Question NEED HELP Wireless Router or Mesh Network

awol81

Standard Member
Recently got Virgin Media vivid350 package with Hub 3 and having lots of problems with Speed & WiFi Signal Range.
My household is big we have many Devices we use for Streaming, Browsing and Gaming. The Virgin modem/router is in the living room on the Groundfloor but in the Middle and Top floor we get very bad Speed & WiFi Signal strength. Should i get a good Router Asus RT-AC86U or go for a Mesh Network BT Whole Home wifi. Looking at those 2 because they are in my price range of £150.

Contacted Virgin & they said in small print it says you get top speed if you connect by ethernet cable and then they sent a engineer & he said he tells all his customers to buy wifi extenders.

THANKS IN ADVANCE for any help
 

John

Moderator
I have been using BT Whole Home for almost 18 months now with a BT home hub with no issues
I have 4 discs (think it was cheaper to but 2 packs of 2 than 1 of 3)
Modern 4 bed detached home and can easily get wifi in the furthest part of the garden
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
It's much better value for money, or to put it another way, you get much better coverage increase for your money, by deploying additional hotspots than by hoping for a "much better router" in a forklift upgrade.

Wi-Fi transmit power is limited by law and most kit is, and always has been, at of close to the permitted max. A forklift replacement could be better, could be the same or could be worse - no one can predict it with any certainty. Extra hotspots is virtually guaranteed to offer improvement in the locale you deploy them. On big sites, we put up hundreds.

In each Wi-Fi cell "only one thing at a time can transmit" so having multiple cells has the added benefit that the number of clients per cell could fall reducing competition for "air time" which thence can lead to performance improvements. Again, on big sites with lots of clients (I've done some schools and colleges - think about classrooms full of kids) we put up lots of cell to reduce the air time competition.

The "trick" with multi-cell Wi-Fi deployments is how one establishes what I call the "backhaul" links between all the cells. "Proper" cabled ethernet links provide the fastest and most reliable backhaul. In a domestic setting, if getting out the drills isn't an option then next best backhaul is probably to piggy back the data on the domestic mains using technology such as HomePlugs (FAQ pinned in this forum.) It's also possible to use Wi-Fi to avail the backhaul including the newer "mesh" and "whole home" type systems. We generally regard Wi-Fi backhaul as "least good" because in such instances the AP-AP backhaul transmissions have to compete for some air time with normal client-AP transmissions, though some of the newer system try to mitigate this by using separate radio channels for AP-AP and client-AP - so called "tri-band." Also note that to work to their best, using Wi-Fi for backhaul, AP's need to be "in range" of a good signal from each other.

The newer mesh and whole home type system seem to have a good deal of automation in them to aid the management, often from a single platform, and employ some of the latest tools to aid the "roaming" hand offs from one cell to another (if you have compatible clients.)

Wi-Fi is fundamentally unreliable and fickle, so Virgin are correct that you will always get the fastest and most reliable experience using cabled ethernet. Of course, that's why we prefer cabled backhauls in enterprise deployments. But Wi-Fi is very convenient so we all want to use it and the game is about availing the best Wi-Fi experience we can within it's limitations but the bargain is that we accept the even in the best most professionally managed installations, it's never going to be as fast or reliable as wires, though in many use cases we can make it "good enough."
 
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awol81

Standard Member
Thanks both for your reply. Went for ASUS Router because of aiMesh where you can buy more ASUS Routers and make a Mesh Network. So far had it for 1 day and it is a massive improvement in Speed & Signal but only having issue with PS4, Signal strength is 74% but getting speeds of under 20mbps sometimes it’s in the kbps. I think it because PS4 is in a entertainment cabinet so I have connected the powerline to it.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
If your "entertainment cabinet" is a metal box, then it will have a significant effect. Wi-Fi hates metal and moisture (trees, fish tanks, water tanks, etc.)
 

awol81

Standard Member
It’s a closed cabinet made from solid wood but I keep the doors open when I use PS4 to let air in & out. I did Speedtest with iPhone by placing it on top of the PS4 I got above 250mbps with 2 bar signal but I found out PS4 has only 2.4GHz.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately, there are very many "options" in the Wi-Fi standards which effect the reported "link rate" (ever erroneously called "speed") which means, for many reasons, there is no simple correlation where "signal strength X" implies "speed Y" (though RSSI is a factor.)

Without getting hugely into the detail, not all Wi-Fi NIC's implement all "tricks" to increase the speeds and 2.4GHz (compared to 5GHz) cannot implement some of the newer tricks due to bandwidth constraint in the 2.4GHz waveband. For example, AC, and all it's trick bag, only works in 5GHz for such reasons, any 2.4GHz only NIC's will have to use older (slower) protocols (B, G, N.)

Also, the "bar" meters in clients do not necessarily report received signal strength (RSSI) - some of them report signal "quality" which isn't at all the same thing, so one is best to check for sure what one's meter reports and treat any such readings with a healthy dose of skepticism. Generally, it's best to use them to look for trend (as one wanders around) rather than any subjective measurement and any one locale.

By way of example, if I took two devices, one with full size antenna external and one with a titchy little antenna (such as you get in a phone) and somehow managed to place them exactly in the same location and orientation (which is practically impossible to do) one might expect the smaller antenna to report less "signal" even though I've changed absolutely nothing else. The wavelength of Wi-Fi is of the order of 12cm so one could move a device a few cms and get a dramatic difference in RSSI due to constructive/destructive interference effects.

Unfortunately, "the router" tend to gets the blame for nearly all Wi-Fi ills, when problems are attributable to many other reasons - but no-one want to "blame" the "thing" in their hand, especially if it's the latest "cool" mobile phone. To paraphrase Mary Poppins, client devices (especially phones for some reason) are considered by their owners to be "practically perfect in every way." :D

Sadly, it is all very complicated.
 

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