Dumping my NetGear RBKE963 6E Mesh -- AP Alternatives with Wireless Backhaul?

Dodge DeBoulet

Occasional Visitor
After struggling with connectivity issues requiring weekly reboots of my RBK963, I've given up. This 6/6E solution is hot garbage, and the only way I've been able to get any semblance of stability is to replace its routing/DNS/DHCP functionality with an OPNSense-based firewall and a Pihole and turn it into an access point. Even then I have to reboot it every 3-4 weeks to get some devices to reconnect. I have a 22 page log of the support incident with NetGear and my patience is way beyond exhausted. I will very likely be obtaining a refund from either the reseller or NetGear (my state has an implied warranty law that makes most limited warranty restrictions irrelevant).

I should also mention that I found the Orbi's configurability far too simplistic for my needs; no separate 2.4/5GHz access points (other than the IoT network, which is not isolated from the "main" network), opaque firewall, aggravating port forwarding configuration, painfully slow and inconvenient DHCP address reservation setup ... I could go on.

So ... I'm extremely happy with the "new" firewall (it's actually an older Dell SFF PC with a dual-port GigE NIC); rock-solid stable, highly configurable, and actually lets me see who's banging on my WAN NIC. And the Pihole offers a cleaner and more convenient mechanism for managing DHCP reservations (never mind the excellent ad/malware filtering). I intend to keep both as I move forward with a mesh wifi replacement, and this means that I don't need a wifi router.

I have a large house (4000+ square feet), with 3 locations that need both wifi and wired support. One is central, the other two at opposite ends of the house. I'm looking for an AP solution that offers a dedicated wireless backhaul, with connectivity for wired devices at the satellite locations. While one of the satellite locations is potentially suitable for a wired backhaul, the other is not (at least without a very expensive cable run).

I have 6E devices on my network so support for that is desirable. I would also like the option to configure distinct 2.4GHz and 5GHz VAPs. I am not at all averse to considering "professional/commercial" level solutions; I spent $1500 on this NetGear mess and figure I'll have at least that much to spend on its replacement.

If you've read this far, I admire and appreciate your commitment :) Thanks in advance for any recommendations/advice!

EDIT:

A few more details ... I have approximately 40 wireless devices and another 20 or so wired devices. Approximately 2/3 of the wireless devices are IoT; thermostats, switches, plugs, webcams and appliances, including Four 4K-capable media consumption devices (those are pretty much all wired but 2 of them would require connectivity via a wireless backhaul); 3 of the 4K devices are often in use simultaneously.

Our current ISP subscription is 300/10 but we commonly get 350/12 and are considering an upgrade to 900/20. That's not really an issue for AP selection, although I would prefer the AP "hub" support at least 2.5Gb/s ethernet.

The house is on a very private, geographically isolated 7 acre plot, so no interference to worry about from neighboring wifi APs/routers.
 
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Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
I'm extremely happy with the "new" firewall (it's actually an older Dell SFF PC with a dual-port GigE NIC); rock-solid stable, highly configurable, and actually lets me see who's banging on my WAN NIC. And the Pihole offers a cleaner and more convenient mechanism for managing DHCP reservations (never mind the excellent ad/malware filtering). I intend to keep both as I move forward with a mesh wifi replacement, and this means that I don't need a wifi router.
This is how you do it! :cool:

Now, the problem..... wireless backhaul. It's a PITA if you can't / don't run Ethernet to the locations where you want coverage. However there's options like powerline / moca / etc. to extend Ethernet over existing cabling. Preferably running Ethernet for proper connectivity and less headaches plus more options for AP's to be used.

It's worth investing in the cabling if you want a long term solution w/o headaches. How much is your sanity and time worth when it comes to issues with getting online resources to work w/o rebooting all of the time? I reboot my AP ~90 days when there's a new firmware that's a manual update not pushed by the OEM. It's rock solid for uptime and I get 1.5gbps out of my laptop connected using an AX411 M2.

Throwing money at subpar equipment repeatedly doesn't make sense. Running a couple of Ethernet drops shouldn't be that expensive and if you have someone do it w/ dual cables to the locations you have a backup in those locations and save $$$ on the POE side or power the AP's or you can just do a switch at the wall and use POE injectors since you're only doing 2 remote AP's.

3 x AP's = $450
3 x POE injectors = $210 / switch might make more sense
2 x Ethernet drops = ? (get a few quotes) - buy a roll of cable and just pay for labor.

Considering you're talking about $1500 in equipment this leaves you $800 to get it properly cabled which is a significant amount of spending ability. It shouldn't cost that much though to run 4 cables.
 

Dodge DeBoulet

Occasional Visitor
Well, I have to say that the wireless backhaul on the RBKE963 is blazingly fast and continues to work very well even when the wifi connectivity issues occur. It's primarily the connectivity with IoT devices that required me to reboot weekly.

I just figured that someone else would have figured out an equally fast wireless backhaul solution by now that didn't have similar wifi connectivity issues.

FYI ... the RBKE963 satellites replaced 2 MoCA adapters I'd been using previously at those locations.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
It's just not a consumer option because of the price points that are targeted. You can do it but it's going to cost quite a bit more than $1500 to link opposite sides of the house. Not to me mention you'll likely need FCC licensing to run it. Line of sight helps but, with the higher grade options it's not necessary due to the power the systems can output.

The lag on the consumer side for new tech is significant compared to what's been used in business applications for decades or in the provider spaces.

The AP I'm using covers 1300sq ft comfortably corner to corner and hits the mark for speeds on the LAN at 1.5gbps which is near the 1.7gbps max minus overhead of the link rate of 2.4gbps. Covering 4K sq ft shouldn't be much of an issue with 3 of them as noted above. Also, each AP has an additional 1GE port on them for use beyond the 2.5GE POE port that connects back tot he "FW". This brings up another issue... upgrade the NIC on the Dell to a quad port 5GE for $200 to provide enough ports / speed if you were to add some drives to that box for NAS use.

The # of devices you mentioned doesn't make much difference nor the 4K video since the LAN if you're hosting your own content per stream is under 100mbps and if you're using a service it drops to ~20mbps/stream with compression. The IOT devices don't use much bandwidth either.
 

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