RT-N66U in repeater mode - sudden drop in download speeds

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I'm Here A Lot
Posts: 7

RT-N66U in repeater mode - sudden drop in download speeds

Hi.  I have an Ignite 100U package (100 down / 10 up), a Hitron CGN3 gateway in the family room and I'm using the RT-N66U in repeater mode @ 5GHz in my office upstairs so that I can get a wired connection to my PC.

Until last week, I was getting a steady Speedcheck speed of ~115mbps through my wired connection.  Connecting wirelessly to the router or to the gateway with my wife's laptop resulted in steady speeds of ~130-140mpbs.  Upload speeds through both devices were ~10mbps.

Then, with nothing that I can think of having changed, the wired speed through the router dropped to ~20-30mpbs and simply won't go faster than that.  Wireless through the router has dropped to ~35-40mpbs.  Wireless through the gateway remains at ~140mbps.  Upload speeds through either device remain at ~10mbps.

From what I can see, the router still indicates a 5GHz connection between ~270-340mpbs and the gateway indicates a connection of roughly the same speeds.

In an attempt to debug the problem, I have:
- ensured that no other devices are connected either by wire or wirelessly to the router;
- connected the PC to a different port on the router;
- updated the router to the latest firmware;
- re-set it and re-booted it multiple times;
- changed the config away from and back to repeater mode; and
- disabled and re-enabled the PC's network card.

Short of flashing the device (which I'm not sure I want to do) with Merlin or some other firmware, I don't know what else to do.  Everything was working fine and, suddenly, it wasn't.

Any thoughts on what might have caused the speed drop and/or how else to go about diagnosing / narrowing down the cause are appreciated.

Thanks.  🙂


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Resident Expert
Resident Expert
Posts: 6,224

Re: RT-N66U in repeater mode - sudden drop in download speeds

@eljay just so that I'm clear on this, you indicated that the N66U is in repeater mode, so, in effect it's acting as the 2nd half of the wifi bridge back to the modem, where the modem is the first half of the wifi bridge, so to speak. Is the N66U also acting as a wifi repeater in that mode? As in running one 5 Ghz channel back to the modem and another 5 Ghz channel out for local wifi operations around the router? Looking at my RT-AC68U repeater mode setting, that isn't stated on the user interface. If that is the case, do you have control over the local wifi channel that the router will use? I've never run my router in Repeater mode, so, I'm not sure of any changes that occur to the user interface and settings, beyond the firewall and NAT being disabled.


When you say that the router still indicates a 5GHz connection between ~270-340mpbs and the gateway indicates a connection of roughly the same speeds, how are you determining that when the router wifi throughput rate drops to 35 to 40 Mb/s. I'm assuming that the router has a connection rate indication somewhere?  To see the connection rate on a laptop or desktop, right click on the internet icon on the lower right hand corner of the task bar.  Open the Network and Sharing Center.  Select the wifi or ethernet link on the middle right hand side of the window.  That brings up the wifi or ethernet status popup.  The speed that is shown is the wifi network connection rate, or the ethernet port to port connection rate.  Looking at that connection rate when the laptop is connected to the modem, and then the router, should provide a partial explanation for the different wifi throughput rates.  Taking into account the wifi overhead, the actual wifi speedtest throughput will be less than the connection rate.  


The interesting statement that you made is that the modem wifi rate hasn't dropped while the router wifi rate has. That points to a wifi conflict with another modem or router so my first thought is to check the wifi environment to see if you're competing with your neighbors for the same wifi channels. All it takes is for a neighbor to set up a new modem or router, or change channel to the same channel as your router and suddenly you have problems. That can easily drop your wifi rate by more than 100 Mb/s.

With that in mind, can you read thru the following post to look at three specific items:




1. Have a look in your home to determine if you have Structured Wiring installed but not completed. That would make this much easier.


2. Look at the wifi settings in the modem and router and adjust those if necessary for security and wifi data rate purposes.


3. Examine the wifi environment to see if one of your neighbors is running a modem/router on the same wifi channel as your router. Ideally you would be operating both the modem and router in the 5 Ghz upper channel range which are channels 149 to 161. The maximum power output for those channels is 1 watt where the lower channel range is restricted to 50 or 200 milliwats depending on when the device was approved by Industry Canada. So, if you can do it, given the channels that are available in that range, set the modem to 40 Mhz wide bandwidth at channel 149(?), and then set the router to 40 Mhz wide as well with the secondary wifi channel set to channel 161(?). The actual channel settings will depend on what you see when you look at the wifi monitor. To really see all of the upper channel network, you will have to use Acrylic or WifiInfoView, or buy the licenced version of inSSIDer. inSSIDer is very easy to understand and worth the $20 US if you happen to live on wifi.


With the wifi monitor application loaded on a laptop, have a look at the wifi environment on the main floor, and upstairs. You will see more modems and routers upstairs due to the larger RF horizon. If the router is running on Auto channel selection currently, you will most likely have to change that to a manual setting and pick the best channel that offers the least amount of overlap with your neighbors modem or router wifi.  That choice should be based on the monitor results that you see upstairs.  Sometimes that overlap can't be avoided, unless you and your neighbors can agree on a channel plan that benefits all parties. So, if you have to run on a channel with more than one user, you want to run with the largest power level separation that you can get. Ideally that would be in the 40 to 45 dBmW range. As that power separation decreases you will see more problems running your wifi network as the other networks will provide an increasing level of interference that your modem and router has to work thru. 


So, give that a go and let me know what you find 🙂




I'm Here A Lot
Posts: 7

Re: RT-N66U in repeater mode - sudden drop in download speeds

Hi, Datalink.  Thanks for your very thorough reply and input.  🙂


By connecting the wireless dongle my wife uses on her laptop to my PC, I was able to confirm that the speed drop isn't restricted to the router - it does seem to be an issue with interference from some other wireless source nearby that started up last week.  😞

I tried changing the channels in the Hitron gateway but that didn't seem to have any appreciable effect on speeds.  Channel selection and 20/40MHz bandwidth adjustments are unfortunately not available in the router while it's in repeater mode.


I'll try to follow up on some of your other suggestions when I have time.  Meanwhile, thanks again for your help.  🙂

Resident Expert
Resident Expert
Posts: 6,224

Re: RT-N66U in repeater mode - sudden drop in download speeds

@eljay is your home built within the last 15 to 20 years?  If so, have you checked behind an existing wallplate with a cable/telephone/ethernet port on it to see if the remaining cables from the Structured Wiring Bundle are tucked in behind the wallplate?  If they are there, it would make this easier to resolve.  If you had ethernet cabling installed but not completed and had that run terminate close to the upstairs router location, then you could connect to the router via ethernet and run it in Access Point mode which might give you full access to the channel bandwidth and other wifi settings. 

I'm Here A Lot
Posts: 7

Re: RT-N66U in repeater mode - sudden drop in download speeds

The house is ~18 years old but there was no ethernet wiring installed at the time - just phone and cable.


As inconvenient as this issue is right now, in the longer term it won't matter too much - I'm planning to replace my PC with a laptop in the near future, so I won't be restricted to this room (upper floor, front of the house) and I will be able to connect directly to the gateway.  (Not sure what I'll do with the router - maybe I'll take it to the basement and try hooking up my AVR to it.)


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