Recommendation Please

Josh125

New Around Here
Hi all - looking to upgrade my WiFi situation. Here are some specifics:

* Currently run an Apple Extreme which is fine, but a bit long in the tooth and I have several areas that have poor/no signal on the 5 ghz band.
* Pay for 500 down from Xfinity - using my own SB8200 modem.
* ~2800 sqft two story house - stick/drywall construction
* The router today is in the family room downstairs (back yard side) - was thinking about adding a second router/mesh/AP to the front upstairs bedroom.
* I do need the solution to have ethernet out as the downstairs ties into an unmanaged switch which feeds the rest of the wired locations - including my PC.
* I have around 15 devices connecting at any given time, half being IoT using the 2.4 ghz band only.

Thanks!
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
Welcome to SNB Josh.

At 2,800 square feet, you might be able to improve coverage enough with a more powerful all-in-one to forgo a multi-radio setup. Something like a Netgear R7800 ($220) or ZyXel NBG6817 (same inner hardware, but 30% cheaper at $150) would give you more or less maximum wifi out of a single router. If it didn't pan out, you'd know pretty quickly, and could always return.

As for filling in the gaps, some might suggest just running your old Airport Extreme alongside a new all-in-one, and while I'm sure you could make the two co-exist well enough, you'd lose out on seamless client roaming and a single point of management, both of which could easily be gained by selecting a single centralized product. This says nothing of the AE itself being a bit long-in-the-tooth, as you said, so perhaps it's just time for all-new hardware anyways.

If the multi-AP approach is how you're leaning, I'd look at a whole-house system. Something like a Netgear Orbi RBK50 kit, which offers integrated 4-port switches on both base and satellite (for your wired client and switch needs), plus it supports wired backhaul if you can make ethernet or coaxial (MoCa) runs available for connection of the satellite(s) back to the base -- highly recommended if there's any chance of pulling that off. It will provide much more end-to-end bandwidth and lower latency.

Hope that helps to frame your options a bit better.
 
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Josh125

New Around Here
Hi Trip, thanks for the input. It is appreciated. To answer your question, yes I have Cat 5e ethernet access at the locations that I would use for a mesh system so I believe that means I have wired backhaul capabilities. My config would be the same as the 3rd option outlined on Netgear's page linked. It would run through the TP Link unmanaged splitter/switch.

https://kb.netgear.com/000051205/Wh...and-how-do-I-set-it-up-on-my-Orbi-WiFi-System

I have read possible issues getting the IoT devices such as my Ring to attach given the Orbi doesn't broadcast separate signals for the bands. Is that correct and if so do you see it as an issue as well?
 

Greg72

Senior Member
Are you renting Comcast’s eMTA or using your own modem? If using Comcast’s eMTA, just run a POE AP like the Engenius EAP-1750h.
 

Milky Way

New Around Here
Hey Josh!
What speeds are you getting out of your Airport Extreme and are you ok with them? Also do you have the wireless n (flat) or wireless ac (tower) version?

The semi-easy solution is that you can extend your network with another Airport Extreme. I have 4 level, townhouse with ethernet and have my primary on the 2nd level and secondary on the 4th level. I have no issues with roaming or coverage. The apple knowledge base shows how this works below:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202056

The issues you run into:
1. Finding an Airport Extreme as they are no long sold new.
2. Yes they are long in the tooth. Lots of new stuff just coming out and on the horizon with ax-specs but so early it doesn't make sense.

Best part is you have ethernet runs where you need them so comes down to price, convenience and performance but you have a ton of options (as Trip said above).
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@Josh125 - Thanks for the info. Having Cat5e available means you do have wired backhaul capability; "backhaul" just stands for the return connection from the access layer (your unmanaged TP-Link switch and the Orbi Satellite) to your network core (the Orbi Base).

Regarding your proposed physical setup, using a switch in between Orbi base and satellite(s) would be just fine, although it would add an additional point of failure (the switch), versus just connecting the satellite via wire straight to the base station. Totally understandable, though, if using the switch in that way is just way easier for you than having to run a separate (longer) Cat5e cable. Regardless, either method is still more desirable than wireless backhaul, so you still come out ahead.

Regarding the IoT devices, the general issue is not so much around getting them connected; that should be as easy as any other 2.4Ghz client, provided your wireless radios don't have too many clients connected already. Rather, people are generally more concerned with isolating IoT stuff from any devices you consider to be private. This is usually done with the kind of functionality that is normally absent from most consumer products, Orbi included. Suffice it to say, as long as you're not connecting dozens and dozens of IoT devices, and/or you're not super concerned over security, you need not worry about the ability to at least get those devices connected and working. If you do want recommendations for more advanced gear that would allow you to achieve true network segmentation, I'm happy to get into it, but definitely not necessary to just get all your stuff connected and internet-reachable.
 

Josh125

New Around Here
Hi Milky Way- Yeah I thought about another base station but as you mentioned they are tough to find and seems like a good chance to upgrade the whole home. I'm running the ac tower version today and get about 300 down on the 5 ghz channel with extremely limited range and 30 or so down on the 2.4 ghz channel. My wired PC is generally 500 down, sometimes more as that's what I pay for.

@Trip - I'm not overly concerned with IoT segmentation, maybe I should be! Just looking for a better solution for blanketing my home with 5 ghz if possible. It sounds like the 3 RBK50 pack at Costco currently on sale might be the ticket, and if not they have a great return policy. The way my home is wired I have to use the switch to split it out across the rooms, but they are inexpensive enough to change it out on some frequency before failure.

Thanks for the help, I do appreciate it.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
Gotcha. I would snag that RBK53 kit and give it a shot. Be mindful, though, the base unit and 1 satellite may be enough. You don't want to position three units too close to another, as that will create too much co-interference. Ideal signal strength in the broadcast "overlap" area between Orbi units should be -60 to -75 dB; you can use a free wifi analyzer app on your phone to measure. At those signal levels, clients will have a cleaner roaming experience (ie. drop and reconnect while moving across the house), while still maintaining enough signal to carry their connections.

Best of luck with it!
 

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