BT SmartHub2 & Network Setup Upgrade Options

matt5000

Active Member
Unfortunately there's no plans for Openreach to make my road Ultra Fast so I am stuck on BT Infinity with max download speeds of around 44Mbps and upload around 10Mbps.

Reasonably large house with potential for 3 teenagers to be on Xbox One gaming / PC gaming / FireTV etc. plus me using Plex server from my iMac with some 4K content as well as Disney + / Sky Q / Netflix etc on TV in lounge.

Also have 3 x Devolo 1200+ Powerlines (2 of which do their own Wi-Fi SSIDs for easier wifi access around the house). One is attached to a network switch for all the lounge AV stuff.

So a lot of devices on wifi on the Smarthub 2 and a lot on Devolo wifi plugs as well as wired connections for the AV stuff through Powerline.

I'm considering ditching the Smarthub 2 for a Draytek Vigor 130 + Asus RT-AX86U. But all in is £350+ on Amazon...

So, is it worth it and where would I potentially see biggest improvements and could I maybe even do AiMesh with a separate Asus router that would enable me to ditch some or all of the Devolos?

Any opinions / thoughts welcome.
 

rs6mra

Active Member
What is your reason for wanting to change?

I can't see how spending £350+ would give you any benefits to that value especially as what you have appears to be working just fine.
If you chose to get yourself a new router you can do so without having to buy a new modem and just disable wifi functionality on the Smarthub 2.
 

matt5000

Active Member
I guess it's to do with range for starters where even with Powerline, some rooms struggle to get good enough signal. Also, intra-network performance, specifically when playing Plex over the internal network (iMac --> Router --> TV) with high bitrate files buffers often even though I can watch Disney+ 4K streams relatively stress free.

So would there be no difference performance wise if I used the Smarthub2 as the "modem" and connected a new router via a LAN cable, as opposed to a dedicated modem from the wall plate? What about double natting etc. that I have read about?
 

rs6mra

Active Member
With the use of your Smarthub 2 in 'modem' mode, you would be disabling the DHCP function and your new router would issue the IP addresses. This way you eliminate any issues between both the router and the Smarthub 2 (modem router). Your new router may well have more functions in comparison to the old one. I am not familiar with either but a quick look at the specs would give you the info.
It might be worth you looking into the possibility of ditching the powerlines and the possibility of being wired as best as possible where ever you can with the use of a switch. A new router might not always be the answer. With the whole family, the demands on the wifi network is likely to take it's toll especially with powerlines in play as you won't be getting the max speed when compared to an ethernet connection. I have never been a fan of them and I honestly know very little about them.
 

maddy

Distinguished Member
It might be worth trying BT Complete Wifi:


You can buy the discs themselves or take a subscription out on your broadband package.
 

matt5000

Active Member
With the use of your Smarthub 2 in 'modem' mode, you would be disabling the DHCP function and your new router would issue the IP addresses. This way you eliminate any issues between both the router and the Smarthub 2 (modem router). Your new router may well have more functions in comparison to the old one. I am not familiar with either but a quick look at the specs would give you the info.
It might be worth you looking into the possibility of ditching the powerlines and the possibility of being wired as best as possible where ever you can with the use of a switch. A new router might not always be the answer. With the whole family, the demands on the wifi network is likely to take it's toll especially with powerlines in play as you won't be getting the max speed when compared to an ethernet connection. I have never been a fan of them and I honestly know very little about them.
Thanks. From my understanding, you cannot adjust the Smarthub 2 to be in modem only mode. So it would need some jiggery pokery to adjust various other settings too such as DHCP starting addresses etc.
I have to admit the Powerlines have served me well where I have separate SSIDs via them for phones and iPads upstairs away from the Smarthub 2. I just want to be able to have one SSID throughout the house without sticky clients as much as possible, hence thinking about a very capable Mesh router(s) with good range as well.
I use WiFi Explorer to mitigate as much as possible interference from other SSIDs of neighbours etc. and believe I have maxed the optimisations I can make with existing equipment.
Potentially, I can trial the new router and modem I guess and return to Amazon if the benefits are not worth it.
Appreciate the thoughts though. Yes ideally hard-wiring the whole house would be best especially the AV stuff, consoles and PCs but that's quite a job.
 

rs6mra

Active Member
I hear you about BT complete Wi-Fi.
My set up consists of a router with two access points and all three with the same SSID and passwords. Only two are on permanently as the third is in my garden office. I ran my cables whilst her indoors was out shopping with the kids and she was pretty much none the wiser 🤣.
I’ve always said if I had to change the system I’ll look into Ubiquiti. There are some good threads on the forum.
 

spile

Active Member
My recommendation…
  • Keep the Smarthub 2
  • Hardwire wherever possible using external trunked Ethernet if necessary and so… Remove Powerline devices
  • Add dedicated wireless point(s) to areas of poor coverage but not using overpriced BT hardware. Even an old router repurposed as a wireless point may be sufficient.
 
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rs6mra

Active Member
should you decide to go with Spile's recommendation then check out the sticky on here - Using two routers together; extending wifi
It has worked flawlessly for me over the years
 

varkanoid

Active Member
I have the SmartHub 2 its a great router. I cabled my house up with ethernet ages ago and I got one of the black Wifi discs (not the white ones) as an extender and I get good 5ghz reception throughout the house. Also covers the garden and garage.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
IIRC SmartHub2 does not have a "modem mode." So deploying an additional router, you'd be dual-NAT'ing and so on, or using your additional router as "just" and AP/switch combo (wasting all the router/NAT/firewall functionality) which you could probably do cheaper by buying a stand alone AP. Or if you want an AP/switch combo a router with an "AP mode." Or maybe even a "mesh" system.

However, I concur with those saying (essentially) "if you've got some money to spend on improving your network, consider putting in some UTP (ethernet) cables and AP's (be they "mesh" or stand alone) and get rid of your powerline." If domestic harmony and DIY skills permit. Or you may prefer to get a pro in to do it for you (there are some that lurk in this forum.)

The more you can get off Wi-Fi and onto wires, especial y stuff that does not physically move like TV's, media streamers, game consoles, etc. the more "air time" you avail for the remaining Wi-Fi devices. Wired "backhaul" links between outpost Wi-Fi hotspots (AP's) rather than Powerline (or Wi-Fi backhauls using "repeaters/extenders/mesh" nodes, etc.) is by far the best (fastest and most reliable) backhaul method.

One of the ironies of doing some of the big Wi-Fi deployments I've completed, is that in order to put in a "wireless" networking solution, we often have to install lots of extra "wires" (and switches and power supply equipment!)
 

matt5000

Active Member
IIRC SmartHub2 does not have a "modem mode." So deploying an additional router, you'd be dual-NAT'ing and so on, or using your additional router as "just" and AP/switch combo (wasting all the router/NAT/firewall functionality) which you could probably do cheaper by buying a stand alone AP. Or if you want an AP/switch combo a router with an "AP mode." Or maybe even a "mesh" system.

However, I concur with those saying (essentially) "if you've got some money to spend on improving your network, consider putting in some UTP (ethernet) cables and AP's (be they "mesh" or stand alone) and get rid of your powerline." If domestic harmony and DIY skills permit. Or you may prefer to get a pro in to do it for you (there are some that lurk in this forum.)

The more you can get off Wi-Fi and onto wires, especial y stuff that does not physically move like TV's, media streamers, game consoles, etc. the more "air time" you avail for the remaining Wi-Fi devices. Wired "backhaul" links between outpost Wi-Fi hotspots (AP's) rather than Powerline (or Wi-Fi backhauls using "repeaters/extenders/mesh" nodes, etc.) is by far the best (fastest and most reliable) backhaul method.

One of the ironies of doing some of the big Wi-Fi deployments I've completed, is that in order to put in a "wireless" networking solution, we often have to install lots of extra "wires" (and switches and power supply equipment!)
Yeah the Smarthub 2 you can't set as modem only. I don't have too many complaints about it as a router but it isn't as configurable as other 3rd party routers.

OK interesting re. the installing of cabling. I hadn't considered it really but sounds (logically) like the best option. So with 4 LAN sockets on the Smarthub 2, would it be from one or more of them into a switch and then from that switch to the rest of the house? I just imagine concealing LAN cabling effectively, would be a pricey job.

Happy to have a pro give their thoughts on it. Can you recommend anyone? From your last paragraph it seems like it's something you might do...?

Anyway, keen to improve as much as possible what we have given the volume of devices and limited internet speed available from BT at the moment.

Thanks....
 

spile

Active Member
Yeah the Smarthub 2 you can't set as modem only. I don't have too many complaints about it as a router but it isn't as configurable as other 3rd party routers.

OK interesting re. the installing of cabling. I hadn't considered it really but sounds (logically) like the best option. So with 4 LAN sockets on the Smarthub 2, would it be from one or more of them into a switch and then from that switch to the rest of the house? I just imagine concealing LAN cabling effectively, would be a pricey job.

Happy to have a pro give their thoughts on it. Can you recommend anyone? From your last paragraph it seems like it's something you might do...?

Anyway, keen to improve as much as possible what we have given the volume of devices and limited internet speed available from BT at the moment.

Thanks....
Wiring an ethernet cable is very straightforward and a tool using push through wires and a connectivity tester is not going to break the bank. If internal routing isn't possible then running it outside in trunking is an option. If you don't want to do it yourself just ask a local computer store or electrician (check they know what they are doing) should be able to do the job for you.
 

varkanoid

Active Member
OK interesting re. the installing of cabling. I hadn't considered it really but sounds (logically) like the best option. So with 4 LAN sockets on the Smarthub 2, would it be from one or more of them into a switch and then from that switch to the rest of the house? I just imagine concealing LAN cabling effectively, would be a pricey job.

Happy to have a pro give their thoughts on it. Can you recommend anyone? From your last paragraph it seems like it's something you might do...?

its not that hard. I measured one run up from dining room where router is to lounge. I bought some flat white cat6 cable from Amazon think it was £24.99 for 20 metres already plugs on both ends. It went through a stud wall to under stairs, out through under stairs door then it was just a matter of tacking it round door frames and along skirting boards to the lounge, under our lounge doors one which never opens then along skirting board to TV. Bought a decent switch and fed the devices there.

My other run which I did a lot earlier goes through house wall outside, up into front porch, into kids bedroom into his walk in wardrobe, switch there fed from power by loft then it goes to several bedrooms etc. Come down from loft into wardrobes hides cabling easily. Also bought a cabling tool off of Amazon for £9.99 and learnt to make my own.

Not expensive at all just needs a bit of creative thinking.
 

Sab0

Novice Member
You have a few issues here it seems - not the fastest internet, a lot of items needing connection, and a large-ish house.

There are a couple of things you can do:
  • Lots of users on not the fastest internet:
    • Get a router with decent QOS/SQM. Personally, I use OpenWRT which is a router OS, which has an excellent QOS system. Check OpenWRT website for a router you can flash the software onto. It's a steep learning curve, but it works very well. Lots of helpful guides on the internet - you'll be doing a simple set up so it'll be easy
    • This will mean getting a modem, you can either get the draytek, or get a older model ISP router/modem combo that is known to be able to go into modem mode.
  • Lots of items need connecting and the large-ish house:
    • If you can, run ethernet cable to different points in the house. You could run it on the outside of the house and then through the wall, terminating in a wall switch.
    • Use some wired access points like TP-Link Omada, or the long range Ubiquiti AP to get the wifi as far as possible. ISP routers are generally terrible at everything, so these will make a HUGE difference.
    • Minimise anything on the wifi, so wire in all your consoles/tvs/computers etc.
It might seem a little overwhelming, but it'll certainly be a big improvement over what you have at the moment. Even just hardwiring more devices will make a huge improvement, so that is probably the most cost-effective thing to do first.
 

Sab0

Novice Member
Nice. If you're not scared of a bit of DIY, buy a big reel of cable, and terminate your own ends.

It's not particularly hard to do, you just need the right kit. I bought a networking tool kit off Amazon for £15 and it's good enough for home use.

Although it's always nice to have a professional do a job and have a decent looking end result.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
If aethetics are at all a consideration for bit of DIY cabling - I often suggest people take a look at something called "cable trunking." It's basically a long thing plastic box with a "tupperware" type lid into which one can run cables. It comes in various cross sections to accommodate different numbers of cables, and the smaller stuff sometimes has a self adhesive tape on the back so you literally just have to cut to length and stick it in place. If forced to surface mount a cable runs anywhere indoors, it looks a lot better than clipping bare cable to the skirting board, door frames etc. Though it's a bit of extra cost (and the retail prices for it give me the willies!)
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
OK interesting re. the installing of cabling. I hadn't considered it really but sounds (logically) like the best option. So with 4 LAN sockets on the Smarthub 2, would it be from one or more of them into a switch and then from that switch to the rest of the house?

Sorry, I missed this previously.

The "LAN" ports in a SOHO Router are a built in ethernet switch. You can use them just like any other ethernet swtich. A fundamental "rule" of building ethernet networks is that we must not create any loops in the topology. (If we did, the network would very quickly gridlock with endlessly circling broadcast traffic and kill it.) Connecting multiple cables between two ethernet swtiches (whether stand alone switches or switches built into routers or anything else) would create such a loop, so must be avoided. Use only single cable inter-links between switches unless they have a "special" technology called Link Aggregation, which most SOHO kit lacks (Smarthub2 certainly doesn't have it.)

So it's really up to you as to what's most convenient, dangle a new lobe off a downstream switch or use a router LAN port - it makes very little difference and is mostly informed by what's the most useful cable routing. Technically, each additional "hop" in the infrastructure add a bit of latency (lag) but in a small SOHO LAN you're unlikely to be able to measure it, let alone "notice" it in normal use.

Happy to have a pro give their thoughts on it. Can you recommend anyone? From your last paragraph it seems like it's something you might do...?
I'd do it for friends or family, but wouldn't want to take on the job commercially as I'm not appropriately certified for data cabling and don't possess the rather expensive test equipment needed to certify and guarantee the work. It's really not that hard to DIY - if you have any issues, poor termination (of the cables) is the biggest culprit.
 

spile

Active Member
When you get a push through tool and a few pull through connectors make up or repair a patch cable to practice your skills.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Just make sure you buy matching cables to ends so if you buy cat 6 cables you need cat 6 ends (as cat 5 is a thinner conductor).

Also cables come other as stranded or solid conductor and again the rj45 connectors will often support one or the other.

Ideally patch cables (stranded conductors) should be no more than 5 meters according to specs but longer ones work fine. If you do go solid core then you can use the appropriate socket and punch down terminal, then use a shorter (premade) patch lead to hook up your equipment. That way you get a neater install.

Lastly don’t buy any cable advertised as CCA or copper clad aluminium as that is cheaper but isn’t proper cabling and does not meet any of the networking specs.
 

tom 2000

Distinguished Member
IIRC SmartHub2 does not have a "modem mode." So deploying an additional router, you'd be dual-NAT'ing and so on, or using your additional router as "just" and AP/switch combo (wasting all the router/NAT/firewall functionality) which you could probably do cheaper by buying a stand alone AP. Or if you want an AP/switch combo a router with an "AP mode." Or maybe even a "mesh" system.

However, I concur with those saying (essentially) "if you've got some money to spend on improving your network, consider putting in some UTP (ethernet) cables and AP's (be they "mesh" or stand alone) and get rid of your powerline." If domestic harmony and DIY skills permit. Or you may prefer to get a pro in to do it for you (there are some that lurk in this forum.)

The more you can get off Wi-Fi and onto wires, especial y stuff that does not physically move like TV's, media streamers, game consoles, etc. the more "air time" you avail for the remaining Wi-Fi devices. Wired "backhaul" links between outpost Wi-Fi hotspots (AP's) rather than Powerline (or Wi-Fi backhauls using "repeaters/extenders/mesh" nodes, etc.) is by far the best (fastest and most reliable) backhaul method.

One of the ironies of doing some of the big Wi-Fi deployments I've completed, is that in order to put in a "wireless" networking solution, we often have to install lots of extra "wires" (and switches and power supply equipment!)
With Digital Voice roll out underway I am reading with hypothetical interest various discussions regarding the necessity of having the Smart Hub 2 as a router in order to facilitate its landline function and whether it can be used as a modem and the difficulties of dual NAT. None of which I understand. I naively thought its DHCP function would be turned off and an alternative router put on the network side rather like using an old router as an access point but in reverse.
Is that not possible?
 

spile

Active Member
With Digital Voice roll out underway I am reading with hypothetical interest various discussions regarding the necessity of having the Smart Hub 2 as a router in order to facilitate its landline function and whether it can be used as a modem and the difficulties of dual NAT. None of which I understand. I naively thought its DHCP function would be turned off and an alternative router put on the network side rather like using an old router as an access point but in reverse.
Is that not possible?
If you want to keep your BT line you have to use a Smarthub 2. It’s BT’s proprietary voip service. You could always change to another voip provider if you want to use a different router. If you simply want better wireless you could turn off wireless at the SH2 and add one or more wireless points . I use a repurposed router for this.
 

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