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Gerry

@co.us

[Wi-Fi] Best way to upgrade my connection

We just cut our TV service and are going the Netflix/Plex route. Our connection speeds have never been great, and are even slower now with the extra bandwith Netflix uses. So an upgrade is in order.

The good news is that the house has a lot of pre-wiring for desktops and TVs. The bad news is that the house has 3 "levels" (basement, main floor and upstairs) so it may be a little harder to maximize wifi.

-----------------------------------------------

Our current setup:

-Comcast "Performance" service (the basic level)

-Basement has cable modem (Motorola) and a wired Linksys router sending out connections to elsewhere in house. There's a wifi bluray player in the basement (there's no pre-wiring in the basement so this device will have to stay wifi based on its location).

-Main level has a hardwired Belkin N150 wifi router set up as an access point. One desktop and one TV are hard-wired on this level as well.

-Upstairs-One hardwired desktop.

----------------------------------------

The problems:

If even two of us are using the network at the same time (ie, one person on Netflix and one on a PC), both connections are slow. That includes anyone using wifi as well.

Besides the above, wifi is very spotty both upstairs and in the basement. We have three wifi devices (tablet, ipod and cell phone). In upstairs bedrooms the wifi isn't so good.

-----------------------------------

Upgrade options could include one or more of the following:

1) Upgrade Comcast service from "Performance" to "Blast" (extra $10/month)

2) Buy a better wifi device (I'm not tied to Belkin, but for example a Belkin N450) and use it to replace the N150 on the main level of the house.

3) Put the old N150 in the basement as an access point to at least create some wifi down there.

There are many other fine options I'm sure I'm not considering. I understand I'll be paying some money, but I'd rather keep costs down if possible (that's why we cut cable in the first place!).

Any advice appreciated.


bounceback

join:2010-12-31

Yes first Step 1 is a must. After that wherever you plan to use your wifi you want to get your router as close as possible if that is not possible the purchase of an wireless extender would help.


travelguy

join:1999-09-03
Santa Fe, NM
reply to Gerry

As you noted, you are really asking two questions: "How do I increase the bandwidth to the house?" and "How do I distribute the bandwidth around the house?" They really are separate questions.

For the first question, you need to see how often it's likely that two high bandwidth users are going to be on at the same time. Keep in mind that if one of those users is running a torrent, the uplink can get saturated which will cause the perceived performance of the downlink to be worse.

For the second question, run a wire where you can and fill in the gaps with wireless.


Renthal

join:2005-10-16
West Lafayette, IN

Performance should be 12/2 to 16/2 depending on the area. Netflix isn't going to be using more than 5 Mbps sustained, so what is the other PC doing online to cause the slowness you experience?

For the wireless side, I would suggest an access point on the 3rd floor and an access point in the basement. Optimal locations will be at opposite sides of the house. You will get bleed through to the second floor from both access points and they will cover their own floor. One access point needs to be broadcasting at 2412 MHz and the second at 2462 MHz. This will provide maximum frequency spacing. If for some reason you are forced to use either the highest or lowest frequency along with the middle frequency, 2437 MHz, then placing the access points at opposite sides of the house, two floors apart, will help mitigate each APs' RF to the other access point.



Gerry

@co.us

Thanks for the responses so far.

First of all, by the responses it sounds as if my current connection should be working better than it is. Even when we have multiple users they aren't burning a lot of bandwidth. The initial step for me should be to take another look at my current network. I don't think I'm getting 12-16 but I will reinvestigate.

I like the idea of 2 APs--one upstairs and one downstairs. I don't immediately know how to set the frequency but hopefully that's not too difficult.

Should I use my current Belkin N150 as one of the APs? It's a bottom-of-the-line device, but if it would work for the basement AP (which figures to get less use) it would save a few bucks.

As for the upgrade from Performance to Blast, I probably will end up doing it. However, I'm wondering if I should make the other changes first. I suppose the 2 APs, coupled with a tune-up of the network, could create a situation where the Performance plan meets our needs. On the other hand, if Blast does increase speed by 50%, then $10/month would seem to be a good deal in any circumstance.


andyross
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-04
Schaumburg, IL

12/2 or 16/2 is the current basic Performance level, but it will PowerBoost to 24/4 or so. Supposedly, next month, it will be updated to a fixed 25/5, probably with no PowerBoost.

Netflix currently peaks at about 5-6, but if Comcast ever joins their OpenConnect network (or you use something like Unblock-US workaround), SuperHD and 3D feeds can reach 8 or more. Realistically, you'd want to plan for at least 30-50% extra to allow for reasonable buffering. During prime-time, I've found even my single connection can end up slowing down and dropping to lower quality for Netflix, although it's fine for other sites.

Also, if at all possible, for a fixed device like a BD player or other streamer used with a TV, run a cable if at all possible. If you have more than one device in an area, get a simple Ethernet switch so you can hook them all up and only need to run one wire. I have one wire to my living room, and have a BD player, TV, WDTV Live, and receiver all connected to it.


Renthal

join:2005-10-16
West Lafayette, IN
reply to Gerry

I don't see any reason why you couldn't re-purpose the N150 as a standalone access point in the basement. This assumes the number of concurrent active clients on it will be low.

It's possible your Internet connection is experiencing packet loss during these "slow down" periods. However, if you experience these at off-peak times, then it is probably something else entirely. What do your cable modem signals look like?



PeteC2
Got Mouse?
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-20
Bristol, CT
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to Gerry

Although of course Blast is nicer, 25/4 Performance should do fine for your needs, plus keep in mind, you can always opt for Blast if you do seem to be having issues. I would not recommend performance-starter tier, by the way.

You mention that your current speeds do not seem very good, and that should be your first step: Test and diagnose internet performance at each level of the house, with each connection, before considering purchasing other equipment.

Begin with a direct-connection between computer and modem, bypassing any router, to see if you are getting the the connection that you are paying for. After all, if for any reason your internet connection is less than it should be, nothing else that you add on will help.

Assuming that you do have a good connection from the modem, then test performance on each floor of the house, this time to see whether or not you are losing performance either wired or wireless at each location.

This will answer your questions as to whether or not additional equipment is needed or not.

Once you determine that you are getting proper connectivity/performance, it will quickly become clear as to which Comcast tier meets your needs.
--
Deeds, not words


Gerry4

join:2013-03-26
Denver, CO

The Comcast tech came out a few weeks ago and tested the modem. Everything was ok.

I hadn't really considered it being a "peak time" issue, but that could very well be driving my perception of this issue. I don't really ever use the network at off-peak times. And my family doesn't seem to have any specific issues when they use the network during peak periods (except in cases of a true outage).

That said, if I'm going to use the connection during peak times, that's the time that it needs to be adequate. And that's the time I need to do any testing.

Thanks again to everyone for their response. Good info.



EG
The wings of love
Premium
join:2006-11-18
Union, NJ
kudos:10
reply to Gerry

FWIW, these may provide you with a further option for your home networking needs;

»www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi···b%20RJ45


Gerry4

join:2013-03-26
Denver, CO

1 edit
reply to Gerry4

Well, I was hoping to have this wrapped up but it's been a real pain.

First of all, my wifi router is a Belkin N300 and not an N150 as I previously stated. Embarrassing, but I don't think it changes my issue.

When my wife dropped off our last cable box, the Comcast clerk signed us up for a free Blast promotion. That night our wired connections were getting download speeds of 30-33.

But the wifi was getting around 5. I addressed the usual suspects; factory reset of wifi router, router firmware, potential interference, etc. I discovered a maddening quirk of the N300. It's easy to set up as an access point, but once you click the "apply changes" button for AP configuration, YOU CAN NO LONGER ACCESS THE ROUTER'S SETTINGS WITHOUT ANOTHER FACTORY RESET. I tried the default address (192.168.2.1), the new IP address I set through the AP process, and every other IP address in the range and couldn't connect. Only later I read in another forum that once the AP is set then configuration is over.

I didn't know this at first--after I continued to get slow speeds I wanted to change some settings (channel, using G only, etc.). Each time I was baffled that I couldn't get back into the settings without a full factory reset. It took an hour just to experiment with a few settings with no luck. In fact, the speed actually seems slower now(1-5).

My options, as I see them:

1) Continue to troubleshoot the AP configuration--I'm willing to do a little more work, but not much. At this point I'm not confident the effort will be fruitful.

2) Change my strategy and attempt to set up the N300 as a secondary router connected to my wired router. I'd be hopeful this wouldn't recreate the quirk where a factory reset is required for every minor adjustment, but I don't know that for sure. I also don't know if the "router connected to a router" is a good recipe for wifi speed. A small advantage to #2 is that I could plug other wired devices into the N300 if necessary (although to be honest that may be true with the AP setup as well).

3) Head to the store and buy a (non-Belkin) device to use as an AP. I'm okay with this, but I wish I were more confident that it would resolve the issue.

Any thoughts? Thanks again.


Renthal

join:2005-10-16
West Lafayette, IN

said by Gerry4:

My options, as I see them:

1) Continue to troubleshoot the AP configuration--I'm willing to do a little more work, but not much. At this point I'm not confident the effort will be fruitful.

2) Change my strategy and attempt to set up the N300 as a secondary router connected to my wired router. I'd be hopeful this wouldn't recreate the quirk where a factory reset is required for every minor adjustment, but I don't know that for sure. I also don't know if the "router connected to a router" is a good recipe for wifi speed. A small advantage to #2 is that I could plug other wired devices into the N300 if necessary (although to be honest that may be true with the AP setup as well).

3) Head to the store and buy a (non-Belkin) device to use as an AP. I'm okay with this, but I wish I were more confident that it would resolve the issue.

Any thoughts? Thanks again.

In regards to #2, this would create a double NAT situation, which isn't ideal, but should have a very minor affect on wireless speed, if any at all.

For #3, I wish I could suggest a good access point for the home which isn't too expensive. Unfortunately, I have enterprise class access points in my home and haven't used a home office access point for a few years. It might be worth your while to check »www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless for information regarding access points and router/AP combos which you can turn off DHCP and just use as the access point with the added bonus of a four port network switch.