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3rd Party Router?

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GeoffF100
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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#519020

Postby GeoffF100 » August 2nd, 2022, 9:08 am

I had a look for routers that support more modern protocols. My BrosTrend adapter supports 802.11ac. You can get these for about £40:

https://www.digitalcitizen.life/mercusy ... -review/2/

Overkill for someone who browses the web and plays the occasion YouTube video, but interesting nonetheless. As I have said, I am sure the technology will move on before I need to upgrade.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#519989

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 8:48 am

A friend has a problem using the old PlusNet router. He is a power user compared with me. He has massively fast 30 M bit/sec fibre connection, and sometimes has as many as four WiFi devices running at the same time. In particular, he has a Sonos loudspeaker that connects to another device over WiFi, which counts as two devices. He is getting connections dropping out.

I decided that I could just stick with my existing router, without doing much investigation. He has more pressing problem. I looked a little deeper last night.

It is not possible to use an existing PlusNet "router" (actually a combined modem and router) as a modem and connect it to a router:

https://community.plus.net/t5/My-Router ... -p/1845161

"Unfortunately it sounds like you have just missed out on the change over for new subscribers from a Plusnet Hub One to the new Hub Two.

Basically any ADSL/VDSL combined Modem/Router from a third party manufacturer such as Asus, Netgear TP-Link etc., will work, but none are what you might call a 'direct replacement'. The Plusnet hubs just need plugging in. Any replacement requires you to follow simple instructions to configure them.

You will probably receive nearly as many different recommendations as replies as we all have our favouries. Those on a budget get a BT Smarthub from an auction site and use the settings pinned at the top of this Router board to set it up.

The one thing to watch is that Plusnet call their hub a router. It is NOT a router, it is a combined modem/router. Don't follow many others and fall into the trap of buying a simple Router."


The latest BT Smart Hub is BT Smart Hub 6:

https://shop.bt.com/guides/buying-guide ... -smart-hub

You can buy these on eBay:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/7031191274

Here is how to set it up:

https://community.plus.net/t5/My-Router ... -p/1587673

Here is an overview of router technology:

https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-buy-a-router/

Here are the combined modem/routers available from CCL:

https://www.cclonline.com/networking/ro ... l-routers/

The £35 router probably is not as good as the BT Smart Hub 6.

The £62 VR400 seems to work:

https://community.plus.net/t5/Broadband ... -p/1777883

Here are instructions for setting up the £91 VR600:

https://flowerbunch.org.uk/how-to%E2%80 ... 600-router

Both these routers implement 802.11ac, which is said to be the minimum worth buying in the Wired article above. I have suggested that he buys a BT Smart Hub 6 from eBay.

Can anyone add anything further? I am particularly interested to know what would be his best option on transferring to another ISP when his contract ends.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#519993

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 9:23 am

Here is a review of the BT Smart Hub 6:

https://www.expertreviews.co.uk/bt/bt-smart-hub

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520009

Postby Newroad » August 5th, 2022, 9:58 am

Hi GeoffF100.

In my experience (in particular, working during lockdown) the problem is not so much the router, whichever it is, but rather, that people are hammering Wifi - the bandwidth of which is limited - as is also the range, in particular for the case of the 5.0GHz spectrum. Hence, with two parents trying to do zoom/teams calls and the kids trying to stream TV, something gives - typically a very patchy conference call.

I'd instead be inclined to try something like this, if your friend wants to use lots of Wifi devices

https://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-electrical-Configuration-TL-WPA7517-KIT/dp/B08NPG1TF5/ref=sr_1_4?crid=22VGAADYPSVCH&keywords=av1000&qid=1659689197&sprefix=av1000%2Caps%2C56&sr=8-4

Using this, one end plugged into the router the other probably as far away from the router as the house allows, may solve the issue. Those devices which connect to the new Wifi device will not be taking (Wifi) bandwidth away from the those which connect via the router. This can be even further segmented, as the new device (as do many routers) allow different SSID's for the 5.0GHz and 2.4 GHZ spectrums.

So, for example, you could site the new device near a TV, have the TV use the 5.0GHz spectrum of it for UHD streaming and the 2.4GHz for Sonos music slightly further away. Or similar. You get the drift.

One thing though, make sure there are enough power sockets!

Regards, Newroad

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520015

Postby gryffron » August 5th, 2022, 10:16 am

There is quite a problem with domestic terminology. The marketeers have confused the technical terms.

To a network tech:

1) A modem converts ADSL or proprietary long distance transimissions to "standard" internet format like ethernet.
2) A gateway router converts addresses from global/internet to a local area network. A process known as Net Address Translation (NAT)
2a) A DHCP server allocates addresses to local devices on this internal network.
3) A hub physically connects multiple devices to a common connection (like a tannoy)
4) A switch physically connects multiple devices but allows multiple separate data connections (like a telephone exchange)
5) A router directs individual data packets in a particular direction (like a postal sorting office - only quicker!)
6) A Wireless Access Point connects a physical wired network connection to a wireless device.

Technically most home "routers", let's call them "boxes" are 1, 2, 2a, 4 and 6 in the same container.

You MUST only have ONE modem, and you should only have one gateway, and one DHCP server*. You can have as many as you like of the others.

So if you are going to use several home boxes on your network, it helps to:
A) By-pass the modem and NAT on all secondary devices. Usually easily achieved because the modem and the NAT are on the "input" port. So connect all secondary devices using only their "output" ports.
B) Disable DHCP on all but the primary box. Done in the settings.

GeoffF100 wrote:It is not possible to use an existing PlusNet "router" (actually a combined modem and router) as a modem and connect it to a router:

This statement is not correct. You can have as many secondary "routers" as you like on a network. Millions of routers form the internet. Usually found at the local telephone exchange and connecting the whole world together.

Gryff

*You can in fact run a network with multiple NAT/DHCP. It might even work if everyone is ONLY communicating with the internet. But with this setup you'd really struggle to get home devices to communicate with each other.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520028

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 10:50 am

Newroad wrote:Hi GeoffF100.

In my experience (in particular, working during lockdown) the problem is not so much the router, whichever it is, but rather, that people are hammering Wifi - the bandwidth of which is limited - as is also the range, in particular for the case of the 5.0GHz spectrum. Hence, with two parents trying to do zoom/teams calls and the kids trying to stream TV, something gives - typically a very patchy conference call.

I'd instead be inclined to try something like this, if your friend wants to use lots of Wifi devices

https://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-electrical-Configuration-TL-WPA7517-KIT/dp/B08NPG1TF5/ref=sr_1_4?crid=22VGAADYPSVCH&keywords=av1000&qid=1659689197&sprefix=av1000%2Caps%2C56&sr=8-4

Using this, one end plugged into the router the other probably as far away from the router as the house allows, may solve the issue. Those devices which connect to the new Wifi device will not be taking (Wifi) bandwidth away from the those which connect via the router. This can be even further segmented, as the new device (as do many routers) allow different SSID's for the 5.0GHz and 2.4 GHZ spectrums.

So, for example, you could site the new device near a TV, have the TV use the 5.0GHz spectrum of it for UHD streaming and the 2.4GHz for Sonos music slightly further away. Or similar. You get the drift.

One thing though, make sure there are enough power sockets!

Regards, Newroad

They are not hammering the network and they do not have range problems.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520033

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 11:01 am

gryffron wrote:There is quite a problem with domestic terminology. The marketeers have confused the technical terms.

To a network tech:

1) A modem converts ADSL or proprietary long distance transimissions to "standard" internet format like ethernet.
2) A gateway router converts addresses from global/internet to a local area network. A process known as Net Address Translation (NAT)
2a) A DHCP server allocates addresses to local devices on this internal network.
3) A hub physically connects multiple devices to a common connection (like a tannoy)
4) A switch physically connects multiple devices but allows multiple separate data connections (like a telephone exchange)
5) A router directs individual data packets in a particular direction (like a postal sorting office - only quicker!)
6) A Wireless Access Point connects a physical wired network connection to a wireless device.

Technically most home "routers", let's call them "boxes" are 1, 2, 2a, 4 and 6 in the same container.

You MUST only have ONE modem, and you should only have one gateway, and one DHCP server*. You can have as many as you like of the others.

So if you are going to use several home boxes on your network, it helps to:
A) By-pass the modem and NAT on all secondary devices. Usually easily achieved because the modem and the NAT are on the "input" port. So connect all secondary devices using only their "output" ports.
B) Disable DHCP on all but the primary box. Done in the settings.

GeoffF100 wrote:It is not possible to use an existing PlusNet "router" (actually a combined modem and router) as a modem and connect it to a router:

This statement is not correct. You can have as many secondary "routers" as you like on a network. Millions of routers form the internet. Usually found at the local telephone exchange and connecting the whole world together.

Gryff

*You can in fact run a network with multiple NAT/DHCP. It might even work if everyone is ONLY communicating with the internet. But with this setup you'd really struggle to get home devices to communicate with each other.

I would have to do a lot of studying to understand much of that Gryff. You seem to be saying that it is possible to connect a router that does not have a modem to the PlusNet router. How would you do that? Can you suggest as a cheaper or similarly priced better alternative to a BT Smart Hub 6 from eBay? Can you provide step by step instructions for configuring the two boxes?

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520045

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 11:15 am

Perhaps I should give some context here. We have a retired couple living in a house. They are light WiFi users. Their WiFi performance used to be fine, but they are now getting dropped connections, even near the router. They think that there may be problems with the router. PlusNet are not being helpful. They would like to try another router to see if that helps.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520050

Postby Newroad » August 5th, 2022, 11:27 am

No problems, GeoffF100.

However, to be precise like Gryffron, I was not suggesting they may be "hammering the network", just the Wifi capability of the router - indeed, that's the distinction I was making.

Notwithstanding this, it seems from your revised context they aren't likely to be doing that, so I'll leave you to your preferred line of investigation.

Regards, Newroad.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520070

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 12:23 pm

Newroad wrote:No problems, GeoffF100.

However, to be precise like Gryffron, I was not suggesting they may be "hammering the network", just the Wifi capability of the router - indeed, that's the distinction I was making.

Notwithstanding this, it seems from your revised context they aren't likely to be doing that, so I'll leave you to your preferred line of investigation.

Regards, Newroad.

Sorry if my reply was a bit sharp. This is all very difficult. Routers come free. We plug them in and they work. 3rd party replacements seem to be expensive and problematic. PlusNet is relatively cheap, but you get a router that is several generations behind the router that you get with the more expensive BT service.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520078

Postby gryffron » August 5th, 2022, 12:41 pm

The key thing to understand is that what you call a "home router" is actually doing lots of different network functions.
Does this help you visualise what's going on?
Image
(My artwork)

Gryff

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520107

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 2:16 pm

That looks interesting. They would need to be able to turn the wireless off on the Primary Home Box if that is what they think is causing the problem.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520119

Postby Newroad » August 5th, 2022, 2:56 pm

Hi GeoffF100.

My take as to where Gryff was heading was that there may be an IP Address Conflict and turning off DCHP may be needed on any non-primary box.

But I could be wrong.

Regards, Newroad

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520127

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 3:28 pm

Newroad wrote:Hi GeoffF100.

My take as to where Gryff was heading was that there may be an IP Address Conflict and turning off DCHP may be needed on any non-primary box.

But I could be wrong.

Regards, Newroad

I believe that I understood that. If we just want to use the PlusNet box as a modem, to eliminate the possibility that the PlusNet WiFi is causing problems, we need to turn off the WiFi off on that box (if we can). Perhaps we can put it in metal box.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520128

Postby gryffron » August 5th, 2022, 3:30 pm

GeoffF100 wrote:That looks interesting. They would need to be able to turn the wireless off on the Primary Home Box if that is what they think is causing the problem.

Yes. Or at the very least switch it to a different channel. Usually both options are easily available in the settings menu.

Gryff

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520163

Postby XFool » August 5th, 2022, 5:49 pm

GeoffF100 wrote:Perhaps I should give some context here. We have a retired couple living in a house. They are light WiFi users. Their WiFi performance used to be fine, but they are now getting dropped connections, even near the router. They think that there may be problems with the router. PlusNet are not being helpful. They would like to try another router to see if that helps.

If I may chip in, this is confusing.

To greatly simplify what was listed in a previous post, this really breaks down into two things:

1. The WiFi connection from their devices to their wireless router

2. The ADSL connection from their wireless router to the ISP gateway.

These are two entirely different things (though they are obviously 'involved'). It seems to me still unclear which of these (or both?) is causing the issue. Unless this is first clearly established all this banging on about "protocols", "bandwidth", "better routers" etc. is a waste of time. IMO.

Are they using something like a PC that they could connect directly to the router via an Ethernet cable? This would at least help establish if this is a WiFi or ADSL/Router problem.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520201

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 7:27 pm

XFool wrote:To greatly simplify what was listed in a previous post, this really breaks down into two things:

1. The WiFi connection from their devices to their wireless router

2. The ADSL connection from their wireless router to the ISP gateway.

These are two entirely different things (though they are obviously 'involved'). It seems to me still unclear which of these (or both?) is causing the issue. Unless this is first clearly established all this banging on about "protocols", "bandwidth", "better routers" etc. is a waste of time. IMO.

Are they using something like a PC that they could connect directly to the router via an Ethernet cable? This would at least help establish if this is a WiFi or ADSL/Router problem.

Yes, that is a good point. I will put it to them. IIRC PlusNet support have had them changing WiFi channels etc, to no avail. Drop outs were said to be more likely away from the router. Nonetheless, I have just had conversation about the matter, did a little searching on the web last night and emailed them with the initial findings above.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520213

Postby GeoffF100 » August 5th, 2022, 8:06 pm

No problems at all with Ethernet. The problem is only with WiFi.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520248

Postby martinc » August 6th, 2022, 12:38 am

Another possibility is to turn off the WiFi on the plusnet 'router' and use a mesh wifi system (e.g. https://amzn.eu/d/1Qy6Cbf) in access point mode. These are available for less than £100 for a WiFi 5 version (triple band Wifi 6 versions cost about £1000). You connect the main node to your router and the satellites can be connected to a homeplug or ethernet backhaul but by can also work as wireless repeaters. Not all mesh systems support AP mode, so check if you go this way.
The mesh system allows roaming between the satellites and switches over from 2.4Ghz to 5Ghz seamlessly (unless you fiddle with it by having different AP names for the 2 frequencies). I have the 3xTP-Link S4 and it's rock solid over the whole house and into the garden too.

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Re: 3rd Party Router?

#520259

Postby Itsallaguess » August 6th, 2022, 6:58 am

GeoffF100 wrote:
Perhaps I should give some context here.

We have a retired couple living in a house. They are light WiFi users. Their WiFi performance used to be fine, but they are now getting dropped connections, even near the router.

They think that there may be problems with the router.


Given that no-one has asked yet as far as I can see - can you detail the types of wireless devices that they're using, where they've both recently experienced wireless drop-out issues?

I only ask because if these are any type of devices that have automatic driver-updates set on them, then it's actually more common than you'd think for a working wireless driver to be 'automatically updated' with a new version that then causes sporadic drop-out issues, and quite often a simple 'roll-back' of those wireless drivers solves these types of problems for good, putting them back to the more stable previous-version of the drivers.

It might not be relevant in this particular case, but given that it's not yet been covered then I thought this was at least worth discounting if it's simple to do so. If the downstream devices are Windows ones, then it's certainly a good avenue for investigation...

Separately to the above - my Plusnet Hub One router, under the Advanced Settings / Wireless section, enables the set-up and operation of *both* a 2.4Ghz wireless network and a 5Ghz wireless network -

Image

Under each of those settings areas, you can define separate wireless network names for each of the two frequency networks, which can then help to granularly test if one or the other is more stable, so long as the downstream devices are hardware-capable of connecting to the two different wireless network speeds. Many modern devices will be, so I'm hoping this might be the case here to give you the best route to success with investigating these drop-out issues...

To ensure that the two wireless networks are operating completely independently, to help with this type of methodical and granular testing, there is a setting on the 5Ghz page to ensure that 'sync mode' is turned off, which I'd definitely recommend in this instance, if the downstream devices are able to connect to both 2.4Ghz wireless networks and 5Ghz wireless networks, as carrying out any granular testing on completely independent 'non-synced' networks will definitely help here, I think -

Image

The two separate settings areas also allow network-speed related 'wireless interface types' to be set, which can affect the stability of any related wireless network, and depending on the wireless speed capabilities of the downstream devices, it will be worth going into those two separate areas and methodically trying out all the different 'interface type' speeds, using the options available via the drop down menu's shown below -

Image

Note - all images in this post are from my own router configuration pages

My general rule of thumb for these 'interface speed' settings would be to only set them as high as generally required for the type of 'network use-case' actually needed by the users, and then additionally, only really set them as high as the downstream devices being used are actually capable of, with the general view being that there's no point introducing speed-related stability issues where those higher-speed network settings might not ever be used, but I'd ignore that general philosophy whilst doing any testing, and just start at the slowest speeds and work up slowly and carefully through the various speed settings...

In addition to the above, there's also a section in each of the two router wireless network areas (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) where the relevant wireless channels can be set for each of the two separate networks. As has been explained earlier in this thread, this 'Channel Selection' area is likely to play a large part in any stability-related issues, and so is another area which will benefit from some methodical, granular testing, moving slowly through each of the channels to see if any firmer connections can be maintained over longer periods. Note here though, that channel-selection testing should probably be worked through on each of the separate 'interface speed' settings as well, so do keep that in mind if you're wanting or needing to test these things out properly via these config pages...

It's also worth pointing out here that whilst the above is discussing two separate 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless networks, if the end-devices aren't capable of seeing and using the higher speed 5Ghz network, then do ensure to turn that 5Ghz network off completely via the settings shown in the first snapshot, as there's clearly no point leaving wireless networks set up from the router if they will never be used, so closing out that network entry-point would be sensible if the devices are only capable of using the slower 2.4Ghz wireless network anyway...

Hopefully there is something in the above to help investigate these drop-out issues, but I really would check out the potential for downstream device driver-updates to be the issue here first, before diving too deeply into the router wireless settings, but if that isn't relevant to the devices being used, then there's still hopefully quite a lot of granular configuration testing available to you via the above router settings pages, which will hopefully benefit from spending some careful time going through if you're keen to help out...

Cheers,

Itsallaguess


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