Currently, we have two DSL lines:
EAST SIDE OF HOUSE: in an add-on "office" room separated by thick
walls). This DSL line leads to a Linksys WRT150N router, which is
connected one computer and three TiVos.
WEST SIDE OF HOUSE: in the living room. This DSL line leads to a
Linksys WRT300N router, which is connected to one laptop, and one
We are about to get rid of Line #2, the DSL line in the living room,
leaving only the DSL line in the office, and we would like all devices
to be connected to that one router. However, the wireless signal gets
very weak as it travels through the thick walls of the add-on room and
across the house.
Can we increase that signal -- either by boosting it at the source, or
by adding something like a "repeater" somewhere in the middle of the
Years ago, we had some kind of "booster" device that connected
directly to our old router. The old router had removable antennae,
and this booster device sat right on top of it, connected to the
router by two wires. The booster looked almost exactly like the
router -- blue, and about the same size. It had its own antennae.
I notice that the antennae don't come off of our current WRT150N, so
that might hurt the "booster" idea.
Another solution...? We're about to have a spare WRT300N just sitting
around. Perhaps we could park that somewhere in the middle of the
house and it could pass the signal along...?
However, I've heard comments like "Adding a repeater splits the signal
The number one use for our bandwidth, by a longshot, will be from the
computer in the office, the one about six feet from the WRT150N. The
only other devices that might even come close would be the TiVos --
say, if we watch YouTube videos, or decide to watch a Netflix movie on
I hope I've provided enough information for someone to help us with
our choice. Do we already have all the devices we need, or do we need
to buy some additional "booster" or "repeater?"
Thanks in advance.
On Sat, 27 Dec 2008 16:34:51 -0800, dgates wrote
Best solution: Use powerline networking to connect the WRT300N as an
access point (not router) in the living room to the WRT150N in the
office. Put them on non-overlapping channels with the same SSID.
Repeaters cut speed in half by retransmitting everything, and can be a
12:30AM. My appologies if my brain is not quite functional.
Thick walls are bad for RF.
Yep. This is not a good use for wireless. Some other method of
connecting the two routers will be necessary.
1. It probably won't go thorugh the thick wall any better. Increasing
the power at one end of the link doesn't magically do the same for the
other end. You would need two of these repeaters (one at each router)
in order for it to work.
2. MIMO (802.11n) doesn't like repeaters. That's another reason why
the antennas are non-removeable. MIMO requires seperate paths between
the antennas with slightly different delays. Unfortunately this only
increases the speed, not the range. As soon as you have a marginal
signal quality, the wireless access point will revert to 802.11g
speeds ( that might hurt the "booster" idea.
Yep. MIMO (802.11n) routers usually do that.
Sure, lots of alternatives. Have your credit card handy.
It reduces the MAXIMUM speed in half (or less). For example, if you
manage to squeeze a 12Mbit/sec wireless direct connection through your
thick wall, you'll get a theoretical maximum thruput (50% reduction
due to protocol overhead). Add a repeater in the middle, and you cut
that in half again for a maximum thruput of 3Mbits/sec. As I
mentioned, that's under ideal conditions and is usually somewhat less.
That's a fairly typical mix. Netflix is a big bandwidth user.
Yeah, fairly good description. The distance between the two routers
would have been useful. Some suggestions:
1. Run CAT5 ethernet cable between the two routers. This is the best
and fastest alternative. The WRT150N goes to the DSL modem and gets
to play router. The WRT300N acts as an ethernet switch, wireless
access point, and has the router section disabled. Note that any
wireless router can be uses as an access point:
Having a wireless connection at each end of the house might be handy
if you have laptops and PDA's with wireless. Also, put the two
wireless routers on different non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11) so
that they don't interefere with each other.
2. If you have any other runs of wire between routers (i.e. phone
wire, 25 pair bundle, alarm wire, CATV coax, zip cord, junk wire,
barbed wire, etc), you can run ethernet over the 4 wires. Various
common technologies are:
- HomePNA phone line networking
- HomePlug power line networking
- 10Base2 ethernet over coax cable
- 10baseT ethernet over CAT5 or whatever else you can scrounge.
Just about any kind of wire can be bludgeoned into carrying ethernet.
There's also fiber optic cable and media converters, which will work
if you have access to a source of cheap fiber.
I don't wanna explain how all of these work and are used. If one or
more looks interesting, post a reply and I'll fill in the blanks.
Thank you for the reply.
I have some extra detail to offer about our house, and also some extra
questions. But I find that I've already typed most of it in my reply
to Jeff Liebermann's post.
Still, I should ask:
If I tell you that the WRT300N router doesn't have to stay on the far
west side of the house, and that by moving it to the middle of the
house, it will get a not-bad wireless signal from the WRT150N router,
does that change your recommendation?
I'll paste my ASCII diagram, along with a summary of what signal
strength is carried along to each room.
East: DSL Modem. Signal starts here.
Middle: 25 feet away in a straight line (through thick walls). Or
about 40 feet, through the door and around corners.
West: About 20 feet further than Middle.
South: 25 to 30 feet away from Middle.
25' or 40'
West -- 20' -- Middle --| |-- East
| | |
"94% (excellent)" from a TiVo.
Middle (family & dining room):
"64% (good)" from a TiVo
"2 out of 5 bars" from a laptop
West (living room):
"2 out of 5 bars" from a laptop
South (exercise room):
"41% (marginal)" from a TiVo
Never mind the over or under statements. How many walls? What are
the walls made from? Any aluminium foil backed insulation in the
Rule of thumb: 1 wall is usually no problem. 2 walls are a problem
but can be made to work if sufficiently thin. 3 walls will get you an
unstable and unreliable connection. If there is any foil insulation
in the walls, forget it. Also, RF likes to travel in straight lines,
so count the number of walls along the RF path, not through doorways,
hallways, closets, etc.
2 out of 5 is not my idea of good. Lacking real numbers, I would
guess 3 out of 5 bars would be a minimum.
Same as above. Barely tolerable. As I previously mentioned, you can
make it work with this signal level, but I don't think you'll enjoy
having it drop out every time something moves or changes along the
Yep. Still functional but I would hate to measure the speed and
Close. Place two guys far enough apart so that they can just barely
hear each other. Now, place a 3rd guy in the middle to play repeater.
He listens for one of the other end guy to yell something. When he
hears something with a destination address of the other guy, he saves
the message, turns around, and yells it to the other guy. The reply
goes the same way. The middle guy just stores and plays back the
Now, what's important here is that the end guys can just barely hear
each other. If both the end guys are yelling at the same time, the
middle guy will be confused. If the middle guy is replaying a message
and the originating guy decides to send yet another message, the other
end guy hears both at the same time and gets it muddled. Lots of
other combinations that won't work.
The answer is that only one of the 3 guys can do their yelling at a
time. The means that the repeater monopolizes about twice the air
time as a single transmission directly from end to end. That's where
the bandwidth gets cut in half. Also note that to have it cut exactly
in half, the 3 guys have to have perfect timing. That's rarely the
case and collisions are common. The result is that a repeater
typically reduces maximum thruput by more than half. Also note that
it works best if the end points cannot hear each other.
One solution is to use two radios as a repeater. The link between one
guy and the repeater is one channel. The link between the repeater
and the other guy is on a different channel. With two radios in the
repeater, they can transmit and receive simultaneously, thus
eliminating the 50% max performance hit.
You won't find these at consumer prices, but you can build your own.
All it takes are two wireless ethernet bridge radios and a crossover
ethernet cable. They're also becoming common in wireless mesh
networks to solve the same problem.
Short opinion: Repeaters usually suck.
Yep. Your laptop should give you an indication of connection speed.
Move some traffic, such as streaming audio or video, and start walking
around. Look at the connection speed, which will go up and down. I
doubt if you can maintain 54Mbits/sec farther than about 5 meters away
from the access point. With lots of reflections in the room, probably
less. Once you go through a wall or two, your speed will drop down to
much lower speeds. That's marginal. No way are you going to maintain
a MIMO speed connection with such an arrangement.
Yes. The AG0100 usb dongle is 802.11b/g with 54mbits/sec max.
Before we dive into alternatives, I suggest you consider your
performance and bandwidth requirements. If you're moving video files
between your DVR and computah or running a video server via ethernet,
you're going to need LOTS of bandwidth and performance. I just setup
one of those that required gigabit speeds to be usable. You won't get
that with wireless, but you can get that with CAT5. You also won't
get it with power line, phone line, zip cord, barbed wire, etc. You
can with fiber, but you won't like the price.
Chart of common routers and their maximum performance:
The WRT160N is listed at 43.9mbits/sec max (that's with MIMO active).
You won't get over 25mbits/sec with 802.11g only. Incidentally, there
is quite a bit of really good stuff on this above web site.
The problem with power line networking is that there are several
technologies available. Basically, there's
14mbits/sec (HomePlug 1.0),
85mbit/sec (Homeplug 1.0 Turbo)
200mbit/sec (HomePlug AV)
speeds. The first is useless. I can't seem to find any benchmark
results on the others, but I doubt if you'll get anywhere near the
Incidentally, for running performance tests, see IPerf and JPerf.
Ok, I can work with that. Your maximum DSL speed is about
1.5Mbits/sec. If you use a direct wireless connection, you'll need an
error free connection speed of no less than 3Mbits/sec. The closest
is 5.5Mbits/sec. If you add a repeater, you'll need at least
6Mbits/sec. The closest 802.11g speed is 9Mbits/sec.
That works if everything you do goes through the DSL connection and to
the internet. That's possible but rather improbable. For example,
wireless printing, Tivo to PC, PC to PC, running backups over the
network, shared file/video server, and such are all local traffic that
will need to go MUCH faster than DSL speeds. Therefore, with your
office arrangement, I suspect that you'll need much more than the
minimum of 9Mbit/sec thruput.
Is that 5% of the number of megabloats you're moving, or 5% of the
time? I think you'll find the file sizes to be rather huge and the
speed requirements rather high if you're playing video server.
Do you have a Tivo 2 or Tivo 3?
I always think in terms of numbers. Units of measure are also handy.
Try watching Netflix online on your laptop with a not so great
wireless connection. For extra entertainment, try doing something
else with the wireless at the same time. That's important because
wireless airtime is a shared resource. If two wireless clients are
doing something at the same time, then the available bandwidth gets
split (not necessarily equally).
I think it might be handy to have wireless at both ends of the house.
You have the hardware so use it.
That would work were it not for the number of walls in the house. If
you think you can get adequate coverage from a wireless router in the
middle of the house, by all means, try it. However, if you're going
to run CAT5 to the router half way across the house, I suggest you
finish the job and go all the way from end to end.
Yep. Too many (thick) walls and no single ideal location. Going
through windows might work, until something gets in the way. Watch
out for low-E window coatings. They block RF. It might be possible
to locate the single router in the South part of the house, and shoot
through windows in both the West and East ends. That might work for a
fixed antenna located in the window, but I doubt it will work for the
laptop with an internal antenna. It's easy enough to try.
I would normally suggest installing directional antennas but your
existing MIMO routers have non-removable antennas.
With gigabit routers at each end, and less than 100 meters of CAT5,
you can move data at almost 1000mbits/sec. That's really handy for
giant video file transfers and running video servers. Both your
existing routers have built in gigabit switches. With the usual
10/100mbit/sec ethernet switches, you'll get a bit less than
100mbits/sec. Reminder: the BEST you can do with wireless 802.11g is
Ture. Try the relocated router in either the Middle or through
windows at the South. It might work well enough for internet traffic,
but any large file transfers across the wireless LAN are going to be
Running CAT5 under the house is a messy project. That's what kids are
for. The nice thing is that it always works (unless the kid pounds a
staple through the cable) and requires no tinkering, adjusting,
configuring, tweaking, and swearing that's common with wireless. If
you add up the elapsed time involved, deployment time might be
Fastest transfer speeds. Fast is fun.
Wired via CAT5 ethernet. However, I forgot to mumble something about
WDS repeaters. Looks like the WRT150N and WRT300N do NOT support WDS.
Yep. It's on the wireless page of the router configuration. It's
only necessary to change it in the routers. The clients will
automagically follow the change.
All those have to do with MIMO (802.11n). If you use "wide", it's
fixed to channel 6 as it now hogs the entire band. The only way you
can set the channel is to use standard (narrow) bandwidth.
I don't have any specific recommendations for power line networking
equipment. My guess is about $100 per end. For $200, I'm sure you
can bribe the neighbors brat into getting filthy under the house.
My guess(tm) is that it will work going through windows at the south
end of the house, but will be flaky and unreliable going through walls
in the middle location.
I don't see that the decision has to be made immediately. You have
enough equipment to do a live test for the wireless arrangement. Try
it, see how it plays, see how stable it runs, and make the
determination. If it's as bad as I predict, then run the wires.
I may reply in more detail later, but I wanted to reply immediately to
say thank you very much for your time and detailed answers.
We might do some sort of wireless tests first, but I think at this point
we're pretty convinced that we should run the CAT5 across the house.
There may be some subtleties involved. For example, the living room's
router is on the opposite side of the wall as the family room's Tivo, so
if we're running the CAT5 wire already, we might consider having it lead
to jacks on each side of the wall. But those are fairly small decisions
that we can make later.
You mention having a "kid" do the wiring, but I'm pretty sure we want to
hire a professional. Any idea where we might find a guy to come out, run
the cable, install 2 or 3 wall jacks, be professional and trustworthy?
I'm guessing that since you guessed we'd pay the "kid" $200, that you
figure we'll pay the pro a fair amount more than that...?
In any case, even if you don't type another word, thank you very much,
again, for your time and assistance.
On Mon, 29 Dec 2008 01:00:16 -0600, dgates wrote
Jeff likes CAT5, and so do I, but it's an expensive pain to pull CAT5
and wire up outlets properly.
I'm willing to bet you'll spend less money and I know you'll have a lot
less hassle with powerline networking.
Newegg will sell you two LINKSYS PLE200 (up to 200Mbps) PowerLine AV
Ethernet Adapters for $130 (much less than Jeff's $200).
Well, as John points out, you can get HomePlug AV adapters for less
than my guess. It might be a suitable alternative.
If you buy some, make sure that they can be returned and be sure to
save all the packaging.
I have a pair of 85MHz SMC boxes that I use for emergencies (like when
the mice chew up the CAT5) and for loaning to customers for testing.
The loans have resulted in mixed results. Some buildings have far too
much conducted EMI (electro magnetic interference) sitting on the
power lines. One test showed that traffic thruput just stopped
whenever the elevator was moving. Since HomePlug is basically BPL
(broadband power line), the noise generated by the HomePlug hardware
trashed one neighbors shortwave ham and CB reception. When I tried it
at my house, my OTA (over the air) TV reception became slightly noisy
on some channels. The nice thing about CAT5 is that you don't have
these kind of ummm.... issues.
The right way to do the wiring is one wall jack on every wall going to
the connected equipment from a centrally located ethernet switch.
That's the way most offices are done and is expensive and serious
overkill. A low cost alternative is to use multiple small 5 or 8 port
ethernet switches (also known as the workgroup method). The
dramatically reduces the number of CAT5 wires that need to be run.
However, some planning is necessary. It's an absolute mess trying to
run a wire across a doorway. Normally, there's a wall jack on either
side of a doorway, but there's no guarantee with the workgroup
topology. That means you might need 2 jacks in some rooms, usually on
opposite walls. Another advantage of the workgroup method is that it
can be reconfigured and expanded quite easily. The down side is that
the wiring pretzel can easily become a tangled mess.
At a minimum, install one 5 port ethernet switch in the middle of the
house, and one each at the 3 end points. Such switches cost about $40
ea. Then connect the boxes with CAT5.
Incidentally, it's not really necessary to install wall jacks unless
you want to do it right. There are surface mount jacks and "muffins"
that can house the ethernet jack that does not need to be installed
inside the wall. 1/4" hole in the floor (under the molding if
possible) and a short piece of exposed CAT5 going to the jack.
The right way is to find a BISCI certified wiring contractor. My
guess(tm) is about $150 per wall outlet for in the wall, and about
$100 per wall jack for surface mount. Since the $.15/ft CAT5e wire is
cheaper than the labor, run extra wires to locations that you think
might be useful in the future.
Electricians can do an adequate job, but usually lack network wiring
and topology experience. Phone jack installers can also do it. I've
done an awful lot of cleanup work on sloppy wiring. Be careful. I
only know the local installers, so I can't offer much help in locating
anyone. You can also get more info on wiring and contractors in
I came across this a while ago and was worth a read although biased.
There was also this on the Solwise forum where it was noted that some
people had noticed a large discrepancy between TCP and UDP throughput.
I was one of those who had overheating problems with the Netgear XE103
so am a bit wary of using these if they are left switched on permanently.
The HomePlug Powerline Alliance today announced that the IEEE P1901
Working Group approved proposals including key HomePlug technology as
the baseline for an IEEE powerline communications standard last Thursday
at the P1901 Working Group meeting in Kyoto, Japan.
On Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:48:01 +0000, LR wrote in
Newegg will sell you two LINKSYS PLE200 (up to 200Mbps) PowerLine AV
Ethernet Adapters for $130 (much less than Jeff's $200).
Please do keep up. ;)
Quote from same post:-
"I'm willing to bet you'll spend less money and I know you'll have a lot
less hassle with powerline networking."
The fact that Newegg will sell Powerline AV adapters does not alter the
fact that you SAID " Powerline Networking" in that post as well and in
neither post did you specify a recommendation only for the use of
"Powerline AV adapters".
I've never played with a HomePlug AV 200mhz system. The above article
shows "typical real world" performance to be 45mbits/sec. That's good
enough for the OP's applications (video and general web browsing).
Also, they use PCATTCP for benchmarking:
which works ok. However, I find the IPeft and JPeft to be more up to
date and far more accurate for higher speeds.
Yep. I get the same thing with IPerf and JPerf. I have no idea why
or what's going on. (Yet another project). In general, TCP is
accurate, while UDP is a crap shoot. Incidentally, you have to set
both the server and client to UDP (the default is TCP). If different,
the program still belch results, but the thruput is really low.
Those were one of the first HomePlug products. I agree on the
overheating problem. Not good.
I was trying to work with products that one can actually. However,
it's great to know that everything available is now instantly obsolete
thanks to the standards process. Argh.
Drivel: A neighbor calls complaining that his router is acting weird.
I tell him to "unplug the router, wait about 30 seconds, plug it back
in, and try again". 4 tries spaced over an hour time and no luck.
When I arrive, I find that he's unplugging the ethernet cable. I can
tell this is going to be a bad week.
They stacked the number slightly in their favor:
64K socket buffers.
5000 source buffers (twice normal)
8760 buffer size (slightly larger than the 8192 default)
My guess(tm) is that using more realistic values, the thruput will be
noticably less. Hmmm... no numbers, no test results, very strange.
How funny. Somehow, I got the idea (I guess because the two of you
were both listed at the top of the
that you (John N) and Jeff L were on the exact same page -- that
if one of you recommended a solution, it was basically both of you
recommending it. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that this
couldn't always be the case.
I'm now leaning back toward the powerline solution, for a couple of
1. I get the sense that a lot of Jeff's recommendation for CAT5 was
based on requirements that, on reflection, I don't actually have
(e.g., moving video files between DVR and computer, running a video
server via ethernet).
2. Now that you've given me a model number, I can see that I can buy
two PLE200's (as a PLK200 "kit") at Amazon for $125:
This compares to something over $400, and many hours of work and
shopping around to do the CAT5 wiring.
The cost and effort involved in "running a CAT5 line across the house"
seems to increase with each conversation, currently about $150 per
wall outlet, plus some amount of topological knowhow.
In short, buying two devices from Amazon, and seeing if they get me
what I need, seems like the much simpler plan. That 4-star rating at
Amazon is very promising, and I suspect that the actual average would
be much higher than that if happy customers were as motivated to post
as unhappy ones.
I'm now re-scanning Jeff's email, looking for possible gotchas. He
"Since HomePlug is basically BPL (broadband power line), the noise
generated by the HomePlug hardwaretrashed one neighbors shortwave ham
and CB reception. When I tried it at my house, my OTA (over the air)
TV reception became slightly noisy on some channels."
However, these CB and OTA TV type problems don't seem like they would
apply to me.
My only (mild) concern, after reading nearly all of the 70 Amazon
reviews) is that the originating DSL signal comes from an add-on room.
I know that the circuit breaker for the add-on room is in the same box
as the circuit breakers for the rest of the house. But I wonder if
there isn't some surprise around the corner.
Still, for $125 (which I can presumably get back if I need to return
these) and very little effort, I think I have to try the Powerline
I notice that there's a newer model, a PLK300, which is:
much newer (2008, rather than 2006)
twice as large (10"x9", rather than 4"x5")
a little more expensive ($149, rather than $125)
not as well reviewed at Amazon (3.5 stars from 5 customers, rather
than 4 stars by 74 customers)
presumably faster (300, rather than 200, although it's speed that I
don't think I need).
Any thoughts on the new model?
Again, thank you both (Jeff and John) for your time and effort. I
actually appreciate the fact that you two don't agree 100%. It's
similar to how I get more out of an Ebert & Whoever movie review when
the two critics don't completely agree, and each offer counterpoints,
rather than a simple, monolithic recommendation.
To follow the movie critic analogy, I think that good reviewers can
lay out so many facts for the viewer that he might decide that he'll
like the movie, even if the reviewers didn't. I believe it was this
way for me with Ebert's thumbs-down review of the original Die Hard.
So, thank you both.
On Mon, 29 Dec 2008 12:03:54 -0800, dgates wrote
Since Ethernet limits you to 100 Mbps, I'd go for the LINKSYS PLK200
PowerLine AV Ethernet Adapter Kit, $125 at Newegg with free shipping:
Thank you for taking the time and effort to say thanks.
All too many do not bother.