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Couple of questions around monitoring router bandwidth and Homeplug speeds

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
Morning all,

I've just bought an IPTV box that connects directly to a Belkin wifi router using ethernet. The streaming IPTV works great and requires a minimum 2Mbps connection which is amply provided by my 10Mbps Virgin broadband service. The Virgin connection is throttled to 2Mbps during the day if you exceed the download threshold of 3GB (1.5GB in the evening :mad:) although we haven't noticed any degradation in picture quality, even when using a laptop at the same time for casual browsing.

The IPTV box is also capable of outputting true HD quality (it has a HDMI socket) but stutters on anything over 720 resolution so I've configured it to the lowest setting of 480 which works just fine and suits us better anyway since we don't have a proper 1080 HD TV. I'm guessing that setting the IPTV box to 480 will also use far less bandwith.

I've got three related questions around this setup and would be grateful if anyone can help:

1. I'd like to monitor just how much data is being streamed and used by the IPTV box. It doesn't need to be pinpoint accurate, a rough estimate of the ballpark figure would suffice. Both my laptop (via wifi) and desktop (via ethernet) are connected to the same Belkin router so I think I need to install something there.

However, I've tried several tools such as SolarWinds and PRTG but these all require a router with support for SNMP that my lowly Belkin doesn't have. Other apps such as Networx (great tool BTW) are useful for monitoring bandwith from the host client only.

The reason I'd like to monitor the amount of data being used by the IPTV box is twofold; to measure the total amount of bandwith used by the IPTV box over a given period (say 30 minutes) so I can see if it's likely that the threshold would be exceeded (and thus the broadband speed throttled) and ...


2 ... to determine which speed Homeplug I need! The router is in the study and the IPTV box needs to be in the lounge. For this, I want to use Homeplug but am unsure which speed I need. The IPTV box requires a minimum of 2Mbps for streaming and I'm thinking that the 85Mbps homeplugs will be more than adequate for this since my Virgin broadband has a maximum speed of 10Mbps anyway.

Can anyone advise whether 85Mbps Homeplugs will do the job of streaming video at a minimum of 2Mbps using a 10MB broadband connection? Even with excessive noise on the mains line, surely an 85Mbps Homeplug would be capable of streaming at least 10Mbsp?


3. I've read the FAQ about Homeplugs and it advises against using an extension lead but I won't have any choice as there's just a single spare socket in the study. Because of this, the Homeplug in the study will be connected to a 6-gang extension lead as the first device nearest to the wall socket. Unfortunately, all the other plugs will also be used plus another extension hanging off of this too :rolleyes:

In total, there are 10 devices hanging off a single extension :eek:

I just wanted to ask if having more devices "downstream" on the extension, i.e. more extensions and plugs connected after the Homeplug, would affect the speed of the network? Or does it make no difference because the Homeplug is as near as it can be to the mains ring? Also, is the speed between the two Homeplugs reduced if both are on an extension or if only one (either the source or the access point) is? The Homeplug in the lounge can be put on a mains socket but I won't bother if it won't make any difference in speed because the source Homeplug in the study is on an extension.


Thanks in advance for reading through this long post and also for any help and guidance!
 

themediaman

Established Member
1. Dont know any tools but I am sure there will be someone with an idea.......

2. I would also be confident that the 85Mb/s plugs would be more than enough....if it was 1080p stuff then the 200Mb/s would probably be needed...

3. You can get pass through home plugs that come with a socket on the front essentially freeing up the socket you are using, means the home plug can still be directly connected to the mains socket..

Does the 10Mb broadband from Virgin not come with unlimited usage, I was on that speed a year ago, no throttling took place, the speeds were capped at peak hours but that was about it.....
 

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
2. I would also be confident that the 85Mb/s plugs would be more than enough....if it was 1080p stuff then the 200Mb/s would probably be needed...

Thanks for this, I think the 85Mbsp would suffice but if the price of a pair of 200Mbsp is only a few quid more than I'll go for those. To be honest though, I've had the 10MB Virgin brandband for a few years now and it's perfectly fine for me so I can't see it being upgraded unless Virgin do one of their free upgrades.

3. You can get pass through home plugs that come with a socket on the front essentially freeing up the socket you are using, means the home plug can still be directly connected to the mains socket.

Yes, I already looked into this but the problem is that the mains socket is right next to a cupboard with hardly any space around it. The passthrough plugs I've seen are either too long or too wide (or both). Would the degradation of speed in using a Homeplug on an extension really drop to less than 10Mbsp if put on an extension?

Does the 10Mb broadband from Virgin not come with unlimited usage, I was on that speed a year ago, no throttling took place, the speeds were capped at peak hours but that was about it.....

Yes, sorry, that's just my terminology, I thought throtted/capped was the same, the speed is indeed capped at 2Mbsp with unlimited usage.
 

themediaman

Established Member
If you can afford the 200s its definitely good for future proofing. The plugs speeds are more concerned with the speed of your LAN as opposed to internet connection...

The space issue is a pain, but to be honest, if you can find the right extension without any fancy feedback protection etc, I dont think it should really matter, obviously if you have all the devices running at the same time off the same extension you are likely to see negative effects, is this the only plug socket in the room....?

Your description of the net connection is that if you exceed a certain download speed then it will be capped, to me that's a restrictive package, an unlimited package would mean you could download at your maximum speed at all times, so 10Mb/s = 1.25MB/s theoretically, the cap i experience is only usually at peak hours, so most likely during the day, which for me is good as I am at work....I mention this as an unrestricted package would eliminate the need for you to monitor what your IPTV is doing, no.?
 

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
If you can afford the 200s its definitely good for future proofing. The plugs speeds are more concerned with the speed of your LAN as opposed to internet connection...

Yes, but I'm unlikely to need super fast LAN speeds as the only thing the Homeplug will be used for is the streaming IPTV that requires 2Mbsp.


The space issue is a pain, but to be honest, if you can find the right extension without any fancy feedback protection etc, I dont think it should really matter, obviously if you have all the devices running at the same time off the same extension you are likely to see negative effects, is this the only plug socket in the room....?

Unfortunately, yes, it's the only socket in the room near the kit. All the other sockets would leave wires trailing everywhere and wouldn't be at all practical. I was just interested if the negative effects are cumulative, i.e. if you plug in more stuff to the xtension, does it further degrade the speed?


Your description of the net connection is that if you exceed a certain download speed then it will be capped, to me that's a restrictive package, an unlimited package would mean you could download at your maximum speed at all times, so 10Mb/s = 1.25MB/s theoretically, the cap i experience is only usually at peak hours, so most likely during the day, which for me is good as I am at work....I mention this as an unrestricted package would eliminate the need for you to monitor what your IPTV is doing, no.?

The Virgin package is unrestrictive in that there is no download limit. If you download more than 3GB during the day or 1.5GB during the evening, the speed is reduced by 75% which is the same for all Virgin broadband tariffs apart from the top 50MB package. So with my 10MB package, this would cap the speed of the connection at 2MB but not restrict the amount that can be downloaded.

The reason for monitoring the IPTV usage is because I occasionally work from home and would like to know how much data the streaming video gobbles up. If it's caning something ridiculous then once the threshold of 3GB is reached, the connection speed will drop to 2Mbps that might not be enough to use both IPTV and download files.


The reason for that advice is that some extensions work while other don't. Unfortunately, to find out you need to suck it and see.

Thanks for that, I have several and I'll try them all.
 

themediaman

Established Member
the decision is yours on the homeplugs then, you wouldn't need the 200s though..

i do believe the more load is on the extension, the higher chance of bad signal....

I wasnt aware of this capping on all broadband tarrifs.............I have downloaded fiiles larger than 2GB, 16GB in fact and still had the right speed, how long would you expect to be throttled/capped for.....
 

themediaman

Established Member
Nope. Its the way that they are contructed that counts.

What gives best results then....?If there was no choice but to use an extension....?
 

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
I wasnt aware of this capping on all broadband tarrifs.............I have downloaded fiiles larger than 2GB, 16GB in fact and still had the right speed, how long would you expect to be throttled/capped for.....

Traffic management policy here complete with all throttles/caps -> Our traffic management policy


Nope. Its the way that they are contructed that counts.

What gives best results then....?If there was no choice but to use an extension....?

Yes, I'd like to know this too. The bloke at Maplin told me newer homes have a better mains ring and thus are more reliable for faster speeds when using Homeplug so an extension would not degrade the network significantly (the house where they will be used is 12 years old).
 

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
If you can afford the 200s its definitely good for future proofing. The plugs speeds are more concerned with the speed of your LAN as opposed to internet connection

As an aside, my ancient Belkin router is capable of up to 54Mbps speeds max anyway so I don't think there would be much to gain from paying a premium for 200Mbsp Homeplugs. If I can get a pair for just a few quid more, fair enough, otherwise I think the cheaper 85Mbps range would do just fine.

Can anyone help with the first question about monitoring router traffic? :lease:
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
As an aside, my ancient Belkin router is capable of up to 54Mbps speeds max anyway so I don't think there would be much to gain from paying a premium for 200Mbsp Homeplugs. If I can get a pair for just a few quid more, fair enough, otherwise I think the cheaper 85Mbps range would do just fine.
The 54Mbps will almost certainly be the wireless speed - the network sockets will be 100Mbps.
Bear in mind that with both WiFi and homeplugs the quoted speeds are theoretical maximums - actual through put will be lower but in either case your broadband won't saturate the local network.

Given the potential loss of quality using an extension I would go for the 200Mbps plugs as the incremental cost is not that much more and if you get more network traffic in the future you'll end up replacing the 85Mbps ones AND buying the 200Mbps plugs - YMMV ;)

Can anyone help with the first question about monitoring router traffic?
If you just want an indication - doesn't your router have any data usage stats?
All you need to do is disconnect everything note the useage on the router but the streamer then play back a 30 minute program and compare the values - apologies if your router set up is locked down I've been on ADSL for years.
 

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
The 54Mbps will almost certainly be the wireless speed - the network sockets will be 100Mbps.
Bear in mind that with both WiFi and homeplugs the quoted speeds are theoretical maximums - actual through put will be lower but in either case your broadband won't saturate the local network.

Yes you're right, I forgot this would be the Wifi speed and not the ethernet speed :facepalm:


Given the potential loss of quality using an extension I would go for the 200Mbps plugs as the incremental cost is not that much more and if you get more network traffic in the future you'll end up replacing the 85Mbps ones AND buying the 200Mbps plugs - YMMV ;)

I think I will go for 200Mbps Homeplugs as you say, the cost is not that much more than 85Mbps and the IPTV could be used for all manner of exciting and ambitiously legal ways of streaming media :D


If you just want an indication - doesn't your router have any data usage stats?
All you need to do is disconnect everything note the useage on the router but the streamer then play back a 30 minute program and compare the values - apologies if your router set up is locked down I've been on ADSL for years.

I wish it were so. The Belkin has no data usage stats that I can see and is a quite simple affair which is both good and bad.

Good in that it's a meat and veg type of router without any of the complexities of more expensive Linkysys kit so it's easy to use :)

Bad in that it's a meat and veg type of router without any of the complexities of more expensive Linksys kit so there's no reporting other than how many ICMP's have been blocked :(
 

Dodgy_Geezer

Prominent Member
Quick update on this, I bought a pair of TP-Link 85Mbsp homeplus from eBuyer for £25 inc. (see TP-Link 85Mbps Powerline Adapter Twin Pack - PRICE.. | Ebuyer.com). Went for these in the end as the 200Mbsp TP-Link were 15 quid more and I don't need the speed. Play.com are also selling the same kit for £30 inc. with next day delivery (see Play.com - Buy TP-Link TL-PA101KIT 85Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter online at Play.com and read reviews. Free delivery to UK and Europe!).

These work perfectly and I even have one of them plugged into an extension. Getting around 65Mbps according to the TP-Link utility and the streaming HD is perfect :smashin:

Build quality seems very good, not cheap and plasticy and the front is a lovely glossy black finish. In the box are two homeplugs, 2 ethernet cables, a mini CD for the utility plus some other documentation. The warranty is 3 years from TP-Link.

Word of caution though to anyone looking to buy some of these babies; the TP-Link homeplugs are quite big and will not plug into an extension if you have a conventional plug next to it as there's not enough space for both. The solution is to either use a block to elevate the TP-Link (but this makes your four gang even more bulky) or to ensure you only connect something with a slimline plug next to the TP-Link (I have my router plug which is slimmer than a normal plug).
 

Kristian

Prominent Member
1. I'd like to monitor just how much data is being streamed and used by the IPTV box.

Get hold of a hub (or managed switch and span/monitor the port) and connect the IPTV box and a PC/laptop running a network sniffer. Wireshark is a good one and it'll give you what you need, e.g. data volume over time.

It needs to be a hub for the sniffer to see the traffic, or a managed switch.
 

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