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Xplorer1
Aspirant

Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

I have a large house, with my router (BT home hub) in a wiring cabinet in a utility room. The house is cabled for ethernet, and my current wireless access, a Netgear WPN802, is placed in the best unobtrusive location in the house. While it's pretty much visible from throughout the house, the signal's pretty weak in some places.

 

If I replace it with a current-generation Netgear router, switched to AP mode, am I going to see a significant improvement in range and signal strength? Smartphones, tablets and music streaming boxes (Sonos) are the usual wifi clients.

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TheEther
Guru

Re: Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

Generally, with one exception, hand-off is controlled by the device. On devices where the roaming aggressiveness can be adjusted, usually laptops and PCs with Wi-Fi adapters, it's sometimes possible make hand-off low-impact, but it often is neither transparent nor non-disruptive. I don't often walk my house with my laptop streaming, so personally this is not an issue.

On the other hand, smartphones often do not have adjustable roaming aggressiveness settings, but these are precisely the devices with which we want transparent handoff. My old iPhone 5S was terrible at roaming at home and at work.

If you install a second WAP in your house, you should not expect transparent hand-offs. But, like I said, it's usually up to the device.

I did mention one exception, well maybe two. One is that there is a Wi-Fi standard called 802.11r that governs fast hand-off. I don't think any consumer Wi-Fi gear implement it. Two is that Ubiquiti Networks offers a proprietary feature called Zero Handoff where multiple Ubiquiti APs can work together to hand-off a device between them. I don't know which of their products offer this feature, but my guess is that they aren't cheap. The downside of this feature is that all the APs must use the same Wi-Fi channel (they make all the APs appear like one AP). That's not so good if you have a lot of Wi-Fi devices and need a lot of bandwidth. It's a trade-off between speed and reliability.

I would recommend you try one of the higher end Netgears with external antennas. If you are happy with your current router and only need an AP, then consider the EX7000. It's marketed as a wireless extender, but it in fact can also be used as a wired AP. It'll be cheaper than the R7000. But if you want to upgrade your router, then the R7000 is a great choice. I have one and it covers nearly my entire 2 story house.

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Babylon5
NETGEAR Employee Retired

Re: Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

It’s difficult to say with any real certainty, it depends on a number of factors, the most influential being your house construction and layout. But generally as a replacement for an older router the newer models like the R7000 or R8000 have very good range and throughput performance. They are MiMo devices so work well with related client devices, and future Netgear models will be Mu-MiMo (multi user). Both the R7000 and R8000 have an Access Point (AP) function built in, so that you can add them to a network with an already existing router/gateway.

 

You should remember though, that the communication with the router or AP is a two way process, and the performance capabilities of the client devices can play a significant part in range / throughput. So some of those devices you listed may not make best (or any) use of the router’s more advanced features.

 

Why replace the WPN802 rather than just add a second (or more) AP?

 

Have you also considered using Powerline products, or does every room have easy access to an Ethernet connection? For example;

 

http://www.netgear.co.uk/home/products/networking/powerline/XWNB5201.aspx

____________________________
Working on behalf of Netgear
My name is Andy
Message 2 of 6
Xplorer1
Aspirant

Re: Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I've used powerline products in the past: the trouble is they consume power constantly and occupy power sockets. I had also thought about adding a second WAP: how would hand-off work between them as a device moves around the house? Would it be transparent and non-disruptive?
Message 3 of 6
TheEther
Guru

Re: Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

Generally, with one exception, hand-off is controlled by the device. On devices where the roaming aggressiveness can be adjusted, usually laptops and PCs with Wi-Fi adapters, it's sometimes possible make hand-off low-impact, but it often is neither transparent nor non-disruptive. I don't often walk my house with my laptop streaming, so personally this is not an issue.

On the other hand, smartphones often do not have adjustable roaming aggressiveness settings, but these are precisely the devices with which we want transparent handoff. My old iPhone 5S was terrible at roaming at home and at work.

If you install a second WAP in your house, you should not expect transparent hand-offs. But, like I said, it's usually up to the device.

I did mention one exception, well maybe two. One is that there is a Wi-Fi standard called 802.11r that governs fast hand-off. I don't think any consumer Wi-Fi gear implement it. Two is that Ubiquiti Networks offers a proprietary feature called Zero Handoff where multiple Ubiquiti APs can work together to hand-off a device between them. I don't know which of their products offer this feature, but my guess is that they aren't cheap. The downside of this feature is that all the APs must use the same Wi-Fi channel (they make all the APs appear like one AP). That's not so good if you have a lot of Wi-Fi devices and need a lot of bandwidth. It's a trade-off between speed and reliability.

I would recommend you try one of the higher end Netgears with external antennas. If you are happy with your current router and only need an AP, then consider the EX7000. It's marketed as a wireless extender, but it in fact can also be used as a wired AP. It'll be cheaper than the R7000. But if you want to upgrade your router, then the R7000 is a great choice. I have one and it covers nearly my entire 2 story house.

View solution in original post

Message 4 of 6
Xplorer1
Aspirant

Re: Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

TheEther, thanks for the information and guidance. Very helpful.

Message 5 of 6
ElaineM
NETGEAR Employee Retired

Re: Signal strength and range of newer wifi routers

@Xplorer1 Glad to hear that the information was very helpful.

Thank you for being a loyal NETGEAR customer.

ElaineM
NETGEAR Community Team
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