How many access points, and which ones?

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by Triggaaar, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    I'm in a large old house with a few blackspots. I've got Cat everywhere (ish) and I understand it's better to use a few access points, rather than try and get an expensive new router.

    I have 2 * Sky Hub2, an old TP-Link TD-W8960N, and an older Netgear of some sort.

    We have a couple of old iPhones, iPads, Hudls, none of which have 802.11ac capability, so I guess there's no great need to buy a nice AC router, although a newer router presumably would give faster wifi even on 802.11n.

    Should I just use my old routers (with DHCP off) to cover the blackspots? Or, partly because of the problem of devices hanging on to a rubbish signal instead of switching to a better one, should I get something like the TP-Link Archer C8 for £82 to give faster speeds in the main areas (and future proofing), and also use my old routers for blackspots?

    Thanks
     
  2. mickevh

    mickevh
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    If only it was that simple. An "old" 300mbps N router will be just the same speed as a "new" 300mbps router (by way of example.) Plenty of older "N" routers are (again for example) 450mbps capable and many new "N" routers are "only" 300mbps capable, some even less.

    "New" does not imply "faster." One has to check the datasheets of everything and see what it is capable of to assess potential link rates (which is itself a product of the capability of both client and AP/router.) Wiki's article on 802.11N has a rather good table of the permutations of antennas, encoding rates, FEC, etc. and the resultant link rates (ever erroneously called "speed.") Though a lot of mfgrs are a bit slack about reporting their equipment capabilities. When I'm king of the world (or CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance) I'm going to mandate that everyone has to list the MCS Index values their gear supports.

    That's a judgement call, there's no real "right" and "wrong" way to do it. But nothing you can do with your routers will effect whether your client devices will roam between them - roaming is a decision entirely in the gift of the client devices. The only thing you could do is give each router a different SSID so that you have to explicitly choose your link. But then you've no chance of automatic roaming, roaming only works between AP's with the same SSID, passphrase, etc.

    I often opine that it's Wi-Fi myth number 2 that clients are always "hunting for the strongest signal" (not that there's any such thing as "Wi-Fi signal" - that's Wi-Fi yth number 1.) Equally, I've never seen anything written into standard that says clients should "hunt for the fastest AP," so you could end up wasting your money if your mindset is "if I buy a faster AP, my clients will favour it because it's fastest." I've no reason to believe they will.

    There are arguments for buying faster AP's, but "fixing" one cell in order to benefit all the others isn't one of them. In an ideal world, one would make all cells the same capability and (reasonably) well matched to or exceeding the client capabilities. E.G. No point in replacing a 300mbps AP with a 450mbps AP if your fastest client is "only" 150mbps capable. One has to asses the system in it's entirety, including the client devices, to determine where it's best to spend the money to improve things

    Wi-Fi is Voodoo.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
  3. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    I'll check out what I have, thanks.

    Yes, I've got all that, thanks.

    I'm not sure even that would be ideal, because I understand that speed gets slower as a signal gets weaker, so even if you have the same devices everywhere, your device could suffer if it logs onto the wrong access point. Which in this day and age, is just daft.

    I think I shall just go with what I have for now, and shove them all over the place, since I don't have anything that can use 802.11ac anyway.

    Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
     
  4. mickevh

    mickevh
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    It's a slight over-simplification (there's other factors as well as basic signal "strength" - signal "quality" is arguable more important than the "volume,") but basically yes. In Wi-FI as things get further apart, and/or signalling get tougher, Wi-Fi stations (either the ones in your hand, or the ones nailed to the walls,) slow down. By design - it's meant to work that way.

    It can be maddeningly inexplicatble as to which AP a client chooses sometimes. I've sat under an AP on a site with lots of them - in most locales you're "in range" of a least half a dozen of them - and powered up my laptop from cold & dark & watched it jump onto an AP a floor (or two) above me when there's one literally a meter above my head. One has to be a bit "zen" - Wi-Fi is just like that.
     
  5. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Maybe someone should change it.
     

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