Question Is there an internet/wifi wizard in the building?

Raena92

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I’m sorry that this will be so wordy. I’ll write what I think is most important first, and go on from there.

The devices in question: Two Firesticks, one desktop computer, and one laptop, all on a WIFI network connecting to Spectrum internet. I had no problems until…

Just over two years ago, I moved into an apartment complex for senior citizens. There are 20 apartments, with one person each, except for my boyfriend and I, who have a two bedroom. The WIFI is shared among all the apartments, with routers placed here and there, somewhere in the ceilings of the hallways. I know this isn’t an ideal situation. But…

Not everyone makes use of the WIFI. Of those who do, most have tablets or smart phones that they use to access the internet, and most have Rokus for TV, with one lady who also has a Firestick.

For almost the entirety of the time I’ve been here, there were no problems connecting to the internet via the WIFI, for the Firesticks or the computers. Until…

This spring, when there was heavy snow melt and rain, all four devices suddenly started having problems. Frequent buffering on the Firesticks, along with messages to this effect: We’re having trouble playing your video. Please check your router, etc. (The routers belong to the building, so I can’t do anything with them.) Also, the internet became very slow. Downloading anything of any size became a lifetime project -- especially at my age. Then, after over a week of this nonsense, everything went back to normal. Crazy as it may sound, I thought it had something to do with the wet weather.

Now, we’re in the midst of a hot spell – hotter than is normal for this part of the country, especially at this time of the year. Starting roughly a week ago (and continuing) all four devices started having the same problems. This time, I checked internet speed more than once, using two different websites, and the download time was just over 1 Megabyte per second; sometimes less. Dial-up speed, in other words. Oddly enough, the upload time was better.

The WIFI connection shows that it’s strong and stable, on all four devices. This makes me think the WIFI is all right, but the internet sucks. I’ve talked to the property manager, and he says no one else is having any problems. He suggested that I buy a single mesh gadget. He said he knows where it should be placed, to do the most good. Once I get the gadget, he’ll do the electrical part.

Basically, I’m lost. I took my laptop, and sat under the main router. The internet speed test was just as slow as it was in my apartment. This makes me think a mesh thingy wouldn’t do any good. In fact, I’ve been coming upon a thought that I hate to be thinking: If no one else is having any problems, and my laptop was molasses right under the main router, the ISP is throttling me, but I don’t know how I could prove it.

I’ve read that a good VPN (not freeware) might solve the problem. Is there any truth in this?

By the way: Both Firesticks are less than three years old; the laptop is a Dell Inspiron, maybe eight years old; and the desktop is a Dell XPS 8930, with a solid state drive, a hard drive and a six core processor. The SS drive has 951 GB memory, 840 of which are free. The HD has 1.81 TB of memory, 1.71 of which are free.

The laptop (hard drive, only) has 930 GB memory, 881 of which are free, and has a four core processor. Both are totally up to date; I make use of the disk cleaner, etc. I go through the Firesticks, and clean out the cache for all installed apps.

Basically, I can’t see that any of these devices has a reason to malfunction – and even if they did, how would they malfunction all at the same time, both times during odd weather. And if the weather had/has something to do with it, that negates my suspicion that the ISP is throttling me.

I guess my main questions are: If I can sit under the main router, and get no joy, is there at chance that the mesh gadget might help? Can the weather I’ve described have such an effect on the internet? If no one else is having the same problems, is there a way I can find out if my ISP is throttling me – and, if so, is there some way I can prove it? Would a VPN be helpful?
 
Storms could damage cables causing the service to degrade.

There is not chance a mesh router or extender or VPN can improve the bandwidth in that situation.

What's the speed of the service that apartment complex gets?
If there is, what's the bandwidth allocation to each Wi-Fi router or user?
If the property manager, who I assume is in charge, does not see a problem ...then it will be hard for Spectrum to do anything about it.
 

Ralston18

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This:

" I’ve talked to the property manager, and he says no one else is having any problems. He suggested that I buy a single mesh gadget. He said he knows where it should be placed, to do the most good. Once I get the gadget, he’ll do the electrical part."

That makes no sense. For the most part all that is needed is to plug a mesh device (effective or not - probably not) into an electrical outlet.

Wireless is inherently slower than wired and if there are 20+ residents/devices sharing one router (make, model, location etc. ?) that is one good reason why overall performance is suffering.

Who has actual control of that router? Said "property manager"?

And if you are using a building router it is not your ISP.

Normal, personal/individual networks are configured per the following line diagram where ----> represents an Ethernet cable:

ISP === coax, DSL, fiber ===> Modem ----> [WAN Port] Router [LAN Ports] -----> wired devices and ~~~~ > wireless devices.

Modem and Router may be one device.

Update your post to include more information especially with respect to ISP and all devices from the ISP to your devices.

Feel free to edit my line diagram to show the connection path(s) to your apartment.

Something seems amiss.
 

Raena92

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Storms could damage cables causing the service to degrade.

There is not chance a mesh router or extender or VPN can improve the bandwidth in that situation.

What's the speed of the service that apartment complex gets?
If there is, what's the bandwidth allocation to each Wi-Fi router or user?
If the property manager, who I assume is in charge, does not see a problem ...then it will be hard for Spectrum to do anything about it.
Thank your so much for your response. I probably won't see my property manager for a few days, but when I do see him, I'll know some questions to ask, and I'll post again.
 

Raena92

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This:

" I’ve talked to the property manager, and he says no one else is having any problems. He suggested that I buy a single mesh gadget. He said he knows where it should be placed, to do the most good. Once I get the gadget, he’ll do the electrical part."

That makes no sense. For the most part all that is needed is to plug a mesh device (effective or not - probably not) into an electrical outlet.

Wireless is inherently slower than wired and if there are 20+ residents/devices sharing one router (make, model, location etc. ?) that is one good reason why overall performance is suffering.

Who has actual control of that router? Said "property manager"?

And if you are using a building router it is not your ISP.

Normal, personal/individual networks are configured per the following line diagram where ----> represents an Ethernet cable:

ISP === coax, DSL, fiber ===> Modem ----> [WAN Port] Router [LAN Ports] -----> wired devices and ~~~~ > wireless devices.

Modem and Router may be one device.

Update your post to include more information especially with respect to ISP and all devices from the ISP to your devices.

Feel free to edit my line diagram to show the connection path(s) to your apartment.

Something seems amiss.
Thank you for responding. I won't see my property manager for a few days, but when I do, I'll know some questions to ask, and then I'll post again. I suspect that what seems amiss actually is amiss: The owners'/property manager's desire to do as little as possible; tell the residents anything; and wait for said residents to give up. Unfortunately (for them) giving up is not a part of my MO -- especially when it comes to computers. Thanks again.
 
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Richj444

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Thank you for responding. I won't see my property manager for a few days, but when I do, I'll know some questions to ask, and then I'll post again. I suspect that what seems amiss actually is amiss: The owners'/property manager's desire to do as little as possible; tell the residents anything; and wait for said residents to give up. Unfortunately (for them) giving up is not a part of my MO -- especially when it comes to computers. Thanks again.
I am a bit suspicious of the "nobody else is having any issues" comment. Slow internet or an overloaded wireless network could certainly cause the symptoms you're seeing.
 

Raena92

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Storms could damage cables causing the service to degrade.

There is not chance a mesh router or extender or VPN can improve the bandwidth in that situation.

What's the speed of the service that apartment complex gets?
If there is, what's the bandwidth allocation to each Wi-Fi router or user?
If the property manager, who I assume is in charge, does not see a problem ...then it will be hard for Spectrum to do anything about it.
I've completely messed up my attempts to thank everyone, and bring everyone up to date on where I'm at. I don't know what happened, actually, I'm so sorry about the mess. The most important thing to know at this point is the following:

Well, I trapped my property manager when he was here for a pot luck. I doubt I'll ever get answers to the questions you have, because he probably doesn't know, and he doesn't want to find out. He deigned to do an internet speed test just outside my door -- and he got the same results I've been getting: A slow test. He seemed really surprised.

Anyway, the only thing he could think of was the aforementioned mesh device. There is a single mesh unit upstairs; the people there get good speed; and the property manager claims it was the only thing he did, when everyone was having wifi/internet problems a couple years ago.

First, he wanted me to buy the device. I said I would, because, by then, it seemed certain that I am the only one having problems. He decided where it should be in my apartment, but, I thought it should be outside the apartment, so...

He: But then you'll be helping other people, too. Me: Who cares? As long as it helps me, I don't care if it helps somebody in the Andromeda Galaxy. He: Oh, OK, I'll buy it, then.

So the mesh device has been ordered; it should be here June 21; then, our maintenance man has to rig up an outlet, so it can be plugged in. So, after this is all finished, I'll post back again. Thanks for your help. And when I post to let you know the outcome, I hope my head is on straight.
 
Connecting a mesh or Wi-Fi extender to a router serves the same purpose as connecting a water hose to a spigot.
The water hose could extends the reach, but cannot magically deliver more water than the amount deliver by the spigot.
As such, a mesh or Wi-Fi extender can extend the signal, but cannot provide more bandwidth that the amount deliver by the router.
Unless your manager is connecting the mesh to a different router or band than the ones your are currently using.
 

Raena92

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Thank you, jojesa. What you're saying makes sense. It just seems that I'm going to have to put up with what is offered, and hope it does some good. As for as the bandwidth we're getting here, the manager either doesn't know, or doesn't care to know, so he's not going to ask Spectrum any questions. Thanks again, and, again, I'm sorry for fouling up my attempts to thank everyone who posted in.
 
Are you paying for the Internet service?
You might be able, if available on your area, to get good Internet service without the need to bring any wires. Some ISP companies now provide, easy to setup, 5G home internet at low cost.
 

Raena92

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Are you paying for the Internet service?
You might be able, if available on your area, to get good Internet service without the need to bring any wires. Some ISP companies now provide, easy to setup, 5G home internet at low cost.
Thank you for that information; I truly appreciate it. Right now, our internet/wifi is factored into our rent.

BTW, my apartment manager tried a Google Mesh device yesterday, and you were right: It did no good whatsoever. He asked Spectrum about doubling its speed, and the cost was 'way too high. He's now talking about running a direct line from our apartment to somewhere, to see if that does the trick.

Meanwhile, I'll check into the 5G you mentioned. Again, many thanks.
 

baboma

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@Raena92

First, talk to the other tenants and see if they're experiencing the same slowdown issue. (Don't just take your manager's word for it.) Take your laptop to their location (and other locations in the bldg) to see if it's just your particular area that's affected.

It would be a good opportunity to find one or more neighbor who is tech savvy and is amenable to help you. If no neighbor is willing, do you have friends/family/acquaintances you can wrangle to come to your aid? No one would refuse a senior asking for tech help. Frankly, online help is the last place you should look.

Second, Internet access is critical nowadays, and the responsibility of that rests solely on the housing authority. It's not you who need to solve this; it's them. I think you need to be the noisy wheel and apportion some time calling whoever you can. If the manager can't/won't solve it, go higher.

Third, from your description of inclement weather preceding this slowdown issue, it does sound like a weather-related problem affecting an outdoor-facing equipment. Assuming you can get someone to describe the layout of the system, I can point you/them to some troubleshooting steps. But again, you should not be the lead on this.

Last, it may well happen that you are stuck with the problem and no one is able or willing to help. The last recourse is to go to cellular Internet. You can check availability and equipment cost with the Big Three:




I'd wish you good luck, but I think perseverance and some stubbornness is most apt here. And the ability to yell loudly when needed.
 

Raena92

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@Raena92

First, talk to the other tenants and see if they're experiencing the same slowdown issue. (Don't just take your manager's word for it.) Take your laptop to their location (and other locations in the bldg) to see if it's just your particular area that's affected.

It would be a good opportunity to find one or more neighbor who is tech savvy and is amenable to help you. If no neighbor is willing, do you have friends/family/acquaintances you can wrangle to come to your aid? No one would refuse a senior asking for tech help. Frankly, online help is the last place you should look.

Second, Internet access is critical nowadays, and the responsibility of that rests solely on the housing authority. It's not you who need to solve this; it's them. I think you need to be the noisy wheel and apportion some time calling whoever you can. If the manager can't/won't solve it, go higher.

Third, from your description of inclement weather preceding this slowdown issue, it does sound like a weather-related problem affecting an outdoor-facing equipment. Assuming you can get someone to describe the layout of the system, I can point you/them to some troubleshooting steps. But again, you should not be the lead on this.

Last, it may well happen that you are stuck with the problem and no one is able or willing to help. The last recourse is to go to cellular Internet. You can check availability and equipment cost with the Big Three:




I'd wish you good luck, but I think perseverance and some stubbornness is most apt here. And the ability to yell loudly when needed.
Thank you so much for your advice. I'm getting in touch with the property manager again tomorrow, to see if he's still working on the idea of running a line from my apartment to -- somewhere. Apparently nearer the router.

The other people here are probably even less savvy than I am about internet and WIFI. I did ask two people to run internet speed tests in their apartments, and they were getting 30 to 40 M download. I didn't think to take my own laptop with me, and I should have done that.

These people are both upstairs, and at the other end of the building. Still, I've been in this lower floor unit for quite some time, and the internet/WIFI problem started just recently. When I thought it was the snow melt and rain early spring, the problem suddenly went away. It came back during a really hot spell, but this time it hasn't gone away.

I'm definitely going to talk to my apartment manager again, to see if he has any more ideas. I'm also going to check the links you gave me. Thanks again so much.
 

Raena92

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Thank you! And I'll definitely do some yelling. I'm an avid researcher, and kind of a graphic artist (don't make money with either!), but the desktop and the laptop are both important to me.

Most people here don't have any computer at all. Some have tablets, but don't really use them much. Oh, and one resident, who said she took computer science classes, told me I needed more than 1 terabyte solid state drive, and more than 2 terabytes hard drive, and I would be fine. I told her (nicely) that she was nuts. A few days later, she was playing with her smart phone, and she said, "This place has lousy reception."

She's on the ground floor, too, in the middle of the building, so I'm thinking there something whacky on the lower floor. Thanks again!
 

baboma

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>I'm an avid researcher

That's good, because troubleshooting anything only requires mostly common sense and a bit of methodical thinking.

Visualize Internet access as a chain with multiple links. Finding the problem requires narrowing it down to a specific link. For example:

Link 1 - The point where the cable/fiber from the ISP is connected to the complex's main router(s).
Link 2 - The router(s) are linked via Ethernet cabling to the multiple wireless access point (WAPs) that line the hallways.
Link 3 - The WAPs are linked to your electronics via wifi.

First step to troubleshoot is to eliminate your equipment (laptop/etc) as the culprit. Do this by testing Internet speed with others' phones/laptops/etc. Sounds like you've done this. This removes the last link above as a possibility.

Next step is to test Internet speed at access points other than the one in your area. If the other ones are OK, and just yours is slow, then you've localized the issue to one specific access point. If others have same slow speed, the issue lies further up the chain. Either case would require expert intervention, eg checking connectors for corrosion, testing access points, etc.
 

Raena92

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>I'm an avid researcher

That's good, because troubleshooting anything only requires mostly common sense and a bit of methodical thinking.

Visualize Internet access as a chain with multiple links. Finding the problem requires narrowing it down to a specific link. For example:

Link 1 - The point where the cable/fiber from the ISP is connected to the complex's main router(s).
Link 2 - The router(s) are linked via Ethernet cabling to the multiple wireless access point (WAPs) that line the hallways.
Link 3 - The WAPs are linked to your electronics via wifi.

First step to troubleshoot is to eliminate your equipment (laptop/etc) as the culprit. Do this by testing Internet speed with others' phones/laptops/etc. Sounds like you've done this. This removes the last link above as a possibility.

Next step is to test Internet speed at access points other than the one in your area. If the other ones are OK, and just yours is slow, then you've localized the issue to one specific access point. If others have same slow speed, the issue lies further up the chain. Either case would require expert intervention, eg checking connectors for corrosion, testing access points, etc.
Thank you so much again! I'm printing out your post, and I'm going to show it to our apartment manager, since I'm not sure he knows much more than I do. Our maintenance man, though, knows quite a bit more, and he would probably be able to follow your directions -- if he can be persuaded to do so.
 

Raena92

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Thank you so much again! I'm printing out your post, and I'm going to show it to our apartment manager, since I'm not sure he knows much more than I do. Our maintenance man, though, knows quite a bit more, and he would probably be able to follow your directions -- if he can be persuaded to do so.
Thank you so much again! I'm printing out your post, and I'm going to show it to our apartment manager, since I'm not sure he knows much more than I do. Our maintenance man, though, knows quite a bit more, and he would probably be able to follow your directions -- if he can be persuaded to do so.
Hello again, baboma. I just wanted to let you know my WIFI dilemma appears to be fixed. I did show a copy of your email to both the building manager and the maintenance man. (The latter does have a good bit of training, beyond what one would expect of a maintenance man.)

Unfortunately, I'm still not sure what he did. He removed a ceiling tile, and used the mesh device, but seems to have connected it directly to some wiring in the ceiling. Neither he nor the building manager tried to explain, and I probably wouldn't have understood, anyway. I'm just glad I now get 30 to 40 M download. I wish I knew more about internet and WIFI, but, since I don't, I'm so glad forum writers are able to help. When I first got a computer, I learned everything from posting into forums, and receiving knowledgeable answers. Thank you again so much.
 

baboma

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>He removed a ceiling tile, and used the mesh device, but seems to have connected it directly to some wiring in the ceiling.

Sounds like the issue was the specific access point (WAP) that failed. The person disconnected the cable that carries the Internet signal to the failed WAP and reconnected to the new mesh router.

It's a hack, since the proper solution is to replace the WAP, as it would have directional antennas to provide coverage in a downward facing arc, which theoretically would have better coverage than the mesh router's omni antenna with all-around coverage.

But practically, replacing the WAP with a substitute is the best you can hope for, even if the sub doesn't have optimal coverage. As long as you're satisfied with the speed you get.

You just need to be aware that that mesh router is likely not designed to be outdoors, and it doesn't sound like the person has weather-proofed it to any degree. In a few months or years, humidity/condensation may well cause corrosion to the electronics, and your connectivity issue may recur. But at least you know how to resolve it the next time.

Glad to be of help, and I appreciate your courtesy of feedback.
 

Raena92

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>He removed a ceiling tile, and used the mesh device, but seems to have connected it directly to some wiring in the ceiling.

Sounds like the issue was the specific access point (WAP) that failed. The person disconnected the cable that carries the Internet signal to the failed WAP and reconnected to the new mesh router.

It's a hack, since the proper solution is to replace the WAP, as it would have directional antennas to provide coverage in a downward facing arc, which theoretically would have better coverage than the mesh router's omni antenna with all-around coverage.

But practically, replacing the WAP with a substitute is the best you can hope for, even if the sub doesn't have optimal coverage. As long as you're satisfied with the speed you get.

You just need to be aware that that mesh router is likely not designed to be outdoors, and it doesn't sound like the person has weather-proofed it to any degree. In a few months or years, humidity/condensation may well cause corrosion to the electronics, and your connectivity issue may recur. But at least you know how to resolve it the next time.

Glad to be of help, and I appreciate your courtesy of feedback.
Around here, things are going to be done as cheaply and easily as possible. I'm saving your post this time, too, so if it happens again, the guy will have something to go by. Thanks again, ever so much!
 
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