Switching to Virgin

Hi All,

Currently with Sky for my broadband upto 63Mbps. The contract is up and its going up to £28.50 which is not a huge sum but it got me looking at other offers.

Virgin are offering M100 for £24 with no install/setup fees and £100 Amazon Voucher.

My only issue in the past with Virgin was poor WiFi coverage in the bedroom at the back.

Can anyone suggest if these WiFi Mesh systems will improve that and if so what ones should i be looking at ?

Thanks
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
There is nothing particularly "special" about so-called "mesh" systems - it's just a fleet of managed Access Points (AP's) akin to the sort of thing IT professionals have deployed on large sites forever. It's just been simplified, automated and repackaged to provide an offering to the SOHO user base that lacks experts and expertise to build and configure such systems for themselves.

What makes them "better" than a single "router" in the middle if the house is that they avail multiple Wi-Fi hotspots which will improve the coverage and (possibly) the performance depending on how many clients you have, how they are distributed between the hotspots, how the hotspots are deployed and located, and how the AP's establish their "backhaul" links between each other and the rest of the (wired) network. This is true of any deployment consisting of multiple AP's/hotspots - "mesh" or otherwise.

The key "trick" with Wi-Fi deployments of multiple AP's ("mesh" or otherwise) is how one establishes the "backhaul" link between the AP's and the rest of the (wired) network. "Proper" wired ethernet is by far the best (fastest and most reliable) backhaul method. Not all SOHO "mesh" systems offer wired backhaul, but some do.

It's also possible to backhaul over Wi-Fi and a lot of the SOHO "mesh" systems offer this. This has some consequences for performance and positioning of the nodes (they need to be "in range" of reasonable signalling conditions of whatever they link to) and SOHO offerings will try to automate the establishment of which talks to which (in "enterprise" systems, we'd tend to manually configure it.)

It is also possible to backhaul over things like the mains electricity circuit using technology such as HomePlugs or satellite TV cabling using MOCA. Again, these technologies can have performance implications over "gold standard" of "proper" cabled ethernet backhauls.

I don't doubt a lot of "mesh" systems will offer a single management platform (iee an "App") and maybe things like some of the more recent technologies that try to "steer" client devices to use the "best" AP at any given time. But to know for sure what we are getting, one needs to dive into the datasheets and compare it with a wish list.

There is no useful definition of what a "mesh" system is - not least since "marketing" got hold of the term - and things like what backhaul methods they offer, what link rates (speeds) they offer, what protocols they support and so on need to be obtained from the datasheets and product descriptions. I prefer to try and get hold of the manuals ahead of purchase and read them - a lot of vendors offer them on their web sites.
 
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Storvay

Distinguished Member
Hi All,

Currently with Sky for my broadband upto 63Mbps. The contract is up and its going up to £28.50 which is not a huge sum but it got me looking at other offers.

Virgin are offering M100 for £24 with no install/setup fees and £100 Amazon Voucher.

My only issue in the past with Virgin was poor WiFi coverage in the bedroom at the back.

Can anyone suggest if these WiFi Mesh systems will improve that and if so what ones should i be looking at ?

Thanks
I can’t give anything like the detailed answer @mickevh has given you and can only give a layperson, consumer view.

All I can say is that I have found the mesh system is use to be terrific (Eero). I plugged it in, set them up and I had good signal in rooms (and garden) where previously none existed.

Like I say, I’m not claiming they’re magic or anything special but I found it very easy and ‘did what it said on the tin’.

Hope that helps!
 
There is nothing particularly "special" about so-called "mesh" systems - it's just a fleet of managed Access Points (AP's) akin to the sort of thing IT professionals have deployed on large sites forever. It's just been simplified, automated and repackaged to provide an offering to the SOHO user base that lacks experts and expertise to build and configure such systems for themselves.

What makes them "better" than a single "router" in the middle if the house is that they avail multiple Wi-Fi hotspots which will improve the coverage and (possibly) the performance depending on how many clients you have, how they are distributed between the hotspots, how the hotspots are deployed and located, and how the AP's establish their "backhaul" links between each other and the rest of the (wired) network. This is true of any deployment consisting of multiple AP's/hotspots - "mesh" or otherwise.

The key "trick" with Wi-Fi deployments of multiple AP's ("mesh" or otherwise) is how one establishes the "backhaul" link between the AP's and the rest of the (wired) network. "Proper" wired ethernet is by far the best (fastest and most reliable) backhaul method. Not all SOHO "mesh" systems offer wired backhaul, but some do.

It's also possible to backhaul over Wi-Fi and a lot of the SOHO "mesh" systems offer this. This has some consequences for performance and positioning of the nodes (they need to be "in range" of reasonable signalling conditions of whatever they link to) and SOHO offerings will try to automate the establishment of which talks to which (in "enterprise" systems, we'd tend to manually configure it.)

It is also possible to backhaul over things like the mains electricity circuit using technology such as HomePlugs or satellite TV cabling using MOCA. Again, these technologies can have performance implications over "gold standard" of "proper" cabled ethernet backhauls.

I don't doubt a lot of "mesh" systems will offer a single management platform (iee an "App") and maybe things like some of the more recent technologies that try to "steer" client devices to use the "best" AP at any given time. But to know for sure what we are getting, one needs to dive into the datasheets and compare it with a wish list.

There is no useful definition of what a "mesh" system is - not least since "marketing" got hold of the term - and things like what backhaul methods they offer, what link rates (speeds) they offer, what protocols they support and so on need to be obtained from the datasheets and product descriptions. I prefer to try and get hold of the manuals ahead of purchase and read them - a lot of vendors offer them on their web sites.
Thanks for the time and input on this. Some of it makes sense and i understand but some stuff went straight over my head :)

I was looking at TP-Link Deco E4, Amazon Eero and Tenda Nova systems, all under £100.

Currently i have the router downstairs in the living room with a switch connected to the sky router and things running off that, such as a ps5, tv, hive etc.

WiFi is decent enough upstairs and shows a strong signal all over. Virgin i know is cack as the wife always moaned when we had it. Based on what i have read, any of the above Mesh systems would solve my issue should i switch to Virgin.
 
I can’t give anything like the detailed answer @mickevh has given you and can only give a layperson, consumer view.

All I can say is that I have found the mesh system is use to be terrific (Eero). I plugged it in, set them up and I had good signal in rooms (and garden) where previously none existed.

Like I say, I’m not claiming they’re magic or anything special but I found it very easy and ‘did what it said on the tin’.

Hope that helps!
How many Eero things did you have? I'm not sure whether I need 2 or 3. As i mentioned above, i was looking at 3 different ones. The TP link provides 3 for £89 but the amazon one is more costly at £149 for 3 or 2 for £90ish
 

Storvay

Distinguished Member
I have 4 - I could get away with three but I have much better coverage when I’m using my gym with the 4th.
 
I have 4 - I could get away with three but I have much better coverage when I’m using my gym with the 4th.
What size house are you in and what rooms do you place them? I assume the more you have, the better you're coverage/speed will be all over?
 

Storvay

Distinguished Member
More does not equal better. Just works for mine.

I have 2 downstairs, 1 upstairs and 1 in my gym.

Apologies, not going to be going over the exact topography of my house as that’ll be irrelevant to your own setup.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Maybe it's worth visiting a few fundamentals of how Wi-Fi works which may thence help with understanding and hopefully inform decision making:

One of the biggest Wi-Fi myths is that there is something called "Wi-Fi signal" as if it's some ethereal energy field like The Force or Ley Lines or something. There is no such thing as "Wi-Fi Signal" - it doesn't even work as a metaphor.

Wi-Fi works like sound, only it used radio transmissions instead of audio transmissions. So ask the question "if I was "fixing" my problem if it was using sounds, how would I do it...?"

Wi-Fi is a two-way radio "conversation" between communicating peers like walkie-talkies, not a one-way "lecture" like television. Every Wi-Fi device on the planet - phones, tablets, laptops, printers, HomePlugs, AP's, routers and everything/anything else are all radio receivers AND transmitters. Only one thing at a time can transmit - I talk you listen, you talk I listen. The more "things" there are, the more they wish to say, the more competition (it's anything but "fair") there is for some "air time."

Wi-Fi is deliberately "quiet" and the transmit power is limited by law. Pretty much everything is, and always has been, transmitting as loudly as legally possible. There are no "magic" anything with "much better signal" than anything else. Though there are a few "tricks" to make it appear so.

At a basic level, since everything is already being as "loud" as allowed, if client-AP pairs cannot "hear" each other very well, then we either have to move them closer together, remove the structures between them or a combination of both. In most homes, I suggest taking down the walls is impractical so we are left with getting the communicating peers closer to each other.

Thusly, unless we are going to move all our clients next to our router/AP, then the remaining option is to deploy AP's nearer to where our clients are creating a "cellular" pattern of hotspots. Usually that means adding additional AP's closer to where we do most of our Wi-Fi'ing (if we cannot move our single "router.")

Things like "mesh" systems, Repeaters, (also sometimes given names like "Extenders,") or just stand alone AP's achieves this. The "trick" with such things is how we establish the backhaul links between them as discussed previously.

And finally a clarification of nomenclature: All Wi-Fi is availed by Access Points (AP's) not "routers." This is not just hair splitting over nomenclature, in the field of data networking an AP and a router are very different things. The "get-you-on-the-Internet" omni-box we have at home contains both and much more besides. AP's get built into many things such as SOHO "routers," Repeaters, Extenders, Mesh nodes, (some) HomePlugs and so on. To deploy additional Wi-Fi hotspots and build up a "cellular" coverage pattern, you only need additional AP's not "routers." "Mesh" systems are AP's with some extra functionality and often a common/integrated management platform.

I hope that's useful.
 
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