RT-AC86U - Is it better to use SmartConnect ?

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MakeItEasy

Occasional Visitor
Hello,

I have a new dual-band RT-AC86U for only one month and I use it in "router" mode. Before that, I used a one band (2.4GHZ) wireless AP. The router is located in the middle of the ground floor.

I'm wondering if it is better to use "dual-band SmartConnect" or to setup two separates SSID (one for each band) ? Up to now, I only tried the default which is "dual-band SmartConnect" and I'm sometimes surprised when I check to which band the devices are connected in the clients list on the app.

When a device is very far and connected to the 2.4GHZ band but it gets closer to less than 2 meters from the router, shouldn't the latter be automatically switched by the router on the 5GHZ band ? Unless there is a certain delay?

Is the router also supposed to switch to the 5GHZ band if a device is connected to 2.4GHZ within a two meters range and has a great need for bandwidth?

A disadvantage of SmartConnect is that we can't not know easily from the device if we are connected on the 2.4GHZ or 5GHZ band.

On the first floor, where the signal vary from -66 to-76, my daugther reports me that sometimes her device disconnects/reconnects to the WIFI.

Otherwise, using SmartConnect as such is not a problem and works relatively well.
Up to now, I did not change any "SmartConnect rule" and I don't found either any official documentation about these rules.

If I do not use SmartConnect but two SSID, is it up to the device to decide which band/SSID to use ?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Hello,

I have a new dual-band RT-AC86U for only one month and I use it in "router" mode. Before that, I used a one band (2.4GHZ) wireless AP. The router is located in the middle of the ground floor.

I'm wondering if it is better to use "dual-band SmartConnect" or to setup two separates SSID (one for each band) ? Up to now, I only tried the default which is "dual-band SmartConnect" and I'm sometimes surprised when I check to which band the devices are connected in the clients list on the app.

When a device is very far and connected to the 2.4GHZ band but it gets closer to less than 2 meters from the router, shouldn't the latter be automatically switched by the router on the 5GHZ band ? Unless there is a certain delay?

Is the router also supposed to switch to the 5GHZ band if a device is connected to 2.4GHZ within a two meters range and has a great need for bandwidth?

A disadvantage of SmartConnect is that we can't not know easily from the device if we are connected on the 2.4GHZ or 5GHZ band.

On the first floor, where the signal vary from -66 to-76, my daugther reports me that sometimes her device disconnects/reconnects to the WIFI.

Otherwise, using SmartConnect as such is not a problem and works relatively well.
Up to now, I did not change any "SmartConnect rule" and I don't found either any official documentation about these rules.

If I do not use SmartConnect but two SSID, is it up to the device to decide which band/SSID to use ?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.
I suggest you disable Smart Connect and set fixed non-DFS channels that have the least usage by your neighbors. Connect your wireless clients to the preferred SSID/band... manual band steering. Use that for awhile to learn how you network and clients perform. The client ultimately decides where to connect. Using different SSIDs also allows allocating certain clients to certain bands.

After awhile, you can enable Smart Connect and set same SSIDs to see how your clients perform. Then you will know better what to expect.

A WiFi Analyzer is useful for seeing WiFi signals around you.

OE
 
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MakeItEasy

Occasional Visitor
Thanks for this advice but unfortunalty I do not have a lot of free time now so i will take it slow in order to not perturb my familly's usage of Internet.

I already set a fixed channel for 2.4GHZ but 5GHZ is still auto. 5GHZ band is new to me so I must admit I still have some things to learn.

On the other hand, I'm not living in a densily saturated area, just a house on either side of mine.

I already used a WIFI Analyzer (the one you advised and a few other ones) on Android and on a laptop too (NirSoft WifiInfoView).

I think I will use the WIFI scheduling feature to deactivate each band one after the other and analyze again using the farproc analyser.
Maybe I need to improve the way I do this and interpret the resuts.
 

ATLga

Regular Contributor
Thanks for this advice but unfortunalty I do not have a lot of free time now so i will take it slow in order to not perturb my familly's usage of Internet.

I already set a fixed channel for 2.4GHZ but 5GHZ is still auto. 5GHZ band is new to me so I must admit I still have some things to learn.

On the other hand, I'm not living in a densily saturated area, just a house on either side of mine.

I already used a WIFI Analyzer (the one you advised and a few other ones) on Android and on a laptop too (NirSoft WifiInfoView).

I think I will use the WIFI scheduling feature to deactivate each band one after the other and analyze again using the farproc analyser.
Maybe I need to improve the way I do this and interpret the resuts.
I'll echo what OE said on not using it. There are those that swear by it, but it doesn't work in my environment.

In my case I've found that it disturbs certain clients; particularly wifi Roku devices (all Roku Ultra's). I have a house full of them and several are wired and a few are on wifi. I live in Midtown Atlanta, a very wifi rich environment. As such, with the smart connect on and channels set to auto, the router tends to channel surf quite a bit. Out of all my wifi clients, they are the only one's that can't handle the router channel hopping while in use or being steered to different band. An interruption of wifi no matter how brief causes them to stutter whatever is being streamed. Setting the channels manually and stopping the forced steering stops all the issues.
My setup:
One SSID for 2.4 & 5. Defaults other than the fixed non-DFS channels.
One SSID for guest network 2.4 only. Work laptop, nest thermostat, Alexa devices, and a couple other IOT devices. This is where I band steer a little (as OE talks about) and segregate the IOT stuff and the work stuff and also keep it on 2.4 and free up my 5 band some.

Generally all this works flawlessly for me and the router never hiccups. The latest fw has caused a few issues so I'm probably gonna roll back (OT and different thread).
 
Last edited:

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture

techcafe

Regular Contributor
Hello,

I have a new dual-band RT-AC86U for only one month and I use it in "router" mode. Before that, I used a one band (2.4GHZ) wireless AP. The router is located in the middle of the ground floor.

I'm wondering if it is better to use "dual-band SmartConnect" or to setup two separates SSID (one for each band) ? Up to now, I only tried the default which is "dual-band SmartConnect" and I'm sometimes surprised when I check to which band the devices are connected in the clients list on the app.

When a device is very far and connected to the 2.4GHZ band but it gets closer to less than 2 meters from the router, shouldn't the latter be automatically switched by the router on the 5GHZ band ? Unless there is a certain delay?

Is the router also supposed to switch to the 5GHZ band if a device is connected to 2.4GHZ within a two meters range and has a great need for bandwidth?

A disadvantage of SmartConnect is that we can't not know easily from the device if we are connected on the 2.4GHZ or 5GHZ band.

On the first floor, where the signal vary from -66 to-76, my daugther reports me that sometimes her device disconnects/reconnects to the WIFI.

Otherwise, using SmartConnect as such is not a problem and works relatively well.
Up to now, I did not change any "SmartConnect rule" and I don't found either any official documentation about these rules.

If I do not use SmartConnect but two SSID, is it up to the device to decide which band/SSID to use ?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.
In my experience, if you want relatively seamless / painless roaming b/w bands, then keep it simple and use the same SSID & Password for both 2 and 5GHz bands; then disable Smart Connect (it just gets in the way) and simply allow client devices to choose whatever band is most appropriate for them, at any given moment in time (depending on client distance from the AP and many other factors). It just works.

Also, contrary to popular 'wisdom' in this forum, I found there really is no need (ime) to disable Airtime Fairness, Beamforming, AMPDU aggregation, etc... under Wireless - Professional settings. I've enabled all of those advanced wireless settings, with 20 or more clients connected on our network at any given time, and nobody experiences any connectivity issues. In fact, performance improved with beamforming and aggregation enabled. ymmv of course, no harm in testing though.
 
Last edited:

MakeItEasy

Occasional Visitor
I've just finished to turn around my house with the Wifi Analyser. I realize I did not use the farproc "Wifi Analyzer Classic" but the farproc "Wifi Analyzer". I guess it doesn't matter.
In order to do the test, I disabled the 2.4GHz band using the wifi scheduler. The test will thus only concerns my two 5GHz SSID.
I ran the app with default values, I only modified the scan interval to the fastest value.

A few questions before posting my results:
* In the Options, I noticed the channels were all availables in 2.4GHz but not in 5GHz (should they be all activated ?)
* Am I supposed to have the same signal values with the 2.4GHz band ? (or should I repeat the same test for the 2.4GHz band ?)
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I've just finished to turn around my house with the Wifi Analyser. I realize I did not use the farproc "Wifi Analyzer Classic" but the farproc "Wifi Analyzer". I guess it doesn't matter.
In order to do the test, I disabled the 2.4GHz band using the wifi scheduler. The test will thus only concerns my two 5GHz SSID.
I ran the app with default values, I only modified the scan interval to the fastest value.

A few questions before posting my results:
* In the Options, I noticed the channels were all availables in 2.4GHz but not in 5GHz (should they be all activated ?)
* Am I supposed to have the same signal values with the 2.4GHz band ? (or should I repeat the same test for the 2.4GHz band ?)
I mainly use the channel graph view and toggle the hidden control in the upper left margin to display 2.4 or 5.0 WiFi signals. I only view their presence and approximate signal power and bandwidth.

My notes mentioned earlier indicate the 2.4 and 5.0 channels available in the US market. I set the analyzer to scan for those.

I'm currently trying to understand my neighbor's 3-node? Eero mesh system. It appears to have three 2.4 20MHz and three 5.0 80MHz fronthauls, and three 2.4 40MHZ and three 5.0 80 MHz hidden backhauls... but I'm not sure... it just has a boatload of signals where before he was limping along with an ISP router and extender I seldom saw.

OE
 

MakeItEasy

Occasional Visitor
I haven't fully read your notes, one thing at a time ;-)
I am not from the US but from Europe.

Here are the results: In general, the application captures external networks but in a rather stealthy way because they disappear after a few seconds.
Here is what is displayed by the analyser for my 5GHz networks: 5240MHz, channel 48 (experimental feature: 5250-5170=80MHz)

Networks found:

[2.4GHz]
- channel 11: 3 networks (all signals from -82 to lower)
- channel 1: 1 network (-86 to lower)
- channel 6: 1 network (-87 to lower)
--> I choosed channel 1 for my 2.4GHz networks.

[5GHz]
- channels 100/108 (very difficult to find, from 90 dBm to lower)
--> 5GHz networks are still on "auto" (+ checkbox including DFS channels)

At first look, I think I do not need to change anything. What do you think ?
 

bbunge

Very Senior Member
Do not stress. Use the Dual Band SmartConnect with 2.4 GHZ set to ch 1,6 or 11 at 20 mhz and 5 GHZ set to ch 36 or 149 at 80 mhz and let the clients decide which band they want to connect to.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I haven't fully read your notes, one thing at a time ;-)
I am not from the US but from Europe.

Here are the results: In general, the application captures external networks but in a rather stealthy way because they disappear after a few seconds.
Here is what is displayed by the analyser for my 5GHz networks: 5240MHz, channel 48 (experimental feature: 5250-5170=80MHz)

Networks found:

[2.4GHz]
- channel 11: 3 networks (all signals from -82 to lower)
- channel 1: 1 network (-86 to lower)
- channel 6: 1 network (-87 to lower)
--> I choosed channel 1 for my 2.4GHz networks.

[5GHz]
- channels 100/108 (very difficult to find, from 90 dBm to lower)
--> 5GHz networks are still on "auto" (+ checkbox including DFS channels)

At first look, I think I do not need to change anything. What do you think ?
Looks ok.

If not using Smart Connect, I would set 2.4 for n, 20 MHz, ch 1,6,11; and 5.0 for n/ac, 20/40/80 MHz, ch 36-48 52-144 (DFS) 149-161 (North America channels).

I choose to not use DFS channels so that my clients do not experience any unnecessary auto channel changing/disruption.

If you know your region's channel power regulation, you could restrict your usage to those channels with the max permissible power.

Finally, I inspect the strength of the AiMesh 2.4/5.0 wireless backhauls RSSI, Tx, and Rx values in the Wireless Log (the log entries have MACs of the node) and try different channels to get the strongest backhauls.

OE
 

ATLga

Regular Contributor
Do not stress. Use the Dual Band SmartConnect with 2.4 GHZ set to ch 1,6 or 11 at 20 mhz and 5 GHZ set to ch 36 or 149 at 80 mhz and let the clients decide which band they want to connect to.
This part "let the clients decide which band they want to connect to" is partially right or partially wrong depending on how you look at it.

Fact - Smart Connect tries to steer the client to where it thinks is the best band for the client. However, ultimately the client does decide where it wants to go and may think otherwise and move. But remember SC may move it again and then the back and forth begins.

I've found SC to be problematic and don't use it.
 

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