Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

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Chip
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Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Chip »

I've read quite a few of the threads on improving home Wi-Fi coverage and it seems that mesh systems are the hands down favorites. I could just go buy one of those but I am wondering if I should use some of the existing cabling I have to either improve the mesh (or other) system or reduce the cost.

Current setup:

Two story home with basement & deck. Wood stud walls with drywall. Footprint is 60x30.
Asus RT-N66U router at one end of the main floor. Cat 5e from there to other end of main floor, connected to Tivo Bolt+. Smart TV at this location as well.
The Bolt+ has a built-in MoCA bridge and enables the MoCA network.
MoCA to two Tivo minis on 2nd floor. One is in the center of that floor. The minis require wired network connections (MoCA or RJ-45).
200 Mbps internet

My first priority would be to get decent coverage on the main floor at the Bolt+ end of the house. Frankly that would probably be enough for now, but I would rather not be pennywise and pound foolish on this whole exercise. We don't currently have a need for a lot of bandwidth, just browsing and occasional streaming with the TV. It seems to me that the center of the 2nd floor Tivo mini location would also be a great location for an access point.

We have no IoT devices at this time, though I guess we'll have some eventually. I would definitely want them on a guest network. I really like the fact that I can set up multiple guest networks with the Asus router and would prefer not to give up that capability. I'm also not fond of consigning electronics to the landfill/recycler, so I'd rather set up something that's a bit "future-proof", even if it's a little more costly.

So, given these needs and the setup I have, what path(s) should I pursue?
onourway
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by onourway »

It sounds like you have everything in place to put together a great network with wired backhaul for several locations using Ethernet and Moca. I’d start there, and if there are still any weak spots, fill in with additional wireless mesh points.
Last edited by onourway on Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
Chip
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Chip »

onourway wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:28 am It sounds like you have everything in place to put together a great network with wireless backhaul for several locations using Ethernet and Moca. I’d start there, and if there are still any weak spots, fill in with additional wireless mesh points.
Thanks. That's what I had hoped. Did you mean wired backhaul?

I'm fairly techy, but not network techy. So I need a good bit of direction on what to buy and where to put it. Any help is most appreciated.
ccf
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by ccf »

I use TP-Link Deco mesh devices for this. They have a guest network (1 only) feature.

I have four of these: finished basement, first floor office, first floor TV room, second floor.

the only catch is that when you do wired backhaul with these, every device needs to be wired. you can't have two that are wired and one that's wireless, etc.

small complaint is that they don't have a built-in switch. I've got small switches in two of those locations because I had other things that I also wanted to wire.
flyingcows
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by flyingcows »

There is an app for Android devices called “wifi anaylizer open source”. There are a ton of clones of this, but the open source version is what I use, free and has no ads. Running this will give you a real time graph of signal strength, so you can walk around your house (and maybe your backyard) to help find optimal access point placement. It will also display all the wireless channels used by your neighbors networks that are in range, so you can avoid using the same.

My house is a Ushape and my office is in the basement. 1 access point in the center covers our main level and upstairs great, but I needed 2 for the basement, I also have an outdoor rated poe ap for our backyard. I use all Ubiquti gear
Last edited by flyingcows on Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
crefwatch
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by crefwatch »

One low tech idea is to remove one antenna or two and locate them elsewhere, using Wifi cables. This may make it better to turn off beam-steering and Mimo in the Wifi options page.

I have not personally done this (because moving an antenna was enough) but most Asus routers have an effortless bridge or mesh mode. For this you’d buy a second, identical router. I guess you’d put it by the first Tivo and connect the Tivo to an ethernet outlet on the second router. Of course the second router is set to Mesh mode.
linuxizer
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by linuxizer »

If you’re fairly techy take a look at Ubiquiti. They’re not perfect but they’re darn good. Closer to enterprise grade than any of the mesh stuff and cheaper.

Unifi Cloudkey Gen2 (1 was terrible) controller
Unifi USW-8-60W or 150W switch
And a bunch of AC-Lite access points

If that’s too expensive you can run the controller software on a computer intermittently, use a generic switch and the POE injectors that come with each access point, and just get the APs

The APs are the real gem of the system, but the cloudkey does make everything easier to change down the road.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

ccf wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:51 am I use TP-Link Deco mesh devices for this. They have a guest network (1 only) feature.

I have four of these: finished basement, first floor office, first floor TV room, second floor.

the only catch is that when you do wired backhaul with these, every device needs to be wired. you can't have two that are wired and one that's wireless, etc.

small complaint is that they don't have a built-in switch. I've got small switches in two of those locations because I had other things that I also wanted to wire.
Eero mesh lets you commingle wired and wireless backhaul. I have one room that has no Ethernet pull, and putting it in would be a PITA; wireless unit there works fine.

Eero doesn’t have a built-in switch as such, but there are two Ethernet jacks; one for the backhaul and one for other devices (in some locations, I use that to connect a proper switch).
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
onourway
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by onourway »

Chip wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:45 am
Thanks. That's what I had hoped. Did you mean wired backhaul?

I'm fairly techy, but not network techy. So I need a good bit of direction on what to buy and where to put it. Any help is most appreciated.
Yes - fixed!

If you want easy I’d go with one of the major brands - I am techy and I still went with Nest wifi which has been great. With a 400Mb connection we get 300+ over our entire property and setup is as easy as it gets. Limited to a single guest network AFAIK though.

I second the suggestion to use a wifi analyzer app. On iOS I use wifi sweetspots. You simply turn it on and walk around your space. It will report connection speed and signal in real time and you simply move your network points around/add additional points until you have adequate coverage.
drummerboy
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by drummerboy »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:09 am
Eero mesh lets you commingle wired and wireless backhaul. I have one room that has no Ethernet pull, and putting it in would be a PITA; wireless unit there works fine.

Eero doesn’t have a built-in switch as such, but there are two Ethernet jacks; one for the backhaul and one for other devices (in some locations, I use that to connect a proper switch).
Another vote for Eero. Fantastic easy to use system. I live in a 2 story home, with concrete floors separating the 1st and 2nd floor (not good for wireless signals). I have an ethernet "back haul" that connects the two eero devices. One eero is on the first floor connecting to my ISP, and then the 2nd ethernet port connects to the cable that goes upstairs to connect to the 2nd eero device.

I have flawless Wifi coverage all over the house, roaming works flawlessly (moving from upstairs to downstairs your device will automatically hand off to another). In addition, you can add the optional Eero Secure subscription. I didn't at first, but I appreciate the site blocking, the malware blocking and the ad-blocking.
teCh0010
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by teCh0010 »

linuxizer wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:07 am If you’re fairly techy take a look at Ubiquiti. They’re not perfect but they’re darn good. Closer to enterprise grade than any of the mesh stuff and cheaper.

Unifi Cloudkey Gen2 (1 was terrible) controller
Unifi USW-8-60W or 150W switch
And a bunch of AC-Lite access points

If that’s too expensive you can run the controller software on a computer intermittently, use a generic switch and the POE injectors that come with each access point, and just get the APs

The APs are the real gem of the system, but the cloudkey does make everything easier to change down the road.
I second this, I use MoCA 2.0 (gigabit) wired backhaul with Ubiquiti AC lites. I have three covering 4600 square feet. One at each end of the first level, and one in he middle of the second level. I run the controller as another service on my home server.

For routing I use an EdgerouterLite ER3 but OP could just use his asus as a wired router.

For my non techy parents I installed netgear orbi mesh and it has been great. It supports mixed wired and wireless backhaul, and it has a dedicated backhaul radio.
linuxizer
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by linuxizer »

teCh0010 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:50 am For routing I use an EdgerouterLite ER3 but OP could just use his asus as a wired router
Indeed. I had an ERl in the last but got lazy and swapped to a USG. If I had to do it Again I’d get a USG-Pro4 or just start out with a Dream Machine Pro (assuming the usual Unifi new product bugs have been worked out by now) because the DPI and IDS are pretty awesome but slow it down too much.

But this speaks to the advantage of Unifi. It’s single pane of glass. Add an integrated router? Just adopt and it already know about your vlans and guest network. Want to add an outdoor AP? Just did that with the Unifi Mesh (hardwired). VLANs for a separate POE camera network? Sure, all through the same interface.
Topic Author
Chip
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Chip »

Thanks for all the responses!

I will get the analyzer app that a few of you recommended. In addition to signal strength, I'll also check for interference. While I'm 100 feet from the closest house I can still see their SSIDs, so I assume interference is possible.
ccf wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:51 am I use TP-Link Deco mesh devices for this. They have a guest network (1 only) feature.
[...]
the only catch is that when you do wired backhaul with these, every device needs to be wired. you can't have two that are wired and one that's wireless, etc.

Given the current setup I think all the backhauls could be wired, but I'm guessing I would need a MoCA bridge at the Tivo mini? Would I connect RG-6->bridge->Deco->Tivo mini (via Cat 5e)? At the Bolt+ would it be Cat 5e->Deco->Bolt+->MoCA ? As you can see, I'm definitely not network techy. :)
crefwatch wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:01 am One low tech idea is to remove one antenna or two and locate them elsewhere, using Wifi cables. This may make it better to turn off beam-steering and Mimo in the Wifi options page.

I have not personally done this (because moving an antenna was enough) but most Asus routers have an effortless bridge or mesh mode. For this you’d buy a second, identical router. I guess you’d put it by the first Tivo and connect the Tivo to an ethernet outlet on the second router. Of course the second router is set to Mesh mode.
I hadn't thought of moving an antenna. My router is probably in the worst possible spot and not easily moved. But I could locate an antenna up closer to the ceiling in the room it is in. But I suspect that wouldn't be enough to get whole house coverage.

The RT-N66U has bridge mode, but no mesh mode. I had the idea from reading the other threads that this kind of setup can result in handoff problems where a moving device stays with the original AP as the signal deteriorates instead of switching over to the stronger AP signal. True?
TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:09 am Eero mesh lets you commingle wired and wireless backhaul. I have one room that has no Ethernet pull, and putting it in would be a PITA; wireless unit there works fine.

Eero doesn’t have a built-in switch as such, but there are two Ethernet jacks; one for the backhaul and one for other devices (in some locations, I use that to connect a proper switch).
The two RJ-45 jacks seem similar to what the Deco units have. Does the connection setup I mentioned above make sense?
linuxizer wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:07 am If you’re fairly techy take a look at Ubiquiti. They’re not perfect but they’re darn good. Closer to enterprise grade than any of the mesh stuff and cheaper.

Unifi Cloudkey Gen2 (1 was terrible) controller
Unifi USW-8-60W or 150W switch
And a bunch of AC-Lite access points

If that’s too expensive you can run the controller software on a computer intermittently, use a generic switch and the POE injectors that come with each access point, and just get the APs
So this is confusing to me due to my lack of networking knowledge. What would cause me to need the controller and switch? Is it because it's not a mesh system?

Again, thanks for all of the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!
crefwatch
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by crefwatch »

As I wrote, I haven't done it. And I have no information on the handoff results. I believe there are many sub-settings that might include thresholds for handoff. But the ASUS site says that your router has "Access Point(AP) mode". Wouldn't that be the setting for your second router? My router, RT-AC68U , is only a little bit newer. You can find the choices on, I think, the Administration tab of the router's management pages. You can click the radio button to read a summary of the mode, without implementing the change.

Perhaps you could get a used duplicate of your router, to lower the cost of disappointing results.

Edit: Clearly it's better for both routers to have the same firmware version installed.
Last edited by crefwatch on Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
lazydavid
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by lazydavid »

linuxizer wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:07 am If you’re fairly techy take a look at Ubiquiti. They’re not perfect but they’re darn good. Closer to enterprise grade than any of the mesh stuff and cheaper.

Unifi Cloudkey Gen2 (1 was terrible) controller
Unifi USW-8-60W or 150W switch
And a bunch of AC-Lite access points
How do you figure this is cheaper? The BOM for a Four Access Point system using the components you specify is $654. My 4-node Google WiFi Mesh was $299.
rich126
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by rich126 »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:29 am
linuxizer wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:07 am If you’re fairly techy take a look at Ubiquiti. They’re not perfect but they’re darn good. Closer to enterprise grade than any of the mesh stuff and cheaper.

Unifi Cloudkey Gen2 (1 was terrible) controller
Unifi USW-8-60W or 150W switch
And a bunch of AC-Lite access points
How do you figure this is cheaper? The BOM for a Four Access Point system using the components you specify is $654. My 4-node Google WiFi Mesh was $299.
Ubiquiti Unifi equipment isn't for most people here. It takes some knowledge and effort. It is in most cases superior (much more control and 4 wifi networks) but still too much for anyone that doesn't do networking stuff or enjoy spending the time to get things working.

There is also a free tool called NetSpot that runs on a laptop and you can walk around and see signal levels. The paid version allows you to do wifi surveys (not really needed for most people).
killjoy2012
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by killjoy2012 »

Best solution would be to buy a couple APs (e.g. Ubiquiti) and install them on the top level of both ends of the house. Gigabit wired backhaul to your router.

Easiest solution would be a wireless mesh system. Probably more expensive and slower, but easier setup.
lazydavid
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by lazydavid »

rich126 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:48 am Ubiquiti Unifi equipment isn't for most people here. It takes some knowledge and effort. It is in most cases superior (much more control and 4 wifi networks) but still too much for anyone that doesn't do networking stuff or enjoy spending the time to get things working.
I definitely agree with your first sentence. It's unnecessarily complex for nearly all home users, including myself. I'm a Network Engineer by trade, and currently manage all IT infrastructure (from Datacenters all the way down to mice and keyboards) for a mid-sized SaaS company. Ubiquiti is just overkill for almost every home scenario, both in cost and complexity.

Now to be fair, I do have one employee who swears by their stuff, and does use some of the unique features. But he recently spent a good chunk of money and an entire weekend replacing his failing Cisco router with a Layer3 switch. My Architect and myself are both blissfully happy with our Google WiFi, as it does everything we need in a home environment.
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Chip
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Chip »

crefwatch wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:23 am As I wrote, I haven't done it. And I have no information on the handoff results. I believe there are many sub-settings that might include thresholds for handoff. But the ASUS site says that your router has "Access Point(AP) mode". Wouldn't that be the setting for your second router? My router, RT-AC68U , is only a little bit newer. You can find the choices on, I think, the Administration tab of the router's management pages. You can click the radio button to read a summary of the mode, without implementing the change.
Thanks. There is indeed an AP mode. I don't know if it's significant, but when I was just using the analyzer I noticed that my phone hopped from the 5 GHz SSID to the 2.4 GHz SSID as the 5 GHz signal faded out. But I think the 5 GHz signal was basically gone (-80+ dB).
rich126
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by rich126 »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:09 pm
rich126 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:48 am Ubiquiti Unifi equipment isn't for most people here. It takes some knowledge and effort. It is in most cases superior (much more control and 4 wifi networks) but still too much for anyone that doesn't do networking stuff or enjoy spending the time to get things working.
I definitely agree with your first sentence. It's unnecessarily complex for nearly all home users, including myself. I'm a Network Engineer by trade, and currently manage all IT infrastructure (from Datacenters all the way down to mice and keyboards) for a mid-sized SaaS company. Ubiquiti is just overkill for almost every home scenario, both in cost and complexity.

Now to be fair, I do have one employee who swears by their stuff, and does use some of the unique features. But he recently spent a good chunk of money and an entire weekend replacing his failing Cisco router with a Layer3 switch. My Architect and myself are both blissfully happy with our Google WiFi, as it does everything we need in a home environment.
I was using Ubiquiti but just sold my house and put the stuff in storage until my next destination. My GF has a small house and her wifi setup is working fine. I did add a new ssid and a better password but left her current password because I didn't want to get blamed for breaking it :)

I like Ubiquiti because it gives me more insight as to what is going on and I can isolate the various wifi networks if needed (i.e., one for guests, one for smart devices if i get any, one for my stuff) and also control up/download speeds. But there is no way I could imagine explaining this to someone if I was on the road and they had to fix it themselves and had no tech background.
otinkyad
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by otinkyad »

drummerboy wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:24 am Another vote for Eero. Fantastic easy to use system. I live in a 2 story home, with concrete floors separating the 1st and 2nd floor (not good for wireless signals). I have an ethernet "back haul" that connects the two eero devices. One eero is on the first floor connecting to my ISP, and then the 2nd ethernet port connects to the cable that goes upstairs to connect to the 2nd eero device.

I have flawless Wifi coverage all over the house, roaming works flawlessly (moving from upstairs to downstairs your device will automatically hand off to another). In addition, you can add the optional Eero Secure subscription. I didn't at first, but I appreciate the site blocking, the malware blocking and the ad-blocking.
Eero’s have known problems with handoffs using a wired backhaul, and we have that problem ourselves. It’s not every time you move around, but it’s also not rare, and all of us have seen the problem, with different types of devices. I’m not too keen on the required cloud account, either. They do work well, otherwise, and are very easy to set up.
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Dottie57 »

ccf wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:51 am I use TP-Link Deco mesh devices for this. They have a guest network (1 only) feature.

I have four of these: finished basement, first floor office, first floor TV room, second floor.

the only catch is that when you do wired backhaul with these, every device needs to be wired. you can't have two that are wired and one that's wireless, etc.

small complaint is that they don't have a built-in switch. I've got small switches in two of those locations because I had other things that I also wanted to wire.
I have TP-Link deco mesh devices. Much better coverage. Easy to setup. I had nominal knowledge of how it works. Took about 10 min to setup.
eddot98
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by eddot98 »

After struggling with repeaters and Access Points for years, I also have a TPLink Deco mesh 3 unit system. It works very well. But we use MOCA for streaming through Roku boxes to our TV’s on two different floors. We have a a Motorola MOCA distributor (?) at the coax entrance to the house upstairs and a Motorola unit with 4 ethernet jacks for the upstairs TV for a Roku box and a BlueRay player and an Actiontec MOCA unit for the downstairs TV. The Actiontec unit also has 4 Ethernet jacks and its own WiFi network, both of which we are presently not using. Our MOCA handles streaming perfectly. The TPLink WiFi works very well for our phones, iPad, one desktop, and laptops (when we infrequently use them).
Sometime I need to understand what exactly “backhaul” means and how it’s accomplished.
retire2022
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by retire2022 »

OP

I would get Cat 6 cables and replace the Cat5e as I am told the later are slower.

Here is an cnet article which explains it better than I:

Around your house, you probably have either Cat 5 or Cat 5e wire. Cat stands for category. Cat 6 is cable that's more reliable at higher speeds than Cat 5 or Cat 5e. They look pretty much the same; in fact, Cat 6 is backward compatible with Cat 4, so you can mix and match. But they're labeled differently and they're different on the inside--where it counts.

Until recently, most home routers supported speeds of 10 or 100 megabits per second. However, Gigabit Ethernet routers have become more common. All three cables can work with Gigabit Ethernet. The old-fashioned Cat 5 cable is no longer a recognized standard, but it technically supports gigabit speeds--just not well. Cat 5e cable is enhanced to reduce interference so that it can reliably deliver gigabit speeds. However, Gigabit Ethernet still pushes the cable to its limits.

Cat 6 cable is full-on certified to handle Gigabit speeds--it's meant to handle it and it does it the best. It's also suitable for any 10-Gigabit uses that may come along someday; although at that point, you're pushing the limits of Cat 6. And let's not get into Cat 7 and it's fairyland of 40-Gigabit speeds.


https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-pick ... e-network/
Last edited by retire2022 on Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
xb7
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by xb7 »

In another thread I mentioned that I've been looking at this sort of thing myself of late, trying to upgrade my ASUS RT-AC68U. I bought an upgraded wi-fi 5 ASUS router, as I've loved my AC68U, but had some issues with it, and returned it.

Part of the problem I think is just understanding ALL of the criterion before buying. And being careful of assumptions. I have a 2-story house, split level, about 2200 square feet. My router is in the basement somewhat mid-way along the length of the house. I get coverage everywhere, but it gets a little faint towards the edges. One of the criteria for me is to get sufficient range that I can get reliable 5 ghz connections everywhere.

Another is reliability, and after recently reading lots of reviews and customer reviews of a number of routers, I conclude that it feels like they're all problematic in terms of quality. Some issues no doubt due to customers not optimizing the settings (and maybe that was my problem last attempt too, though I tried a lot of options). One conundrum is the desire for a somewhat future-proofed device --- wi-fi 6 --- but at the same time it seems wise to purchase a unit that's been out there for at least a year to give some time for inevitable bug fixes via firmware upgrades. Bonus points if you have an alternative firmware to try should problems arise (OpenWRT, DD-WRT, etc).

I prefer not to get a unit that has an internal fan as now there's a mechanical part that can fail, but of course I don't want one that tends to overheat. I want a unit that supports PPPoE and VLAN tagging should I opt to switch my ISP to one that delivers via fiber rather than cable. I want one where the company does have a track record of updating firmware for years after the product release. My recollection is that TP-Link routers require a subscription service to get some features that I want, though I think that's included for the life of the device for higher end models?

I personally like having a firewall and maybe some other security software running right on the router --- given the IoT world we're increasingly living in, the "internet" no longer interacts with just a small number of devices anymore. I like one that has at least a few LAN ports (some consumer mesh systems I think have just one). I like a device that has sufficient hardware chops to be able to handle quite a number of devices --- I typically have 30+ devices active on my network now, and would expect over time that this number can only grow.

What I no longer assume is that I need a mesh system, at least for my house. I THINK that a router that's both new and also a model step above what I have now --- which is almost good enough by itself --- might sufficient. In the ASUS world, at least, one of the more common set of compaints is along the line of "the unit works great by itself, but meshing them together caused problems". These things are complicated enough that if I can get sufficient coverage without a mesh, I really appreciate the KISS simplicity of that --- just less stuff to go wrong and diagnose.

Best of luck in figuring this out and stumbling upon a router that does everything you want with rock-solid reliability !
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by lazydavid »

eddot98 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:23 pm Sometime I need to understand what exactly “backhaul” means and how it’s accomplished.
It's pretty simple, really. You have two basic types of devices in your network: Endpoints (computers, phones, streaming boxes, game consoles, etc) and network devices (routers, access points). Backhaul is how a network device takes traffic from an endpoint and sends it to another network device.

There are a few ways to manage backhaul connections:
  • In-band wireless: This uses the same radios and frequencies that are used to talk to endpoints. It is the cheapest to implement, but most likely to have interference or throughput issues, especially in a busy network.
  • Dedicated wireless: This uses a completely different set of radios and different frequencies than communication with endpoints. Typically much more reliable and performant than in-band wireless.
  • Wired: This uses a physical Ethernet cable strung between the two network devices. Gets this traffic completely off the wireless spectrum. Typically the most reliable and performant type of connection
yogesh
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by yogesh »

Depending on complexity levels:
1: 1x Unifi Dream Machine (All in one router, switch, gateway and access point)
2: 1x AmpliFi Alien Kit (Tri-band Wifi-6 Router and Meshpoint)
3. 1x Unifi Switch + 1x Cloud Key + 2x Unifi AP AC Pro/Lite or 1x Unifi AP HD
Emergency: FDIC | Taxable: VTMFX | Retirement: TR2040
teCh0010
Posts: 153
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by teCh0010 »

retire2022 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:27 pm OP

I would get Cat 6 cables and replace the Cat5e as I am told the later are slower.

Here is an cnet article which explains it better than I:

Around your house, you probably have either Cat 5 or Cat 5e wire. Cat stands for category. Cat 6 is cable that's more reliable at higher speeds than Cat 5 or Cat 5e. They look pretty much the same; in fact, Cat 6 is backward compatible with Cat 4, so you can mix and match. But they're labeled differently and they're different on the inside--where it counts.

Until recently, most home routers supported speeds of 10 or 100 megabits per second. However, Gigabit Ethernet routers have become more common. All three cables can work with Gigabit Ethernet. The old-fashioned Cat 5 cable is no longer a recognized standard, but it technically supports gigabit speeds--just not well. Cat 5e cable is enhanced to reduce interference so that it can reliably deliver gigabit speeds. However, Gigabit Ethernet still pushes the cable to its limits.

Cat 6 cable is full-on certified to handle Gigabit speeds--it's meant to handle it and it does it the best. It's also suitable for any 10-Gigabit uses that may come along someday; although at that point, you're pushing the limits of Cat 6. And let's not get into Cat 7 and it's fairyland of 40-Gigabit speeds.


https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-pick ... e-network/
Upgrading Cat5e to Cat6 is basically a waste. Cat 5e will do everything that cat 6 will except for 10GBaseT, and if you want to deliver 10GBaseT in a certified manner Cat6a is the way to go. Cat5e is quite capable of gigabit and multi-gig (2 Gigabit, 5 Gigabit).

Multi-gig will become the next standard that replaces gigabit access switches for everything except content creators like video editors, it is already the standard for enterprise access points. 10GBaseT is too limited by the distance limitations imposed by existing cable plants, even Cat6.
finite_difference
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by finite_difference »

linuxizer wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:07 am If you’re fairly techy take a look at Ubiquiti. They’re not perfect but they’re darn good. Closer to enterprise grade than any of the mesh stuff and cheaper.

Unifi Cloudkey Gen2 (1 was terrible) controller
Unifi USW-8-60W or 150W switch
And a bunch of AC-Lite access points

If that’s too expensive you can run the controller software on a computer intermittently, use a generic switch and the POE injectors that come with each access point, and just get the APs

The APs are the real gem of the system, but the cloudkey does make everything easier to change down the road.
+1.

Here’s my setup:

Ubiquiti EdgeRouter 5 PoE ($175)
—Runs 3x UniFi AC Lite over PoE (3x $60 = $180)
Ubiquiti UniFi Cloud Key Gen2 Plus ($191)

Total cost = $546. Might be able to get it for under $500 if you can find things on sale.

If you need more UniFi AC Lite access points, or want to add Ubiquiti Cameras, you can add a UniFi 150W PoE switch ($295).

The Cloud Key Gen2 Plus will manage your mesh network and cameras from an app on your smart phone.

The upfront cost is not cheap, but considering the quality of the hardware and software, and the fact that there’s no monthly subscription costs or license fees, I am a very happy customer.

Compare that to paying for worse hardware and then paying $10/month ($120/year). That adds up pretty fast. A lot of folks are renting a cable modem for $10/yr. After 5 years you’ve paid for this system.

Lastly, for speed, don’t forget to change your DNS on your router to point to Google or CloudFlare, etc.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
eddot98
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by eddot98 »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:14 pm
eddot98 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:23 pm Sometime I need to understand what exactly “backhaul” means and how it’s accomplished.
It's pretty simple, really. You have two basic types of devices in your network: Endpoints (computers, phones, streaming boxes, game consoles, etc) and network devices (routers, access points). Backhaul is how a network device takes traffic from an endpoint and sends it to another network device.

There are a few ways to manage backhaul connections:
  • In-band wireless: This uses the same radios and frequencies that are used to talk to endpoints. It is the cheapest to implement, but most likely to have interference or throughput issues, especially in a busy network.
  • Dedicated wireless: This uses a completely different set of radios and different frequencies than communication with endpoints. Typically much more reliable and performant than in-band wireless.
  • Wired: This uses a physical Ethernet cable strung between the two network devices. Gets this traffic completely off the wireless spectrum. Typically the most reliable and performant type of connection
Maybe I need to go to networking school. Say that I’m on my phone and I download my email. The wireless router has sent information to my phone. Then I respond to the email on my phone and send it out wirelessly. That’s a backhaul? So, my desktop that’s connected with an Ethernet cable has a better, i.e. faster, backhaul connection? Would the better backhaul connection come more into play for uploading files, zoom meetings, or playing games? Sorry, but there are so many things that I don’t know and this whole backhaul subject area is one of them. Thanks for trying to help me.
toast0
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by toast0 »

eddot98 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:53 pm
lazydavid wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:14 pm
eddot98 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:23 pm Sometime I need to understand what exactly “backhaul” means and how it’s accomplished.
It's pretty simple, really. You have two basic types of devices in your network: Endpoints (computers, phones, streaming boxes, game consoles, etc) and network devices (routers, access points). Backhaul is how a network device takes traffic from an endpoint and sends it to another network device.

There are a few ways to manage backhaul connections:
  • In-band wireless: This uses the same radios and frequencies that are used to talk to endpoints. It is the cheapest to implement, but most likely to have interference or throughput issues, especially in a busy network.
  • Dedicated wireless: This uses a completely different set of radios and different frequencies than communication with endpoints. Typically much more reliable and performant than in-band wireless.
  • Wired: This uses a physical Ethernet cable strung between the two network devices. Gets this traffic completely off the wireless spectrum. Typically the most reliable and performant type of connection
Maybe I need to go to networking school. Say that I’m on my phone and I download my email. The wireless router has sent information to my phone. Then I respond to the email on my phone and send it out wirelessly. That’s a backhaul? So, my desktop that’s connected with an Ethernet cable has a better, i.e. faster, backhaul connection? Would the better backhaul connection come more into play for uploading files, zoom meetings, or playing games? Sorry, but there are so many things that I don’t know and this whole backhaul subject area is one of them. Thanks for trying to help me.
We mainly discuss backhaul in terms of gateway devices; in a multi access point (mesh) system, it's important to know if all of the access points are connected to the network via wired connections or also using wireless to communicate with the rest of the network as well as your wireless endpoints. It's the same thing with cell phone towers; some of them have wired (often fiber) backhaul, some of them have wireless backhaul (usually totally different spectrum with directional antennas and what not).

To answer the other half of your question, wired is generally better (as long as it's not super old and the wires aren't degraded), but the interface between your devices and your network might not be the bottleneck; it's quite possible to have wireless connectivity that's faster than your internet connection, or the tasks you're doing, in which case it wouldn't make a significant difference.
killjoy2012
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by killjoy2012 »

Backhaul in this context simply means how the network traffic is carried between the wireless access point & Internet router / cable modem. If you only have a single wifi router, then there really is no "backhaul" as it's all within the router. But if you setup a standalone access point, or multiples, somehow all of the 802.11 wifi traffic needs to be carried between the AP and remote router/Internet circuit. This can be done in band, such as how mesh works, but the down side is that you lose bandwidth since the same wireless frequency/media is being used to connect end points as is being used between the APs and router themselves. Conversely, using a wired backhaul connects the APs to the router with wired Ethernet.... providing an extremely fast and reliable connection between APs and the router, while also not taking way any wireless bandwidth as a mesh system would.

Yes, modern wired Ethernet (gigabit over CAT6) is much faster and more reliable than 802.11 wifi. Yes, there are some 802.11 standard that claim speeds > 1Gbps, but in the real world, that's rare to actually see... and odds are your Internet circuit is 1Gbps or significantly lower. Wired is 1000x more reliable and problem free.

Mesh is popular since you can place pucks all over your house and it just magically works. You don't have to run cables between the pucks. One downside is that the same wireless frequency bandwidth used to connect your wireless devices to the APs is now being shared for the AP-to-AP "backhaul" over wireless.
linuxizer
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by linuxizer »

I sort of agree Unifi can be more complicated, but with the cloudkey it’s pretty darn user friendly for a basic setup for someone who is “techy” in other domains.

All I know is since I gave up on various top rated consumer routers I have stopped having to field poorly timed troubleshooting requests from family when the internet breaks randomly in hard to diagnose ways. Not sure if the mesh based systems are better than other consumer gear.

Do NOT pull your cat 5E and upgrade to cat6. 5E is almost certainly plenty to support gigabit at household distances. Ain’t broke don’t fix.

It sounds like people like their mesh systems so worth a try. I don’t think it’s cheaper than a few Unifi APs to start and then upgrading to a switch and USG router down the road if you like it.
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Bengineer
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Bengineer »

OP, You don't have that big of a house. Or a stone/metal one. I think I would do the simplest thing as your next step - Insert a switch in the ethernet connection to your TV at the bolt+ end and add a wifi access point (AP) with the same wifi spec as your main Asus RT-N66U router. That will get both ends of the house and likely the upstairs.

Config the wifi the same way - ssid & pw. (possibly test with the ssid set differently first so you can see the coverage).

You might find an AP with a built in switch or be able to use a wifi router configged as an AP. I keep a few revs back of my switches and routers and so could plug one in and test.
Topic Author
Chip
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Chip »

Thanks for all of the additional replies. I should have mentioned up front that I don't need perfect coverage or throughput, I just need devices to work reasonably well throughout most of the house.

I tested 2.4 GHz signal strength using the Android analyzer mentioned earlier in the thread:

At router: -37 dBm
At Smart TV: -71 dBm
2nd floor, middle of house: -61 dBm
2nd floor, far from router: -68 dBm
Basement, under router: -52 dBm
Basement, far from router: -85 dBm
Deck: -72 dBm

5 GHz tests were worse in most locations, as expected.

I have looked at the Eero, Google and TP-Link Deco products. The TP-Link has caught my interest. According to some of the FAQs and other documents on their web site, the devices can be set up in "AP mode" and used with an existing router. Since I like the multiple guest network capability of the RT-N66U, this seems like a desirable solution. Are there any significant downsides to this approach, other than those listed in the TP-Link FAQ?

It also appears that, within some limits, each Deco device can use either a wired or wireless backhaul, it's not necessarily all or none.

It seems that with these capabilities I could set up one Deco device by the TV, using the existing Cat 5e for a wired backhaul, then place the other devices as dictated by the signal analyzer. If one of the MoCA-served locations is desirable I could, if necessary, buy a MoCA bridge to create a wired backhaul there. Does this all sound reasonable or am I missing something?
crefwatch
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by crefwatch »

Sidenote on the MoCA portion of the network. It's plenty fast enough for successful streaming, but my Verizon MoCA (in the past) was limited to 75 Meg. Is that just Verizon, or is that a hardware limitation for MoCA?
lazydavid
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by lazydavid »

eddot98 wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:53 pm Maybe I need to go to networking school. Say that I’m on my phone and I download my email. The wireless router has sent information to my phone. Then I respond to the email on my phone and send it out wirelessly. That’s a backhaul? So, my desktop that’s connected with an Ethernet cable has a better, i.e. faster, backhaul connection? Would the better backhaul connection come more into play for uploading files, zoom meetings, or playing games? Sorry, but there are so many things that I don’t know and this whole backhaul subject area is one of them. Thanks for trying to help me.
No. Backhaul is just how the network devices pass traffic between one another. So if your phone is associated with your primary (or only) access point, you talk directly to that AP/router for all communications. But then if you walk to the other end of the house and your phone re-associates to one of the other nodes in the mesh (which happens automatically, without your knowledge), your phone talks to that node, and that node then relays your data back to the primary node via its backhaul connection.
tigerdoc93
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by tigerdoc93 »

I went with google WiFi several years ago and it works flawlessly! Seriously give it a try.
teCh0010
Posts: 153
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by teCh0010 »

crefwatch wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:14 am Sidenote on the MoCA portion of the network. It's plenty fast enough for successful streaming, but my Verizon MoCA (in the past) was limited to 75 Meg. Is that just Verizon, or is that a hardware limitation for MoCA?
That was most likely a limitation of the MoCA gear from Verizon.

MoCA has gone through several generations with different capabilities. I’m using MoCA 2.0 gear from Motorola which has been dead reliable and is capable of gigabit speeds, people have seen 800Mb + speed test results when using MoCA 2.0 to backhaul gigabit internet.

MoCA 2.5 is faster, and what the newer adapters are starting to ship with.
teCh0010
Posts: 153
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by teCh0010 »

Chip wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:35 am Thanks for all of the additional replies. I should have mentioned up front that I don't need perfect coverage or throughput, I just need devices to work reasonably well throughout most of the house.

I tested 2.4 GHz signal strength using the Android analyzer mentioned earlier in the thread:

At router: -37 dBm
At Smart TV: -71 dBm
2nd floor, middle of house: -61 dBm
2nd floor, far from router: -68 dBm
Basement, under router: -52 dBm
Basement, far from router: -85 dBm
Deck: -72 dBm

5 GHz tests were worse in most locations, as expected.

I have looked at the Eero, Google and TP-Link Deco products. The TP-Link has caught my interest. According to some of the FAQs and other documents on their web site, the devices can be set up in "AP mode" and used with an existing router. Since I like the multiple guest network capability of the RT-N66U, this seems like a desirable solution. Are there any significant downsides to this approach, other than those listed in the TP-Link FAQ?

It also appears that, within some limits, each Deco device can use either a wired or wireless backhaul, it's not necessarily all or none.

It seems that with these capabilities I could set up one Deco device by the TV, using the existing Cat 5e for a wired backhaul, then place the other devices as dictated by the signal analyzer. If one of the MoCA-served locations is desirable I could, if necessary, buy a MoCA bridge to create a wired backhaul there. Does this all sound reasonable or am I missing something?
One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
retire2022
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Location: NYC

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by retire2022 »

Op

Elon Musk has this SpaceX Starlink beta satellite package seems better than wifi :)

https://arstechnica.com/information-tec ... s-120mbps/

PS it is $99 for beta subscription

https://arstechnica.com/information-tec ... -up-front/
Last edited by retire2022 on Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Luke Duke
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Location: Texas

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Luke Duke »

I have a Nighthawk router (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F0DD0I6/) at one end of my 1 story house. The wifi signal on the far side of the house was only ~1/4 the speed. I finally did something about it this weekend and installed an inexpensive TP-Link router (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07N1L5HX1/) in WAP mode. Now I have 100+ Mbps everywhere in the house. Fortunately I already had the Cat5 cable already run.
Topic Author
Chip
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Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:57 am

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by Chip »

teCh0010 wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
Darn, that's disappointing. My plan was to use the multiple guest networks to isolate future IoT devices, plus guests, etc. from the main network. Plus I have a specific use case where I want an isolated VLAN for a single device.

Perhaps the router plus AP setup at both ends of the main floor (as suggested by another poster) would indeed be the best way to start.
flyingcows
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by flyingcows »

Chip wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:08 am
teCh0010 wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
Darn, that's disappointing. My plan was to use the multiple guest networks to isolate future IoT devices, plus guests, etc. from the main network. Plus I have a specific use case where I want an isolated VLAN for a single device.

Perhaps the router plus AP setup at both ends of the main floor (as suggested by another poster) would indeed be the best way to start.
If you are buying new stuff, have you considered Ubiquiti?

On the multiple SSIDs, I do this with my Ubiquiti APs, you can configure a profile and then push it to all of the Ubiquiti APs on your network via the Unifi UI. I have 4 Ubiquiti APs and the same 3 SSIDs are provisioned on all of them, all use Wired backhaul (and poe).

To save money, if you are using wired backhaul you could just keep your old Asus device, disable wifi, and use it as your wired router. If you reflash it with an open source firmware you could configure VLANs for the ports
smackboy1
Posts: 1233
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by smackboy1 »

Chip wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:14 amCurrent setup:
. . .
connected to Tivo Bolt+. Smart TV at this location as well.
. . .
two Tivo minis on 2nd floor.
. . .
We have no IoT devices at this time, though I guess we'll have some eventually. I would definitely want them on a guest network.
I would consider Tivo and smart TV to be IoT devices and do not trust their security. Also, some IoT devices will not function properly if on a guest network that is isolated from the LAN e.g. wifi cameras connected to an NVR; controlling devices with a smart home speaker; casting media to speakers/TV, wifi home security system, etc..

I keep all my untrusted devices on a dedicated segmented LAN just for IoT devices. My trusted high value devices, e.g. PC, smart phones, tablets, NAS, are on a separate segmented LAN that the IoT devices cannot see.
Chip wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:08 am
teCh0010 wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
Darn, that's disappointing. My plan was to use the multiple guest networks to isolate future IoT devices, plus guests, etc. from the main network. Plus I have a specific use case where I want an isolated VLAN for a single device.

Perhaps the router plus AP setup at both ends of the main floor (as suggested by another poster) would indeed be the best way to start.
I am not a network engineer, so for simplicity I use multiple ASUS mesh routers to create a triple NAT system so I can have multiple segmented LANs for different devices. Don't have to deal with managed switches or VLANs. I like ASUS's AiMesh system because it's really easy to manage multiple LANs with many different ASUS routers and satellite nodes. I also like ASUS because their routers can be used out of the box with their default settings, but there are also a lot of settings available for those that want to customize their networks. I don't think any other manufacturer has a mesh system that spans so many different router models and has so much granularity of control. AiMesh has a lot of flexibility for now and into the future.

There are 2 versions of AiMesh. Most ASUS AiMesh routers run "1.0". 1.0 only broadcasts wifi guest network from the primary router; satellite nodes do not broadcast wifi guest network. There is no wired guest network at all. AFAIK, the ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 is the only ASUS router that is running AiMesh 2.0. 2.0 can broadcast wifi guest network across all nodes. It's only dual band but I have wired backhaul. It has very wide coverage in my house; 3 floors (5,000+ SF). I use it for my IoT LAN. Eventually ASUS will update firmware to bring AiMesh 2.0 to their older routers, but for now it's still in beta and very buggy.

This is what I mean by a triple NAT system

https://pcper.com/2016/08/steve-gibsons ... nsecurity/
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
xb7
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Location: WA State, USA

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by xb7 »

Chip wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:08 am
teCh0010 wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
Darn, that's disappointing. My plan was to use the multiple guest networks to isolate future IoT devices, plus guests, etc. from the main network. Plus I have a specific use case where I want an isolated VLAN for a single device.

Perhaps the router plus AP setup at both ends of the main floor (as suggested by another poster) would indeed be the best way to start.
My (admittedly limited) understanding is that the guest network --- at least in the ASUS universe that I'm most familiar with --- is designed to prevent devices on the guest SSID from communicating with each other. So I'm guessing that a one-off IoT device that doesn't need to communicate with other devices might be fine on a guest network? But the majority of my devices are Ring security or Amazon echo devices, all of which do communicate with other IoT devices. And even the ones that might at first glance appear to be solo devices --- my thermostat for example --- I can use Alexa to adjust or query the thermostat, so it's not really a solo device either.

I'm not sure where the limits of this are, but it seems prudent to me to stay away from the guest network for anything but actual guests. For now, everything is on my main SSID. I'm not sure if I'm going to set up a VLAN or some other option at this point. It's tough to assess the risk/hassle trade-off for the lay person!
rich126
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Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by rich126 »

xb7 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 11:47 am
Chip wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:08 am
teCh0010 wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
Darn, that's disappointing. My plan was to use the multiple guest networks to isolate future IoT devices, plus guests, etc. from the main network. Plus I have a specific use case where I want an isolated VLAN for a single device.

Perhaps the router plus AP setup at both ends of the main floor (as suggested by another poster) would indeed be the best way to start.
My (admittedly limited) understanding is that the guest network --- at least in the ASUS universe that I'm most familiar with --- is designed to prevent devices on the guest SSID from communicating with each other. So I'm guessing that a one-off IoT device that doesn't need to communicate with other devices might be fine on a guest network? But the majority of my devices are Ring security or Amazon echo devices, all of which do communicate with other IoT devices. And even the ones that might at first glance appear to be solo devices --- my thermostat for example --- I can use Alexa to adjust or query the thermostat, so it's not really a solo device either.

I'm not sure where the limits of this are, but it seems prudent to me to stay away from the guest network for anything but actual guests. For now, everything is on my main SSID. I'm not sure if I'm going to set up a VLAN or some other option at this point. It's tough to assess the risk/hassle trade-off for the lay person!
I don't have any direct experience with ASUS so my understanding is probably not a lot better but I doubt the bolded statement is true. What is more likely to be true is that items on the guest network cannot access devices on non-guest network(s). That would make sense from a security perspective. In most cases you don't want a "smart" device to initiate communications into your more private/secure network. You may want it to respond to queries initiated from within your network but it shouldn't initiated the communications.

The ASUS guest network appears to allow you to control access time (i.e., only allow access during 9-5 daily), upload/download speeds, hide/show SSID, MAC filtering, etc.

MAC filtering while it sounds nice (only allows MAC addresses you entered to get on the network) can be painful to setup and managed. And a determined hacker can spoof MAC addresses. And Apple devices can now "randomize" their MAC addresses to make tracking them harder. You can turn it off (on the Apple device). And hiding the SSID won't stopped any decent hacker since they can just sniff/observe wifi traffic and see the SSID when a device connects to it.
xb7
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Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:13 pm
Location: WA State, USA

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by xb7 »

rich126 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:09 pm
xb7 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 11:47 am
Chip wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:08 am
teCh0010 wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am One thing to feel in mind, if you are using a mesh setup in AP mode and you asus as a router to provide the multiple guest networks you like - the guest networks will not be extended by the mesh APs. In AP mode the mesh network will extend only the wired network the mesh base station are plugged into on the asus.

So you would have one “mesh” ssid that has good coverage around the house provided by mesh, and then you multiple guest network ssids would be provided by the asus with your current coverage.
Darn, that's disappointing. My plan was to use the multiple guest networks to isolate future IoT devices, plus guests, etc. from the main network. Plus I have a specific use case where I want an isolated VLAN for a single device.

Perhaps the router plus AP setup at both ends of the main floor (as suggested by another poster) would indeed be the best way to start.
My (admittedly limited) understanding is that the guest network --- at least in the ASUS universe that I'm most familiar with --- is designed to prevent devices on the guest SSID from communicating with each other. So I'm guessing that a one-off IoT device that doesn't need to communicate with other devices might be fine on a guest network? But the majority of my devices are Ring security or Amazon echo devices, all of which do communicate with other IoT devices. And even the ones that might at first glance appear to be solo devices --- my thermostat for example --- I can use Alexa to adjust or query the thermostat, so it's not really a solo device either.

I'm not sure where the limits of this are, but it seems prudent to me to stay away from the guest network for anything but actual guests. For now, everything is on my main SSID. I'm not sure if I'm going to set up a VLAN or some other option at this point. It's tough to assess the risk/hassle trade-off for the lay person!
I don't have any direct experience with ASUS so my understanding is probably not a lot better but I doubt the bolded statement is true. What is more likely to be true is that items on the guest network cannot access devices on non-guest network(s). That would make sense from a security perspective. In most cases you don't want a "smart" device to initiate communications into your more private/secure network. You may want it to respond to queries initiated from within your network but it shouldn't initiated the communications.

The ASUS guest network appears to allow you to control access time (i.e., only allow access during 9-5 daily), upload/download speeds, hide/show SSID, MAC filtering, etc.

MAC filtering while it sounds nice (only allows MAC addresses you entered to get on the network) can be painful to setup and managed. And a determined hacker can spoof MAC addresses. And Apple devices can now "randomize" their MAC addresses to make tracking them harder. You can turn it off (on the Apple device). And hiding the SSID won't stopped any decent hacker since they can just sniff/observe wifi traffic and see the SSID when a device connects to it.
Sounds reasonable. When you look for the words "isolate" or "isolation" along with "asus guest network" in a search you turn up various things, certainly to include some discussion of what I'm talking about. For example, in this article, jump down to the bold subheading "Isolation From Each Other": https://www.computerworld.com/article/3 ... works.html

Maybe what I should do is create a separate guest network (ASUS allows up to three) just for IoT stuff, and maybe a couple of them for different IoT stuff (?), and for this/those, and look to see if ASUS offers an "Access Intranet" setting. I'll look into that sometime ...
xb7
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Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:13 pm
Location: WA State, USA

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by xb7 »

xb7 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:30 pm Sounds reasonable. When you look for the words "isolate" or "isolation" along with "asus guest network" in a search you turn up various things, certainly to include some discussion of what I'm talking about. For example, in this article, jump down to the bold subheading "Isolation From Each Other": https://www.computerworld.com/article/3 ... works.html

Maybe what I should do is create a separate guest network (ASUS allows up to three) just for IoT stuff, and maybe a couple of them for different IoT stuff (?), and for this/those, and look to see if ASUS offers an "Access Intranet" setting. I'll look into that sometime ...
Okay, so I just looked and indeed --- for each ASUS guest network there's an "Access Intranet" setting, which looks like it defaults to "disable". So I guess I could enable that for a separate IoT guest network so that devices could connect with each other, but not have any access to my primary network. Sounds good. It's a PITA to change the SSID for a variety of IoT devices, so I'll probably give this a try --- a SOME point !

If anyone knows for sure if this is (or is not) a good idea, I'd appreciate a heads up before I go to the hassle.
rich126
Posts: 2117
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Re: Improving Wi-Fi coverage: Use existing Cat5e and MoCA?

Post by rich126 »

xb7 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:34 pm
xb7 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:30 pm Sounds reasonable. When you look for the words "isolate" or "isolation" along with "asus guest network" in a search you turn up various things, certainly to include some discussion of what I'm talking about. For example, in this article, jump down to the bold subheading "Isolation From Each Other": https://www.computerworld.com/article/3 ... works.html

Maybe what I should do is create a separate guest network (ASUS allows up to three) just for IoT stuff, and maybe a couple of them for different IoT stuff (?), and for this/those, and look to see if ASUS offers an "Access Intranet" setting. I'll look into that sometime ...
Okay, so I just looked and indeed --- for each ASUS guest network there's an "Access Intranet" setting, which looks like it defaults to "disable". So I guess I could enable that for a separate IoT guest network so that devices could connect with each other, but not have any access to my primary network. Sounds good. It's a PITA to change the SSID for a variety of IoT devices, so I'll probably give this a try --- a SOME point !

If anyone knows for sure if this is (or is not) a good idea, I'd appreciate a heads up before I go to the hassle.
I can't answer your question but I saw the same thing. The stuff I saw was kind of confusing because it was worded poorly. The problem is if you allow "intranet" access from a guest network that means (I think) the device can access anything it wants on your network. From a security perspective it isn't something I would want to allow considering how terrible security is on most smart home devices.
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