Question How to Gigabit Internet a smart home without bottlenecks?

Jul 16, 2019
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Hi guys!

I am moving to a new house in a few months, and, I'm looking to soundboard my ideas on home networking with people who have actual knowledge. I'll briefly go over my planned setup, looking forward to any suggestions:

1. Space: a townhouse laid over four floors of approx 50sqm each, central areas of interest for each level are listed below.
1a. Ground Floor: wife's study, kitchen, dining room, terrace/garden
1b. First Floor: my command centre/gaming room, main living room
1c. Second Floor: kids' bedrooms
1d. Third Floor: master bedroom

I need a customisable mixed wired/wireless network solution for the entire house. The main issue is verticality, with the master bedroom on the top floor the connection can't taper off the higher up the house one goes. It would be nice to get a half-decent link for music streaming for BBQs too.
Another issue, though I'm not sure how significant, is network congestion. We have a workstation and a laptop each, my wife's OSX, and I'm Windows. The other tech in no particular order: three phones, a Google Home Mini/Google Home/Nest Hub/Home Hub for each main area listed above, smart home tech (some of which operates on separate mesh networks): a couple of Philips Hue lights, Smart TV, games console, Chromecast, Chromecast Audio, a couple of DEN light switches, and some kitchen appliances.

2. Solutions:
2a. Gigabit Internet: I'm fortunate enough to be living in an area where I can get a dedicated Gigabit internet connection (proper, symmetrical dedicated fibre) for the house, and why not, since it's not going to be much more expensive than a typical BT Broadband with line rental. Though, I don't believe there's any point in contemplating a 10 Gigabit connection. My wife's running a 2016 iMac Pro; I'm on a PC with a gigabit ethernet card, would I even be able to take advantage of it?
2b. Mesh WiFi: I am into the Google ecosystem; it's something that works for us at home. With that said, I like the concept of Google WiFi for the ease of use aspect of it. I want a robust, enthusiast-grade solution for the house, but with Google WiFi, it feels like I'm getting that, plus the ease of set up and management integrated into the Google ecosystem. For example, I like the idea of setting up routines for curtailing WiFi during meals. Q: Is it just advertising? How does it compare with the more traditional competition?

3. Questions:
3a. How do I wire? I'm thinking of getting the fibre directly to my First Floor gaming room, that would give me a direct gigabit connection to my PC. I could power the main WiFi router from there as well.
3aa. How does a dedicated fibre connection work in terms of bandwidth sharing?
3ab. Can I have another physical wired connection to my wife's study and into her iMac Pro?
3ac. Should I run a dedicated cable to each of my mesh WiFi points?

3b. How do I WiFi? Something like Google WiFi recommends three Wifi points for the area even twice the size of my house, but I fear verticality presents some challenges. My idea is:
First WiFi point goes in my den, which is on the Second Floor directly above my wife's study.
The second goes all the way up to the Fourth Floor master bedroom.
The third goes to the Ground Floor kitchen/dining room.
Second-floor den and my wife's study are at the "front wall" of the house; meanwhile the kitchen/dining-room is facing the "back wall" with the garden. The thinking is that by placing my third access point there, I can get some coverage for the garden. This setup leaves the kids' floor with no dedicated WiFi point; however, there is one point on each adjacent floor. Also, it's a dedicated gigabit fibre, how bad can the connection get?

I think everything above this point seems pretty straightforward. I am interested to see if there are any glaring bottlenecks or simply if there is a better way of doing things?
  1. Will a 5Ghz network work fine considering my space?
  2. What problems do you see me running into with my setup?
  3. Is interference going to be an issue? (In other threads, people suggested moving smart tech into a separate mesh network?)
  4. Is there any point in putting a network switch and playing with a local backup server in the house? I don't do any data-critical work that my Dropbox/Google Drive and One Drive wouldn't be able to handle. My wife, on the other hand, is an author and a designer. Her current setup is adequate for text, between local storage on the iMac and Time Machine, and One Drive, but I feel it does not offer enough redundancy for her work with larger files. I never had an internet connection this fast, so, in practical terms, the question is: what's a more cost-effective solution? Cloud-based storage or a home backup server? How OTT does it sound?
Wow, this ended up being quite long. Thanks to anyone who is still with me. I would appreciate any suggestions and comments.
 
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kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Unless you have multiple people using wired connectivity, gigabit is an unused resource. You could save money with 1/2 that speed and never notice the difference.
Put a, wired to the primary router, access point on each floor. Don't fall for mesh hype. Use Ubiquiti wired access points.
With symmetric gigabit (or 1/2 gigabit) service, your primary router doesn't need QOS or other prioritization. With true access points for WIFI, you can use a wired only router. If you choose Ubiquiti APs, then you can use the security gateway and have a single management point.
 
Jul 16, 2019
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Thanks for that. 1 Gigabit is OTT; then again, my father pays 40% more per month for his 100Mbit broadband, line rental and TV subscription, which I am doing entirely without.

My background is entirely non-IT, and my experience is limited to building and upgrading my gaming rig now and then, and, binge-watching Linus Tech Tips videos;-), so I'm sorry, but I can only follow you as far as Google takes me. I also may have a weird urge to water-cool my router...

Don't fall for mesh hype.
My question was initially along these lines. What does it mean for me as an end-user with an OTT fibre who wants to have a stable, efficient coverage throughout the house and straightforward controls? With my clear bias towards Google WiFi and lack of experience to know any better, I want to know what in real terms I am giving up? I'd take "good enough" that I won't have to maintain every month over "perfect but requires tinkering with on a semi-regular basis" in a heartbeat.

Use Ubiquiti wired access points. With symmetric gigabit (or 1/2 gigabit) service, your primary router doesn't need QOS or other prioritization. With true access points for WIFI, you can use a wired only router. If you choose Ubiquiti APs, then you can use the security gateway and have a single management point.
Ok, let's talk hardware more specifically:
https://www.senetic.co.uk/product/UAP-AC-PRO - four of these, one for each floor. What router makes sense with that? Anything else to make it work?

Also, I confused myself reading up on it too much - from an end-user perspective, say what happens with my laptop or phone as I walk throughout the house in both types of networks? Do they automatically switch between the APs based on their signal strength?
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
If you choose the Ubiquiti access points, then the Ubiquiti USG PRO is probably the best answer. The APs are POE, so you also want a POE capable switch.
I replaced my WIFI at my house with Ubiquiti. If you go "all in" and use the USG as your router, and Ubiquiti switches, you can have a nice dashboard like this -- https://i.redd.it/4110xvhwcec21.png that shows the entire status of your network.

The AC-PRO, the nano-HD and some people really like the in-wall -- https://inwall-hd.ui.com/ access points rather than the smoke detector style.

If you are wiring ethernet cabling, also consider adding an outdoor unit to cover your patio/pool.
Add ethernet cabling to the perimiter to add outdoor cameras.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
If you are interested in Ubiquiti, I recommend subscribing to their forums. Look around over there. Look at the kinds of questions that are being asked and the solutions.
One thing you will see, that may surprise you, is to turn DOWN the power on your APs. Treating WIFI like an AM radio isn't the optimum solution.
 
Jul 16, 2019
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If you are interested in Ubiquiti, I recommend subscribing to their forums. Look around over there. Look at the kinds of questions that are being asked and the solutions.
One thing you will see, that may surprise you, is to turn DOWN the power on your APs. Treating WIFI like an AM radio isn't the optimum solution.
Thanks for all that. Fun fact, I did know that one thing - though I am hazy as to the why. Is it to do with them interfering with each other rather than helping to provide coverage?

If relevant: what's your setup at home like then?

If I were to go all Ubiquiti, my idea would be to do the following:
  1. Unifi Security Gateway Pro 4 https://www.ui.com/unifi-routing/unifi-security-gateway-pro-4/
  2. Unifi Switch 8 https://store.ui.com/collections/routing-switching/products/unifi-switch-8 (to provide PoE and have some redundancy built-in), not sure about the power so linked the middle one.
  3. Unifi In-Wall HD 4x https://store.ui.com/collections/wireless/products/unifi-in-wall-hd (or, AC-Pro, I like them better, but then again I don't mind the smoke detectors, let's see what they end up costing me)
  4. Unifi CloudKey Gen 2 Plus https://store.ui.com/products/unifi-cloudkey-gen2-plus?_pos=2&_sid=59fc99966&_ss=r (remote management, w. VideoProtect capabilities)
I had a look at what it would cost me, and while it's the first offer I found so there may be better deals out there, I'm looking at around £1,000.00 NET or £1,200.00 with VAT though https://www.senetic.co.uk
I would be about £120 cheaper with the AP-Pros instead of the in-walls, but, is it justified?

That's before we talk home cameras, but that's not quite the relevant section of the forum for that. I will read around some more and also pick the brains of their support staff.

PS. You made me happy with this:

If you go "all in" and use the USG as your router, and Ubiquiti switches, you can have a nice dashboard like this -- https://i.redd.it/4110xvhwcec21.png that shows the entire status of your network.
I love this, and the idea of having a rack cabinet for my home network sounds cool, but what's the advantage over a £300 odd Google WiFi?
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
My setup -- An AC-PRO, a nano-HD, and AC-PRO-M (outdoor compatible in the garage). A USG-PRO (400 mbit ISP) feeds a 24 port Ubiquiti core switch. Then the APs use Ubiquiti 8 port POE switches in the rooms they are in.
3 APs, 3 switches (garage uses POE injector local), USG PRO and cloud key gen 1. I purchased some used on e-bay. But, my investment is around $1000.

I can't compare this vs a Google WIFI as I have never used that hardware.
 
Jul 16, 2019
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My setup -- An AC-PRO, a nano-HD, and AC-PRO-M (outdoor compatible in the garage). A USG-PRO (400 mbit ISP) feeds a 24 port Ubiquiti core switch. Then the APs use Ubiquiti 8 port POE switches in the rooms they are in.
3 APs, 3 switches (garage uses POE injector local), USG PRO and cloud key gen 1. I purchased some used on e-bay. But, my investment is around $1000.
That's very interesting.
  1. What's the advantage of using the Nano? Alternatively, was it more of a stylistic choice?
  2. What's the advantage of a core switch and dedicated switches for each AP over just running them off a single Switch 8 as I had in mind?
I can't compare this vs a Google WIFI as I have never used that hardware.
I know it's a bit of a silly question on the face of it. We're comparing professional-grade equipment which is upgradeable, expandable and infinitely more customisable with a ready-to-go mesh network with smart software.
Still, Google's software is smart. What's your beef with the mesh network hype then?
 
What's the advantage of a core switch and dedicated switches for each AP over just running them off a single Switch 8 as I had in mind?
Multiple switches for the most part only matter to businesses, to segregate lots of clients and no need to have all traffic robbing bandwidth from a single switch.

Didn't read you whole post but at 50sqm x 4, we are not talking major coverage, or users, I hazard to extrapolate. Run at least 1 CAT cable from junction to each floor you are pretty much set, the rest of the stuff u can add later.
 
Reactions: Kim Jong Greg

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
The nano is newer than the AC-PRO it is also smaller in diameter. The size was my reason for choosing it.
The cost of the 16 or 24 port POE switch was significantly more than the non-POE. For as few POE devices as I have, and I need the room-level switches anyway, I chose to put the POE distributed in my house. It depends on how you can wire things up.
If you plan on having cameras, then a single larger POE switch may make sense.
Mesh is just a fancy term for repeater. Some mesh hardware has dedicated radios for repeating. But WIFI is still an inefficient backbone. Mesh is marketing rather than technology IMO. If you understand the limitations, it can work but if you can pull cables, then you will have a much better network.
 
Jul 16, 2019
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Didn't read you whole post but at 50sqm x 4, we are not talking major coverage, or users, I hazard to extrapolate. Run at least 1 CAT cable from junction to each floor you are pretty much set, the rest of the stuff u can add later.
Thanks. Since I don't intend on re-wiring any time soon, I'm thinking CAT7?

The nano is newer than the AC-PRO it is also smaller in diameter. The size was my reason for choosing it.
The cost of the 16 or 24 port POE switch was significantly more than the non-POE. For as few POE devices as I have, and I need the room-level switches anyway, I chose to put the POE distributed in my house. It depends on how you can wire things up.
If you plan on having cameras, then a single larger POE switch may make sense.
Fair enough, I feel like at this point I'm happy to take my questions to someone paid to answer them:). I'll speak to the guys from Ubiquiti tomorrow, and I will update the thread since we managed to write up a potentially useful case study.
 
Cat 7 was never fully certified and is not rated for more than 10g so if you actually think you are going 10g use cat6a. Cat7 is also a pain to install it is very stiff. There is some new standard being worked on for 100g but it is unclear when or if that will be out. It pretty much means thought that cat7 cable has no future since it costs more than cat6a and still only runs 10g.

Your best "future" proof option is to run conduit and then you can replace the wires easy. Then again if you take the average people move they tend to move more often than we get major technology changes. 10g is actually difficult to use, it is not the network technology it is the disk systems and the applications that tend to bottleneck well before they hit 10g.

I still remember when all the discussion of running video cable and people were sure you needed to run SVHS for the future.....turned out how wrong they were.
 
The big question is what is your current ethernet situation like? Do you have any running already? At a minimum you want to get your AP wired up. Ideally wire up any fixed devices esp the computers and TV area. POE cameras are optional. If you can't get wires to access points that is when you want to look at mesh or powerline. Bottlenecks with 1Gbs aren't always bad either. There is so much bandwidth to go around it might help you keep congestion lower.

The unifi APs are really nice and I'd recommend the AP lite, LR or Pro. The unifi router, switch, and cloud key are optional. There are a lot of features there you won't need if all you want is basic NAT. If the ISP provides a router just use that and buy an unmanaged switch to get more ports if required. A big thing with UBNT is you want to buy from an authorized retailer or support/warranty aren't valid.
 
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