Powerline question

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by cunnas, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. cunnas

    cunnas
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    Hi all
    I am very, very new to powerlines so bare with me!

    I am on Virgin BB 200MB and the router is in my front room. I have a few wired devices connected and the wifi from the router is generally good but not great in some upstairs rooms and the conservatory.

    I have a VERY basic powerline adapter, not sure what speed but it is probably 10 years old. I have one wired to the router, the other in the conservatory and it works but the speed I get on my laptop in the conservatory, using the Powerline adapter, isn't great.

    I only use the laptop for light use, some downloading etc so the speed doesn't bother me that much but what does bother me is the lack of wifi in the conservatory - I get 0 to 1 bar.

    I have seen some of the newer powerline adapters and saw some "extend wifi" - I am not sure how that works so have a basic question.

    Say I was to buy this....

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/TL-WPA4220...393175&sr=8-4&keywords=tp-link+powerline+wifi

    I am assuming this is just a faster speed than my current powerline setup but with the added wifi extender. How does it actually extend the wifi? Does it use the wired connection via the powerline and "beam" that from the plug in the conservatory? Does it somehow find the poor wifi network signal there is currently and improve that?

    If it does the former does it call the new wifi a different name to the current one?

    Apologies if these are really daft questions but just wanted some reassurances on how this will work before I buy
     
  2. mickevh

    mickevh
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    On big sites data networking professionals achieve Wi-Fi coverage by creating a "cellular" coverage pattern made up of multiple Wi-Fi hotspots. Each hotspot is facilitated by something called an "Access Point" (or "Wi-Fi Access Point," AP or WAP.) In fact, all Wi-Fi is availed by AP's, however in things like SOHO "routers," HomePlugs and so forth, an AP is built into a box that also does other things.

    The "trick" with multi-cell Wi-Fi coverage patterns is how one establishes the "backhaul" link between AP's and the rest of the (wired) network. "Proper" wired ethernet backhaul is the fastest and most reliable. If domestic harmony precludes getting out drill and installing wires, then backhaul over the mains using Powerline/HomePlug type technology is probably next best. One can also use Wi-Fi to provide backhaul, but it's generally the least good option.

    The HomePlugs you've linked are the second option. Functionally , it's the same as your existing units in that they transport data over the mains electrical circuit. Where they differ is that at the "remote" end, that network can be thence onward connected over both wired and Wi-Fi links by virtue of the remote plug having it's own AP built in.

    The name a Wi-Fi AP advertises is called an SSID (strictly speaking it should be "SSID Name" but we IT pros tend to be a bit lazy when speaking and just call it the "SSID.")

    Most AP's will let you name the SSID however you like. Some AP's that feature something called "WPS" will even try to clone the SSID of another AP in order to ease the setup, but you don't have to use WPS and can set in up manually if you like. (In SOHO kit it's usually little more than setting the SSID Name, passphrase and maybe the radio channel and protocols you want to enable.)

    Whether to have multiple AP's (even as few as two AP's) with the same or different SSID's is a matter of personal choice, there's no "right" or "wrong" way to do it and both approaches have virtues and vices.

    With SSID's the same, you don't have to choose which AP to connect to, your client will choose for you and it is possible a client might "roam" from one AP to another automatically without any user intervention. However, beware of falling for "Big Wi-Fi Myth Number 2" that clients are constantly "hunting for the best signal." They do not, and some need it to get pretty grotty before the initiate a roaming assessment. That might mean that you could quite literally be say next to one AP, but be "in session" with the other one further away if your client thinks it's still getting a good enough service to not need to roam. Incidentally, note it is the client devices that decide if/when to initiate a roaming assessment, not "the system."

    With SSID's different, you can always be sure which AP you are in session with as you have to explicitly choose it, however clients will never roam between AP's until they completely loose connection or you intervene and switch manually.

    As you might imagine, on a big site with 10's/100's of AP's, we tend to use the same SSID everywhere as most users don't want to keep manually moving from one AP to another as they move around site. However, in a domestic environment with relatively few AP's some people prefer to be able to explicitly choose the AP they connect to and accept that they will never get any automatic roaming.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
  3. cunnas

    cunnas
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    thanks for the very detailed explanation.

    But just a simple question, the powerline that I plug in to the wall in to the conservatory, that beams out a "new" wifi, perhaps under a different SSID, or cloned, but it is using the stronger connection from the powerline and not somehow catching on to the very, very weak current wifi signal?
     
  4. cjed

    cjed
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    Yes, the WiFi Powerline unit you linked to is a WiFi AP (Access Point) that connects to your router via the second Powerline device, with data being passed over your mains wiring. It is NOT a WiFi repeater (which would just relay data from an existing (weak) WiFi source).
     
  5. cunnas

    cunnas
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    Thanks mate that’s helful
     

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