Too many devices - adding an additional router?

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I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 17

Too many devices - adding an additional router?

Hey guys,

 

So I've started facing momentarily slowdowns on browsing, WiFi connection drop/reconnection cycles in various parts of the house, Alexa taking it's own time to reply, etc. 

 

Naturally, when I called Rogers, they said your Hitron CGN3 is old - go get it swapped with a gigabit modem at Rogers for free. And this will fix your troubles (which is high network traffic for my 'measly' 100mbps) 

 

And of course, when I make the trip to the Rogers store, they say "Sorry, you need to upgrade to 500mbps" to get the gigabit modem. And that sets me back an increase of about $100 per month. 

 

So I came home and put on my thinking hat and came up with procuring a good WiFi router instead. Hopefully this will also get me some WiFi in the backyard without needing any range extenders.  Came to these two:

 

TP-Link AC3200

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200

 

Anyway, as soon as I narrowed down on these two contenders, I remembered I also have an Apple Time Capsule currently in Bridge mode. All the Apple devices connect to this TC for backup purposes.

 

That made me think, boy, this is starting to get complicated. So here's an image of my planned network. My question is this:

 

All I need is to connect everything to the new router. And the router connects to the the Hitron CGN3. I'm guessing I put the Hitron in bridge mode as shown in image below?

 

Thanks so much!

 

netmap.png

 

*Edited Labels*

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I'm a Senior Advisor
Posts: 2,034

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

When you are looking at routers, look for load balancing as a set up option.  Many of your devices may not need high loads in Internet - example my Nest thermostat is load balanced internally to use only a tiny bit of data, as it is not communicating most of the time.  Some of the routers allow for the device to learn what needs to have dedicated traffic and what can afford to be limited.

 

Other things to look at are location of your router and devices, restrictions on your phsical location like walls, and electronics. I recently moved my gateway Hitron to a more central location in the house and was able to improve traffic issues on WIFI throughout and outside my home.  You could also centrally find a good location for your Apple router.

 

Also, and to be blunt, the majority of Rogers staff are speaking from marketing terminology and really know noting about setting up a well balanced network environment.  100 is not measly - Come on, I used to support an organization of 300 connections internally and externally on 30 Mbs up and down.

 

Get a certified network tech in if you feel you need support.  Rogers says that on their roll out of IPTV they will be looking at best layout and use of mesh network devices to get best all round connectivity.  Mesh conections with the top end equipment determine what load each device uses and balances the network for location and device.

 

And talk to a few reps - there are many on below 500 who are using the best modem, including myself - I just asked for it - I am on 75/500.

 

So you are on the right track - do your research, use testing products for signal strength, consider whether you can add some wired connections, centrally locate a router and look to load balancing on higher end products (sorry, don't know my routers that well anymore), and possibly repeaters, or mesh systems are an option too.

 

Out of curiousity, what uses are your Internet, how many devices, network protocols N, up to AC.  Lots of factors impact performance in your home, and the new modem/gateway was actually worse than your current one in the location in my home.

 

Pop in anyone who has knowledge and guidance for this question.

 

Bruce

I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 17

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

Hi Bruce,

 

I appreciate your response more than you know! Completely agreed.

I'm a tenant, so wiring is going to be complicated and expensive for me. Hence the reason to settle on a good router with great WiFi capabilities. 

 

I believe both the routers I mentioned auto load-balance. 

 

Having said that, any response to my question about the bridge mode?

I'm a Senior Advisor
Posts: 2,034

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

@Yourname 

 

Glad my thinking gave you some insights - and sorry, I missed the bridge question - yes, the Hitron is in bridge mode - you want its mediocre routing and WIFI capabilities out of the picture.

 

Yes both are great routers by the looks of it - the reviews say either one do a great job.

 

I just saw your diagram now - they get approved before we get to see them.

 

I am guessing you will have an Ethernet cable between the new router and the Air (I don't know Air at all, so don't know how they work, but theoretically, you would want wired to avoid loss of throughput via WIFI to both.

 

I was thinking about the silliness of what it is often said to us - the analogy in your case, is you are trying to run many vehicles down a single road from the Hitron at rush hour.  You don't need more speed or a limited combined gateway device, you need to have a smart traffic control device, putting slower vehicles into a slow lane, and fastest vehicles who are in a hurry into the fast lane and that is what the load balancing on the Blackhawk and the other do, they automatically spread across 3 bands and directionality via beam forming. 

 

Try it without the Air first and see how it goes - Mac devices should run fine, maybe a bit of configuration required and it will reduce the amount of potential WIFI interference.

 

When setting up, try and get your bands on different channels so you can avoid interference as much as possible.

 

Since you are a tenent, I am thinking you have others nearby using WIFI - get an app like WIFI analyzer to see what channels and bandwidths you are using compared to others in the area and try to avoid any overlap as much as possible - easier on 5 than on 2.4. But play around and find your best configurations on it all.

 

Have fun and let us know how it goes.

 

By the way, if you ever go to a third party wholesaler of Rogers Internet, most of them are currently using Hitron for the Docsis 3.1 support, but they do not use gateways, period.  In their words, way too limited in dealing with anything but the simplest setups, no matter what they claim with their marketing of wall to wall connectivity, in the fine print, Rogers does talk about devices, interference, building structure, etc, all the things that a Gateway can't deal with well.

 

Glad my thoughts were helpful.

 

Bruce

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Resident Expert
Posts: 5,705

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

Just to add my 2¢ into the discussion, I'm definitely not trying to contradict what Bruce has indicated, just questioning the terminology in this case.  When you say Load Balancing Router to anyone these days, you will end up with a router which has more than one WAN port allowing you to connect that router to more than one modem.  Those modems could be fibre modems, cable, DSL/VDSL etc, either some combination of any or all of them or more than one connection to the same modem type for load balancing or fail-over purposes.  I don't believe that is what your looking for. 

 

Given what you have described, there is possibly more than one issue afoot.  These could include:

 

1.  Cable signal issues; or

2.  Wifi signal issues; or

3.  A case of numerous devices with different data rate requirements running, where the devices that you want to run a higher bandwidth aren't receiving that bandwidth.  

 

In the case of any cable issues, if you happen to be on an unlimited plan, or have enough monthly bandwidth to use, try the following with a pc that is connected to the modem via ethernet:

 

1.  Run a trace to anywhere, google for example:   tracert www.google.com

2. If you have a modem running in Gateway mode for example, the first IP address in the trace is the modem.  The second IP address is the Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) which provides data services to, and ISP control over the connected modems. 

3.  Ping the CMTS for 24 hours.  Ping -t xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

4.  Use Control^C to terminate the test and have a look at the results when the ping test terminates.

 

Running a 1 second interval, which that test will do, you probably shouldn't lose anymore than 0.01 % of the ICMP packets throughout the day, so, that's 8.6 packets.  Call it 10 packets for good measure. Anything way above that would indicate a cable and/or connector issue that should be addressed. 

 

In the case of wifi signal issues, please have a look at the following post.  It indicates the use of inSSIDer, but, if you happen to be using 802.11ac for wifi, you should use Acrylic.  The goal of that post is to encourage readers to check out their wifi environment to see who they're competing with, and if possible to shift their wifi channel up into the 5 Ghz, channel 149 to 161 range, where devices are allowed to run higher output power levels which will increase the 5 Ghz range.  

 

http://communityforums.rogers.com/t5/Internet/slow-wifi/m-p/399949#M47222

 

Lastly the issue at hand, a limited bandwidth and a number of devices attempting to use that bandwidth.  I don't know at this point exactly what Bruce is alluding to in terms of "load balancing".  The traditional approach to this problem is to use an adaptive Quality of Service (QOS) which allows you to determine which type of traffic you want to have running at higher priorities.  If you're a gamer, then you want gaming traffic to be priority no 1.  If you're watching Netflix or some other type of streaming service, then you probably want that to have the higher priority.  That type of control is achievable with adaptive QOS.  Note that every modem and router will have some default QOS scheme running.  In the case of the Hitron modems, you can't modify the QOS category priorities or assigned bandwidth to the various QOS categories.  To do that you need to buy a router that supports that capability.

 

The other approach to this is to use bandwidth control, either by port number or by MAC address, so that you have precise control over which device has the highest priority, all the way down to the lowest priority device.  I guess this could be called load balancing, of sorts, but I wouldn't refer to it as "load balancing".  

 

In a bigger IT environment, this would most likely be done with a managed switch, which would offer that type of control.  In a router that is harder to do and you have to find a router with the firmware to do the same thing, or consider buying a router and possibly loading it with DD-WRT.  Here's a Youtube video which shows the QOS being modified on DD-WRT and the following results.  Perhaps this is what you're trying to acheive.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjCb5P302Ms

 

 



I'm a Senior Advisor
Posts: 2,034

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

That is what I was trying to say. Thanks for clarifying.
I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 17

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

Bruce/Datalink, you guys are ace. Thanks for the background information on most of your recommendations!

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Posts: 5,705

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

@Yourname, for whatever router that you consider, go to the support page for that router and download the user manual.  Take a look at the QOS and bandwidth controls that the modem offers.  If you have any questions you can usually sign up on the companies forum page and post the questions that you have in mind.  Hopefully if you have a look at the user manual it will prevent buying a router only to discover that it doesn't do what you want it to do. 

 

The one issue that arises is the use of Broadcom's Cut Through Forwarding (CTF) on those routers that use Broadcom CPUs.  Consider CTF as a form of port forwarding, external port to internal port and vice versa, bypassing the CPU where the modem can do that.  For high data rates including gigabit service, you need to run CTF to achieve those rates.  The problem here is that CTF is not compatible with a number of functions such as QOS, Traffic Monitoring, and others.  Functions such as those require the data to route thru the CPU in order for the CPU to determine what the packet type is and what to do with it.  So, you lose that fast external to internal port path, the data routes thru the CPU and you also take a throughput hit due to the added CPU processing for any function that you may have selected.  

 

Having said that, for low rates such as 100 to 200 Mb/s, you probably won't notice whether or not CTF is enabled as the CPU should have enough horsepower to run selected functions without any throughput loss.  When you start moving up in throughput rates, then you will see the effect of enabling or disabling CTF. 

 

DD-WRT doesn't support CTF as they believe that its a hack, breaking the rules to achieve higher throughput rates.  So, if you end up going down the path to buy a router and load it with DD-WRT, at some point in the future you might run into a throughput issue if you move up to 500 Mb/s or beyond.  Only solution with that router would be to return to stock firmware and enable CTF.  

 

Just to throw this out there, if you're only running 100 Mb/s, consider something like a pfSense router such as the following:

 

https://www.netgate.com/solutions/pfsense/sg-1000.html

 

Apparently this will do something like 200 to 300 Mb/s.  pfSense has been around for a long time now and is one of the most flexible routers around, in terms of what you can do with it.  There is a definite learning curve and you would need to buy an unmanaged switch and a wifi access point to go with it.  This is probably something one wouldn't normally consider, but, if you're running lower data rates, it might be worth having a look at.  Here's the community forum for pfSense:

 

https://forum.netgate.com/

 

Looks like the forum pages have been revamped very recently.  At a glance, I prefer the older presentation Smiley Sad

 

Also fwiw, newer all in one type consumer routers these days have a 1.4 or 1.8 Ghz processor, which will ensure that the router has enough horsepower to run various functions and maintain a higher data rate.  So, when you're shopping for a router, take the CPU rate into consideration.  I personally wouldn't recommend a router without a 1.4 or 1.8 Ghz processor these days.  That should also ensure that the router will useful for a few years down the road.  Also, beyond buying a pfSense router, you can also build a pc and load it with the pfSense operating system, which would also give you a faster CPU.  If you happen to have a pc that you don't use anymore, you could turn that into a router by installing an additional ethernet card and loading pfSense. 

 

So, lots to think about.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to post them. 



I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 17

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

Ok, so after all your recommendations I went with a Mesh Network. Not the routers I originally intended to buy as a hail mary.

 

My problems were:

  • WiFi deadspots
  • Some devices not being responsive
  • Constant disconnects and reconnects of my iPhone and BlackBerry (possibly due to weak WiFi that led to a high data bill

However, I never had issues with:

  • Netflix buffering
  • Slow websites loads

After reading you guys thoughts, it occurred to me that a powerful WiFi router might not solve these issues, especially that of WiFi deadspots.

 

So I ended up going for TP-Link Deco M5. Just set it up last night and so far I haven't seen a deadspot in the areas where I used to see 'em.

 

The network map hasn't changed much other than Rogers' modem is still performing router duties and serving WiFi, but TP-Link has it's own WiFi network now that I'm connecting to. I'm connecting most of the home devices to it too. So let's see how it goes.

 

Oh, I also connected the TimeCapsule TO the TP-Link device. So my macs are connecting to it for backup.

Over the next few days, I'll try to see if it's the optimum setup but we'll find out. 

I'm a Senior Advisor
Posts: 2,034

Re: Too many devices - adding an additional router?

Keep us up to date on what you learn.  WIFI from teleco gateways has never been a strong point.  The basic rationalle why companies have gone this route is that it allows them to debug issues related to the modem versus routing and WIFI as they are all one component, but the compromise is that in the real world of our homes, it often doesn't work.

 

 

Following the Ignite TV and related issues to networking, sounds like integrating TV into the system along with phone, and security has seriously compromised what one can do with networking and getting it all to work together.

 

It is often us users who are left to debug how to get things to work in our real world - means they can't support us on anything past the bridge, but no shortage of people here that can help.

 

Glad you are seeing initial improvements.  I went with a TP-Link extender, as well as relocating the Rogers gateway to a more central location - fortunately, I know how to fish wire.  The demark was way down in the depths of ;my basement and I couldn't get good reception anywhere in the house on WIFI and a ton of dead spots.

 

To top it all off, the design of the structure of my house restricts LTE too, and having to look at an extender for it too.  My wife has WIFI calling she uses as she has data on her phone, I don't, so I have to way do I want to permanently pay for data on a phone when I don't want it, or get an extender - I will probably go the extender, as if I change phone providers, I will still have the same issue.

 

Thanks for your update.

 

Bruce

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