the simple way.

I ran some outside FTP Cat 6 from my router to my conservatory along the outside wall. This was so I could get a WiFi reception in the garden and effectively a switch in Conservatory for the TV and media devices.

I then fitted two faceplates, one behind the TV in the lounge, and one behind the TV on the conservatory.
Using these modules https://www.screwfix.com/p/lap-cat-6-rj45-grid-module-white/51057

I then rehashed an old Plusnet Hub 1 to act as an another access point.

That gave me a physical network in the conservatory, and improved WiFi in the garden.

Total cost 20!
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michty_me

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2018, 07:16:02 PM »

I done things the simple way.

I ran some outside FTP Cat 6 from my router to my conservatory along the outside wall. This was so I could get a WiFi reception in the garden and effectively a switch in Conservatory for the TV and media devices.

I then fitted two faceplates, one behind the TV in the lounge, and one behind the TV on the conservatory.
Using these modules https://www.screwfix.com/p/lap-cat-6-rj45-grid-module-white/51057

I then rehashed an old Plusnet Hub 1 to act as an another access point.

That gave me a physical network in the conservatory, and improved WiFi in the garden.

Total cost 20!

I will eventually be pulling in cables as I replace flooring and carpets within my house. This is a sort of stop gap for me just now. I'm not too keen on drilling from the inside out to run a cable if I'm honest.
An issue with this would be that the master socket is in the middle of a hall way in the middle of the house so I would need to hide it to get to the outside wall also, If I were to do that, I would be as well do the rest of the run internally.

On another note, Asus have not long told me that their RT-AC88U units and the Lyra system can both be used together so this opens up some possibilities for me.
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Weaver

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2018, 01:12:00 AM »

Many WAPs that I have used can be put into 'client' mode, which means that a WAP is reconfigured so it knows account details, it logs on to a wireless LAN and listens and bridges stuff to and from their ethernet port. This is instead of the normal behaviour of a WAP where it creates and publishes a wireless LAN, but this is not itself visible as it does not have a 'name' on the wireless LAN. instead of an extender I did in fact in one place put one of these on to an ethernet cable straight into another normal WAP, so this connected two WLANs together, with different names. I don't know how 'extenders' work, as in my ignorance I am not aware of a standard. I hope they are doing store-and-forward and creating a new extension to the wireless LAN, rather than copying input signal, like a booster, at the physical level, which could cause interference I suspect, but I am not sure. There are big problems with the former approach in my opinion which I won't go into unless anyone wants the long version. But I have always stayed well away from extenders as I can see bad problems to my way of thinking, may be wrong, but I have an idea why afaik no buinesses use them. The best thing is to arrange multiple WAPs and have them putting out the same SSID. Look out for ones with good support for 'roaming' where stations move from one WAP to a different one if they move around. WAPs and client devices ('stations') vary a lot in how they handle this - modern software supports new-ish protocols for sane efficient handover / roaming and 'fast roaming' where handover is quick because the device arranges things with both new and old WAPs in that order and then switches. Also iirc there is a new protocol for devices getting info about which WAP is the good one to go to. A lot of rubbish WAPs do not support these newer features because they have skimped on the software. (My WAPs are too old for these good things.) It is  important to check that the whole system does roam well. How clients decide when to move is anyone's guess, because they do not want the disruption but they need to balance the cost of that with staying on a weak WAP. It can be that clients will stick to a really weak WAP and not move, which is a nuisance. So check for modern standards support and the various new 802.11-<xx> specs in the details of WAPs and your own client devices and look for infor about how well certain clients work with certain WAPs if you can find any. I am all-Apple iPads so I found a doc jointly authored by Cisco about its WAPs and Apple cooperation and joint testing and development so that encouraged me to buy Cisco but that is another saga. On the contrary a guy wrote a lot about problems with Apple and Ubiquiti WAPs where Apple iPhone software broke after roaming, so luckily that warned me right off Ubiquiti which very cheap yet has impressive sounding design.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 09:11:02 AM by Weaver »
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michty_me

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2018, 08:09:39 AM »

Many WAPs that I have used can be put into 'client' mode, which means that a WAP is reconfigured so it knows account details, it logs on to a wireless LAN and listens and bridges stuff to and from their ethernet port. This is instead of the normal behaviour of a WAP where it creates and publishes a wireless LAN, but this is not itself visible as it does not have a 'name' on the wireless LAN. instead of an extender I did in fact in one place put one of these on to an ethernet cable straight into another normal WAP, so this connected two WLANs together, with different names. I don't know how 'extenders' work, as in my ignorance I am not aware of a standard. I hope the are doing store-and-forward and creating a new extension to the wireless LAN, rather than copying input signal, like a booster, at the physical level, which could cause interference ?I suspect, but ?I am not sure. There are big problems with the former approach in my opinion which I won't go into unless anyone wants the long version. But I have always stayed well away from extenders as I can see bad problems to my way of thinking, may be wrong, but I have an idea why afaik no buinesses use them. The best thing is to arrange multiple WAPs and have them putting out the same SSID. Look out for ones with good support for 'roaming' where stations move from one WAP to a different one if they move around. WAPs and client devices ('stations') vary a lot in how they handle this - modern software supports new-ish protocols for sane efficient handover / roaming and 'fast roaming' where handover is quick because the device arranges things with both new and old WAPs in that order and then switches. Also iirc there is a new protocol for devices getting info about which WAP is the good one to go to. A lot of rubbish WAPs do not support these newer features because they have skimped on the software. (My WAPs are too old for these good things.) It is  important to check that the whole system does roam well. How clients decide when to move is anyone's guess, because they do not want the disruption but they need to balance the cost of that with staying on a weak WAP. It can be that clients will stick to a really weak WAP and not move, which is a nuisance. So check for modern standards support and the various new 802.11-<xx> specs in the details of WAPs and your own client devices and look for infor about how well certain clients work with certain WAPs if you can find any. I am all-Apple iPads so I found a doc jointly authored by Cisco about its WAPs and Apple cooperation and joint testing and development so that encouraged me to buy Cisco but that is another saga. On the contrary a guy wrote a lot about problems with Apple and Ubiquiti WAPs where Apple iPhone software broke after roaming, so luckily that warned me right off Ubiquiti which very cheap yet has impressive sounding design.

Hi Weaver. Many thanks for your input.
I did find my DSL-AC68U and attempted to use this as a bridge but unfortunately that option doesn't exist in the DSL version of devices from Asus, Only the RT versions have this capability.

As I believe my D7000 is failing, It may be worth me buying new equipment. I'm in no rush so was hoping to just limp along for as long as I need to to make a decision on something that is going to last a while, Give good speeds and not break the bank!
It seems mesh networks are becoming more and more popular. Ubiquiti I read about more and more on forums. I feel it may be overkill for me as I mainly look for something that is going to be reliable, Simple to set up and just work. I don't tend to do much tinkering within the routers, Infact I haven't even logged into them since setting up.
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Weaver

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2018, 09:25:27 AM »

Without separate true WAPs or even with WAPs set up inappropriately there can be something called 'the hidden stations problem'. Imagine a situation where you have two devices on the wireless LAN that are on the edge of the reception area, a circle centred on the WAP, and they are on opposite sides, as far away from each other as possible, but both just in range of the WAP. Each is one radius from the WAP and they are twice this distance apart. Now they can hear the wap but not hear each other. This means that one starts talking and the other could start talking at the same time because it does not hear the first and so does not politely wait its turn as it should. This is called a 'collision' and will cause mutual interference and the WAP will hear the two on top of one another which will mean the result is garbled. Collisions mean poor performance, bad throughout, because they have to keep retransmitting until hopefully it eventually all works out. If there is a danger of this bad situation because it does happen that you find a pair of devices in such positions, although for example in a small house there is a limit on how far they can be separated, then the WAP needs to enforce a discipline option about who can talk when. This can be configured on good WAPs and if available may need to be turned on, as it is possibly off by default because when it is on performance is reduced because of extra red tape due to messages going out telling people when they can talk. Some of my WAPs could set this explicitly and as for the later ones I am using, it may be you cannot control this which could mean that they intelligently do the right thing. Good software could be written that notes that there are a lot of collisions and then changes policy to 'discipline enforced'.
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michty_me

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2018, 03:53:20 PM »

Yes, I have heard of those issues.
So would you recommend a decent Mesh setup over purchasing a new more advanced router?
After a bit of digging further with Asus customer support, I have now discovered that they answered my basic question of 'Do they work together?' wrong. They do not.
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Weaver

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Re: WiFi Extenders Vs Mesh network
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2018, 03:54:07 AM »

I have no experience of mesh technology so am not qualified to comment. The convenience is worth a lot, because you can install mesh WAPs in places that cannot be reached by ethernet cable as long as they are within wireless range. The complex software has to work. And you have to pay the huge performance penalties of the wireless network carrying traffic between WAPs, also possibly collisions caused by this, so even more loss, plus hidden stations almost guaranteed, plus reduced backhaul due to fewer ethernet cables feeding it all. So very bad performance but that does not matter for some people.

Certainly not for me but everyone's circumstances are different. With a traditional set-up like mine every WAP gets its own gigabit of ethernet. One WAP contains a pair of radios in the case of my devices, and each radio is configurable as 5GHz or 2.4GHz. A lot of WAPs are I think 2.4 + 5 and no flexibility. I have one of the WAPs near my bed which has two 5GHz radios in it, one for me and one for Janet is how it typically happens to get allocated.

You can get WAPs with twin gigabit ethernet feeds and maybe (I forget) 2.5Gps or 5Gbps links into them as some 802.11ac wave 2 and 802.11ax APs have overloaded 1Gbps links now because of having two radios in one box.
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