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Is wifi 6 the solution for my slow office network?

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by businesstx, May 23, 2020.

  1. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    I have a small office network that contains the following:



    QNAP 453A NAS connected via ethernet directly to the TP-Link TL-R476G+ Router

    Huawei WS832 Wifi router (only used as access point) connected directly to the TP-Link TL-R476G+ Router

    TP-Link TL-R476G+ Router (5 port with no wifi) connected to ISP modem

    Two 16 port switches (TP-Link SG-1016DT) – to various ethernet ports around the office.

    Two HIKVision 16 port POE Switches connected to 25 POE IP Cameras

    Printer (Wifi only)

    10-15 laptops (wifi only - no ethernet ports)

    1 old laptop with ethernet



    I attach an image of the setup.



    The TP-Link TL-R476G+ Router (5 port with no wifi) is connected to the ISP modem and the Huawei router is connected to this R476G+. The Huawei Wifi router is configured as an access point only so that we can connect to the printer and NAS via wifi.



    Due to the lockdown, we do a lot of video conferencing calls and online PPT presentations to different people and the quality of the video calls or online PPTs is sometimes bad due to lag. We use software like Zoom to hold the video meetings. Sometimes there are 2 or 3 of these meetings going on at the same time. Nearly all the devices being used for these meetings are laptops (as they have built in webcams and microphones) and all the laptops are wireless ac standard. Only one laptop has an ethernet port which we prefer to use over wifi.



    We run the online meetings and each meeting has between 9-18 people remotely attending and are at least an hour long. Whoever starts a meeting first (from this office), generally has the best connection and all the others do not. Sometimes some people cannot even connect the internet at this time i.e. their wifi cannot connect to the Huawei AP.



    All the equipment we currently have uses ethernet or wifi (ac standard). We have a fibre optic connection with an advertised 200Mbps.



    The POE cams all record locally. They do not access the internet, so on a daily basis the POE cams are not using the internet connection as no-one is remotely viewing the cams.



    I think the problem is that the Huawei router LAN ports only support 100Mbps so the connection from the Huawei to the TP-Link TL-R476G+ Router is slowing everything down.



    My question is whether getting a MU-MIMO wifi 6 router like the TP-Link Archer AX6000 or Asus AX86U or AX88U will improve the performance of our video calls and network?



    Can the older devices benefit from the wifi 6 router even though they are not running on the wifi 6 standard? Doesn't the fact that it can manage the devices better, mean that all wireless devices have a more access to the internet (thereby improving call quality)? My understanding is that the AC standard router doesn't manage the traffic as well and only serves one client at a time, hence if one client is hogging the connection, all the others are left waiting. The MU MIMO router should manage this better so all clients (even non-ax standard clients) get better access to the internet.



    Also, if I did get a wifi 6 router, where would be the best place for it to sit in the network? I was thinking of removing the Huawei and TP-Link TL-R476G+ Routers and replace them with this single Wifi 6 router connected to the ISP Modem.



    As for routers, I would like the Asus AX88U as it has 8 LAN ports but it is toooooooo expensive so I might go for the AX86U instead. If you have any suggestions for alternatives, please let me know.



    Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.



    Thanks



    Ray
     

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  2. Tech Focus

    Tech Focus Regular Contributor

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    Is Huawei only AP? Is your TP link router also wifi router?

    If Huawei is the only AP, I think you already identified bottleneck, the 100 Mbps link. It is the best to confirm it by doing some speed test so there is nothing else hidden/need replacement. If for some reason your TP link router is also problem, you then need wireless router to replace both.

    Once confirm the bottle neck theN getting rid/replace that unit is the way to go. With 200 Mbps service, you won’t technically need wifi 6 and without wifi 6 client you won’t see any benefit. AC wave 2 Routers/AP with 2x2 clients can get you over 500 Mbps. When you need more than 600 Mbps on standard setup with 2x2 is when wifi 6 is becoming important in my opinion.

    But the Ax router will definitely fix the bottleneck if the issue is indeed AP, it may just be an over spec. Some may think it’s for the future proof, which I went through the route myself but it’s not because wifi 6E is coming unless you already have bunch of wifi 6 devices. In fact, sometimes lower end efficient wifi 6 system can be slower than more optimized wifi 5 system.

    If your setup is working as intended and just want to have better internet speed, I would personally consider just searching for dedicated AP. So for future if any reason you want/need mesh network or more AP, you can use it as AP and have wireless router on top etc.
     
  3. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    The Huawei is an 2 stream AC1200 class router, so yes, you could benefit from an upgrade. But you don't necessarily need to move to a high-end AX router.

    You didn't say how large an area you are trying to cover, whether it is open space or walled and where your AP is located.

    Also when you say you are running a video session with 9-18 people are all those people on the Wi-Fi network in the office?

    All versions of Wi-Fi can be slowed by a slow device hogging airtime unless they implement some sort of "airtime fairness". Each generation (N / AC / AX) has gotten better at mitigating the effects of slow devices, but it still happens.

    All the stuff you hear about AX and higher efficiency depends on having AX devices. But my tests show you generally don't get higher throughput or even lower airtime congestion from enabling OFDMA.

    Long story short, I would get rid of the Huawei router (the 100 Mbps port does limit maximum Wi-Fi throughput) and add a four-stream AC or AX router, centrally located.

    If you have a large area with walls, an alternative would be two AC1200 Access points placed at opposite ends of the office. This would increase available bandwidth if you set each AP to different channels.

    If you use two APs, set 20 MHz B/W on 2.4 GHz and 80 MHz on 5 GHz and set each router to different channels using 1,6,11 in 2.4 GHz and 36 or 149 in 5 GHz. Space them apart, maybe opposite ends of the office to maximize coverage.

    Don't pay extra to get more Ethernet ports on a router. Gigabit switches are cheaper. You should also avoid daisy-chaining switches as you do in your diagram. If your Ethernet traffic is high (moving a lot of large files simultaneously) you could bottleneck at the uplink ports.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  4. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  5. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    Depending on the answers to the concerns above from the other posters, one or two RT-AX58U's may be a consideration too.

    As already stated, make sure you are not daisy-chaining switches and ensure that all main network infrastructure Ethernet Ports and connections are 1Gbps too (a device or two using 100Mbps connections shouldn't be an issue).

    That Huawei WS832 seems like a pretty lopsided product?

    867Mbps 5GHz band capable WiFi but only 100Mbps LAN/WAN Ports (or is the WAN Port a 1.2Gbps capable connection)?

    If all 5 ports are limited to 100Mbps rates then not even the 2.4GHz band can ever be close to the 300Mbps specs. o_O

    Given the above, and assuming that that single AP already covers the office space, a single RT-AX58U will be a massive upgrade. :)
     
  6. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    I will try to answer all questions in one post.....

    @Tech Focus

    The Huawei is the only wifi on the network. When the ISP guy came to install the ISP modem, he tested the speed and told me the speed from the Huawei to the ISP Model was slow. He suggested getting the TP Link R476G+ router and I got one. The TP-Link R476G+ has 5 gigabit ports. I didn’t understand the problem with the Huawei until now.

    As for what speed I need, I am not sure. Access to the NAS files is slow so this could do with being improved. I think the AX might be over-specced for my needs.


    @thiggins

    The area is about 400 square metres. It is mostly split up into smaller offices using stud walls – all the studs are made of metal. A few walls are load bearing and hence are concrete. The Huawei is located centrally and we get coverage is most but not all areas. At the extreme edges, there is no wifi coverage.

    There are ethernet wall sockets installed in all of the offices as we assumed we would be using wired PCs but we decided to buy laptops instead and none of them have ethernet ports. All these ethernet ports are connected to the two TP-Link SG-1016DT switches. I guess I could plug in the old routers to the ethernet points in the offices with bad wifi to give them wifi access (but I would still have the same problem as the Huawei ports are slow. I have another TP-Link wifi router which I will check later.).

    The cameras are POE and so are connected to the Huawei POE routers. The second Huawei POE router is connected to the first (I do not know why the camera installation guy did this – maybe so that the locally installed DVR can record all cameras - as there is only a single ethernet connection from one of the Huawei POE routers to the DVR.

    WRT your comment on daisy chaining switches – do you mean I should connect the TP-Link switches directly to the TP-Link R476G+ (and disconnect them from each other)?


    @coxhaus

    Thanks for your suggestion. I will have to research what a VLAN is before going through your article.


    @L&LD

    I am not sure why the switches are daisy chained. The installation guy didn’t mention anything. Are you suggesting I disconnect each TP-Link switch from the other and connect each of the TP Link switches directly to the TP-Link router?

    All the switches are gigabit. As for the Huawei wifi router, it was an existing wifi router from the old office and was never updated. All ports are 100Mbps – the ISP guy tested them when he was installing the internet connection.

    So in summary, it looks like the Huawei WS832 is the bottleneck and needs to be replaced.

    Should I keep the TP-Link R476G+ router (no wifi) or replace this with a single wifi router?

    Thank you for all your comments....

    :)

    Ray
     
  7. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    I forgot to comment on the video conferencing.

    At the office, we have 3 or 4 people running the video conferences at any one time. The other people attending are in many different locations and access the video conferences using their phones, ipads, laptops, PCs, etc... often the audio is distorted and sometimes the video call freezes or drops and so we must initiate it again. As we are in lockdown, it could be that everyone's internet speed is slower (as everyone is online) too. Many of the attendees often complain that they can't hear or see the PPT.

    Also forgot to mention that there are at least 10 smartphones on the wifi also.
     
  8. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    You really need to build a real small business network.
     
  9. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    Leave the two HIKVision 16 port POE Switches connected to 25 POE IP Cameras as-is. No need to do anything here.

    Also, leave the other two switches as-is too, as there are no clients connected.

    Keep the TP-Link R476G+ router and replace the Huawei WS832 for the main WiFi access. The RT-AX58U should be a good choice between not (too) old and (too) over-spec'd today. Even with AC class clients it will give a noticeable increase in network efficiency, particularly as everyone gets upgraded to more modern devices with newer standards over time.

    Even centrally located, any router will have a hard time servicing over 4,000 SqFt with the construction materials used. If you can use those Ethernet runs to put in a couple of AP's at the farthest edges of the offices, the load should be easier to handle.

    Also, keep in mind that most AP's can only handle around 32 clients per band. At least two strategically placed AP's are required for your described usage.

    You mentioned the ISP connection as being Fibre with a 200Mbps connection. Is that 200Mbps both up and down symmetrical? If the upload speed from the ISP is much less, that could be another issue to address to fully solve all your issues too.

    If the overall shape of the office is rectangular and you can place routers at each of the far ends including one in the middle (even if the end ones are limited to 100Mbps by their Ethernet ports), it will go a long way to resolving the issues.

    Even better is if you can place one router at slightly less than 1/3 of the way into the rectangular space with the other one at slightly more than 2/3's of the way. (The less AP's, the easier to balance the RF signals).

    HTH.
     
  10. Tech Focus

    Tech Focus Regular Contributor

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    @businesstx

    You have over 4000sqft area to cover with single Access Point, I think that's too much. Different construction can affect things differently to a large degree so I can't compare your office to my home, but as for reference my home is 3800 sqft and I need at least 2 AP to cover most of home with 2.4 GHz band. For 5 GHz band coverage I need at least 3 AP. You have many options but I believe you need at least two AP. One may be a wireless router, or keep your TP-link router and have two AP.
     
  11. degrub

    degrub Very Senior Member

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    If the laptops used in the wired offices have a spare usb2 port, just buy a hand full of usb 100mbit or gbit adapters and avoid the poor wireless performance.
     
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  12. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    @degrub that would definitely solve it (at least the 1Gbps adaptors) but for 15 laptops and the need to upgrade the current AP too, it would be cheaper to buy a couple of AX routers instead and remain untethered. :)
     
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  13. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    @businesstx - Since this resides in a business, it should be running business-grade equipment, configured appropriately (as would be required for any other business-grade utility). You could try and run consumer-grade stuff and/or configure yourself, but it doesn't mean you should. Beyond hiring this out to a local IT firm, here's what needs to be done, in rough order of importance (I've attached a graphic to illustrate):
    SNB_NetworkOverhaul.png

    LAN - First, ensure cable and patch work is legit, to eliminate any layer 1 issues. Next move to discrete switching, as flat and fully-managed as possible. I would start by adding a managed PoE switch to serve at the core/root switch for the local network, offloading that responsibility from the router altogether. Next, all network appliances (NAS, HikVision NVR, etc.) should be directly connected to the core switch, and ideally reside in the same rack/closet. In a perfect world, you'd have direct home-runs from the core switch to all keystone jacks, APs and cameras, with no access switches in between, but I realize re-cabling may not be feasible. If that's the case, I would at least replace uplinks on the daisy-chained switches ("S3" and "S5"), with direct home-runs to the core switch. That will flatten your LAN to just two levels, reducing bottlenecks and broadcast overhead, while increasing manageability.

    WLAN - This needs replacing entirely. For your layout at 400sm/4300sf, the client types and traffic profile, you want multiple, controller-based APs broadcasting at closer client proximity and lower amplification, a business product that supports VLANs, AAA, etc. I would venture three to five APs total (I put four in my graphic), but you want to confirm with a proper site survey. Regarding spatial streams, while the additional receive gain and capacity of 4x4 is always helpful, 2x2 or 3x3 will likely be good enough as long as you have enough APs per the above approach, as opposed to blasting wifi from one or two spots over a greater distance. Products to look at would be TP-Link Omada, Ubiquiti UniFi, Cisco WAP and similar.

    WAN - With the above accomplished, observe internet behavior, especially for latency-sensitive traffic (VoIP and Zoom calls.). If it's largely lag-free, you could possibly leave the R476G+ as-is. On that 200Mb line, though, you may get buffering/lag during times of max utilization. Aside from just upgrading to symmetric gigabit fiber (if that's even possible), you'll want confirm the R476's ability to de-bloat the WAN link by testing it at DSLReports. If it's much below an A-, a gateway that supports SQM-based QoS would likely help to ensure that it isn't the source of any buffering or lag if/when you do max out the link (not super hard to do in an office of several users). If Ubiquiti is available in your market, I'd look at an EdgeRouter 4. If not, I'd build your own OpenWRT solution based on on a Qotom PC or shallow-depth Supermicro chassis.

    General Config - VLANs for Management, Private/Internal, Guest, and any other relevant subnets are highly recommended. Hard-wire as many static network items as possible (ie. the printer(s), even if you have to use wireless client bridges and still make a wireless connection, it's usually always more reliable than a printer's wifi).

    Notes - In the graphic, suggested new items are highlighted in green; optional items in yellow (new router).
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  14. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    @Trip

    Thank you for the detailed advice. I cannot comprehend all that technical jargon but I will read up on any terms I do not understand.

    FYI, the problem I have is that I am working in China and I cannot fully understand Chinese but I am the most technical guy in this office - none of the local staff can understand as much. As for IT guys, we have called in a few guys but with my limited Chinese, I couldn't understand what they are trying to say and the translators have a hard time with technical terms. It was these IT guys who suggested all the items I bought so I have little faith in them. I thought I would research and do it myself but didn't realise it was such a difficult issue.

    LAN

    All the ethernet cables go direct from the TP-Link switches to the wall sockets. All of these have been tested and they work.
    All these switches, routers, etc ... are on a single closet.

    If I understand correctly, you are suggesting that all cameras, ethernet wall sockets, NAS, etc should be connected directly to a single core switch.

    In terms of wiring, all the ethernet cables for all camera and ethernet sockets terminate at this closet - these cables connect directly to all the other items. However, this obviously means buying another switch which has POE capability for the 25 POE cameras and all the other connections. This might be OK depending on cost. I will remove the daisy chaining in the switches.

    WLAN

    Agreed. The current Huawei router ports are too slow as they are not gigabit.

    As for hardwiring - all items with ethernet ports have been hardwired already - even the single laptop with an ethernet port. The printer is wifi and USB only. Maybe it is time to upgrade that too.

    The other stuff like VLANS, Private, Guests, subnets, etc .... needs more research for me to understand it so I will not comment.

    So my initial steps will be new APs and remove daisy chaining from switches. If lag still present, then try EdgeRouter 4 (it is available here).


    Thanks again. That was a great help.

    Ray
     
  15. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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  16. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    @L&LD

    Thanks for your message... TBH it is getting confusing now as different people have different recommendations. The only thing crystal clear is that I need a new wifi router (mesh or normal).

    Your solution is great as I need to make minimum changes - just a new router or AP. As nearly all rooms have ethernet ports, I might just use the old router as an AP or invest in a 2 device AP (one centrally located and one on the edge.

    Trip's solution seems logical but there are parts I do not fully understand and am not qualified to implement. Also it requires more investment.

    I will proceed slowly and replace the wifi first before doing anything else.

    Thanks again :)
     
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  17. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Sounds like a good plan. Best of luck!
     
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  18. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    Hi

    So I borrowed a brand new router TP-Link WDR7660 from a friend and did some testing.... the figures below are from the Network Connections in Control Panel in Windows 10

    All I did was disconnect the ethernet wire from the Huawei and plugged it into the TP-Link LAN port.... no other changes were made ....
    Both routers are placed in the same location. I even moved both so they have line of sight to my PC.

    With the Huawei (it is only working on the 2.4g band), in Windows the Wifi Status says the speed is 300 Mbps

    With the TP-Link, the speed maxxed out at 866.7 Mbps

    However, the connection with the Huawei was much more stable than with the TP-Link. The TP-Link connection kept dropping.....

    The way I tested this was by:

    1. Connecting to a VPN
    2. Downloading a file from google drive.
    3. Connecting to DingDing (Zoom type video conferencing app)

    The VPN kept disconnecting and reconnecting with the TP-Link and the file download kept failing.

    With the Huawei, the VPN did not disconnect and the file downloaded without failing....

    DingDing could not even login.

    So now I am more confused as the TP-Link is a brand new AC Wave 2 device and has higher speeds. Also, all the LAN ports are gigabit, but it is slower in real life applications.

    Can anyone recommend a better way to test as I expected the new router to be faster.

    Thanks
     
  19. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    TP-Link? Why? :eek:
     
  20. businesstx

    businesstx Occasional Visitor

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    :D A girl in the office just bought it for herself and I borrowed it to test ....
     
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