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Needed - More ethernet ports, expanded WiFi area, stable router

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Needs are simple but not sure how to upgrade & configure.

Current equipment
ISP - Charter Cable 15 Mbps down / 3 Mbps up (old Express level of service) with SA 2100 2.0 cable modem
Wireless router (also used for the 4 LAN ethernet ports) - Linksys WRT160Nv3 with most recent firmware

Connected (wired) devices:
Tivo HD (10/100) - limited use other than programming updates; occasional downloads of Amazon movies and streaming of Pandora)
Dell Desktop computer (10/100) - primary home computer; internet access; no desire to stream files from this PC to other networked devices)
Panasonic Blu-Ray DMP-BD65 (10/100) - used to stream HDX movies on Vudu
Panasonic Blu-Ray DMP-BD85 (10/100) - used to stream HDX movies on Vudu (located in separate den)

Connected (wireless) devices:
2 iPhone 4 phones with current iOS operating software - b/g/n capable
Kindle Paperwhite reader - b/g/n capable

Currently not connected (no open LAN ports on the router)
Samsung "non-smart" LN40D630 1080p LCD (10/100) - would only connect to periodically update firmware
Dish ViP722K DVR (10/100) - might use On-Demand, etc. if connected

1. Need more LAN ports. Based on the location of my equipment and ease of running Cat5e, a single, larger "switch" (?) would physically work (i.e. all the LAN ports can be located in one spot). Based on my internet connection, existing devices and intended use (not sharing files between networked devices), I don't need gigabit - just need 100Mbps.
2. WiFi does not adequately cover the entire home. Part of the issue is the current placement of the router which is somewhat necessitated by its 4 LAN ports. I would like to add another router as a bridge / extender (?) to increase the signal at the other end of the home.
3. The wireless router is only 2.4GHz as is our microwave, etc.
4. The router seems a bit unstable. Whenever we lose power, the router must be reset in order to restore WiFi as well as ethernet to all of the wired devices. The cable modem appears to resume operation properly after an outage but the router blinks all lights until it is reset. I don't know if this is a common issue with all wireless routers or if ours is particularly buggy. It is a pain however, especially given that it also serves as the LAN switch for the wired devices.

If the need to reset a wireless router after a power outage is typical, would I not be better off by first connecting my modem to some wired router / switch that would have enough LAN ports to connect all of my wired devices as well as 2 wireless access points? Does such a wired router / switch exist at a relatively low price?

In advance, I appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks.
post #2 of 11
A couple of quick comments.

You can easily add ethernet ports by adding an ethernet switch. This does not have to be placed adjacent to the router, perhaps enabling a better router location for wireless transmission.

You need an up-to-date wireless router and it should be powered through a UPS.
post #3 of 11
What Joel said. Get a decent dual channel wireless N router (somewhere near the top of the line from Asus, Netgear or Linksys) and enough 4 or 8 port netgear switches to have one at every location you are able to extend a Cat5 cable to. Most wireless routers have 4 ethernet ports, connect directly to the switches from these.

By the way, you'll never ever ever want to use Dish on-demand. Have you seen those prices? biggrin.gif
post #4 of 11
Get 2 dual channel routers if you want strong signal all over the house. OR, get a wired only router and install a wireless AP in a central location. Switches will expand LAN ports, you can put those anywhere.

If you go the 2 router way: Turn off dhcp on the second router, use same ssid and security on both. Put them on different channels, at least 5 channels apart from each other.

It sounds like an old router and having to reset it all the time isn't worth it. Just get a new one. This site has good router reviews and how-to articles
post #5 of 11
For the router, I recommend the ASUS-N66U. I have this router, it has great wifi coverage in a large old house with plaster walls and a web based GUI user interface for configuratons. While I like wifi for tablets, laptops and such, I prefer hardwired ethernet cable for my stationary PCs, especially to send/receive video, so I have a couple TP-LINK TL-SG1005D 10/100/1000Mbps switches. There not very expensive and essentially plug and play.
post #6 of 11
I would also recommend the ASUS RT-N66U. In fact this is the route in took in a similar situation to you.

Previously I had 2 Wireless-N routers set up using WDS and while it gave OK coverage through the home and to places in yard where I wanted WiFi it needed constant reboots (every week or so) to keep the WDS connection.

I switched to a single RT-N66U and now have broader coverage and at higher speed from remote locations than the previous two router set up. Our home is a tri-level with the router on the lowest level. I get great (fast) connections throughout the house and coverage over most of our 1 acre yard. Our pool is about 100 ft from the house and I get very strong coverage there. The ASUS has also been running fine for months without any reboots.

I also needed more Ethernet ports so I have a couple of cheap switches - one by the router and one by my media set up (TV, Apple TV, DirecTV, Blu-Ray etc) and this works great.

RT-N66U supports simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz - you'll get more coverage from the 2.4GHz band by can use 5GHz where the microwave is causing issues.

EDIT - there is a good review of the router here http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/31687-asus-rt-n66u-dark-knight-dual-band-wireless-n900-gigabit-router-reviewed

They also review other Dual-Band Routers if you want to look beyond the ASUS

EDIT - As Joel said you should have the router (and modem) on a UPS. We lose power frequently in Winter storms and have modem/router on UPS.
Edited by undecided - 6/9/13 at 1:09am
post #7 of 11
Given your issues you definitely need to start with a new dual band router. Using the 5ghz band for media streaming and the 2.4g for data is the best approach. Since you can run cat 5 cable I would also add a second router set up as an access point. By setting the SSID the same and spreading the channels out you will have seamless wireless coverage throughout your home. Add switches where you need them for added LAN ports.

A couple of routers I would suggest you look at are the Netgear WNDR4500 or Netgear R6200 or r6250. All 3 are newer 3 radio technologies. They are also dual band too. But the 3 radio technology provides better coverage and range. Also they all have higher powered rf amps which also enhance range.

The R6200 and R6250 are AC based standard routers. This is the next generation of wireless. Given your description you really don't need this but you should be aware of these. The Asus mentioned is an AC router BTW.

If it were me I'd get the NETGEAR WNDR 4500 as your main router and save some money. For the access point you can use a less expensive dual band router like the NETGEAR WNDR3700. I use a 3700 as an access point and works great. The WNDR4500 is also laded with NETGEAR new UI and feature set so you get the best of all worlds. Performance, features and ease of use. I wrote a review on the 4500 here on AVS. Here is the link.


Also the power outages shouldn't cause issues you are seeing. But UPS will definitely help. Brown outs are the worst or when the power blinks out. I do have my modem, router and switch on a UPS.

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant.
post #8 of 11
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

The Asus mentioned is an AC router BTW.

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant.

No it is not - the RT-N66U is an N900 router (the AC Version is ASUS RT-AC66U)

The SmallNetBuilder summary says 'The overall impression I came away with is that the RT-N66U certainly does a better job than the NETGEAR WNDR4500 using the same Broadcom CPU and radios.'

Page 4 http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/31687-asus-rt-n66u-dark-knight-dual-band-wireless-n900-gigabit-router-reviewed.

They also rate it as the best N900 router for wireless range http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/rankers/router/result/1113-asus-rtn66u-dark-knight.

I do agree with the recommendation to go with an N900 router now and save money vs an AC router which is maturing technology for now.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I greatly appreciate the responses.

Yesterday, I bought and set up the Asus N66U, a UPS and a separate switch. Though my current wireless devices can't use the 5G band, the performance over the 2.4 band easily exceeds the old Linksys. In fact, I was able to place the N66U in a more distant location and still increase the signal throughout the home. I'll play with location a bit more as I continue to make some changes re: the location of our AV devices.

Again, I appreciate the quick and thorough responses.
post #10 of 11
I think you should contact your telecom service provider for more support with the connectivity. Please check the device standards meets that of the service provider. I got the same issue and I changed the service provider into G3 Telecom and it's working fine now.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
I assume you are referring to the possible need of my cable modem being able to support DOCSIS 3.0?

I did speak with Charter. In fact, I had to confirm my current level of service with them (it is not stated on my bill)! I first signed up for Charter internet back when Charter TV only had 3-4 HD channels. I subsequently canceled TV when we moved to Dish but continue to pay for internet. Over the years, they have upgraded their equipment and periodically have boosted my internet performance / speeds though I have never initiated an upgrade in service. Originally, I probably subscribed to internet speeds of 3-5Mbps down. Currently, Charter has me at their "Express" service level (no longer offered to new customers) which is 15Mbps up / 3Mbps down and my 2.0 cable modem is compatible with that level of service. A 3.0-type modem would be needed if I were to upgrade to their 30Mbps down / 5Mbps up "Plus" service.

Using my ethernet-connected desktop, I just tried Charter's own speed test as well as the test at speedtest.net. For both, my indicated speeds were 25-30 down / 3 up. I then tried the speedtest app on my iPhone 4 (using the same server) and saw speeds of 18 down / 3 up while sitting next to the router.

The iPhone's test result is consistent with earlier tests and is consistent with the level of service that Charter reportedly has me subscribed to. I'm not sure why my phone posted lower speeds than my desktop, but I believe that many have complained about the lower relative performance of the older iPhones' WiFi. Also, I don't know if the above-Express-level speeds indicated by my desktop are accurate. Regardless, I don't think I need to change my cable modem until I decide to upgrade my service with Charter.
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