Upgraded my mums network - didn't quite go according to plan...

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
My mum has always been plagued by poor wifi coverage in her house - it's not a small house and wifi upstairs (router/hub is downstairs next to the phone socket) has always been sketchy at best. Years ago I installed two dedicated cat5e runs from the hub downstairs to upstairs bedrooms: one at the front of the house, one at the back. These were both used by static computers, until a few years ago when the one in the front bedroom because a backhaul cable and I used a second hub (both supplied by TalkTalk, my mum's ISP) as a WAP (backhaul into LAN, DHCP server off, same SSID and password) which worked for a while, but then clients stopped roaming between the two AP's and instead began hanging onto the last known one, so I had to split the SSID's on each to different ones and users had to manually select which one to use. I assumed this was down to them being cheap ISP provided gear that doesn't follow 802.11v/k/r (I forget which it is) handoff protocols when the AP's overlap each other but don't fall off enough to force a jump.

So... This ran like this for a while until recently when apparently the internet/wifi stopped working. After the usual "turn it off and on again" didn't solve the issue, apparently one of the lodgers (I wasn't able to get over there to deal with it at the time) took it upon themselves to call the ISP to try and sort it out. I had said in the past not to try and describe the network set up as I knew TalkTalk wouldn't a) be able to fathom it out and b) not support it anyway, and I was right - on both counts. They insisted only one hub should be in use, and then told the lodger to press and hold the reset button which of course wiped out any IP reserving I had and DHCP rules. Anyway, following the ISP's "tech guru's" instructions it was set up with two SSID's, one for 2.4ghz and one for 5ghz, and the upstairs router/AP was left out the equation. Turns out the issue wasn't the hub, it was the broadband supply having a day or so of being wonky, so all the above could have been avoided, but it was enough for me to tire of having two consumer grade POS hubs work against each other, so I talked to my mother about me redoing her entire network. My original plan was to put Apple networking equipment in, since that's what I use and, despite it being outdated, under specced and discontinued, my network has been rock solid for years and years and works fine, plus it's so east to administer since it can all be done from an iOS app. I decided against it for a couple reasons: I was going to put an Airport Extreme in downstairs, se the hub to modem only, connect it to the Extreme via ethernet and then use the backhaul cable to hook up an Airport Express upstairs, which has both a WAN and LAN (for passthrough) so I could pipe internet upstairs for the Express to put out as Wifi and pass through the LAN port to a point in another bedroom (for a static PC). Simple. I decided against it for two reasons: 1) downstairs there are 4 ethernet requirements and the Extreme only has 3 LAN (and one WAN) so I'd be short one connection, and 2) the Express doesn't have gigabit ethernet, only 10/100. Not a huge deal breaker as her broadband is roughly 37 Mbps, and no one in the house is doing heavy internal network traffic, so gigabit isn't hugely necessary, but I was thinking of future proofing.

So... After looking around I decided to go for a Ubiquiti UniFi UAP as the sole WAP: turn the wifi off on the TalkTalk hub, and have the UAP supply just a single SSID (dual band for both 2.4 and 5ghz) that everyone can use. Supposedly, the UniFi UAP's are very good for that, and the PoE made positioning much easier since it didn't need mains power running to where I wanted it. So I decided to mount it on the underside of the hallway ceiling in pretty much the most central point of the house with the infrastructure being:

Hub > backhaul upstairs > Netgear GS105 switch. The GS105 then feeds a cat 6 run a second bedroom and the PoE injector for the UAP. Nodal point is in the upstairs landing cupboard > cat6 from the PoE to the UAP. Simple.

See crude diagram
1602299580457.png


Everything installed as I wanted it to, I did all my own terminations and punch downs, made up patch cables etc (all tested and running at full speed, so I know I used 568B on everything) and then came the UAP power on (I'd already set it up and configured the SSID, password, etc) at home before installing. Powered on, my laptop (upstairs) connected and it ran great: about 32/33 Mbps on a speed test. My phone, that couldn't even see the TalkTalk hub's 5ghz network upstairs connected with full reception bars. Great! The downstairs front room, when my mum tutors online showed good solid connection too. But this is where it went wrong: the kitchen (which has a middle room between it and the hallway where the UAP is) showed drastically slower link speed than the TalkTalk hub, and in the garden my phone dropped the connection. Using the WifiSweetSpot app I was seeing 359 Mbps (average) link speed between the TalkTalk hub (5ghz) and my phone but only 100 Mbps when connected to the UAP. Granted the TalkTalk hub was only 8 feet away in (almost) line of sight (only a wooden room divider between) and the UAP was roughly 25/30 feet away but I have a feeling the load bearing wall between the UAP and where I was sitting is killing the signal. It's only a couple foot deep from the ceiling (above the doorway) but it's 9 thick brick with old school lime plaster either side, and the UAP wifi has to pass through it rather than go through the open door below it. Couple that with then having to go through an outside wall to the garden, it just couldn't handle it. Annoying, since the UAP I bought as the AC-LR (long range) and it has a 3x3 MIMO antenna config that's supposed to be high output. But whilst the upstairs is better off than it was, the downstairs (on the whole) is worse...

So now I'm stuck what to do. I don't particularly want to have both the TalkTalk hub and the UAP serving wifi, as it kinda defeats the purpose of having the UAP in a central location and I could just put a lower power Express upstairs as a WAP, and run both the hub and Express together (as I did before with the two TalkTalk hubs), or even put an Express both upstairs and downstairs and run them, via ethernet backhaul) with a single SSID as I do at home, as the Apple stuff seems to work quite well together.

Sigh. Old well built houses and their wifi killing structure!
 

stuart07970

Well-known Member
Ouch!
i’m guessing the “LR“ probably means long range in ‘free space’.
I guess having put in so much work, you best option would be to add in the cheapest UAP, ideally back hauled, but you can mesh them if there no way to run a cable.
(they also do very nice low level in wall options if that suits better)

an alternative cheap option would be two second hand Apple Airport Extremes both back hauled to the same switch - which was my previous solution and “just worked” for years.

now I’m on unifi and feel like I’ve gained a new hobby!!!

good luck sir
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
One of my original thoughts was two Extremes: one downstairs, one upstairs, connected together by ethernet, same SSID and the TalkTalk hub in modem mode. Would have been perfect except for one thing - the Extreme only has 4 ethernet ports (1 WAN and 4 LAN) and all 4 of the hub's LAN are used (two go upstairs; one is the backhaul cable and the other is the one that runs to room point A in the picture, one goes to the living room for the YouView box, for on demand/Netflix, and the last goes to a powerline adapter the partner of which is connected to the solar panel equipment in the understaffs cupboard. So I can't drop one any of those easily, the only option would be to move the switch downstairs, put the hub into modem only mode (connect it to the Extreme via ethernet), and then the Extreme to the switch, then use the remaining 4 ports on the switch to supply the four item above. Then the 2nd Extreme upstairs would take place of the switch in the landing cupboard: backhaul cable in, room point B out, two ports spare. If they only had 4 LAN (plus 1 WAN) they'd be ideal. Likewise, if the Express' had gigabit ethernet instead of just 10/100, they'd ideal too.

I did also think about pair of AC Lite, again one downstairs and on upstairs, but the problem remains needing an additional ethernet output for the downstairs UAP from the hub, so a 2nd switch would be required. Plus that was getting a bit overkill IMO, so I thought (hoped) a single AC-LR would work.

I'm thinking of those solutions now, both involve utilising the TalkTalk hub, which despite it's faults (cheap consumer grade SOHO device, doesn't like multiple wifi connections accessing then not, etc) it is fast, and in 5Ghz mode was showing me over 350 Mbps link speed, and neither involve the AC-LR, which I'm probably going to return.

1) Keep the hub downstairs performing wifi and wired duties, DHCP etc etc. Use the current infrastructure and instead of the UAP, put in an AirPort Express (2nd gen) as a dedicated upstairs device. I probably won't go down the same single SSID route for roaming as it didn't really work so great before, using two hubs, and even with the Airport Express I'd still expect the handoff not to be great, so I'd run two SSID's, as I did before (imaginatively titled UPSTAIRS and DOWNSTAIRS) so if you bring a device downstairs that is connected to the upstairs AP and notice it run slow, it's easy to flick between then two in network settings.

2) Maybe something like a DrayTek VigorAP 810, which would replace both the UAP and the Netgear switch in the landing cupboard, as it has 5 ethernet ports built in - enough for me to pipe in from the backhaul cable and then passthrough to room point B and leave a couple spare. The config would be the same as described in scenario 1. The only downside I can see is it's only 2.4Ghz, but still 802.11n so "capable" of 300 Mbps link speed - however, like the Airport Express, it only has 10/100 LAN and not gigabit (really, what is it with people not using gigabit as standard? We've had it since 1995)

Could always use a Vigor AP900 instead of the 810, which has simultaneous 2.4/5ghz dual band and gigabit ethernet switch built in. If it's strong enough to output a solid signal with it mounted inside a wooden cupboard, then it could be ideal (my mother wouldn't want it on show with the pointy aerials - that was part of the reason for choosing the UniFi AC-LR: it didn't look out of place next to the smoke alarm)
 
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Matt_C

Distinguished Member
Turns out I needn't worry about gigabit connectivity - the fudging ISP hub only has 10/100 built in (despite having 802.11ac) and since no one in the house will be moving large file transfers between devices, such as NAS or streaming servers, the speed limit will always be the download speed of the broadband anyway (which is ~37 Mbps)
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
I’m sure I’ve missed something but....why not ditch the talk talk hub and buy a cheap modem connect pppoe to an extreme which provides dhcp and start of WiFi. Connect that to hub. Connect all points to that hub by Ethernet with extremes extending WiFi where needing and also acting as switches. Any further Ethernet points provided by switches connected to the remote extremes. This is what I’ve done for years and generally it’s very reliable and flexible.
 

neilball

Well-known Member
As you’ve already got the Unifi device working well upstairs why not add an in-wall (either basic or HD version) downstairs? Once adopted it will have the same SSID as upstairs, and has either a built in 2-port sketch or 4-port switch depending on. which version you choose. So you have enough ports to cope without adding a further switch, and good wi-fi coverage that is all managed from the Unifi network controller software.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
When you said "only 100mbps" - I'd have bet you had something in the pathway that wasn't gigabit ethernet capable. If you want faster than 100mbps, then your backhaul infrastructure in the effected pathways will need to be gigabit (or better) capable. It's not at all unusual for SOHO kit with super high Wi-Fi link rates to have slower ethernet ports - you have to watch out for it why buying. There is a use case for it of course.

MIMO is not some magic cure all for all Wi-Fi ills. There's multiple ways MIMO can be used - typically to increase throughput (speed) by sending/receiving multiple spacial streams (but that requires the kit both ends of the link can support it) or by increasing range by using phased array transmissions and constructive interference to "steer" better signal thereby extending the range - so called "beamforming." However, the latter wasn't widely implemented in 802.11N and I don't know how well it's supported in 802.11AC. It also required clients that can cooperate in the "sounding" of the channel to discover how best to optimise the transmission matrix - nice thing is it should work in both the transmit and receive directions. I haven't tested it, but I wouldn't be expecting anything miraculous - more likely would be better rate-at-range (speed in a given location) rather than any radical coverage area improvements or structure penetration. The best way to improve Wi-Fi is to get the clients and AP's closer together, preferably with unobstructed line of sight, and that ususally means more AP's closer to the clients.

It is worth pointing out that it is the client devices that decide if/when to roam from one AP to another, not "the system." Even with the k/v protocols (which needs to be supported in the clients as well as the AP's) - these are kind of a way for the AP's to send a client a "hint" that it might want to consider roaming elsewhere - it's not mandatory for the clients to "take the hint" - if they don't want to roam, they don't have to.

In some flasher enterprise AP's, if we were bloddyminded enough, we can sometimes force roaming by literally kicking a client off the system entirely and refusing to re-admit to the AP it left for a while in the hope it goes somethere else. But it's a very blunt instrument and I prefer not to use it. SOHO kit generally doesn't offer such options at all.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
I’m sure I’ve missed something but....why not ditch the talk talk hub and buy a cheap modem connect pppoe to an extreme which provides dhcp and start of WiFi. Connect that to hub. Connect all points to that hub by Ethernet with extremes extending WiFi where needing and also acting as switches. Any further Ethernet points provided by switches connected to the remote extremes. This is what I’ve done for years and generally it’s very reliable and flexible.

Seems to be little point in that, for two reasons. 1) Once the TalkTalk hub is put into modem only mode it's doing what the cheap modem will be, so might as well just do that and 2) with zero ISP supplied gear in the mix, when someone invariable calls TalkTalk to complain the internet isn't working, they won't do jack since none of their equipment is being utilised. It could be 100% their supply issue, but soon as they're aware none of their gear is being used they revert to "it's your equipment and we can't support it. Sorry, nothing we can do *click*". Turns out last time when the "wifi wasn't working" it was the supply, not the internal network (as I said at the time while I was away. Of course TT denied it as the lodger who rang explained how we have two routers working and even though the one I was using upstairs was a TT supplied router/hub, they quickly changed to "it's not us, its your set up. Unplug it all and do factory reset". Which of course didn't fix it, and the next day it was working fine again because the internet supply had resolved.

So, back to topic. Although I'm familiar with the acronym, I'll admit to not knowing what PPPoE is. But with that kind of set up I would probably put the hub into modem only mode, ethernet from hub to Extreme, Extreme handles all DHCP etc and creates wifi, connect a switch (the GS105 I already have) to the Extreme and connect the 4 cabled points I have to that, one of which being the backhaul cable that will plug into an Extreme upstairs, from which the front bedroom wall point (currently being fed from the switch) will be fed from the Extreme.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
So, back to topic. Although I'm familiar with the acronym, I'll admit to not knowing what PPPoE is. But with that kind of set up I would probably put the hub into modem only mode, ethernet from hub to Extreme, Extreme handles all DHCP etc and creates wifi, connect a switch (the GS105 I already have) to the Extreme and connect the 4 cabled points I have to that, one of which being the backhaul cable that will plug into an Extreme upstairs, from which the front bedroom wall point (currently being fed from the switch) will be fed from the Extreme.

In this case pppoe would be the method used on the base extreme to talk to the modem and login to talk talk. Effectively the hub would become totally dumb and you can’t ‘see’ it at all.
As an aside I’d still argue for removing the talk talk hub as most stand alone modems will be much more reliable. However I take your point about support but counter that most support from these companies is utterly useless. I moved to plusnet, they don’t care what equipment is in use and just send the man from by to fix things and charge if it’s my fault.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
As you’ve already got the Unifi device working well upstairs why not add an in-wall (either basic or HD version) downstairs? Once adopted it will have the same SSID as upstairs, and has either a built in 2-port sketch or 4-port switch depending on. which version you choose. So you have enough ports to cope without adding a further switch, and good wi-fi coverage that is all managed from the Unifi network controller software.

I didn't know the in-wall's existed til I read this thread. They do look nifty that's for sure. The only reason(s) I'd not use one, in this instance, is mainly cost, plus a little installation. I could fit one down near the telephone point where the hub is and run a ethernet cable to it from there, but it'll still need offing around in walls to get it fitted nicely, and that's something I don't really want to be doing. But the main part is cost. Up til now the "network" has been, essentially, free - ISP supplied gear and cables I either inherited (or in the case of the original backhaul cable(s), supplied and installed by a friend ~20 years ago. So whilst to the likes of us, £120 isn't much, to my mum who knows nothing more than an iPad and seriously ageing Dell laptop (as in, she doesn't game, or do anything with computers except Google, facebook, email, a bit of word processing etc. She surprised me when I found out she was tutoring over the internet!), the mounting cost doesn't seem worth it for something that doesn't seem different (if that all makes sense). So I'm trying to do everything on a budget (she's retired apart from the part time tutoring) and just want to be stable and solid rather than cutting edge.

But I do get what you're saying, and to me it makes a lot of sense.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
When you said "only 100mbps" - I'd have bet you had something in the pathway that wasn't gigabit ethernet capable. If you want faster than 100mbps, then your backhaul infrastructure in the effected pathways will need to be gigabit (or better) capable. It's not at all unusual for SOHO kit with super high Wi-Fi link rates to have slower ethernet ports - you have to watch out for it why buying. There is a use case for it of course.

MIMO is not some magic cure all for all Wi-Fi ills. There's multiple ways MIMO can be used - typically to increase throughput (speed) by sending/receiving multiple spacial streams (but that requires the kit both ends of the link can support it) or by increasing range by using phased array transmissions and constructive interference to "steer" better signal thereby extending the range - so called "beamforming." However, the latter wasn't widely implemented in 802.11N and I don't know how well it's supported in 802.11AC. It also required clients that can cooperate in the "sounding" of the channel to discover how best to optimise the transmission matrix - nice thing is it should work in both the transmit and receive directions. I haven't tested it, but I wouldn't be expecting anything miraculous - more likely would be better rate-at-range (speed in a given location) rather than any radical coverage area improvements or structure penetration. The best way to improve Wi-Fi is to get the clients and AP's closer together, preferably with unobstructed line of sight, and that ususally means more AP's closer to the clients.

It is worth pointing out that it is the client devices that decide if/when to roam from one AP to another, not "the system." Even with the k/v protocols (which needs to be supported in the clients as well as the AP's) - these are kind of a way for the AP's to send a client a "hint" that it might want to consider roaming elsewhere - it's not mandatory for the clients to "take the hint" - if they don't want to roam, they don't have to.

In some flasher enterprise AP's, if we were bloddyminded enough, we can sometimes force roaming by literally kicking a client off the system entirely and refusing to re-admit to the AP it left for a while in the hope it goes somethere else. But it's a very blunt instrument and I prefer not to use it. SOHO kit generally doesn't offer such options at all.

As usual Mick, you're full of useful info and insight, most of which I don't fully get but have a grasp on :laugh: I understand what your'e saying about roaming and clients - even with my Apple set up (an Extreme and (cabled, secondary) AP Express my iPhone almost refuses to leave the Extreme, which is upstairs, despite when I go into the garden it all but disconnects from the wifi network. You'd think it'd auto switch to the stronger AP but it refuses to. I've even power cycled APs to get devices to connect to certain devices but eventually, after leaving the house, sleeping, etc, they come back to where they want to. Annoying.

For this reason I'm hesitant to install a "single SSID network with multiple AP's" network again. Even if I did the system I described in the post above, using two Airport Extreme that are supposed to be smart enough using Bonjour etc to facilitate roaming for best connectivity, as you say if the device doesn't want to it won't. And I know, from past experience, when that happens I start getting texts saying the wifi isn't working and I have to come over and create separate SSIDs for the different AP's.

Hence why I'm thinking the path of least resistance, crap as the hub might be, is to keep the hub in play as it is (working as a modem, switch and router handling all DHCP, etc, and starting creating a dual-band wifi network, then just plug an AP in upstairs (like how I have with the UAP) and creating a second network (on far away channels) so people that generally use their devices upstairs in bedrooms connect to that AP, and people that generally use their devices downstairs connect to that AP. It's not elegant, but was working until the "factory reset" incident in August.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
In this case pppoe would be the method used on the base extreme to talk to the modem and login to talk talk. Effectively the hub would become totally dumb and you can’t ‘see’ it at all.
As an aside I’d still argue for removing the talk talk hub as most stand alone modems will be much more reliable. However I take your point about support but counter that most support from these companies is utterly useless. I moved to plusnet, they don’t care what equipment is in use and just send the man from by to fix things and charge if it’s my fault.

They are totally useless. They're single "remedy" was factory reset. Be nice if they didn't care what equipment I use, Virgin don't seem to, and my personal set up is their hub in modem only mode --> Extreme (DHCP, MAC filtering, IP reservation, etc, and create wifi) --> backhaul cable to a switch downstairs --> Airport Express (set to create wifi but use same SSID and password to provide additional range, and also serves as an AirTunes connection). Worked flawlessly for years, apart from when clients refuse to roam as I described above in reply to Mick.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I don't recall which they were, but there was a few versions of iSomethings that were notorious for not roaming until signalling got really bad. A while ago, I happened on some Apple documentation that described how low the RSSI had to get before an iSomething would initiate roaming assessment - sorry I don't recall where it was, but from memory it had to be something like -70dB before it would even think about it.

We've possibly had this conversation before, but I'll mention it again here just for completeness: Wi-Fi clients will only ever roam between AP's if they have the same SSID (and only succeed if passphrase etc. are the same.) Clients will never roam between dissimilar SSID's, not matter how "bad" the incumbent gets.

This is because the paradigm for Wi-Fi is that clients regard AP's advertising the same SSID as being part of the "the same" extended network and thus eligible for roaming, whereas AP's advertising a different SSID as a "different" network so you wouldn't want to go there.

It's easy to illustrate why this is with a simple use case exemplar. Imagine I'm at SwankyCorp's head office in the middle of a busy urban area. Next door is our competitors EvilBusiness and over the road is Costa and McDonalds are on the ground level floor of my building. We've all got fleets of multiple AP's and can (mutually) see plenty of each others - potentially a few of my neighbours being just as "loud" as my own in some locations. Of course, I don't want my users to be jumping onto the neighbouring network, loosing connection to their work resources and possibly exposing our computers to a "foreign" network. So the Wi-Fi protocols "design out" the problem by only considering roaming to AP's advertising the same SSID's as the present incumbent. (Though interestingly, there's nothing to stop a "rogue" imposter impersonating one of my AP's - see "man in the middle attack.")

Of course, there's also use case such as a small deployment with few AP's and relatively sophisticated (or at least well trained) users where explicitly choosing which AP (and even which waveband) could be preferable.

There's not real "right" and "wrong" way to do this, you pays your money and makes your choice.

I don't think Bonjour has anything to do with Wi-Fi and certainly not "roaming" - it's more to do with things like name resolution, automatic discovery of servers offering service, etc. and trying to make that "zero configuration." So, for example, your network printer uses Bonjour to advertise it's presence on the network and what services it offers and your Bonjour capable clients can thusly "find" it and present it to you. I could believe Apple's kit might advertise iTunes targets and so on.

Bonjour sits "on top" of the underlying networking mechanism (IP) which in turn sits on top of the underlying physical transport - ie ethernet and/or Wi-Fi. Bonjour cannot/will not do it's thing until the underlying processes (IP/ethernet/Wi-Fi) are up and running.

PPP is "Point to Point Protocol." It's what your modem/router and ISP use to establish a link to each other - sometimes requiring userids and passwords (though I use BT and they once told me they don't check the password and you can use anything.) Some ISP's vet this to ensure that only their paying customers are connecting.

Depending on whether you are using (now) old school ADSL or more modern "fibre" broadband, there's a couple of basic flavours - PPP over ATM (PPPoA) was used a lot for ADSL links and PPP over ethernet (PPPoE) is used more in "fiber" type packages (amongst others.)

Basically, you don't need to worry about it if you use your ISP's supplied kit to create the link to them (as it's bound to be compatible) but if you go for after-market you may need to ensure you get something compatible with your ISP. And maybe have to do all that password capturing malarky if your ISP is one that vets it when you connect and they "burned in" the credentials to the modem/router they supplied and won't telllyou what it is.
 
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Matt_C

Distinguished Member
For ease of use, I'll likely keep the ISP hub for compatibility.

As I see it now I have two real options

1) Keep hub active and fit an AP (either an Airport Express or something like a DrayTek 910) upstairs to broadcast either the same SSID (or create a new one if roaming doesn't work - which it probably won't)

2) Put hub into modem mode, and install two Airport Extreme's (one upstairs, one downstairs) to handle the wired and wireless network (as above, either same SSID or two separate ones and let users manually switch between). I'm well aware Apple gear is outdated and behind the times when it comes to spec, but I know it pretty well and it's worked for me for a long time, so at least it'll be easy for me to administer. And the Extreme's are pretty powerful when it comes to broadcasting.

Obviously I realise the biggest problem factor is my mums house - solid brick walls, heavy thick floors: built to last, not for broadcast :laugh:

I do have a question: if I go into the hub's settings and turn off wifi, turn off DHCP server, effectively making it modem only, then run an ethernet cable out of one of the ports to the Extreme and let the Extreme handle all the DHCP etc (which is how I have my Virgin hub configured with my Extreme at my house) will the remaining three ports on the hub be inactive, or would I be able to use one or more of them for hardwired devices/points? Just thinking if I could, that would mean I would have enough ports available for all the devices/points connected currently, and I wouldn't need a switch in place downstairs.

1602429019008.png


Would that work or would I need to keep the DHCP server in the hub turned on for the LAN ports to function correctly (so the device attached was assigned an IP address to send and receive data). And if I had to use the hub for DHCP serving, would I need to turn it off in the Extreme's settings?
 
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MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
Make the hub just modem. Leave it at that. Don’t use any ports except the one to your router. This really is sounding more complex than it needs to be. I have a big, old, granite house and have never had a roaming problem.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
The reason for wanting to utilise the additional hub ports is to negate the need for a separate switch. As you can see, I have 4 LAN devices/points and if I'm going to use an Extreme connected to the hub I only have three LAN ports. So I need somewhere to connect the 4th, hence wondering if I can still use the hubs ports.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
I know 😊 but don’t. It won’t work. Buy an eight port switch or hub so there’s space to grow. They’re really cheap.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
It's not the price of the switch - I already have switch I can use, but it's just another device to have plugged in and find somewhere to live where it's out of sight but still easy to access if need be. I was just going for neat, really.

I didn't think it would work - I assumed that if I put it into modem only mode the hub wouldn't assign an IP to anything plugged into its LAN ports.
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
Be aware that turning off a SOHO router's DHCP Server (and/or Wi-Fi) does NOT "effectively turn it into a modem" - it's still running as a router (and NAT and firewall) and the built in ethernet switch will still be switching, so all the LAN ports will be active.

In order to operate a SOHO router as "just" a modem, the user interface must contain a setting that puts the device into modem mode. Most SOHO kit does not offer this. I don't claim to be a panacea of SOHO devices, but thus far it seems whenever folks have been enabling "modem mode" on kit that has it, everything (router/NAT/Firewall/switch/Wi-Fi) stops working except a single LAN port and the WAN port and the modem functionality between the two. You wouldn't want it any other way, but for brevity, I'll not get into why.

Technically there no problem having the DHCP Server "somewhere else" (we do it all the time in business) but for a simple SOHO LAN nothing is gained by so doing - you may as well leave your ISP connected router doing DHCP. I venture that using "something else" for DHCP Server in the SOHO use case is adding complexity for no advantage.

Leave your ISP connected router as a router and DHCP Server. That will leave it's LAN ports active too. If you don't want to use it's Wi-Fi, then simply turn it's Wi-Fi off (it's rarely more than a couple of clicks) Then use your AE's, Ubiquties etc. to deliver your Wi-Fi usage. Thence all you have to "worry" about is where to deploy the AP's to achieve the desired coverage footprint and service quality with having to get into more complex IP addressing mechanisms.

I'll repeat - Wi-Fi roaming issues are much more likely to be an issue with the client devices than the AP's.

You could also investigate your radio channel tuning plan:

If multiple near by AP's are tuned to the same radio channel, then (as well as competing with each other for "air time" nobbling throughput) you can find that the transmissions of one AP (and it's Associated clients) are quite literally "drowning out" the other and thusly you client might not realise an alternate is even there.

For this reason, it's best to have near by AP's tuned to different non-interfering radio channels. In small SOHO deployments, it's probably best to devise and deploy you own channel plan rather than let the equipment "auto-tune" as SOHO AP's do not "talk" to each other to automatically agree a channel plan. Enterprise systems and some of the so-called "whole home" and "mesh" systems might offer this. A bout of automatic re-tuning might be the cause of why it all fell to pieces in the first place.

In the 2.4GHz waveband, choose channels from the set [1,6,11] and if you have more than 3 AP's, try to physically locate AP's using the same channel as far apart as possible. In the 5GHz waveband, just make sure the channels are different and again if you only have a few channels availble (som cheap kit only support 4) locate AP's using the same channel as far apart as possible.
 
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Matt_C

Distinguished Member
Thanks Mick. My use of the term "modem only mode" stems from the VM hub I have that has a setting in it called just that. Now whether it truly puts it in to modem only mode and turns off the firewall and NAT along with DHCP server, and stops being a router, I couldn't 100% say. I can say the remaining three LAN ports on it do nothing (as I went and tried one this afternoon). In my set up, I have the VM hub set like that, LAN port 1 to the WAN port of the Extreme, the Extreme takes care of everything (I have DHCP set to assign from 1.4 up, since I have a few reservations for static IP's using MAC filtering; it also creates the wifi network and the Express I have connected to it (by a backhaul cable) "extends" that network by creating one with the same SSID and password (rather than extend in the traditional sense of a repeater - I stayed away from that as I understand it basically halves your wifi speed when linked as a wifi repeater)

So, that'd be how I was looking to do it at my mums. But I do think you're right, and leave the ISP hub to handle the routing duties, and just shut the wifi off, and use the Extreme's to handle wifi, as you say. Am I right in thinking that in this config, the LAN ports of the Extreme's will also work, and any decide connected to them will be assigned an IP by the hub, just as if they were a switch? If so that would declutter the hardware side of things, as I'd have enough ports downstairs to take care of the things I need connected, as well as being able to use the one upstairs to effectively "pass-through" the LAN to the wall point in room B (which is currently being done by the Netgear switch). That would streamline the set up, and hopefully a pair of Extreme's (that *hopefully* would work together a bit better than ISP supplied equipment, although I fully understand what you're talking about in regard to clients dictating roaming and not the AP's) at the very least will give decent/better wifi coverage.

Only really one way to find out I suppose. Get the gear, and spend a day installing and setting it up and see. That was the thing with the Ubiquiti UAP - on paper it was the perfect solution, but until I got it in place and everything hooked up, you just didn't know.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
On further reading up, seems if you keep an ISP provided hub/router handling all routing duties (DHCP, NAT, etc) you simply put each Extreme into "bridge mode" (then set to "Create wireless network" and give them both the same SSID and password - unless you want separate ones) and all ethernet ports then behave as LAN (rather than LAN and WAN). So it *should* be as simple as connecting the first Extreme to the TalkTalk hub using ethernet, then connect the second Extreme to the first using ethernet, put both in bridge mode, and give them an SSID, and I can keep all my downstairs cabled connections as they are and use the upstairs Extreme to "pass through" the wired connection to the wall point in the second bedroom, instead of the switch (leaving that for expansion if needed further down the road)

1602503700814.png
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
From memory VM is one of the vendors that supply router that have a "proper" modem mode setting (I've never used one.) Thence, the first AE it connects to is your router/NAT/firewall and (probably) DHCP Server. The reason it knocks out everything but one LAN port has to do with how IP addressing works - we can get into that if you want an explanation.

I don't know AE's, but in most SOHO routers the "LAN" ports (however many of them there may be) are a built in ethernet switch with (kind of) a couple of "internal" ports, one connected to the built in router/NAT/Firewall and one connect the built in Wi-FI AP.

I attached a "block diagram" of a typical SOHO router to the "Using Two Routers Together" FAQ pinned in this forum - take a look at that and perhaps it'll make sense of it.

IIRC one of AE's "tricks" is that it you click the right options it can turn it's WAN port into an extra LAN port (from memory it's called something like "bridge" "pass through" mode or something similar - I'd have to check a manual.)

Thusly, you can regard the LAN ports as switch ports and as long as they are cabled together using LAN port (if not using "bridge/passthrough" mode if it support it) then anything plugged into them will function as if it's plugged into a switch. Which include getting traffic to/from the DHCP Server in your ISP router.

EDIT - you beat me to it..! Your last diagram is how I would expect it to work (and what I'd recommend.) That'll sort the basic backhaul connectivity and IP addressing, thence it's just up to which devices you want to have function as Wi-FI AP's and how you name the SSID's, etc.
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
Thanks Mick. It was that pinned post I used to set up the initial system I had (which was the previous TalkTalk supplied router with a Netgear DG834, then after TalkTalk sent this newer AC router (Huawei HG635, which turns out does have gigabit LAN ports - I was looking at the wrong model before, the 633) I used that as the main router, then the previous TT router set up the way you described as a SOHO AP)

So all I have to do now is decide which option to take: Hub as is and just add and Express (or Extreme) upstairs; hub as is and add an Extreme next to it and an Express upstairs; or hub as is and use two Extreme's as per my diagram. I'm leaning to a pair of Extreme's since I think my mum's solid-walled and thick floor house needs all the power it can get, although just throwing an Express/Extreme upstairs *might* suffice, and the Express is neater and smaller (less conspicuous looking)
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
I think what I'm going to do is get hold an an Extreme (probably the 5th gen dual band N version, rather then the newer AC version, although if some comes by at a good price I could be tempted) and trial it - I can take it over there, set it up downstairs and trail it's reception, then take it upstairs and trial it's reception, see how it fares. Of course, with them being discontinued now (and the 5th gen being 8/9 years old) I'm having to buy used, which takes time.

Thanks for everyone's help, will come back and update/ask more if I get stuck (again)
 

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