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Need Advice: Thinking About Going The 'WiFi System' Route??

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by b1ggjoe, Feb 13, 2018 at 2:34 AM.

  1. b1ggjoe

    b1ggjoe Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    52
    Hey Everyone,

    So, I'm a bit stuck on which way I should go. I've immersed myself in tons of articles and information on this incredible website. I think I know what I want to do, however I welcome your advice:

    Very recently, I was able to move into a brand-new home. It's a 2-story home and about 3000 sq ft.

    Unfortunately, at the time of move-in...only the Living Room and Master Bedroom had a Coax and Ethernet drop.

    I was finally able to hire a contractor and added additional RG6 Coax and CAT 6 Ethernet to a few other areas of our home.

    As I currently stand, I have Cox Cable (Internet / TV / Phone) but the fastest internet service available for me is 300 mpbs download. I do have Fiber already ran to the outside of my home, but according to Cox, I still do not qualify for their Fiber Optic 'GigaBlast' service.

    I'm using the standard 'Panoramic Wifi Modem' by Arris. I also have 2x ActionTec 802.11AC WiFi Network Extenders (w/ Bonded MoCA). One is located upstairs and the other is downstairs on the opposite end of the home from where the main Panoramic Modem is located.

    Thus far, things are well.

    HOWEVER, I just switched today and will be having new service installed later this week:

    I went with CenturyLink (I know, I know) for their internet service because they do offer and I do qualify for their Fiber Optic 1Gbps UL/DL Internet service, along with their Digital Phone System.

    For the TV-side of things, I'm going with DirecTV.

    This being the case, I'm going to lose the 2x ActionTec 802.11AC WiFi Network Extenders, since they were backhauling to the Panoramic Modem via RG6 Coax and...since they belong to Cox Cable.

    Now I need to make some decisions as to what I want to do to solve my WiFi coverage situation.

    At first, I thought of going the inexpensive route and pull out my old ASUS RT-AC68U...then by a 2nd one...and install the latest Merlin Firmware with the AI-Mesh.

    Place them in different sections of my home and have them backhaul to whatever Modem I get from CenturyLink via Ethernet (At least I hope that Ethernet backhauling is supported with the AI-Mesh), and having them in AP-Only mode.

    The problem is that if I went this way...there would be one area, clear on the other side of the home where I do not have any Ethernet, only Coax. I wouldn't be able to follow this strategy and have the hardware backhaul via Ethernet.

    The other side of me is thinking about going with one of the new systems like the Netgear Orbi (although they currently do not support Ethernet backhauling), or perhaps with a system that does...like the 'EERO GEN 2'.

    Anyway, these new Whole Home WiFi systems have an attraction of simplicity that I like. I also like that some of them have these tiny adapters that you can plug-in to your standard outlets and expand your WiFi coverage.

    So as you can see, I'm a bit stuck.

    I'm even wondering if I should place my old SonicWall Firwall TZ210 behind the CenturyLink Router and look for custom firmware for it, since I stopped paying for their updates years ago LOL.

    Anyway, I'm trying to be budget conscious but also don't want to short-change myself by going cheap.

    Of course, I'm also going the whole 'Smart Home' route, so that's an entirely separate topic.

    Anyway, I welcome any and all suggestions.

    Thank you very much in advance!!

    BJ
     
  2. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    12,997
    Since you are having cables pulled, pull a pair over to the other side of the house. Ethernet is always going to be your best option for AP backhaul.

    Orbi now supports Ethernet backhaul and multi-hop (daisy chain) for satellites with latest firmware. But you'd be paying extra for 4x4 backhaul radios, then essentially throwing them away using Ethernet.

    If you have Ethernet where you need it, router plus APs is the most cost effective way to go.

    You can play with AiMesh if you like. But it's pretty new and still suffering growing pains.
     
  3. b1ggjoe

    b1ggjoe Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
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    @thiggins,

    Thank you very much for getting back to me!!

    Wow, I had no idea that Orbi now supports Ethernet backhauling.

    Since I do have Coax in that area that is lacking Ethernet, I have a quick question for you:

    Years ago, you helped me by recommending that I purchase a small DirecTV adapter. One end plugged straight into my Cable Modem...and on the other side of the house where I only had Coax I plugged-in another adapter into that Coax drop...and on other end of that adapter I could plug in an Ethernet switch.

    So essentially I had Ethernet over Coax.

    It wasn’t ‘true ethernet’ but it was better than WiFi.

    Would that work in this instance? If so, would that be better and or faster than the 5 GHz backhaul I would get with the Orbi system?

    Thanks!

    BJ
     
  4. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    If that coax adapter is still working, you should try it. What throughput/speed did you get wtih it?
     
  5. b1ggjoe

    b1ggjoe Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
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    @thiggins

    Man, it's been several years...I have no idea. It 'seemed' to be pretty fast at the time. What would be the most recommended way to test? Today, I still have the Cox Cable service with the Actiontec AC Extenders.

    I'm scheduled tomorrow however, to have everything ripped out and install both DirecTV and CenturyLink's Fiber service. I can test tomorrow, unless the adapter is compatible with Cox to test today?

    Now that I think of it, I believe it was called a 'DECA II Adapter', which worked with DirecTV.

    BJ
     
  6. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Test after you get the new service installed. The adapter might not work depending on what else is using the coax.

    Drag and drop a large file to test throughput.
     
  7. b1ggjoe

    b1ggjoe Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
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    @thiggins,

    So the service is being installed today. Question for you:

    If I decide not to go with the ORBI system and just add APs to locations that currently do have Ethernet, my question is:

    - Which ones would you recommend? Meaning, would it be better to buy kick-butt routers and configure them in AP-only mode (hopefully they provide Mesh Wifi?). Or instead of that just purchase true APs that support Mesh?

    - The reason I was strongly considering going with the ORBI system is that I can use them as APs with ethernet backhaul for the locations that currently do have ethernet, and for the areas without ethernet, it can use its radios to backhaul back to the router.

    What say you?

    Thank you!

    BJ
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018 at 4:14 PM
  8. Fyodor

    Fyodor Occasional Visitor

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    I would just get some cheapish access points (or routers) and plug them into your Ethernet.

    Keep in mind that "Mesh" is mostly a marketing term. The main benefit of "Mesh" systems is the ability to do wireless backhaul between access points. You don't need that if you have Ethernet.

    "- The reason I was strongly considering going with the ORBI system is that I can use them as APs with ethernet backhaul for the locations that currently do have ethernet, and for the areas without ethernet, it can use its radios to backhaul back to the router."

    Keep in mind that the standard ORBI system is like a router and one access point. How many do you think that you'll need? Where are your existing Ethernet drops? Are they spread out reasonably well?
     
  9. Fyodor

    Fyodor Occasional Visitor

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    DECA, from everything I've heard still works pretty well and is super cheap(in part because it only coexists successfully with DTV). It's limited to 100mbit/s per second, but depending on your needs that may be good enough for backhaul.
     
  10. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Fyodor's reply is correct. If you have Ethernet backhaul, you don't need "mesh".

    I have no specific recommendations for APs. Most people here recommend Ubiquiti. But take a look at the roundup and Ranker.
     
  11. b1ggjoe

    b1ggjoe Regular Contributor

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    Ok, that does make a lot sense. The reason I was considering ‘Mesh’ was for the whole thing about having a Single SSID and the Hardware automatically doing the ‘hand-off’ from node to node as you walk throughout the home.

    Since ORBI only works with the ORBI Router, that now introduces a different element.

    Such as ‘How good is this ORBI Router’ Is there good custom firmware available for it and so forth.

    Wow, a lot to think about.

    Now I’m wondering about just pulling out my old ASUS RT-AC68U and ASUS RT-N66R loading the latest Merlin Firmware on them and using them in AP-only mode.

    Problem is I still have 2 more locations that would need an AP, that do not have any Ethernet for backhauling.

    Hmmmmm...what to do...

    BJ
     
  12. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    You don't need a "mesh" system to have a single SSID. And mesh systems do not "hand off" devices. Please read https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/basics/wireless-basics/33180-how-to-fix-wi-fi-roaming

    Why do you need custom firmware for a router if it has the features you need?

    My advice is to start with what you have and experiment. For the N router, use the wireless on it only if you have N devices. If you do, assign different SSIDs for both bands and connect N devices to it. Although AC routers handle AC/N device mixes reasonably well, mixing them still lowers your airtime efficiency.
     
  13. MichaelCG

    MichaelCG Senior Member

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    Note that in AP only mode...there is no real reason to load up Merlin unless you just want SNMP and SSH access. Most of the Merlin magic is when it is being used as a full blown router.

    If your dead spot is not an area that requires high performance, but just basic coverage/speeds....consider PowerLine devices. They are generally affordable and performance is more than adequate to fill in dead spots. They will never be as good as true Ethernet back-haul, but just another option to fill in the gaps when needed.
     
  14. Fyodor

    Fyodor Occasional Visitor

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    3000 Sq ft shouldn't require a ton of devices. Are you sure that you can't cover everything with just the locations that have Ethernet? If not, you should be able to use DECA as a backhaul in the locations that have coax. It's only 100mbs but I think that's probably enough for most applications.

    https://www.amazon.com/Generation-B...8708819&sr=1-1&keywords=deca+third+generation

    As Tim mentioned, you don't need Mesh for a single SSID . I have some MoCA-networked access points and I roam pretty seamlessly between them.


     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018 at 10:43 AM

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