Wireless Mesh Networking


#1

Thank you to those who gave their thoughts on my broadband question. I know there’s many knowledgable people here and some may know about wireless mesh networking.

I’ve used / struggled with an Apple Airport basestation and Airport Express devices to try and cover my modest three-storey, terraced Victorian-built home with Wi-Fi.

In fact, I’ve gone through four Apple Airport base stations. Two of the old flat square type that had a known issue with overheating. And I’m now on my second of the tall square ones.

When I set up a new one it’s fantastic, but over time I have issues with Wi-Fi dropping out.

I thought I’d try the Linksys Velop system. It arrived two days ago. Yesterday I tried to set it up using the app on iOS and it just proved to be impossible to set it up. So, it has been sent back today.

Waiting for my collection at Waitrose is the Google Wi-Fi system. On paper, not as advanced technically as the Linksys but reportedly a doodle to set up and manage.

Does anyone here use Wireless Mesh networking? What’s your experience and recommendations?


(Allie) #2

If you must, look at Ubiquiti UniFi… But seriously run Ethernet between your APs if at all possible.


#3

APs are connected to Ethernet around the house. No matter how much I try, the Ethernet cable doesn’t fit in the iPhone. :wink:

Ta, I’ll take a look at your suggestion. :+1:


(Allie) #4

If APs are connected to Ethernet, then it’s not mesh networking :slight_smile: It’s just plain old wireless networking.

In that case, I strongly recommend Ubiquiti’s UniFi system, it’s by far the best cheap wireless around. I’ve never used its mesh functionality though, but it sounds like you don’t need it. I’ve heard good things, tho (as mesh goes…)!

Also, Ethernet adapter for iPhone


#5

Ah. Ok. It’s all a bit new to me so maybe I’d misunderstood it.

I was just after reliable Wi-Fi with single name for multiple APs.

You couldn’t make this up :hushed::grinning:


(Allie) #6

You don’t need anything fancy for this. Set all APs to the same SSID and security, but different, non-overlapping channels. Roaming will just work :slight_smile: (p.s. for 2.4GHz non-overlapping channel pairs are 1,5,9,13 or 1,6,11 - always use 20 MHz channel width for 2.4 GHz, 40 is asking for trouble in that band).

That said, UniFi is a fantastically easy, cheap way to do this and the APs are very good, and you can push working configs to all of them from the controller software in seconds.


#7

Yep. This is what I’ve been doing with Apple Kit for a number of years. It’s not always reliable.


(Allie) #8

In what sense? Roaming in 802.11 (Wi-Fi) is generally a client-directed activity, so if you want to try and nudge it, you’d need a controller-based system like UniFi with fast roaming support.

This can nudge stubborn clients that don’t want to roam into roaming. At my work, we recently enabled fast roaming on our Cisco kit (it was disabled for compatibility reasons, I was one who pushed to get it enabled), and the difference has been pretty amazing in terms of re-association time.

Ubiquiti has a good article on fast roaming (as they’ve implemented it, which I’ve found very good - and it’s probably the only implementation in your budget).


#9

Thank you. I’ll have a read of that. :+1:


(Allie) #10

No problem, feel free to ask me if you have any Wi-Fi questions, I have quite a bit of experience. I used to design hospitality networks (hotels and resorts).


#11

Ta :+1:

I knew there’d be some good knowledge in this community.


(Allie) #12

Always. That said my knowledge is a bit rusty - some of the newer stuff like MU-MIMO I don’t understand how to optimise nearly as well, but that’s pretty irrelevant for a home network anyway. Though very, very cool for high density deployments!


(Andre Borie) #13

Unifi also supports “WiFi virtualisation” where the APs work together to present an unique network to the eyes of the device and manage roaming themselves. This provides full, uninterrupted coverage assuming the APs can physically cover the entire area.

But either way, another recommendation for Unifi. :+1:t2:


#14

This sounds like a good thing.


(Allie) #15

They do, but at a performance penalty.

It sounds like it, yes… but there’s a significant performance penalty to using this mode. Essentially it’s as if all your traffic was on a single AP. Since that’s what it’s behaving like - like it was one AP, with really good coverage.


#17

Ditto. I was reading through the thread ready to comment as I have some experience with Apple routers but @Merkitten covered all angles – l ended up learning a couple of things.


(knows someone who knows Tom quite well) #18

I have unifi in the house and google wifi in the flat.

Unifi is good if you like setting stuff up and monitoring it. It needs a reboot every now and then, plus to use it to its best you want a POE router and a cloud key. Good powerful AP though.

With google wifi, you just plug in and run the app. A doddle. And it uses a separate channel for the mesh so you don’t lose much throughput. Even the uber geek himself, Linus Torvalds uses google wifi.


(Andre Borie) #19

I’ve deployed dozens of Unifi systems and I have yet to encounter one where the entire network needs a reboot… I could understand a single case of an AP being faulty but you should just get it replaced in that case. Unifi systems I’ve installed have months of uptime and no complaints yet. :slight_smile:

My issue with Google is that well… it’s Google - their business model is to track your every move, so I personally would never trust them enough to put them in control of every single packet going through my network. Granted, HTTPS protects application data but IPs & hostnames are still in the clear and most importantly, usage patterns (what times are you at home, how much bandwidth do you use, etc) are up for grabs.


(Andre Borie) #21

Ad blockers exist to block analytics & similar privacy threats. :wink:


#22

Thanks for that. I was looking for something that was easy and reliable. I haven’t got time to tinker with everything.