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cdheer

join:2004-04-28
Gurnee, IL

Terrible WiFi Performance

My background is purely in wired networking, so troubleshooting my own WiFi makes me a bit crazy. If folks can point me in the right direction, I will gladly do some reading, etc., but honestly my google-fu has failed me so far.

I have AT&T U-Verse, which (for those unaware) comes with a 2WIRE 3801HGV router. Behind that router, I have a Cisco/Linksys E3000 running DD-WRT v24-sp2. The U-Verse set-top boxes are all connected (via Ethernet) to the 2WIRE. Any other Ethernet devices (PCs, etc.) are behind the E3000.

My initial configuration was to have the wireless shut down on the 2WIRE and run 2.4GHz N on the Linksys. In fact, before the Linksys I had an ASUS router doing this. But wireless performance was just terrible -- even with N-capable laptops, I'd be lucky to get 5 or 6 megabits (note that this is as reported by speedtest.net or similar; I don't pay much attention to what Windows thinks the connection speed is). I figured it was a cheap router, so I got the E3000 to replace it.

Performace still gets terrible. It's not ALWAYS terrible (though it's never GOOD), but sometimes it's almost unusable. Rebooting the E3000 seems to help briefly, though never for very long.

So I fired up wireless on the 2WIRE and created a separate SSID. A couple of family members moved to it, and the performance was significantly better. But once we all moved (five laptops, a couple of desktops, a pair of iPads, and a couple of game consoles), performance went south. I even shut down the E3000's wifi to see if there was interference, but it made no difference.

Just to rule out network issues, I ran Wireshark. Aside from the dumb 2WIRE constantly ARPing, there was nothing even remotely chatty happening.

Running inSSIDer, I played around with the channels. Some are worse than others in terms of performance, but none are good. On average I get about 2-3Mbps download from speedtest.net (I have 24 Mbps Internet). Running it from a wired laptop gets me almost full speed.

Looking at other 2.4GHz channels in use, I see several neighbors spread all over the spectrum, but the RSSI's are never more than -80 dBm (and usually more like -90); my 2WIRE shows up as -50.

So I started thinking that something else was interfering. Lacking a spectrum analyzer, I thought I'd try a device at 5 GHz on the E3000. None of the laptops have 5 GHz support, but just for testing purposes I tried an iPad. First, I figured I needed a baseline, so I ran speedtest.net's app on the 2WIRE's 2.4GHz network...and got almost full speed.

Flipped back to my laptop...and got 2.6 Mb/s. Back to the iPad, and nearly 24 Mb/s.

All I can figure is that there IS something going wrong or interfering, but that the iPad has a better wireless chipset than the laptops, which helps compensate for...whatever it is. (Most of the laptops are either Atheros chipsets or low-end Intel (e.g. the 1000 BGN)). But that's just a guess based on what I'm seeing.

Any suggestions as to where I should look next? I'm fine with throwing hardware at the problem, but honestly I'm not convinced that will help.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

--c



John97
Over The Hills And Far Away
Premium
join:2000-11-14
Spring Hill, FL
kudos:1

Are you running the E3000 as just an AP or as a router?


cdheer

join:2004-04-28
Gurnee, IL

Router. The 2WIRE's DMZ mode is configured for the (external) IP address of the E3000.



John97
Over The Hills And Far Away
Premium
join:2000-11-14
Spring Hill, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Bright House
·ooma

Understood. It seems you've been able to show that neither device is providing reliable wireless performance.

You may want to do some research and pick out a new router, then bridge the 2WIRE 3801HGV. This will basically turn it into a DSL modem and disable the router/wireless functions. I found this page that explains how to do it:

»www.mwburden.com/misc/bridgemode.html

I do not know the intricacies of the U-Verse service, so you may want to check with the folks in the U-Verse forum. There may be some reasons not to do this...

But, if you are able to bridge, the new router will just go behind it.

Set up the wireless and everything else the way you want and you'll be all set.

FWIW, you may want to look at Asus. I just bought one myself after getting recommendations from several people.
--
So put me on a highway, and show me a sign.
And take it to the limit one more time...


cdheer

join:2004-04-28
Gurnee, IL

You cannot put the U-Verse router in bridge mode; it's simply not an option. The only option is to put the IP address of the cascaded router in DMZ mode. (And the fact that I have the problem when directly connecting to the 2WIRE tells me that the router-behind-router setup isn't related.)

I actually had an ASUS router as the cascaded router originally. When the performance issues started, I got the E3000 as a replacement to rule out the router itself.

I'm going to run to Walmart and pick up a dual-band adapter to test with, but it seems to me that my current configuration SHOULD work. The house is ~2500 sqft, and the router is in a room maybe 10-15 feet from where I'm sitting at the moment.

If it were up to me, I'd say screw it and make everyone go wired, but the WAF of a solution like that is awfully low.


cdheer

join:2004-04-28
Gurnee, IL
reply to cdheer

Update:

I just discovered my employer-provided laptop has 5 GHz support. As a baseline, I ran speedtest.net while connected to the 2WIRE (which is 2.4 GHz only and limited to G), and got terrible results (less than 2 Mbps).

I then fired up a 5 GHz-only network on the E3000 and connected to it, and whammo, blazing speed.

Assuming neither router should be taxed with, say, a dozen wifi connections, that pretty much means it IS some kind of signal interference, doesn't it?

At this point I suppose I need to order some dual-band USB adapters. That won't help the game consoles, but one thing at a time.



John97
Over The Hills And Far Away
Premium
join:2000-11-14
Spring Hill, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Bright House
·ooma
reply to cdheer

Best of luck. I hear you. I'd rather just have everything wired.

I am running a dual-band setup now. My laptops are on the 5 GHZ band. All the smartphones and other stuff are on the 2.4 GHZ band.

My old house was a two-story split-level and it was mostly block construction. It was a nightmare in terms of wireless coverage. I ended up putting ethernet jacks in practically every room.

After all that, I still had to deploy 2 wireless access points in addition to the router because everyone wanted to use wireless.
--
So put me on a highway, and show me a sign.
And take it to the limit one more time...


meowmeow

join:2003-07-26
Helena, MT
reply to cdheer

Spectrum analyzer. Without one everyone is just taking a shot in the dark. Best option is an Ubiquiti NanoStation Loco M2 (for 2.4GHz), it has their AirView mode that works really well for using a $50 AP that has other uses for you.