Wednesday 3 February 2021

My Home WiFi Revamp

My WiFi/internet has been a little dodgy over the last 12 month, possibly due to Covid!

But a recent update of my internet service has caused me to make a few changes.

The incidence of slow page loading and Wifi dropout seems to have got worse during 2020/1. It could be a side-effect of Covid, as there are more people staying at home during the day when they would normally be out of the house.

I have finally made the switch from ADSL to VDSL to try to offset this degradation in internet service. This meant that my old ADSL modem/router had to be replaced by a new VDSL compatible device, but at least my download speed has gone up from an average of about 16-17Mbps to around 35Mbps. Fortunately Plusnet were handing these modems out for free (well almost, I had to pay just under £7 for post/packaging).

The Plusnet Hub One seems to be a capable modem/router although it doesn't have the level of control that I had with my TP-Link AC750 (Archer D2), but it does have one big advantage. When I started using the 5GHz band in 2016, none of my neighbours were using it. But in the last 2-3 years, everybody and his dog have moved in, and my neighbours are contributing to congestion in the lower frequency channels from 36 to 48.

So this is the good bit about my Plusnet modem/router; it allows the use of the higher frequency bands from channel 100 upwards. The reason so many wifi routers do not use these higher frequencies is because the bands are shared with radar, military & scientific users. So your wifi router needs to be smarter than the average router and use techniques (e.g. DFS: Dynamic Frequency Selection) to get off any frequencies used by other [more important] local services.

Although 5GHz wifi is considered to be less effective at penetrating objects and walls, I have an access point on channel 104 which is free of interference from my neighbours and works just fine with our laptops.

I also like to have a Guest wifi network, not only to keep visitors devices off my network, but also for our own smart phones. In addition, our modem/router is located under the stairs on the ground floor of a 3 storey house. Getting a useful signal up to the 2nd floor or out to our conservatory and beyond can be challenging.

I decided to invest in a TP-Link AV600 mains-ethernet to wifi plug-in module.

1 guest access point (2.4GHZ) and 2 house access points (2.4GHz & 5GHz)

With this module running in a 1st floor room, the Guest wifi running at 2.4GHz pretty much meets the needs while walking around the house with a mobile phone. And since it just plugs into a mains socket, it only takes a minute to move to another socket if (say) we wanted better coverage in the back garden.

I automatically monitor my download speed every 2 hours via an ethernet connected RaspberryPi server.

Although the download speed has stepped up to 35Mbps...ish, I still seems to get dips in my results. Clearly this is something I need to investigate.

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