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Wifi repeaters/range extenders???

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cliffyk:
Are the "happy homeowner" class of these pretty much all the same? I ask because not thrilled with the performance of a $15 Wavlink device (from the Amazon warehouse) I bought a higher-end TP-Link extended on Craigslist--it was better but still had little "wow" factor. I got signals in the -60 to -65 dB range from 55 feet away...

So, going "nuts" I got a $100 Netgear AC-1900  thingy from Walmart--the 55 ft signals dropped to -65 to -68 dB! Just took it back...

WTF? Any comments?

kripton2035:
my experience tells me that they are absolutely not reliable, any brand.
the only thing that really works are mesh routers, and you should stock to the same brand if you don't want any trouble.
have good results with synology mr2200 and mr2600

Rick Law:

--- Quote from: kripton2035 on May 09, 2022, 06:03:53 pm ---my experience tells me that they are absolutely not reliable, any brand.
the only thing that really works are mesh routers, and you should stock to the same brand if you don't want any trouble.
have good results with synology mr2200 and mr2600

--- End quote ---
( RL: bold added )

Trouble is, it appears to me every manufacturer has their own definition of "mesh routers", and your ISP has some say in which ones (manufacturer/model) you need to be compatible with their stuff.

This experience was days under a year ago, things may be better now: Then, I was helping a relative setting up the ISP/WiFi.  The ISP's modem is equipped with WiFi and "mesh WiFi network".  Looking at their website at the time, they just mean multiple AP's (access points) with same broadcast names.  In practice, switching from a weaker (say bedroom) to the stronger (kitchen, now you are there) is entirely up to the device you are using.  If the bedroom's AP signal is weaker and thus slower but it is still strong enough not to loose signal, it will stay latched on the weaker bedroom WiFi AP.  Only by turning the device's WiFi off and back on would it find the stronger signal AP.

Besides, a weaker signal but directly connected may still be faster than a hop thus with extra latency -- after all, your local mesh-based AP will be using that weaker signal for back-haul if they are not hardwired to the router.  In theory, that local AP should be best positioned to have best connection.  In practice, that doesn't work so well.  I was testing download speed using various internet download speed tests.  Direct connect (with weaker signal) vs nearer AP with WiFi back-haul: The direct connect beats WiFi back haul every time, at least in that experience.

Looking for better alternatives, we went shopping.  While shopping at Best Buy, one manufacturer has sales posters that merely described their "better than traditional Wifi new mesh Wifi network" as "aesthetically pleasing" so it doesn't have wire all over the place connecting black boxes with big transformer power plugs as compared to "traditional WiFi" -- that's it, it was merely a better looking box that you don't have to hide.  They may have better sales posters now, but that doesn't give me much confidence.

The ISP (and the ISP's modem) has been replaced twice since.  I am not sure how the ISP's tech set it up anymore.  I stayed away at arm's length so I don't need to be the volunteer 24hrs tech-support.

cliffyk:
Thank you all for your valued input.

edavid, my providing my observed signal strengths was not to imply them unreasonable or unexpected, but to document that the $100 (at Walmart, $149 "MSRP") NetGear device delivered no better (perhaps worse depending on the accuracy/repeatability of my monitoring device) signal than the $15 WavLink "el cheapo" from Amazon's "warehouse" (returned merchandise dumpster)--and which has been running at 138+°F for 18 months or so; which has prompted me to seek an alternative.

Unfortunately at 75, blind in one eye, and Parkinson's to boot, dragging Cat 6 cable through the attic is not an option--and my goal (to get reasonably fast WiFi connectivity to my metal building "Faraday cage" electronic shop some 85 feet from my hard-wired LinkSys EA6900 router (up and running 24/7 for 4 years now ) is quite likely unreasonable. Had a trench with a cable in in at the "old" house...

Any thoughts on that conundrum?

Rick Law:

--- Quote from: edavid on May 09, 2022, 09:19:51 pm ---...
You can usually put the ISP's device in bridge mode and use your own router.
Or, turn off the WiFi and use your own mesh APs on the LAN side.
...

--- End quote ---
Depends on the ISP.  With one of the local ISP my relative was trying, you must use their supplied combo modem which is a modem+router/firewall+WiFi.  It was a UBEE made by FoxConn, I found the manual and setup info (and IP) on UBEE's web for that model - but after fumbling around for a while unsuccessfully, further research shown their ISP actually disabled the local setup.  All set up must be done via the ISP website's subscriber account-admin pages.   The combo device has reduced to horribly limited functionality.  It's be almost a year now, but I recalled other than port forwarding, there is nothing else you could do on their "firewall/router" nor their WiFi AP - can't do a darn thing with that AP at all other than renaming the broadcast name for that lone AP.  The virtual access point feature (available on plain UBEE's manual) is not there (there is a reason I point this out, read on).  Good that that was merely at my relative's place (and user requirements is just going to the net)...

That experience actually made me think, the ISP could be using the "virtual access point" feature on these combo-modems (at customer sites) to enable them (the ISP) to sell WiFi anywhere on their offering.  I see new access points with ISP-name popping up once powered up, but I don't see any indication of any virtual AP in the account-admin pages.  I don't know if the ISPs actually do this, but I can imagine such a modem at the dentist's office paid for by the dentist -- with the virtual access point available for the ISP's "WiFi anywhere" customers.

At my own home, I use a plain cable modem going into a real router/firewall and branch out to real WiFi's that I can control.  I am much happier with that set up.


--- Quote from: edavid on May 09, 2022, 09:19:51 pm ---...

--- Quote ---In practice, switching from a weaker (say bedroom) to the stronger (kitchen, now you are there) is entirely up to the device you are using.

--- End quote ---
That's plain old WiFi, not mesh.  In a mesh system, the weaker access point will kick the client off to make it reassociate with a stronger access point.

--- End quote ---
Yeah, I know, but that doesn't stop them from labeling and marketing them as "mesh".  That actually was what prompted me to post the earlier reply.  "Mesh" meaning depends on who is claiming their stuff to be "mesh" and not much beyond that.

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