Author Topic: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?  (Read 1792 times)

PaulF

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Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2020, 05:50:07 pm »
In the end I went for the BT discs as I got a good deal on them. A doodle to set up and full speed throughout the house. Oddly if I introduce a third disc it seems to slow the system down. At least that’s what my son reports...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2020, 09:41:37 am »
Been thinking of getting something like this to extend wifi to the part of the house where other wifis cannot reach. I see some are described as single and some as dual band. Is there any way I can know which band I need if I don't currently have physical access to the router?

It just means 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Most modern stuff will feature both. They invented a special naming soup to ensure that you can't translate from the specifications to anything meaningful. They had a b then a g then an n then an ac because that's how the nunderguffins behind all this do their alphabet. For god's sake, no one ask them to count.

I can say all this with relative confidence as I spent Friday evening looking at stupid device wifi spec.

2.4 GHz wifi rays can get further and are less admonished by walls and sturdy masonry but don't offer the same bandwidth, 5 GHz have more bandwidth but don't get as a far. Most modern devices will use either but some stuff still uses the 2.4 band exclusively. Most devices have some clever stuff to decide which it prefers and like all clever stuff it probably won't work.

In the end I went for the BT discs as I got a good deal on them. A doodle to set up and full speed throughout the house. Oddly if I introduce a third disc it seems to slow the system down. At least that’s what my son reports...

I am tempted by this one but for the lack of ethernet ports (it has one, but there's a place behind the living room foliage were having two would be very useful).

There's a TP-Link Deco M5 (oh, don't get me going on product names, I defy anyone to figure out Netgear's wifi offerings) which seems OK and broadly similar. There's also a Tenda something-or-other which actually seems OK, I don't need massive performance, there's two of us, no teenagers and the cats are banned from the internet after last time. Or could spend several hundred quid so I can brag to people at parties about my massive bandwidth.

That's what our attenuated social skills will be like post-Covid.
!nataS pihsroW

robgul

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Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2020, 10:43:00 am »
Interesting that this topic has come up just as I received the Netgear EX3700 from Mr Amazon . . . . and a BT Broadband Extender Flex 600 kit from the same source.

The BT kit should enable our PCs upstairs to connect to the BT hub downstairs via the electrical ring main (all sockets in the house are on the same circuit) . . I'm assuming that the "slave hub" we have by the PCs will enable 4 connections (two PCs and two printers)

Not now sure that I need the Netgear extender as we initially thought that we'd have to run the PCs on wifi and wanted to beef it up - it can go back to Amazon if necessary.  Wifi around the house for tablets and phones seems to be OK.

At the moment our (business) broadband isn't connected - long story to do with moving house (just 1.4km), taking original number with us and BT/Openreach not doing any internal connections to fit a new master socket for the high speed fibre deal that we have - so we are using the BT "always there" 4G dongle over the cellphone network.  Have to say I'm impressed with it - speed is good and TV stuff is coming down the line without a hitch.

Rob

UPDATE - none of it works  >:(  so it's going back to Amazon.   In fairness it may be because, as I mentioned, the BB isn't working down the phone line - that's unlikely to be fixed before the end date for return of the items to Amazon.  Once we have real BB I'll revisit the issue, in the meantime we can live with it using the cellular network dongle.

Rob

FURTHER, REVISED, UPDATE - we now have BB working on the phone line (long story to do with a number being issued as a stopgap and our original number being reinstated)

The BT Extender kit works connected to the power beside by the router (with a through socket) and the power next to the PCs in the office - and that in turn has a 4 outlet network hub connected to it for 2 PCs and 2 printers - the connection is now faster than the excrement departing the chromium plated digging implement.

The aforementioned WiFi extender has been returned - all that remains to do is for BT/Openreach to change the socket + filter arrangement on the phone line for a new "master" socket which, allegedly, will make it even quicker as it's designed for our high-speed fibre deal.   Engineer is supposed to be here on Tuesday (tomorrow) but we'll see if he comes into the building.

Rob

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2020, 11:31:54 am »
Based on comments above I've removed two of the Tenda units from my set up, and put the remaining unit fairly central in the house - and hey presto! Improved speeds and no drop outs (yet)
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2020, 11:41:17 am »
The problem with any multi-unit mesh is that they need to communicate with each other, which takes up bandwidth (one of the differences between the cheap and spendy units is that the more spendy ones have a dedicated channel for 'backhaul' – either another radio or wired ethernet). Cheaper, consumer units, rely on existing bandwidth.

Hence more might not be better in some situations.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2020, 12:17:54 pm »
And then there's the problem of overlapping channels.  Ignoring the 5GHz band for simplicity, of the 11 available 2.4GHz WiFi channels that USAnian[1] kit understands, only three can be used at once without the signals overlapping.  And your neighbours are already on channel 11[2].

The correct solution for large buildings with lots of users is to turn down the transmit power and use more access points to prevent overlap (creating smaller 'cells'), but that's only practical with wired backhaul.



[1] You occasionally come across devices that don't believe in channel 13, because the drivers were written USAnians, which scuppers the "use channel 13 for better bandwidth because none of the neighbours will have configured their kit to do so" scheme.
[2] This seems to be a popular default for $ky and Verging Media kit.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2020, 02:13:49 pm »
I gave up jiggling channels and left it to the computers, even in a detached house in semi-suburban Surrey there's radio saturation. Like everyone in the world, we have a neighbour with an SSID named PrettyFlyForAWifi.

I punted the dosh for a middling TP-Link M5 on the grounds I've got other TP-Link stuff and it's generally behaved and worse case, I have a duo of Powerline adaptors so I could turn them into overpriced access points (which is basically what they are, I suppose). Also on the grounds that it was 'in stock.'
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2020, 02:44:53 pm »
Like everyone in the world, we have a neighbour with an SSID named PrettyFlyForAWifi.

Ours disappeared a couple of years ago, along with "Life in the fast LAN".  The current list[1] is an uninspiring mixture of ISP and manufacturer defaults, interspersed with the names of people's phones that walk past.  The most interestingly named nearby access point is "2nd Floor".



[1] One of the important benefits of a Unifi managed system over the consumer-grade stuff, is that it automagically maintains a database of any amusing SSIDs it's seen.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2020, 06:19:57 pm »
One line at least of that came true. Though it's usually upside down fake-Polynesian or neo-Celtic swirls rather than numbers.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2020, 06:26:27 pm »
Sadly it's mostly dull ISPHub3435x though there's a Bubble&Squeak. I have two SSIDs, and the third shouts NETGEAR64. There's also some BT crap that I really ought to turn off, but frankly, that involves performing the virtual equivalent of a colonoscopy on my BT account to find the settings.

While I'm there I ought to probably just find some cheaper broadband, I'm paying a small fortune. There are probably entire countries paying less than me for connectivity.

Though like choosing any utility these days, they discourage you with a swamp of incomparable despair. Plus even if you wade through the numbers, there's the fearful abyss between suppliers.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2020, 06:37:07 pm »
And then there's the problem of overlapping channels.  Ignoring the 5GHz band for simplicity, of the 11 available 2.4GHz WiFi channels that USAnian[1] kit understands, only three can be used at once without the signals overlapping.  And your neighbours are already on channel 11[2].

I know on paper this is true but I’d love to know if it’s ever been demonstrated to have a real effect. With digital spread spectrum other access points should show up as a bit of background noise, and only when they’re actually transmitting. It’s not like you’re broadcasting a constant big fat carrier wave.

(And I bet there’s much noisier things intruding on the 2.4 GHz band than other people’s WiFi)

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2020, 07:19:37 pm »
I once spent evening jiggling channels manually based on wandering around the house with a laptop scanning the wifi environment.

It made no discernable difference (if anything, it made things worse). I'd frankly leave the channel selection to the hardware and software.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #37 on: May 04, 2020, 09:45:08 pm »
The channel 13 trick seems to improve things here when all the BloodyStudents are in residence.  But it doesn't work on vintage-netbook-with-the-keyboard-barakta-actually-likes.

TBH, congestion on 2.4GHz is better solved by the move to 5GHz.  Manual tweaking makes sense if you control several APs in a large building, but it's an arms race against the neighbours in most residential settings.

The thing that really seems to obliterate WiFi are those gadgets that transmit analogue video (usually for CCTV or baby monitoring purposes) in the 2.4GHz band.  They seem to be dying out in favour of Internet-of-Shit devices, fortunately.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #38 on: May 04, 2020, 09:58:10 pm »
Seriously considering buying some 5Ghz APs now that the working from home frenzy has resulted in saturation of the 2.4Ghz spectrum, and I've been relegated to the spare room where Ethernet isn't yet an option.

For anyone considering / using any kind of WiFi extenders, just check they aren't using uPNP to open ports on your router to the Internet. That seems to be a thing that some of them do. You can check by running a full port scan here.
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #39 on: May 04, 2020, 10:00:18 pm »
For anyone considering / using any kind of WiFi extenders, just check they aren't using uPNP to open ports on your router to the Internet. That seems to be a thing that some of them do. You can check by running a full port scan here.

Eeew.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #40 on: May 06, 2020, 01:05:29 pm »
I had pegged my expectations low, but I received a TP-Link Deco M5 yesterday. It's a newfangled wifi mesh thing and anyone with enough time on my hands to have waded through my wireless travails in The Asbestos Palace over the years will know that I and the wifi do not get on. And despite knowing a demon with expertise in this sort of eternal torment. She's a demon though, it's in her nature to torment, even if you're friends and get invites to their executive townhouse in Hell's most up-and-coming suburb, Dress Down Friday.

So I installed it last night. Fairly painless (it's all swanky app rather than web interfaces*) – the only head-scratcher was that it installed as a router which I didn't want as I'm keeping the BT hub as a modem/router. It didn't offer an alternative (oddly, despite having two routers, two LANs, competing DHCP controllers, it still happily connected to the internet). I ran with it and found the 'access point' toggle after the fact. The main widget is dangled off a powerline adaptor so it's not hidden in the Faraday cage under the stairs.

Plugged the other two mesh widgets in. Did the firmware update dance. Prepared to be underwhelmed.

So far it's really, really good. I get the full 70 Mbps promised by BT throughout the house. Wifi connections are all >500 Mbps and on 5 GHz (the powerline link will be the rate limiter anyway). The Arlo and Sonos work fine (I took out the Sonos Boost for now so it's just on the wifi). Microsoft Teams has been glitch-free all morning.

I am aware at this point that I'm doing the equivalent of tweaking Finestre's pert little nose.

*I actually prefer this, the connection is via bluetooth so none of that faff of having to have a network to access the network settings, which is great unless that's the problem you're trying to address.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #41 on: May 06, 2020, 01:30:49 pm »
I actually prefer this, the connection is via bluetooth so none of that faff of having to have a network to access the network settings, which is great unless that's the problem you're trying to address.

There's a great deal of sense in being able to configure notworking devices by some out-of-band method[1], but Stan or Finestre or whoever came up with the idea of using The Devil's Other Radio to configure a Devil's Radio really is an evil genius.


[1] An RS232 serial terminal would be the traditional approach, just to stop that Psion 5 being completely redundant.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #42 on: May 06, 2020, 01:39:19 pm »
It might be evil, but it worked.

TP-Link used to use an ad hoc wifi network approach to configuring their devices. In principle, also fine, but I still have hellish flashbacks to the long battle I had a with wifi print server once.

I suspect we've all done the web thing where you can't connect, so you end up jibbling with your phone trying to google the default IP of the router, wait it's not that, followed by endless reboots, 404s, more reboots, a factory reset, more reboots. Etc.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #43 on: May 06, 2020, 01:59:47 pm »
I'm old and cynical and now own a label printer, so my preferred approach is to stick a label bearing relevant settings[1] and factory defaults on such devices.

Pro-level kit with serial terminals and L2 discovery and such require proper unisex spaceadmin skills, so get a pass on being cryptic.  It's the mother-in-law's DSL router that fills us with dread.  Especially now that the password isn't their phone number.


[1] We have a The Internet for "What's the WiFi password?" moments, with configuration details printed on the underside, and an NFC tag inside it for automagic connection of suitably equipped phones.  This is easy to hand to visitors, on account of it being wireless.


Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #44 on: May 06, 2020, 02:26:15 pm »
I have a reserved IP range for devices I don't remember (at the bottom) and a memorial range (at the top) for devices that have gone, usually with a curl of smoke, to the place in the sky.
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2020, 03:19:39 pm »
Allow me to present the once-explanatory notes field from the archeological section of my DHCP server's list of reserved MAC addresses.  None of these have IP addresses statically allocated to them, or are currently active on the network.  And, for the avoidance of doubt, I removed several that were definitely defunct when I replaced the router a few months ago.

While some of these appear to tell a story, I seem to have no memory of them...

Quote
LinksysPAP   
Sheila toshiba laptop wired   
e1000 card   
Dodgy Procurve   
Videophone 1000   
Dog-eaten Dell D630   
garmin vm   
iuana (old motherboard)   
DLSS Acer 102   
winxp in virtualbox   
module 2   
acer netbook wired   
former willow motherboard   
Fun Factory Raspberry Pi   
3com PC Card 10/100   
krstie vaio   
Via C7 onboard NIC   
stupid acer   
e1000 card   
Dimension 2350   
b0rked realtek gigE
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #46 on: May 11, 2020, 07:56:47 pm »
Following ian's recommendation, and also cos it was the cheapest one that was available, I got a TP-Link extender. It arrived today and it just works. Very simple to set up.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #47 on: May 12, 2020, 09:24:01 am »
I'm actually officially non-ranty at my Deco M5 purchase, it's really very good. Just works, wifi everywhere. The Sonos got a bit twitchy, which I figured it would, it might be fixable by turning off the roaming (the speakers would disappear occasionally, presumably because something was reassociating with another mesh unit, and then appear several seconds later). Possibly fixable, but I have a Boost box and very little patience, so plugged that in.
!nataS pihsroW

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: WiFi “Extender” what exactly do I need?
« Reply #48 on: May 12, 2020, 02:58:00 pm »
Bizzarely, the extender seems to give a quicker connection than the main router. How is that possible?
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...