Question WiFi Novice...

Sep 25, 2022
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Hello, I recently upgraded my Netgear RB8000 Nighthawk (with 2 extenders) to Arris mAX6600 mesh (my first true mesh system). I am disappointed with the range & that you can only add 2 nodes. The 2 pack said it covers 5500 sqf. I also bought an extra node so that should put me up to 7000 sqf. All 3 devices won't cover a 3800 sqf ranch with a finished basement. Main router centrally located in basement, 1 node on each side of the house upstairs. Newer stick frame/drywall house, no masonry, metal lathe, plaster walls.

It's also disappointing that I cannot choose which band to connect my devices to. The Netgear showed me all 3 bands, the Arris will not. It shows a single band & you just have to hope it connects to a 5g band. My Note 10+ almost always will only connect to 2.4g while my wife's Note 10 is always on 5g. My S6 tablet same deal. It's always on 2.4g & my wife's S4 tab is always connected to 5g. To top it off, my brand new laptop again will only connect to 2.4 and my wife's 6 year old HP laptop is always on 5g. It's maddening! And kind funny too! I buy this thing, set it all up & she is the only benefactor... lol. Of course she wants to keep it! My stuff won't connect to 5g most of the time & I'm stuck with 30 mbps while she gets 300 mbps on everything. This system is quirky too. Right now I'm sitting 5ft from from a node, but my phone is connected to the node on the other side of the house at 2.4. I click off wifi then on again and it does connect to the closer node but should I really need to do that? Seems to defeat the whole purpose of mesh.

Don't get me started with the app, it's horrible. It has said "0 Devices Connected" since day 1 and has never changed even though there are 25 devices hooked up to the system & they are all working, albeit some with slow speeds. No browser access either, app only.

I'm just looking for suggestions from the pros here. I bought this at BB & I'm a totaltech member so I have 60 days to return. After 3 weeks of placing the nodes in countless different spots & a gazillion reboots, I think I'm done & it's going back. I'm now looking at Orbi because you an add more than 2 nodes to the main router, but it seems they no longer allow you to select the 2.4g or 5g band for devices either. Is there anything out there that does everything I need or am I just dreaming?

Thank you for reading & thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Ken
 
Can you not put different SSID on the 2.4g and 5g band.

Coverage is basically a lie. All routers are restricted to the same output power so in effect all routers have the same coverage. What the manufactures are doing is combining the concept of speed to the distance which is not clearly defined unlike signal levels which is a very simple DB reading.
This allows them to pick a data point that makes their equipment look good but you can not compare to other routers. Actually a simple signal will be more usable , when they used to send radio signals with morse code it use to be usable farther than voice but of course it is slower.

Not sure you really should not use repeaters/mesh of any kind if you have any other options.

Your best option to get better coverage is to use a ethernet cable to the remote rooms and then use a AP (most your remote repeater/mesh units can run as AP but a cheap router tends to be best)
If you don't have ethernet then you consider MoCA if you have coax cables near the router and in the remote rooms. If that is also not a option you look at powerline, powerline will be maybe 200mbps but it is extremely stable if you are playing online games.

For people that have not purchased equipment it might be cost effective to pay to have ethernet cables run rather than buying expensive mesh systems.

And then very very last you run mesh/repeater systems.

Most of the problems with mesh systems are placement of the equipment. You can't just stick the remote room and they work like magic. They will get the same bad signal from the main router and then resend it making it worse. Proper placement means the unit must go where it can get good signal from the main router and still send it to the remote room. In a open room it would be about 1/2 way. When you have walls or floors there might not be a optimum place and it is all trial and error to find the best place in any particular house.

I also suspect part of the problem you are having with the newer system is it is wifi6. Because these units attempt to use bandwidth that overlap weather radar you can not always set the radio channels. Also if you actually have a wifi6 device it might not work as well as a wifi5 device. It might be attempting to use a higher data encoding but getting more interference so less actual throughput. Hard to say wifi6 never really lived up to its potential because of the issue with weather radar. Wifi6e should solve a lot of these issue with all the bandwidth on 6g but most end devices are just starting to get support.

In any case I would first try the simple thing and see if you can manually set the ssid to different names that might fix your issue. I would also test with the repeaters turned off with the end devices connecting to the main unit from the remote room just so you can compare.
 
Also remember a proper mesh system will use one band for the backhaul. As stated above placement is everyhing, repeating a poor signal results in a poor signal. What are your floors made of? Having the main unit in the basement might be part of the problem
 

JohnMGotts

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Dec 7, 2020
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Basics. Your router is ethernet tethered to your first mesh which is probably within 6’.
I’d extend that cable to upstairs and make that the first source. The position of the first mesh device is critical to the chain. It’s easy enough to test if you have a long enough CAT cable,
 
Sep 25, 2022
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Thank you all for the information! Running ethernet to one of the nodes upstairs is possible (unfinished basement under it, the other is over a drywall ceiling).

I need more coverage. I spend a lot of time on my deck right off the kitchen (TV out there) and I get really slow speeds out there. Will taking back this Arris (1 main, max 2 nodes) and getting another system that allows more nodes be of any benefit? I could also bring the main upstairs, but will that sacrifice coverage in the basement? Will I need to take the modem upstairs with it? Will running an ethernet to the one node it is possible to get it there result in better coverage?

Really want to take this quirky Arris system back & try Orbi, at least I can add more than 2 nodes. Thinking I need 3 nodes + 1 main (4 devices total).

Any thoughts on that? Is there something out there that is better?

Entire main level floor is 3/4" thick oak hardwood over 3/4" Advantech.
 
So mesh is mostly a marketing term. If you were to use all ethernet cables to extend your network and then put in small routers running as AP you would have 1 network. This is how business wifi has been done since the very beginning.

Mesh is mostly a renamed wifi repeater system that is somewhat easier to configure. There are some that use dedicated extra radio chips for the connection back to the router. Mesh is not part of any wifi standard so it is hard to say if there are limits on how many remote repeaters you can have.

I would assume the ones connected via ethernet would not count in any limit.

Be careful about chasing speedtest numbers. Something like a tv even running 4k video will not use much over 25-30mbps. Having a connection that say runs 300mbps will not make it any better the video only uses what it needs. High speed is really only used for large donwloads and you really should try to have those devices on ethernet.

Your problem may not be the network. The end device is 1/2 the connection. So if for example the tv has a low power transmitter or if the wifi antenna are being blocked it might be able to hear the router but the router can not hear the tv.

To get good coverage outside you tend to need to place a wifi source outside also. Exterior walls a huge amount of signal.
 
Sep 25, 2022
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Thanks Bill! I thought mesh was the pinnacle of wifi 😂 so you are crushing my hopes & dreams! I guess I need to get that out of my head & think hardwire. I have $700 in this mesh system & I still have my R8000 router. How much should one spend on having some ethernet wires run around the house generally? Assuming I'd need an electrician or low voltage guy? Hopefully that can be done without tearing up the drywall, which I won't do. Devices will switch seamlessly between APs as I move around the house if I go that route? How many APs would you recommend for 3800 sqf ranch with finished basement? Each AP would need to be hardwired back the router?
 
Mesh is mostly just a method to get more money out of consumer pockets. Only some very high end unit that have extra radio chips are better than the dumb repeaters from previous years.

Hard to say how much cable runs will be. Although these low voltage guys can do a lot to avoid damage if there is no access to the top or bottom of wall it gets complex even for them. If you can just drill into the top or bottom of the wall from a attic or basement those are pretty easy and many times DIY projects. Most guys have a minimum charge but I know someone who had a fairly simple ethernet run for about $100.

A AP Is hardwired back to the route or a switch....that is basically the definition of a AP. Anything that uses wifi to connect to the main router is a repeater and suffers from the issues with doing that.

Don't get hung up on the so called "seamless" roaming. Again that is a lie. All wifi will move from radio to radio as you move around the house. The big lie part is the end device not the network is in control of what radio it talks to unlike cell phone networks where the network controls the end device. This means sometimes the device will stay connected to a wifi radio when a better signal is available. Proper layout of the wifi radio and making sure there is as little overlap as possible is the best solution for this.
In general most people do not need seamless roaming. The device will generally figure it out and switch by the time you get to the other room. Now if you are watching netflix while you go up and down the stairs in your house I can only wait until someone dies doing that.
 

JohnMGotts

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Dec 7, 2020
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Take the node farthest from the router and place it above the one in the basement as a test for the immediate vicinity (tether it.) If you see a big change, you’ll know signal strength is the issue from the downstairs node (which I strongly suspect.)
In any case, I would have the node that is tethered to the router on the main floor. The 2.4 has the strongest signal and you can get a better feel for range coverage simply by moving your mobil phone around. In any case you’re looking at more nodes than you have, and I’m assuming you have 3 total.
I’d be looking into an Eero 6+ mesh system with unlimited router nodes if you decide to change, but remember, having that hardwired node downstairs is a mistake and the router has nothing to do with the problem (it works fine for your wife’s devices.)
 
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