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rage2
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Finally upgraded my home wifi to something that works - managed wifi review quote:

After struggling to get simple wifi in the house over the years, I finally started researching some of the new cheaper enterprise grade wifi solutions for the house to put silly wifi issues behind me. But before I go into the details, here's a recap of what I've done over the years.

Years ago, I started off with a single wifi access point. My house isn't massive, it's fairly open, but for whatever reason, 2.4ghz wifi is terrible in the house. 5Ghz is pretty good, but it has problems going through more than 3 walls/floors or 1 pane of glass, so there were deadspots all over the house. So this solution sucked ass.

To fix that problem, I dropped access points (basically routers with the routing portion disabled) throughout the house. I used the same SSID so that I can simply connect to 1 SSID for 2.4, and another for 5Ghz. The problem here is that roaming doesn't work. If I come in through the garage, it connects to the one beside the mudroom, and by the time I'm upstairs, it's still stuck connected to that access point. Everything is slow, videos buffer, and I have to turn off wifi, turn it back on in hopes that it connects to the closest one. Doesn't always happen.

So to fix THAT problem, I set individual ssid's for each of those APs. So now, if I'm in the bedroom and wifi sucks, I just connect to the bedroom one. Problem solved. Too bad it's annoying as fuck always going to wifi settings to manually choose the right access point. While that works well once it's setup, setting up new devices is a PITA. Have to go around the house and connect to 10 different SSIDs, remember the password, to make it easy. Couldn't get any better at this point, as I've reached the end of the road with consumer grade wifi.

I've looked into enterprise grade gear, but at $1k+ an AP on average, it was way too expensive for the house. Thankfully over the last year, new setups have come out where it's actually priced close to consumer grade gear. A couple of us at work went with different setups to tackle the same problem, so here's what we've tested. We only focused on AC setups:

1. Eero $499USD for 3 APs - https://www.eero.com/

This is some new kickstarter funded setup, and it makes setting up good wifi with seamless roaming so easy that anyone can set this up. Plug in the main unit into your modem (standard setup) or LAN (bridged advanced setup), load up the app on your phone, and it's online. After that, you just plug in the remaining APs to power, and it'll connect to the main one over wifi in a mesh setup.

So Eero is purely a wireless mesh setup, meaning that all the new APs connect to each other to stretch the signal through the home. It supports seamless roaming and fast handoff via 802.11r so once the signal drops enough to the AP you're connected to, it'll disconnect and connect to the new AP without skipping a beat. The bad thing about this setup is that when you connect to one of the wireless meshed APs, you lose 1/2 your bandwidth. Hit another AP that's connected to another wireless AP, another half gone.

There's also issues with the routing portion of it if you don't bridge and use your own router. Port forwarding is flaky, and it's terrible for gaming consoles because UPnP isn't working well.

2. Ubiquiti UniFi AC Pro $149USD per AP - https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ap-ac-pro/

On the other end of the spectrum, the UniFi setup is fairly low cost, but requires a bit of tech knowhow to get things going. You need to setup the controller software on a server at home (if you don't want access to stats you don't need to keep it running), and each AP needs to be wired to your LAN. It does support wireless uplinks (kinda like mesh, but manual) but it's kinda flaky from what I've seen.

You can setup multiple SSIDs, one for you, one for guests, and can even setup hotel style landing pages for guests so that they use vouchers or paypal to pay for internet access. Roaming works well, but it's not enabled out of the box. You need to set it up properly otherwise each AP acts like the consumer grade multiple AP setup. It doesn't use 802.11k/r (support coming soon) and works by detecting signal strength of the clients, and booting them off if they don't meet a set strength threshold so it reconnects to a stronger AP.

I can write a whole ton more on this setup, but you can read the Ars Technica review which covers absolutely everything.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015...-wi-fi-gear-is/

3. Open Mesh/Cloudtrax $225USD per AP - http://www.open-mesh.com/ (update - new OM5P-AC available at $135)

This is the setup that I ended up with. It slots somewhere in between Eero and UniFi. It relies on Cloudtrax for management so you don't have to run anything at home. It's free, the APs come with a perpetual license for Cloudtrax.

Setup is fairly easy, register for your free account on cloudtrax.com, create a new network, and add each AP via mac address on the sticker. After that, plug each AP in, it'll contact the cloudtrax servers, download the configs and that's it.

There's a lot of functionality that this setup offers. You can wire each AP in turning it into a gateway, or just plug in power and it becomes a repeater in a mesh network much like Eero. I only used gateway mode for all my APs since I have Ethernet through the house and it performs better without mesh traffic.

Seamless roaming works great, there's nothing to configure, and it's proprietary so I have no clue how it actually works under the hood. If I'm in 1 room, it will connect using the best protocol (AC). As I move around and signal drops, it'll drop down to a 2.4Ghz channel if there's not a strong enough 5Ghz signal in between APs. Sit around for a minute, and it flips it back to 5Ghz.

There are some limitations in simplicity. There's a limit of 4 SSID's, but really for a home setup you don't need any more. As I mentioned, no configs at all for tweaking roaming, but there's radio power settings for tweaking coverage. You can run it in bridge mode (your network dishes out DHCP) or you can run it in a more private mode where the APs act as a router and NAT some private addresses. If you use Sonos, AppleTV etc that relies on LAN broadcasts, you should use bridge mode. There's also full on bandwidth throttling, very useful for guests.

So yea, all 3 solutions solves the biggest problem in a home wifi network. Tons of coverage through multiple APs, and seamless roaming so that you never connect to a far away and slow AP. One final note, both open mesh and unifi promises 802.11k/r support this year, which is a better way to manage seamless roaming as the client device can choose the AP with the best signal strength/throughout and roam all on its own. Eero only supports r, which speeds up handoff but doesn't rely on client device to initiate the roam. For the techies, here's Cisco's demo of r/k vs AP initiated roaming:

http://blogs.cisco.com/wireless/wi-fi-roaming-101

TL;DR: Consumer grade wifi sucks. Enterprise grade wifi setups fixes coverage and deadzones, and allows seamless roaming between APs to ensure your device always connects to the strongest access point. 3 setups were evaluated:

1. Eero.

Pros
- easy as fuck to setup
- not terrible expensive
- cloud managed. no software to setup.

Cons
- no advanced features for techies
- still buggy. port forwarding, and uPnP is still flaky
- mesh only, performance degradation on wireless APs

2. UniFi

Pros
- cheapest of all 3 setups
- very advanced options
- tons of stats to see what devices are doing

Cons
- need to run your own wifi controller (only for initial setup, guest portal, and stats)
- need some tech experience and wifi knowhow to setup
- not easy setting up APs with no ethernet
- need to setup seamless roaming manually. Not setup by default.

3. Open Mesh

Pros
- can run wireless (mesh) or wired APs
- fairly simple to setup
- cloud managed. no software to setup.

Cons
- most expensive of the 3
- doesn't have as much advanced features as UniFi

Update:

Originally posted by rage2
Unifi AC Pro is still the same at $149 per AP: https://store.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ac-pro.html

Open Mesh came out with a new version that's smaller, and at $135 per AP: http://www.open-mesh.com/products/a...cess-point.html

I'd say, toss up at this point between Open Mesh and Unifi.

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Maxx Mazda
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quote:

Excellent write up. Was looking for something to stretch range out to the garage. I have an Ethernet hardware connection out there, but obviously phones and iPads stay connected to the router in the house, and having another AP in the garage I'm still faced with the problem of disconnecting and reconnecting to the garage AP every time. Go inside for a piss and you'll have to repeat the entire process again.

Might look into some of these solutions.

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rage2
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quote:

Yea, coming in from the garage all the time sucks. Wireless is always connected to the AP closest to garage since that's the first one it sees, then in the house I'm in the damn settings page on the phone haha. It got to the point where I would "forget" the garage AP just so it wont connect to it when I got home and just re-entered the password to that AP when I actually need it in the garage.

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quote:

Good info, we might look at option two. We never had Wifi performance issues until we went from BB50 to 30 and added baby monitor(s) in our house. House is not big, ~950 per floor. Main floor performance is good but in master BR and basement sometimes the speed can get to under 5mbps. We have the old Cisco modem, and Asus RT-N56.

I will read that review posted. Amazon reviews look good for the UniFi.

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quote:

Good writeup, i am trying to rectify similar issues in my place. Just 2 AP's though and because i am too cheap to ever buy more than one at a time all of my equipment is mix-matched.

My next attempt is going to rely on Asus "roaming assist" support. Need to pick up a second AC68U or the new AP mode RP-AC68U to give it a try. looks like the AP model is going to come in just as expensive as the router so i might as well just buy another router and put it in AP mode out of the box. Based on your link it sounds like it is similar to what the ubiquity AP's do.

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rage2
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quote:

Let me know how Asus roaming assist works. In theory, it's the same method as the UniFi roaming, but in practice, it doesn't work very well from what I've read. I've never tried it myself as it was priced in between UniFi and Open Mesh access points so I never bothered.

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quote:

I used to have this problem as well, and to be honest I didnt really mind it - I find that Apple devices connecting to wifi seem to have way more issues than android devices and laptops, which was the source of most of my grief because the wife would complain about slow wifi all the time, however that seems to have gotten better now she has an iphone 6 with 5g. I have 2 networks at my house and I have Telus. I have the standard issue Telus actiontec in the basement, and also a Telus cisco wireless repeater connected via ethernet to the actiontec (this lives in our bedroom).

The whole house is covered and theres a Telus 2.4g network and a telus 5g network, same password for both.

I wouldn't mind trying out your solutions if we ever broke away from telus but does your options do 802.11b (for special occasions) the bbq wifi thermometer only connects to b.

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quote:

What happens if you lose connectivity to the cloud? Remember the Nest debacle recently?

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rage2
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quote:

Originally posted by bigbadboss101
Good info, we might look at option two. We never had Wifi performance issues until we went from BB50 to 30 and added baby monitor(s) in our house.


This is around the time when I needed to add extra APs throughout the house. Those IP baby monitors are fucking bandwidth hogs.

Originally posted by nzwasp
I wouldn't mind trying out your solutions if we ever broke away from telus but does your options do 802.11b (for special occasions) the bbq wifi thermometer only connects to b.


Yes. But you do know that with b clients connected, 2.4 performance drops dramatically right? I'd upgrade that thermometer haha.

Originally posted by Mibz
What happens if you lose connectivity to the cloud? Remember the Nest debacle recently?


Nothing. Like the UniFi setup, the cloud management is only there to setup and push the configs down to the APs. You would lose guest payment portal and stats, but the network will continue to run.

edit - I guess you would lose the ability to modify configs as well.

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quote:

Originally posted by rage2

Yes. But you do know that with b clients connected, 2.4 performance drops dramatically right? I'd upgrade that thermometer haha.



https://bbqguru.com/StoreNav?Catego...mp;ProductId=35

This is the thermometer we have. Its really just a PLC with wifi attached. I have no idea why it can't be 802.11a/g or something better especially since it was $500

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quote:

Engenius also has some decent products for this.

The main thing is that their poe switch's include the wireless LAN controller in it.

So you buy a switch and as many ap's as you need


Switch: http://www.engeniuscanada.com/Produ...OM,19,240,1,240

AP: http://www.engeniuscanada.com/Produ...COM,4,169,3,169

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quote:

Speedtest.

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quote:

I used to run a Meraki at my house since I had a 3 year demo unit and it was great, I've switched to a Dlink 862l and it's fucking garbage in comparison. I tried installing DD-WRT on it and that made it even worse

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Yea, Meraki is just too expensive to justify for the home, plus you have to pay maintenance to keep it going. It's pretty damn sweet though.

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quote:

To be honest, given the FS thread you have, Im not surprised about the issues - ive never seen good things from those wifi units (or most low-end Cisco products). That 825 unit was notorious as well.

You now have a better/more saturated WIFI setup than most monster homes and small/medium businesses that I've dealt with. Something else is going on in that neighbourhood or house, but glad you were able to fix the issues at least !

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quote:

Originally posted by revelations
Something else is going on in that neighbourhood or house, but glad you were able to fix the issues at least !



Oh, I forgot to mention, I did figure out why my 2.4ghz performance is so bad in the house. Neighbor has a Chinese router cranked past maximum allowable limits in Canada, and it continually channel hops. It's so strong that in my basement I pick up a stronger signal strength from their router than I do mine 6 ft away. My neighbors all complain of bad wifi performance probably because of this one guy.

At some point I'm going to figure out which house it is using a wifi analyzer, and knock on his door.

Oh, that 825 unit wasn't bad at all. It did its job serving 1 client (baby monitor) haha.

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quote:

Originally posted by rage2


Oh, I forgot to mention, I did figure out why my 2.4ghz performance is so bad in the house. Neighbor has a Chinese router cranked past maximum allowable limits in Canada, and it continually channel hops. It's so strong that in my basement I pick up a stronger signal strength from their router than I do mine 6 ft away. My neighbors all complain of bad wifi performance probably because of this one guy.

At some point I'm going to figure out which house it is using a wifi analyzer, and knock on his door.



Sexist. Could be a MILF.

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quote:

This was interesting to read after I just went through something a little similar. Although it all pales in comparison to the internet connection at the U of A

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quote:

Originally posted by rage2
Yea, Meraki is just too expensive to justify for the home, plus you have to pay maintenance to keep it going. It's pretty damn sweet though.



Meraki has an awesome, easy-to-understand cloud interface. Baller af.

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quote:

Originally posted by rage2


Oh, that 825 unit wasn't bad at all. It did its job serving 1 client (baby monitor) haha.



Yea for that purpose it would be ok.... usually (threw out 3 of those 825 units in 6 months)

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