I should mention this is the wrong week for infrastructure week. People upgrading from N to AC/mesh for better coverage might as well wait for wifi 6 to go mainstream so they’re not missing out again a couple years from now. At current frequencies wifi 6 would still give better coverage, higher speeds, and lower power for newer devices- so locking in to AC now at the end of its life is pointless for people who know no better.
You can supply your own modem, though you first need to make sure you buy one that’s compatible, and then call them to have them set it up (done online). I’m using a dedicated cable modem in that manner. If you have something like Best Buy or Micro Center in your area you should be able to find one there.
I am with hardwiring what you can. To that end, we run a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite for our router and I have three Netgear routers in AP mode connected to the wired network for our wifi (one downstairs, one upstairs, one in the garage), all using the same SSIDs on 2.4/5 across all devices. Never have a blip and we’re blanketed in good wifi all the time.
I deployed a full on enterprise ubiquiti system at my house and no problems. A system like that is a touch more complex but really worth it. The whole network is overkill with gigabit internet and the router is a linux box running on an esxi server with a few other virtual servers.
It also helped having a home that was wired for cat-5 back in mid 2000.
Renovated house in SF slowly over the years. Put my office into the ‘mouse house’ garage add-on. Basically a lean to two story volume that held the bathroom, laundry room (shook like hell on an ill-balanced washer load) on floor two and underneath a storage area w hot water tank, water services etc. I strung cat6 ethernet into most rooms, at least two ports. Plus phone and coax (still have the spool). When we sold it, I offered to leave the router in place, hooked up to a very early DSL line (there’s another story). They said, “nah, we are going to use Wi-Fi”, which back then was 802.11b… no way in hell they would get a signal from the office with all the pipes, cast iron sewer feeds, hot water tank (and the sheet metal cover I put in front of it), forced air ducting AND THEN the lath and plaster up to the third floor.
if you want real performance then you need to switch to a wired network
Yes and no. I banged that drum for over a decade, but these days good wireless (802.11ac with good coverage) can exceed all but the fastest ISP connections, even in typical use cases. Wired may be theoretically better but wireless is good enough for most uses now. I set up my parents with google wifi, which is by far not the highest performance system on the network (less antennas and less radios than their competition) and they still regularly get 200 Mbps wireless throughput. That is less than 1 gigabit of wired connections, but who cares? Unless you need very fast local networks (like to a home fileserver) or have gigabit fiber internet, wifi is fast enough if you can get good coverage.
If you have Xfinity, make sure you turn the Bridge mode setting on for the Gateway so that you are actually using your own router.
I installed 3 Google wifi routers a few months ago and can’t believe the improvement. The whole interface is done on a phone—and only a phone—but allows fairly sophisticated techniques such as reserving IPs by MAC, etc.
Good point - I will test that. Thanks
Great ideas - thanks for this.
Cat5 through the attic may be an option
I’ve not used the mesh systems, but they look intriguing. Our house has very thick stone walls (from the 1600s), so use a combo of powerline ethernet and individual APs- mostly the sadly departed Airport Express/Extreme- to get the coverage. The powerline adapters do limit the bandwidth as the ones I’m using are the older standards so I’m only getting 100/30Mb/s through them compared to the 160/30 of the actual line. It’s not really a problem as the most bandwidth intensive uses come off the main router anyway.
I’ve set up powerline networks for a couple of other people and they do seem to work reasonably well. You can get them with built in WAPs to remove the need to have a separate one.
One more option someone mentioned above is powerline networking. It’s not my preferred solution but it is pretty fast these days and does have some semblance of security. I have used it as a bridge between floors. Again, you can also use it to add a node of a mesh network somewhere you can’t get any signal to at all.
I live in a 500sq ft shoebox in a 60s tower block. Stressed concrete and rebar. I have wires everywhere. I’d need a router with fucking masers on it to get decent wifi in the bedroom.
Mesh seems like the proper zero-configuration type of approach, but it bothers me that the various implementations are not compatible. Haven’t tried any of them yet. (also, do APs like Google Wifi just not implement multicast?! wtf, that’s a total deal-breaker.)
I’ve used WDS quite a lot, on the other hand. And these days it’s usually compatible between vendors. Apparently there is now a common standard for mesh wifi, EasyMesh, but devices still aren’t available.
The powerline stuff, as mentioned, is also really handy.
I’ve always wanted to be a MicroTik customer so I could have a problem with their product and call in to the MicroTik TAC for help.
Depending on the layout you may have good luck placing APs outside and letting the signal come in through the windows.
Sometimes you can improvise a boost. Even without doing any calculations or grounding the dish, it was still going strong at the edge of my home router’s signal.
(This channel has antennas with actual math involved.)
Comcast has a list of compatible modem/routers. I just need to get the money together and make the effort.
+1 to Ubiquiti kit. About a year ago I replaced all my various Wi-Fi hardware, switches, and routers with Ubiquiti kit. It wasn’t cheap but goddamn was it ever worth it for how much it not only simplified my network but to mention the reduction of overall headaches with equipment management.
I can share the same SSID with multiple base stations without any weird fuckery and clients seamlessly roam between them. Everything’s super fast and reliable. I can easily do cool shit like create special partitioned wired and wireless VLANs for my various IoT devices to further harden my network.
Nothing here is particularly new or novel but it’s so easy and it all works so well it’s revelatory. When things do go wrong, their support is very helpful as well.