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Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

CrimpOn
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite


@schumaku wrote:


Well, this is not how wireless clients are working. We configure them to connect to a certain SSID, the first at that moment best radio will be connected. Decent WiFi clients re-evaluate the situation (alternate BSSIDs - these can be the same or a different band and/or device), modern WiFI clients will also evaluate the RRM radio resource management information providing a list of BSSIDs for the same SSID and re-associate to what the client does find suits better.


Please note that the "We" in "We configure them" is the user of the WiFi device.  When the user enables WiFi on a device, the device goes through a process of:

  • Searching for WiFi access points by listening for WiFi beacon frames, often on all 11 (or 13 in the EU) 2.4G WiFi channels and also in the 5G WiFi channels.  The default setting for most WiFi access points is to broadcast a beacon frame every 102.4ms (almost 10 times a second) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beacon_frame 
  • After collecting information about available WiFi access points, the device software looks to see if any of the SSID's match a WiFi SSID that the user has set to "connect automatically".  If so, the device selects the BSSID that seems most appropriate and makes a connection request.
  • If none of the SSID's match one that the user has set to connect automatically, the device displays a list of SSID's and waits for the user to select one.
  • This process provides convenience because it can take place totally without user intervention.  When the device has no active WiFi connection and one of those "connect automatically" SSID's becomes available, the device can connect without user intervention.  This is really helpful when I arrive at home or at the office: Walk in the door, and my phone changes from LTE to WiFi. Lose power, and when power comes back on, every device in the house reconnects without me having to do anything.

What I cannot find information about is (a) the specific process typical WiFi software uses to scan for WiFi access points and make a decision, and (b) which devices continue to scan and which stop looking after they make a connection.  i.e. Is it typical to scan all 11 WiFi 2.4G channels and (which?) WiFi 5G channels? How long does a device typically spend scanning?  There is a lot going on "under the hood" and it would be really interesting to find references about how it works.

 

This article, for example, seems pretty clear, but seems to gloss over the basic question raised by this post: "Why are devices picking access points that are so obviously wrong?"

https://netbeez.net/blog/how-wifi-connection-works/ 

Did the device pick too quickly?  Or... what?

I love my Orbi.
Message 51 of 64
Chris_Z
Tutor

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

I recently purchased a RBKE963B (wifi-6e router w/ 2 satellites) and I am having a similar issue. In my case, the devices start out correctly connected to the satellites, but over several hours (sometimes a day) they tend to migrate from both satellites to the main router. This occurs on all devices: Alexas, PCs, iPads, and Android phones.

 

This situation is a big deal. It renders the mesh network no different than the single-router network I replaced it with. I've included my setup and details (topology, signal strength measurments, ect) in another post here:

Orbi-WiFi-6-AX-and-WiFi-6E-AXE/RBRE960-Devices-do-not-stay-connected-to-closest-best-satellite 

 

@CrimpOn, I have the same questions as to why this is happening. I find it hard to believe that all my devices are making the wrong decision (especially after initially connecting to the best satellite). If the devices are completely responsible for which node they connect to, there must be a condition occurring on the satellites that triggers them to want to move back to the router (temporary outage?).

 

It's hard to believe that mesh networks, in general, suffer from this issue without every tech blog on the internet steering people away from using them. Is this Netgear specific?

Message 52 of 64
FURRYe38
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

Distance, placement of the main router and RBS are important. Too close will cause problems. 

My Setup ISP SparkLight | Internet Cable 1000↓/50↑ CAX80 Modem Mode |  Wifi Router RBK953 (Router Mode) 2.5Gb Wired Backhaul | Switches NG GS105/8, GS308v3, GS110MX and XS505M | 

Additional NG HW: C7800/CAX80/CM1100/CM1200/CM2000, Orbi: CBK40, CBK752, RBK50, RBK853, RBK752, RBK953, SXK30 | NightHawk: MK63, R7000, R7800, R7960P, R8000, R8500, RAXE500, RAX50, XR450, EX7500/EX7700

Message 53 of 64
CrimpOn
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

 
@Chris_Z wrote:

I recently purchased a RBKE963B (wifi-6e router w/ 2 satellites) and I am having a similar issue. In my case, the devices start out correctly connected to the satellites, but over several hours (sometimes a day) they tend to migrate from both satellites to the main router. This occurs on all devices: Alexas, PCs, iPads, and Android phones.


"migrate" is the key word.  I have experimented with the effect of power cycling the Orbi router.  When that is done, my RBR50 Orbii router definitely begins advertizing the WiFi SSID before the satellite does.  This might cause devices to connect to the router. If those devices do not search for "a better connection", then they might stay with the router even after a closer (and stronger) satellite connection becomes avialable.

 

I have no explanation (or theory) for what would cause a device that has selected a stronger satellite connection to switch to a weaker connection.  Makes no sense.  One hypothesis (theory) is that perhaps the stronger satellite signal disappears for a bit and the device says, "where did my WiFi go?"  searches for WiFi. Finds the router. Connects. and quits looking.

 

A way to test this would be to deliberately power off a satellite, wait a minute, then power it back on.  If some devices that were previously connected to the satellite have switched to the router and do not come back, then this might be what is happening.  Devices such as iPads and smartphones typically scan the WiFi environment constantly looking for better connections.

 

This situation definitely calls out for Netgear Engineering to explain what the h**l could be going on.  Since this must be a relatively new purchase, I would open a support case with Netgear under the "90 days of complimentary support."

I love my Orbi.
Message 54 of 64
mrmecho
Aspirant

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

I have all my satellites connected in a star topology via ethernet. So far, devices seem to balance between each satellite and the router. Most devices seem to appropriately choose the correct satellite. I noticed once a power cycle happens, some devices will pick the router first but will then later move to a closer satellite. As a test, try running cat 6 to all satellites (temporarily) and then power cycle. Leave it this way for a day or so and see if your devices start using the correct satellite. I also see it may take a minute or two (using Orbi app network map) to see device node change.
Message 55 of 64
Mstrbig
Master

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

The other issue, which Netgear tech never gave me a final answer on, is a wireless device can be 10 feet direct line of site to the router and have an excellent signal. However, a wireless device can be the same distance from the satellite and have a fair signal. I've said from day one that maybe the satellite radio has signal issues, as this happens on pretty much every SXK80 Orbi Pro AX6000 WiFi 6 Tri-Band WiFi System, I've installed. Also it does not matter what the distance between the router and satellite is.

Orbi RBK53 System/RBR50/RBS50/RBS50. + Orbi Voice RBS40V
RBK753 system/RBR750/RBS750/RBS750 + RBK853 System/RBR850/RBS850/RBS850
SXK80 — Orbi Pro AX6000 WiFi 6 Tri-Band WiFi System
There's always a logical answer, if you have all the facts!
Message 56 of 64
schumaku
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite


@mrmecho wrote:
So far, devices seem to balance between each satellite and the router. Most devices seem to appropriately choose the correct satellite. I noticed once a power cycle happens, some devices will pick the router first but will then later move to a closer satellite.

This is the expected behaviour of decent WiFi clients able to deal with the 802.11k standard, which helps devices search quickly for nearby APs that are available as roaming targets by creating an optimized list of channels. When the signal strength of the current AP weakens, your device will scan and select for target APs from this list. 

 

Other "simple" WiFi clients (not uncommon on older and many "dub" IoT) not using the 802.11k alternate AP list will remain sticky forever.

 


@mrmecho wrote:
I have all my satellites connected in a star topology via ethernet.  ... As a test, try running cat 6 to all satellites (temporarily) and then power cycle. Leave it this way for a day or so and see if your devices start using the correct satellite. I also see it may take a minute or two (using Orbi app network map) to see device node change.

The backhaul architecture and media in use should not make much of a change.

 

 

Message 57 of 64
Chris_Z
Tutor

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite


@CrimpOn wrote:

One hypothesis (theory) is that perhaps the stronger satellite signal disappears for a bit and the device says, "where did my WiFi go?"  searches for WiFi. Finds the router. Connects. and quits looking.

 

A way to test this would be to deliberately power off a satellite, wait a minute, then power it back on.  If some devices that were previously connected to the satellite have switched to the router and do not come back, then this might be what is happening.  Devices such as iPads and smartphones typically scan the WiFi environment constantly looking for better connections.

I did this test, but I've tried so many other things I have forgotten exactly what happened (I'll need to redo this test). I have occassionally seen stationary devices (i.e. PCs, Alexas, Ring Doorbell, etc) migrate back to the satellite from the router, but they don't stay there long. For instance, they'll stay on the satellite for an hour or two, whereas they'll stay on the router for the rest of the time.

 

As an example, I have a PC in the basement that originally connects to the basement satellite with a -41dBm signal. That PC spent a couple hours there, then it migrated to the main floor router with a signal strength of -60dBm and spent the rest of the day there. Mesh is nice, but for stationary devices in scenarios like this, I wish I had the option of entering the BSSID of the satellite I want to connect to so it would just stay put. (I actually did try it and it asked for the network password, but after entering it, it said it couldn't connect.)

Message 58 of 64
schumaku
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

At the risk of .... for stationary devices, there is only one choce if you want to know exactly where the device is connecting: It's a network cable.

 


@Chris_Z wrote:

Mesh is nice, but for stationary devices in scenarios like this, I wish I had the option of entering the BSSID of the satellite I want to connect to so it would just stay put.


That's not on how the standards are drafted. Even less the clients allow something like that.

 

Message 59 of 64
CrimpOn
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite


@Chris_Z wrote:

I did this test, but I've tried so many other things I have forgotten exactly what happened (I'll need to redo this test). I have occassionally seen stationary devices (i.e. PCs, Alexas, Ring Doorbell, etc) migrate back to the satellite from the router, but they don't stay there long. For instance, they'll stay on the satellite for an hour or two, whereas they'll stay on the router for the rest of the time.

 

As an example, I have a PC in the basement that originally connects to the basement satellite with a -41dBm signal. That PC spent a couple hours there, then it migrated to the main floor router with a signal strength of -60dBm and spent the rest of the day there. Mesh is nice, but for stationary devices in scenarios like this, I wish I had the option of entering the BSSID of the satellite I want to connect to so it would just stay put. (I actually did try it and it asked for the network password, but after entering it, it said it couldn't connect.)


This is the phenomenon that I fail to understand. I have experimented with restarting the router, and the router WiFi definitly becomes available first (by as much as two minutes). I can see devices 'seeing' the router SSID first and connecting. Many devices will shift from the router to satellite after the satellite becomes available. Not immediately, but after a while.


I cannot understand what would cause a device to abandon an access point with a -40 dBm signal in favor of an access point with a -60dBm signal? I do understand that WiFi signals fluctuate continually. (Watch the screen on a WiFi Analyzer app. The curves pop "up", then they disappear. Up, then down. But every time, the access point that has the strongest signal is always the strongest.)


I agree with @schumaku . The only method guaranteed to work is an ethernet cable.

I love my Orbi.
Message 60 of 64
Chris_Z
Tutor

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite


@CrimpOn wrote:
I cannot understand what would cause a device to abandon an access point with a -40 dBm signal in favor of an access point with a -60dBm signal? I do understand that WiFi signals fluctuate continually. (Watch the screen on a WiFi Analyzer app. The curves pop "up", then they disappear. Up, then down. But every time, the access point that has the strongest signal is always the strongest.)

You and me both. Although, I may have found a clue (or maybe just a coincidence). There is a DHCP storm that has coincided with my devices switching from the satellites to the router (at least the last 2 times I've observed). From the Orbi logs, both satellites appear to get issued their IP addresses over and over again, within only seconds of the previous issuance.

 

  • x.x.x.37 is the basement satellite.
  • x.x.x.2 is the upstairs satellite.
  • x.x.x.27 is the upstairs Alexa.
  • x.x.x.10 is the upstairs PC.
  • Timestamps are in desending order (most recent timestamp is on top).
  • Looks like the forum smilie-faces up the MAC address, but it's still readable.

 

[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.27)] to MAC address 34:AF:B3:56:0C:C3, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:52 <-- Alexa switched to router here
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:36
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:35
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:31
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:30
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:29
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:28
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:25
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:25
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:22
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:19
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:17
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.10)] to MAC address 80:C5:F2:61:25:01, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:16 <-- PC switched to router here
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:14
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:12
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:12
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.37)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D2:BE, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:10
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:10
[DHCP IP: (192.168.1.2)] to MAC address C8:9E:43:D7:D1:DD, Thursday, Dec 23,2021 20:21:09

 

 
It sure seems like the satellites are doing something that causes the devices to want to move, especially in cases where the signal disparity is pretty big. I'm not sure if this could be it or not, but this behavior looks strange.
 
FYI -- Backhaul status shows "Good" for both satellites and throughput is ~800Mb/s for devices that are wired to the satellites. I'm really impressed with the wireless backhaul performance of the 960.
 
Message 61 of 64
CrimpOn
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

What an interesting discovery.  My Orbi issues DHCP leases for one day (86,400 seconds).  What in the h**l could cause a satellite to do a new DHCP request in a couple of seconds, over and over?

 

I have the router email me the log file every time it fills up (usually about once per day. more often when some jackass is 'probing' the internet and generating lots of DoS messages.  I log them because 'why not'?)

It would be interesting to see if this is a regular occurance (the satellites requesting IP's over and over). If whatever is causing this forces a device disconnect, then devices naturally would look for a different access point.

 

I have used Wireshark to look at DHCP issues on individual computers by activating the debug option "Enable LAN/WAN packet capture".  Not knowing when this might happen makes this less feasible.

I love my Orbi.
Message 62 of 64
schumaku
Guru

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite


@CrimpOn wrote:

I have experimented with restarting the router, and the router WiFi definitly becomes available first (by as much as two minutes). I can see devices 'seeing' the router SSID first and connecting. Many devices will shift from the router to satellite after the satellite becomes available. Not immediately, but after a while.

Guess you talk of satellites offering better signal than the primary router here. Yes, this what one can expect from decent WiFi clients. On one hand these devices continue to scan for other known (stored) and unknown (discovered) SSIDs. on the other hand, these clients also receive the list with information on alternate BSSIDs for the SSID currently connected. All these BSSIDs are evaluated and constantly monitored. If the client discovers a reliable alternate BSSID, the client does initiate a roaming process. The algorithms differ, probably by the WiFi client hardware and it's driver and embedded software. Some tend to be happy if just the connectivity and do roaming if more bandwidth is required, some tend to roam more aggressively changing to other BSSIDs. 

 


@CrimpOn wrote:

I cannot understand what would cause a device to abandon an access point with a -40 dBm signal in favor of an access point with a -60dBm signal? I do understand that WiFi signals fluctuate continually. (Watch the screen on a WiFi Analyzer app. The curves pop "up", then they disappear. Up, then down. But every time, the access point that has the strongest signal is always the strongest.)

Many possible factors. lack of much insight, we can just guess. Interferences are certainly one issue for these "jumping" signal levels - being from the "own" SSID and APs, but also by neighbours, and then the non-WiFi usage (say speakers, wireless HDMI extenders, ...) on the same free band.

 

We know from more business grade APs (lack of insight on the Orbi implementation again) that the APs are monitoring the radio concurrent connections, the current and recently used and active bandwidth. This can lead to the AP say "motivating" the clients to roam away, regardless if the signal levels (as seen on both ends of the connection) are less optimal. 

 

Merry Xmas and happy holidays!

 

-Kurt.

 

Message 63 of 64
MarcusE
Initiate

Re: device not connecting to closest satellite

My rbr10 is not even listed. It's this issue in question the main issue a mesh system suppose to resolve? This should work right out the box. Im a 20+ year IT professional and these answers don't sound simple.
Model: RBR20|Orbi AC2200 Tri-band WiFi Router
Message 64 of 64
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