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Author Topic: Range Extender SLOW as WiFi AP  (Read 19121 times)

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Offline dnb

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Range Extender SLOW as WiFi AP
« on: October 20, 2013, 06:07:37 pm »
So I set up my Almond as a Range Extender for my main modem/gateway/router in the house... So easy! I love it!

However, when I attach to the Almond via wifi, I get about 1mbit speeds online (I have 30mbit); but if I plug into the Almond via CAT6, I get my full speeds.

What gives? There's NO signal interference (I use WiFi Analyzer on the Android Play store to determine this, and picked the best channel --- great app if you haven't played with it before), but even still that wouldn't make sense, because plugging CAT6 worked just fine (remember, it's the Almond doing the range extender, so plugging in or connecting wifi should work! --- sorry to repeat so many times, after 5 support people at Securifi just couldn't get it straight AT ALL).

I can understand a slight degradation in speed overall, but I expect WiFi and Wired to be the same speed in this instance, since either way the Almond is relaying the signal to/from the main router.

What also was annoying was that when I renamed the Almond to the same name as the main router (as you do with range extenders), it seemed to be the strongest throughout the ENTIRE house, which isn't actually that bad, with the exception of how slow it's going over WiFi. (FYI, I did this AFTER my initial tests, so it's not this that's causing the issue... Even with the default NAME_almond SSID, connecting to the Almond was balls-out slow)

Support was of NO help after 5 separate calls and troubleshooting.

I really liked the setup of this router, and the look. I'd have to have to return it, but I only have a few days left before my return period expires.

Help a brotha out!

Offline Patrick Wilson

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Re: Range Extender SLOW as WiFi AP
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 12:04:48 am »
So I set up my Almond as a Range Extender for my main modem/gateway/router in the house... So easy! I love it!

However, when I attach to the Almond via wifi, I get about 1mbit speeds online (I have 30mbit); but if I plug into the Almond via CAT6, I get my full speeds.

What gives? There's NO signal interference (I use WiFi Analyzer on the Android Play store to determine this, and picked the best channel --- great app if you haven't played with it before), but even still that wouldn't make sense, because plugging CAT6 worked just fine (remember, it's the Almond doing the range extender, so plugging in or connecting wifi should work! --- sorry to repeat so many times, after 5 support people at Securifi just couldn't get it straight AT ALL).

I can understand a slight degradation in speed overall, but I expect WiFi and Wired to be the same speed in this instance, since either way the Almond is relaying the signal to/from the main router.

What also was annoying was that when I renamed the Almond to the same name as the main router (as you do with range extenders), it seemed to be the strongest throughout the ENTIRE house, which isn't actually that bad, with the exception of how slow it's going over WiFi. (FYI, I did this AFTER my initial tests, so it's not this that's causing the issue... Even with the default NAME_almond SSID, connecting to the Almond was balls-out slow)

Support was of NO help after 5 separate calls and troubleshooting.

I really liked the setup of this router, and the look. I'd have to have to return it, but I only have a few days left before my return period expires.

Help a brotha out!

Unfortunately this is a reflection of a "Range Extender".  When you use your Almond as a "Range Extender" you are basically turning the "radio" into a repeater.  Therefore when you send a packet to the Almond frrom a Wi-Fi device,  it picks up the packet while acting as a wireless AP (access point),  and then retransmits that same packet  to the main router while acting as a "Wi-Fi" client of the main router.  This basically is cutting your Wi-Fi bandwidth in half,  as every packet has to be processed twice.

If you instead setup your Almond as a "Wireless Access Point" it will be connected to the main router via Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi,  so the "radio" in the Almond is dedicated as a WAP serving your clients.   

This basically comes down to "performance" vs "convenience".  Range Extender mode is convenient,  in that you can place your Almond anywhere you want that can provide a power source,  as long as the Almond can get a wireless signal from the main router.  This makes placement very convenient,  and allows to use strategic placement to deal with "coverage holes" in your network very easily. 

Wireless Access Point mode,  is less convenient,  in that you need to be able to provide both power and ethernet to the Almond in order to talk to the main router,  but it greatly improves performance,  as the connection between the Almond and the main router is "wired" ensuring maximum throughput.  This also permit you to operate your Almond on a "different" channel,  which minimizes interference between the WAP (Almond in this contecxt) and the main Router. 

Wireless Access Point mode will always provide better performance than Range Extender mode,  but it requires additional network infastructure,  in the form of an ethernet cable between the WAP and the Router.  Personally I don't use Range Extender mode at all.  My network includes one Router,  and 4 WAP''s.  I have complete coverage in my entire home,  and my Wi-Fi devices can easily wander between WAP's and the Router based on signal available.  I  use the same SSID and security settings on all my Router/WAP devices,  but operate them on different channels. 

If Range Extender performance isn't meeting your expectations,  then I would urge you to consider running some CAT5e/6/7 cable between your Router and your Almond,  so that you can switch to Wireless Access Point mode. 
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 11:02:51 am by Patrick Wilson »
Patrick Wilson
Victoria, BC Canada

Offline dnb

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Re: Range Extender SLOW as WiFi AP
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 02:56:51 am »
I can kinda see the argument you're making there, about the radio speeds being cut in half for 1) receiving the packet, 2) rebroadcasting the packet.

But instead of getting "half speeds" you mention, I'm getting less than 1/30th of the speeds. Pretty dramatic loss in performance.

I also don't understand why plugging in a CAT6 cable to the Almond in Range Extender mode still gives me full speed (literally I get ~32mbps using speed tests). It still has to receive the packet and send over wifi, so why isn't it affected exactly the same? Simply because it's not using the wireless? I'm not saying you're wrong, I just find it hard to believe.

bunny, I'd even be happy with half speeds downstairs. 15mbit is  plenty fast enough for the things I need, but 1mbit isn't going to cut it.

Unfortunately I don't have the option to use the device as a NAT transfer via wiring it up. It's going too far across the house, and I don't have the money to properly wire it up, and the wifey would kill me for having a 200+ft long cable routed along the edge of the baseboards, and down the stairs :/


I suppose a valid solution would be a repeater with dual band? Maybe that would prevent losing bandwidth due to processing?


EDIT:::

I just found this article: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-extender/

Huh... well bunny!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 03:01:42 am by dnb »

Offline Patrick Wilson

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Re: Range Extender SLOW as WiFi AP
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 12:39:18 pm »
I can kinda see the argument you're making there, about the radio speeds being cut in half for 1) receiving the packet, 2) rebroadcasting the packet.

But instead of getting "half speeds" you mention, I'm getting less than 1/30th of the speeds. Pretty dramatic loss in performance.

50% is just the starting point,  in that it guarantees at least a 50% drop,  just by virtue of "repeat" required for every packet.  After that it is a matter of the Wireless signal between the "Range Extender" and the main router.   A 50% drop is under ideal circumstances with good Wi-Fi signal between the Router and the Range Extender.  If there is poor signal between them then throughput is further affected.   See if you can adjust the locations of the Router and the "Range Extender" (relative to each other) to improve the signal between them. 

You may be able to optimize the signal between them by using a Android device to check the Wi-Fi signal at each location to the other,  using something like Wi-Fi Analyzer to check the signal strength at each location relative to the other one.  (There is probably a similar App available for iOS devices too).



Adjust the location of these devices relative to each other,  while monitoring the signal will help optimize the Wi-Fi signal between devices. 

I also don't understand why plugging in a CAT6 cable to the Almond in Range Extender mode still gives me full speed (literally I get ~32mbps using speed tests). It still has to receive the packet and send over wifi, so why isn't it affected exactly the same? Simply because it's not using the wireless? I'm not saying you're wrong, I just find it hard to believe.

bunny, I'd even be happy with half speeds downstairs. 15mbit is  plenty fast enough for the things I need, but 1mbit isn't going to cut it.


Radio signals fluctuate even under ideal conditions.  Wi-Fi connections are  never as fast as "wired" connections.  Radio signals are affected by many factors,  including building materials used,  metals.  power lines, etc.  Signal is also affected by the number of Wi-Fi devices present both inside,  and "near" your network.  (Your neighbours Wi-Fi devices may be fighting for the same radio spectrum as your own equipment,  and if you use Wi-Fi extensively your own Wi-Fi devices themselves are all competing for the same bandwidth.

Ensure that your Wi-Fi "channel" is different than your neighbours for example.  Use tools such as the Android App I just mentioned to optimize your Wi-Fi performance.   Perhaps your "Range Extender" and "Router" are simply too far apart (in regards to "radio" rather than "physical distance".   

Unfortunately I don't have the option to use the device as a NAT transfer via wiring it up. It's going too far across the house, and I don't have the money to properly wire it up, and the wifey would kill me for having a 200+ft long cable routed along the edge of the baseboards, and down the stairs :/

I suppose a valid solution would be a repeater with dual band? Maybe that would prevent losing bandwidth due to processing?


Yes,  Dual Band can indeed be used for this purpose.  It still won't be as fast as a "hard-wired" connection,  but as the "Wi-Fi bridge" can be dedicated to its own "channel" with only the "Router" and the "Range Extender" present on that channel this can minimize the other factors.  (It helps that there are a lot more channels available in the 5GHz band).   Inter-device interference etc could still be an issue,  but with more channels available,  reconfiguration to minimize this is still usually possible.  Our new Almond+ router (due out early next year for retail sale) is a Dual Band Router/Range Extender/WAP.   (Unfortunately 5GHz does not "go through walls" as well as 2.4GHZ does,  so even this isn't always an ideal solution depending on your building).

Some people also have luck using PowerLine modems between "Router" and "WAP",  as the "radio" of these devices travels through the power lines rather than attempting to get through walls etc.

Long cable runs are a pain to install,  but CAT5e/6/7 cable is relatively cheap.  I recently installed a 200ft run for my elderly mother,  as her computer is located in a "back bedroom",  but she was complaining of poor signal in her Livingroom and Sundeck (other end of the same building) when using her iPad.  (I considered a "Range Extender" setup for her,  but Wi-Fi signal was too poor to provide reasonable performance.   (Her Router and WAP are less than  100ft apart,  but I had to run the wire through the Attic at one end of the house,  and through the basement at the other end,  so it required over 200 ft of cable to wire it)

Between the WAP purchase,  and the cable,  I can't say this was the "cheapest" solution,  but it has made her network reliable,  and she now has great Wi-Fi performance in the entire house,  and in about 50% of her garden.  (She particularly enjoyed being able to use her iPad outdoors all summer).  You have already purchased the hardware for both ends,  so your only remaining costs would be 2 RJ45 jacks,  200ft of CAT5e/6/7 cable,  and a cable stapler.  You claim cost is an issue,  but perhaps you could afford to do this over time,   Remember this is a one-time expense. 

(I used the air gap around the chimney to do the vertical drop between the Attic and the basement,  in order to avoid running wires up and down the stairs.  (My Mom hates wires everywhere too  ::)))

I just found this article: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-extender/

Huh... well bunny!

Thanks for this article.  It definitely explained this better than I did.  (We would obviously prefer you to buy our products rather than theres  :-*)   Please use my suggestions above to try to improve the Wi-Fi signal between your Router and your RangeExtender,  or simply bite the bullet and actually wire the two together and use the Almond as a "Wireless Access Point" rather than a "Range Extender".  (It does function very well as a WAP BTW). 

I care about performance here too,  so while I have setup my Almond as a "Range Extender" for testing purposes,  I have CAT6 run everywhere in my home,  so I simply have multiple WAP's to ensure complete coverage of my home.  Unless you forsee moving some time soon,  you should probably look at "wiring" the two together,  even if it will take some time to purchase the necessary cabling to do so. 

Use a portable Android or iOS device with an App such as the one I mentioned above to check your Wi-Fi signal in and around your home to improve your Wi-Fi between devices.   (If you don't own an Android/iOS device,  simply get a friend that does have one to help you with this.  The App I recommended is a free one). 

I hope these suggestions help you in optimizing your Wi-Fi infastructure to improve it's performance.
Patrick Wilson
Victoria, BC Canada

 

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