Grain connect internet issues

Chief NL

Active Member
Hey everyone,

I couldn't find a thread on this but if there is do let me know.

So we moved into our new built house about 10 months ago now. It came with a Grain Connect router installed, and after the free trial we were quite pleased with the service so we stuck with it. However now that the year is nearly over I'm debating whether or not we should stay or switch.

Currently we pay £40 a month and get approx. 900 mbps into the house. That sounds ridiculous when you say it like that but the router is in the cupboard under the stairs, where our living room is on the first floor and master bedroom on the second floor so it's really quite inconvenient. Grain had to throw in 1 WiFi extender for free and 1 for half price just so I can get decent WiFi up there. I am currently sitting in the office on the ground floor and approx. 5 metres away from the router with 2 walls in between and this is left of the 900 mbps:

Afbeelding1.png


I had to run an ethernet cable from the WiFi repeater upstairs to my Xbox to get high enough speeds to download games in a decent amount of time (approx. 250 mbps).

Now, I don't mean to say it's all bad, I've had very few cut outs over the last 10 months and the customer service is top notch. Basically if you email them it's more of a live chat, they're that fast at responding. But the fact I know that tells you how often I've emailed them I guess.

Now, I've thought about switching, but are there providers out there that will give me the same potential speed? It's fiber all the way up to the property but could any other provider make use of that? We're pretty stuck with this router being on the wall.

Something else I've thought about is run a Cat7 ethernet cable from the router through the wall to something like this:
Amazon product

Any similar situations and opinions about best course of action are appreciated.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
You need to sperate ISP from routers. No point changing ISP just because of poor wifi performance. £40 is pretty cheap for the performance you are getting.

As you mention, either Ethernet or powerline will help you if walls are causing a problem for Wifi. As a first step I would do a walk round with something like WiFi Analyser on a laptop or phone and make a map of where you need additional Wifi points, channels available, other networks encroaching, etc.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Wi-Fi and Internet Service provision are unrelated. If you "de-couple" them and provide your own Wi-Fi infrastructure "indecently" from you ISP router, then whenever you change ISP, (or router) the Wi-Fi infrastructure is unaffected. If contemplating installing cabling, particularly if that cabling is being installed to avail the "backhaul" links between Wi-Fi Access Points (AP's) and your router, then now is the time to think about deploying your own Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Wi-Fi repeating always robs bandwidth ("speed") - it's intrinsic in how it works as the "backhaul" traffic from router to repeater(s) has to compete for "air time" with any client---router or client---repeater traffic. Basically, in such a scenario "only one things at a time can transmit."

With an infrastructure of multiple AP's - creating a kind of "cellular" coverage pattern - by far the best way to handle the "backhaul" traffic between AP's and the rest of the (wired) network is by using "proper" UTP cabled ethernet backhauls. Again, if you are getting the drill out anyway, now would be a good time to think about this holistically.

A cellular coverage pattern with proper wired backhauls also does away with the bandwidth robbing of repeaters. It's what we do on big sites - dozens/hundreds of AP's all running wired backhaul unless there is absolutely no other option than to use repeating.

Ethernet does not work any "better" (or worse) because you give it higher "cat" cables. cat5e can support gigabit ethernet up to 100m and higher (such as 2.5/5/10Gig) speeds to shorter distances over decently installed infrastructure.

cat7 installation is much more stringent that cat5e (and cat6) - there's much, much, more to it that what cat cable you buy. Most cat7 is also shielded and all that needs to be strapped to earth making for a more complicated installation effort. (It also has to be installed into "proper" "containment" - no tacking it to the skirting boards for example - to actually be "cat7.) I wouldn't waste your time and money - go for something easier to install like cat5e or maybe cat6 if the price difference isn't that much.
 
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Chief NL

Active Member
You need to sperate ISP from routers. No point changing ISP just because of poor wifi performance. £40 is pretty cheap for the performance you are getting.

As you mention, either Ethernet or powerline will help you if walls are causing a problem for Wifi. As a first step I would do a walk round with something like WiFi Analyser on a laptop or phone and make a map of where you need additional Wifi points, channels available, other networks encroaching, etc.
I was actually looking at programs called WiFi Manager and WiFi Analyser to get a better understanding of my network. I’ll download them and see which one works best and try to map out where the problems are
 

Chief NL

Active Member
Wi-Fi and Internet Service provision are unrelated. If you "de-couple" them and provide your own Wi-Fi infrastructure "indecently" from you ISP router, then whenever you change ISP, (or router) the Wi-Fi infrastructure is unaffected. If contemplating installing cabling, particularly if that cabling is being installed to avail the "backhaul" links between Wi-Fi Access Points (AP's) and your router, then now is the time to think about deploying your own Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Wi-Fi repeating always robs bandwidth ("speed") - it's intrinsic in how it works as the "backhaul" traffic from router to repeater(s) has to compete for "air time" with any client---router or client---repeater traffic. Basically, in such a scenario "only one things at a time can transmit."

With an infrastructure of multiple AP's - creating a kind of "cellular" coverage pattern - by far the best way to handle the "backhaul" traffic between AP's and the rest of the (wired) network is by using "proper" UTP cabled ethernet backhauls. Again, if you are getting the drill out anyway, now would be a good time to think about this holistically.

A cellular coverage pattern with proper wired backhauls also does away with the bandwidth robbing of repeaters. It's what we do on big sites - dozens/hundreds of AP's all running wired backhaul unless there is absolutely no other option than to use repeating.

Ethernet does not work any "better" (or worse) because you give it higher "cat" cables. cat5e can support gigabit ethernet up to 100m and higher (such as 2.5/5/10Gig) speeds to shorter distances over decently installed infrastructure.

cat7 installation is much more stringent that cat5e (and cat6) - there's much, much, more to it that what cat cable you buy. Most cat7 is also shielded and all that needs to be strapped to earth making for a more complicated installation effort. (It also has to be installed into "proper" "containment" - no tacking it to the skirting boards for example - to actually be "cat7.) I wouldn't waste your time and money - go for something easier to install like cat5e or maybe cat6 if the price difference isn't that much.
I just noticed a big performance increase when I changed a Cat 4 (I think) to a Cat 7 cable to connect my Xbox. But this over a distance of 2 meters. Do you think that if I pulled a cable through the wall over approx 5-10 meters to a nee AP it wouldn’t be such a big difference?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Cat4 is ancient history - I would be surprised if it was that, though obviously without actually seeing it I can only guess.

Ethernet works at fixed rates - it does not vary up/down like Wi-fi does. Ethertnet over UTP cabling (other types of cabling can also carry ethernet, though they are mostly history these days) works at 10/100/1000mbps or not at all. 2.5Gig, 5Gig, 10Gig, 40Gig are also available, though there's not much SOHO market penetration of those (yet) so I'll ignore them for the purposes of this discussion.

So the "cat" of the cabling is about guaranteeing that a particular "speed" of ethernet with work to some given distance. 10/100/1000 is good for up to 100m over cat5e or better, 10/100 will go over cat5 or better, sometimes even 1000mbps will work over cat5.

The UTP cable is constructed of multiple "pairs" of wires twisted around each other. cat5e and up mandates that there are 4 pairs (8 cores) within the cable. For lower cats, UTP was available with "only" 2 pairs (4 wires.) Telco's sometime still use 2-pair cat5 for wiring up analogue telephone systems.

Ethernet can work over 2-pair cable, but only at 10/100 speeds. 1000mbps requires 4-pair cable. It's due to how the data is signalled over the wires.

So, again this is complete guesswork sight unseen, if you had some 2-pair cat4 then it may have "worked" but only at 10/100 speeds. Replacing it with something 4-pair, of any cat, (5 or better) would avail 1000mbps. So it may not be that it's the increase in "cat" per se that made it go faster, but potentially the transition from 2-pair to 4-pair.

Of course, I may be chatting rubbish and making up a conspiracy theory. But if you care to, have a look and the plugs on your old "cat4" cable and see if there are 4 or 8 wires in there. It may explain the difference.

Equally, it could be that one (or more) of the wires in your "cat4" cable was broken (or the pins in the plugs corroded for example) preventing all 8 wired being used to create a 1000mbps link, but enough were intact that could support 10/100, Replacing such a broken cable would yield a faster link, but again it's not that the new cable is a higher "cat" that made it faster, but that you replaced something faulty (yielding degraded operation) with something fully "working."

Again, this is speculation as to be sure we'd have to put a cable tester on the wires and that's a lot of expense and hassle just to "prove a point" as it were.

Newbies and Ley people do tend to rather tie themselves in knots "worrying" about the "cat" of UTP cabling and presume that higher is always "better." However, there's a few professional network managers and cabling infrastructure installers lurk in this forum who have been dealing with such infrastructure for decades, so I submit you can be confident of getting good advice here. You really don't need to worry that much. Cat5e (or cat6 if you like) is more than good enough for the foreseeable future and will carry ethernet up to 1000mbps to at least 100m. Possibly higher and further (I've certainly seen 1000mbps ethernet go to 120m on cate5e which is "outside spec." but worked just fine.) Both are relatively easy to install, hard to get badly wrong (poor termination is the biggest culprit) and don't have anything like the installation stipulations of cat6a/7/8.
 
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Chief NL

Active Member
Cat4 is ancient history - I would be surprised if it was that, though obviously without actually seeing it I can only guess.

Ethernet works at fixed rates - it does not vary up/down like Wi-fi does. Ethertnet over UTP cabling (other types of cabling can also carry ethernet, though they are mostly history these days) works at 10/100/1000mbps or not at all. 2.5Gig, 5Gig, 10Gig, 40Gig are also available, though there's not much SOHO market penetration of those (yet) so I'll ignore them for the purposes of this discussion.

So the "cat" of the cabling is about guaranteeing that a particular "speed" of ethernet with work to some given distance. 10/100/1000 is good for up to 100m over cat5e or better, 10/100 will go over cat5 or better, sometimes even 1000mbps will work over cat5.

The UTP cable is constructed of multiple "pairs" of wires twisted around each other. cat5e and up mandates that there are 4 pairs (8 cores) within the cable. For lower cats, UTP was available with "only" 2 pairs (4 wires.) Telco's sometime still use 2-pair cat5 for wiring up analogue telephone systems.

Ethernet can work over 2-pair cable, but only at 10/100 speeds. 1000mbps requires 4-pair cable. It's due to how the data is signalled over the wires.

So, again this is complete guesswork sight unseen, if you had some 2-pair cat4 then it may have "worked" but only at 10/100 speeds. Replacing it with something 4-pair, of any cat, (5 or better) would avail 1000mbps. So it may not be that it's the increase in "cat" per se that made it go faster, but potentially the transition from 2-pair to 4-pair.

Of course, I may be chatting rubbish and making up a conspiracy theory. But if you care to, have a look and the plugs on your old "cat4" cable and see if there are 4 or 8 wires in there. It may explain the difference.

Equally, it could be that one (or more) of the wires in your "cat4" cable was broken (or the pins in the plugs corroded for example) preventing all 8 wired being used to create a 1000mbps link, but enough were intact that could support 10/100, Replacing such a broken cable would yield a faster link, but again it's not that the new cable is a higher "cat" that made it faster, but that you replaced something faulty (yielding degraded operation) with something fully "working."

Again, this is speculation as to be sure we'd have to put a cable tester on the wires and that's a lot of expense and hassle just to "prove a point" as it were.

Newbies and Ley people do tend to rather tie themselves in knots "worrying" about the "cat" of UTP cabling and presume that higher is always "better." However, there's a few professional network managers and cabling infrastructure installers lurk in this forum who have been dealing with such infrastructure for decades, so I submit you can be confident of getting good advice here. You really don't need to worry that much. Cat5e (or cat6 if you like) is more than good enough for the foreseeable future and will carry ethernet up to 1000mbps to at least 100m. Possibly higher and further (I've certainly seen. 1000mbps ethernet go to 120m which is "outside spec." but worked just fine.) Both are relatively easy to install, hard to get badly wrong (poor termination is the biggest culprit) and don't have anything like the installation stipulations of cat6a/7/8.
Thanks for this thorough explaination, I will stop worrying and whinging about UTP cable Cat's then, haha.

Just installed a program called WiFi scanner:
WiFi scanner.png


I hope the picture is good enough quality, I removed the graphs for the neighbors WiFi, the baby monitor and the video doorbell to make it a bit clearer. What I find odd (but what do I know) is that both my 2.4Ghz en 5Ghz networks are listed 3 times. The 5Ghz ones are all on the same channel, and the 2.4Ghz ones all in a different one. Is that normal?

Edit: the reason there's 3 of them will be that it's the main router and 2 repeaters I'm guessing
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I hope the picture is good enough quality, I removed the graphs for the neighbors WiFi, the baby monitor and the video doorbell to make it a bit clearer. What I find odd (but what do I know) is that both my 2.4Ghz en 5Ghz networks are listed 3 times. The 5Ghz ones are all on the same channel, and the 2.4Ghz ones all in a different one. Is that normal?

Edit: the reason there's 3 of them will be that it's the main router and 2 repeaters I'm guessing

That's pretty much correct:

These type of Wi-Fi scanners don't actually listen to the radio transmissions, they synthesis all the information (and graphs) they display from the meta-data obtained by doing something called a packet capture on your Wi-Fi NIC. They "miss" a great deal (such as all the client devices - they all transmit too,) but they are better than nothing for a freebie. But treat them with a pinch of salt as they are missing the big picture (including all the non-Wi-Fi sources usin the same radio frequencies - the video senders, baby monitors, car alarms, microwave ovens, etc. etc. - Wi-Fi is but one user of the applicable radio frequencies.)

What the free Wi-Fi scanners do show is anything in the vicinty advertising itself as a Wi-Fi Access Point, not just the SSID names. This differs from when you click on the icon on your device to pick a network as that only shows you the SSID names. In an environment with multiple AP's all advertising the same SSID, the "network picker" only lists each SSID once, but the Wi-Fi scanner shows each AP separately. If you look closely at any SSID's with the same name, they have different MAC Adresses (the BSSID.) So we can use this sort of tool to assess which AP's are on which channels and how loudly they are transmitting relative to each other - which can be useful for channel planning.

So you are correct that in an environment using repeaters, you see the repeaters and the router/AP they are repeating separately in the Wi-Fi scanner. Because of the way repeating works, they are probably tuned to the same radio channel as their "base" AP/router - that's just down to how Repeating works.

It's much the same deal for devices that are "dual band." You can think of such devices as being two AP's in one (physical) box - one AP serving the 2.4GHz waveband and one AP serving the 5GHz waveband. Hence, for a dual band AP where each waveband is using the same SSID, the client device "network picker" only lists the SSID once, whereas the Wi-Fi scanner shows each separately.

In an environment with both dual band and repeaters, it can look pretty funky!

In Wi-Fi radio channel planning, it's best to have nearby AP's using different radio channels so that neighbouring cells don't "interfere" with each other. This is particularly problematic in the 2.4GHz waveband as there's only (effectively) 3 non-interfering channels available and 2.4GHz transmission reach further than 5GHz.

Some repeater type devices only do the "repeating" using the 5GHz waveband (where there are more channels available, and higher speeds) but just use 2.4GHz for "normal" client access. That might explain why you see some of your repeaters using the same radio channel as you router in 5GHz (to create the backhaul) but use different channels in 2.4GHz.

Whilst it may look strange, it's nothing to be concerned about. Albeit that Wi-Fi Repeating is something that a "pro" planning a Wi-Fi deployment would try to avoid as it impacts channel availability/planning and performance ("speed") unless the use case was for really low traffic levels. If "speed" is your thing, then Repeating is best avoided if possible.

What we would prefer is to put in lots of lovely new cabling with AP's on the end of them and spend time optimising the channel plan until it's as good as we can get it (or in really big deployments, hope the automation will do it for us.) Generally the idea is to get data off the air-waves and onto wires as soon as possible (what I call the "backhaul" links) thereby freeing up as much Wi-Fi "air time" as possible for where it's most useful, ie the client--AP transmissions.
 
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Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
Hey everyone,

I couldn't find a thread on this but if there is do let me know.

So we moved into our new built house about 10 months ago now. It came with a Grain Connect router installed, and after the free trial we were quite pleased with the service so we stuck with it. However now that the year is nearly over I'm debating whether or not we should stay or switch.

Currently we pay £40 a month and get approx. 900 mbps into the house. That sounds ridiculous when you say it like that but the router is in the cupboard under the stairs, where our living room is on the first floor and master bedroom on the second floor so it's really quite inconvenient. Grain had to throw in 1 WiFi extender for free and 1 for half price just so I can get decent WiFi up there. I am currently sitting in the office on the ground floor and approx. 5 metres away from the router with 2 walls in between and this is left of the 900 mbps:

View attachment 1685660

I had to run an ethernet cable from the WiFi repeater upstairs to my Xbox to get high enough speeds to download games in a decent amount of time (approx. 250 mbps).

Now, I don't mean to say it's all bad, I've had very few cut outs over the last 10 months and the customer service is top notch. Basically if you email them it's more of a live chat, they're that fast at responding. But the fact I know that tells you how often I've emailed them I guess.

Now, I've thought about switching, but are there providers out there that will give me the same potential speed? It's fiber all the way up to the property but could any other provider make use of that? We're pretty stuck with this router being on the wall.

Something else I've thought about is run a Cat7 ethernet cable from the router through the wall to something like this:
Amazon product

Any similar situations and opinions about best course of action are appreciated.


You certainly dont need the long range version of the Ubiquiti Unifi 6 AP, the standard version would be fine in most domestic situations

Amazon product

I use Ubiquiti Unifi both in my own house and also on quite a few of the jobs i do, which are both business and domestic. Maybe a little more expensive than the consumer products but certainly worth it in my opinion.

At home i have their UDM Pro router, POE switch and 5 APs (old victorian house with thick walls) all wired back with Cat6 cable.

BTW Cat7 was never ratified as a standard by the TIA as i understand it
 

Chief NL

Active Member
You certainly dont need the long range version of the Ubiquiti Unifi 6 AP, the standard version would be fine in most domestic situations

Amazon product

I use Ubiquiti Unifi both in my own house and also on quite a few of the jobs i do, which are both business and domestic. Maybe a little more expensive than the consumer products but certainly worth it in my opinion.

At home i have their UDM Pro router, POE switch and 5 APs (old victorian house with thick walls) all wired back with Cat6 cable.

BTW Cat7 was never ratified as a standard by the TIA as i understand it

Cheers for all replies so far. Quick question, on the YT reviews I see some guys using this fancy Ubiquity software to monitor their network. I'm guessing that costs £££ and I won't get it included for buying the Unify?
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
Cheers for all replies so far. Quick question, on the YT reviews I see some guys using this fancy Ubiquity software to monitor their network. I'm guessing that costs £££ and I won't get it included for buying the Unify?

Software is free and is available as an app on the phone or loaded on a PC

You can also buy a dedicated Unifi box to run it (the UDM pro does this for me) but there are other Unifi "cheaper" boxes


Finally you can also load the software onto a Raspberry Pi
 

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