Wifi - Anyone Tried Mesh ?


Our house is a bit of pain Wi-fi coverage wise. I suspect it is combination of layout (split level over 3 floors), size(especially length), and materials. While I have got it covered by using several access points, it means being aware of which one(s) are best in a given room. I’m ok with this but Senior Management would prefer a single system and even I would find a seamless system more convenient.
I’m considering one of the MESH systems which are currently being promoted, BT sell one, Tplink do several, and there are others. These are linked together and provide a single Wi-fi zone for want of a better world, with a common SSID etc, and, rather like a mobile phone system, the idea is you are ‘handed’ automatically from box to box as you move around.
I’m curious if anyone has tried any of the systems and can comment on particular ones. They all work on essentially the same principle, so I looking for comments on how well they work, problems, etc.
I have dabbled with MESH previously, although in a different context, using some modified routers but my interest here is the off the shelf beasts.
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We have the BT system with three nodes for our 5 bedroom house (one node downstairs, two up). It works very well and we’re very pleased with it. That said, I can’t vouch how well three nodes would perform over three levels. So much depends on your house layout.
Tim
--
Please don't feed the trolls

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news:931177142.586086642.490457.tim.downie-> We have the BT system with three nodes for our 5 bedroom house (one node

In our case, the problem is thick masonry walls between room of the house, some of which used to be external before the 1850s bit of our house was gradually extended in several phases over the years.
Ethernet between nodes back to the primary one would be the best solution, but the whole point of wifi is that it avoids the need to run Cat 5 cable in places where "senior management" would say "no" ;-)
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On Monday, July 29, 2019 at 10:41:50 AM UTC+1, Brian Reay wrote:

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Ive been using the BT version for a while now (maybe a year) and have been happy with it. It basically works and I just foget/ignore it. I have look ed at the setup using the phone app and it shows various devices connected to the nodes, which change as people move around the house.
I have 3 nodes spread around the house, all of which are hard wired back to my network switch. You can have them connected via wireless (1 needs to b e wired) if thats better for your situation.
I bought them because they were the recommended "budget buy" in a computer mag that I buy.
Alan
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On 29/07/2019 10:41, Brian Reay wrote:

My brother has a BT mesh system in a large rambling stone house with outbuildings. Don't know how many nodes are in use but as a visitor it works just fine - one password and the WIFI "just works" wherever you are in the property or garden.
--
Chris B (News)

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We live in an L-shaped house which is mostly a bungalow, but with a bedroom above at one end of the house. The router has to be at the opposite end of the L because that's where the phone sockets are (and laying an extension cable would be difficult) and it's where my computers are.
The house is partly 1850s build, so the walls are very thick. Getting access to the loft to run an Ethernet cable to an access point (which would have been my preferred solution) is very hard because of restricted space in the loft and a breezeblock fire-break wall up there.
We experimented with a Powerline/Wifi extender which worked pretty well for me: my phone automatically switched between the router's wifi and the extender's wifi pretty well, and only the conservatory was out of range of the extender. But the backhaul Ethernet-over-mains was very variable, and my wife's Android phone and, even more so, her iPad, had great difficulty roaming between networks.
So... we invested in a Linksys Velop mesh network and it works very well. We need 6 devices to cover the whole of the house, and even that took judicious placement of devices so each could see the next. I'd hoped that some of the devices would have had two routes back to the router, rather than just a daisy chain, but the Velop app only shows each device connected to *one* neighbour.
Coverage and speed is good. The VDSL sync speed is about 35 D / 20 U, and the Ookla Speedtest app on my phone shows about 25/15 for almost everywhere in the house. My wife's iPad roams freely without any manual intervention. I've played a HD video on Youtube and it's played without stuttering as I roam around the house and my phone has to go from one Velop node to another.
My computers connect at the moment to the router by Velop mesh wifi (though I'll probably run a flat Cat 7 cable between my study and the lounge where the router is) and if I copy TV recordings that are made on my Raspberry Pi (acting as a PVR) to my PC, via an SMB share, I get around 150 Mbps which is probably about the limit for the Pi; I think the best I've had with both devices connected by Ethernet to the router is about 250 Mbps - some way short of the theoretical maximum of 1000 Mbps of gigabit.
One of the frustrations with mesh is that it tends to use 5 GHz wifi (rather than 2.4 GHz) for the backhaul connection between one node and the next, back to the "primary node" which is connected by Ethernet to the router, so nodes need to be placed closer together than for 2.4 GHz because 5 GHz has a shorter range and is attenuated more by walls. The Velop still provides both 2.4 and 5 GHz for devices to connect, but node-to-node uses 5 GHz.
Rebooting (eg in the event of a power cut) takes about 5 mins before the last Velop in the chain has connected: first the primary node goes blue (connected) then its nearest node goes blue and so on down the chain. Unfortunately we've had several brief power glitches over the past few weeks as the village supply switches from one high-voltage feed to another (according to phone number 105 which is used for reporting power cuts).
I needed a couple of special features: address reservation (so specific computers always get given the same IP address by DHCP) and port-forwarding/mapping so our security cameras can be accessed from outside the LAN. The Velop can be configured to do both of these. If you're doing port-forwarding, it needs *both* the router and the primary Velop to be configured with the ports:
router
WAN port 81 -> Velop-IP:81 WAN port 82 -> Velop-IP:82
(where Velop IP is the reserved IP address in the 192.168.x.x subnet that the router gives to the primary Velop node by address reservation)
primary Velop
WAN port 81 -> camera1-IP:80 WAN port 82 -> camera2-IP:80
(where camera1-IP and camera2-IP are the reserved addresses in the 10.120.x.x subnet that the Velop gives the cameras by address reservation)
From outside the LAN (eg using mobile internet) I can then access the cameras as public-IP:81 and public-IP:82 (where a dynamic DNS server supplied with the camera supplies that public IP address).
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On 29/07/2019 10:41, Brian Reay wrote:

If all the AP have the same SSID windows (well 10) will switch to the best signal.
Mesh is more to do with the AP talking to each other so if you already have connectivity between the AP I don't think you will gain anything.
Just set the same SSID on you AP and see what happens.
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Yes, this is my understanding, mesh systems don't do anything more than ensuring 'transparent' interconnectivity between the nodes and making sure the SSID and password are the same everywhere. It's down to the client to decide (or not) to move from one node to another.
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Chris Green
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wrote:

That’s not correct, the nodes do talk to each other and can stop talking to a particular device when it will do better talking to a different node.

That’s wrong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_mesh_network
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Hmmm. I've done a *lot* of reading around this and, while it's *possible* for a node/server to drop a client connection this is very much a last resort. If the server/node drops the connection then it's almost inevitable that there will be quite a long (not seconds, but quite a chunk of a second) drop-out of the connection. Depending on what the client is doing and the buffered data avilable this may or may not be noticeable.
Whatever, it's always best if the client makes the decision to change node and that's the way it's supposed to work most of the time. Admittedly not all clients do this well, though I believe more modern WiFi driver software is likely to roam better.
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Chris Green
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I have had problems recently with the node that feeds my PC deciding to connect to a more remote node and then, as you'd expect, reporting a weak signal :-(
Node 1 ------ Node 2 --------- Node 3
Node 2 is the primary one that is connected to the router by Ethernet. Node 1 is about 30 feet away from Node 2 through a couple of internal brick walls at 45 degrees to the direct line of sight. Node 3 is about 5 feet away from Node 2 in the opposite direction, perpendicularly through an internal brick wall.
And yet the connectivity reported by the Linksys Velop app is:
Node 1 connected to Node 2 (as expected) Node 3 connected to Node 1 (not to Node 2, as I'd expect)
The symptom is that Node 3 sometimes displays an orange "weak signal" light and the comms speed to a computer connected by Ethernet to Node 2 (as determined by copying a large file) drops from about 150 Mbps to about 30 Mbps).
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On 29/07/2019 10:41, Brian Reay wrote:

A reasonable proportion of portable kit can be set up to connect automatically to the strongest available signal. I don't move from room to room very much whilst using Wifi continuously so that works for me.
I have two Wifi zones with synonym SSIDs but on different channels connected together with a fast wired ethernet cable.

People who have it seem to like it. YMMV
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Regards,
Martin Brown
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On Monday, 29 July 2019 10:41:50 UTC+1, Brian Reay wrote:

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Cloud Trax seems to work very well and has some acceptable remote managemen t. Whether the cost is bearable I cannot say.
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