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Network/wireless problems in apartment complex.

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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August 21, 2014 2:49:17 PM

My wife and I manage a medium sized apartment complex and are having some issues getting our wireless router to work properly from the buildings Comcast router across the hall.

Before I go into it all I should say that what we are trying to do is completely okay with the building owners and management company.

There is a room directly on the other side of our hallway that has all of the buildings internet, phone, call box and fire alarm equipment in it. There is a Comcast business class router (or maybe it is technically just a modem?) in there that our internet comes from. Wired to that is our wireless router and a non-wireless router that provides internet to an office, a common community room and 2 other lines which connect to other building services like the fire alarm system. Ill attach a poorly drawn picture below to better show the topology we currently have.

The problem is that whenever someone uses one of the computers in the community room our wireless slows to a crawl. When no one is in there I am getting around 15mbps (according to speedtest.net) and when someone is using a computer I get maybe 2mbps. I should also mention that when I connect our router to one of the two ethernet jacks in the community room instead of in the mechanical room both computers loose their connection to the net until I unplug the router.

I should also mention that even though our router is pretty close to our living room the signal is not the best because the wireless has to go through the metal exterior type door to the mechanical room and then through the wall into our apartment. We just bought a new router last week (a Linksys E2500 (N600) Dual band) and I can only connect to the 5ghz network out in the hall). According to Windows I am getting about 144mbps connection on channel 11 from our router to my desktop which is waaaay better then our old Belkin.

Thank you so much in advance for any help you can give me. I am far from a network guru and am all out of ideas on this one.

a b F Wireless
August 21, 2014 3:11:28 PM

This is hard to say for certian without knowing that comcasts device is.

Commercial modems have muiltiple ports but each port is assigned to an IP address and so it might not allow you to use both routers at the same time.

Here is what you should do.

Comcast modem -> non wireless router -> ethernet switch -> computers
You would then also connect your wireless router to the non-wireless router.
This way all of your connections go through the same port of the modem and are all behind the same router.

As far as the wirelss goes there is so many enviromental factors. The 5gfhz band degrades faster so after it has to go through 2 walls or one really dense wall it is all but done, although you should be able to connect to the 2.4 band, although you might have neighbors on the same chanel causing a ton of interference. You can use a program call inssider to see all of the wireless netowrks around you and what channel they are on. (there is also wifi analyzer for android and im sure ios has a good program for it as well).
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August 21, 2014 3:29:33 PM

Yes, I find myself questioning what that Non-WiFi Linksys Router is - is that actually a Router or a Switch? Could you provide us with a Model Number?

If that's a Switch instead of a Router, then the solution appears simple - unplug the Non-WiFi "Router" Switch - and run a longer cable from Your WiFi Router to it. The Switch will then go back to your WiFi Router, asking for IP addresses for the community room and every other bit o' equipment. Fine. That's what Routers do. But this will take a longer cable-run from your WiFi back to that Non-WiFi.

That CAN be a fairly direct test - just grab a long Cat5e cable and tell people not to trip over it for 5-10 minutes. (And cross yer fingers they won't.)

That "loosing speeds" and the "disconnect/reconnect" though makes me curious about cabling and the RJ45 punchdowns ("the Ethernet Jacks") because something's causing a 'data signal collision' to drop speeds or create that Disconnect/Reconnect symptom. I would swap out both of the Community Room PC cables first - not swap them around, but find 2 different ones. That would eliminate "bad cable".
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August 21, 2014 3:54:36 PM

My wireless router is across the hall in the room with the other router/modem so it really would not take any more cable. It sounds like I need to try to connect my wireless router to that non-wireless router (switch?) instead of directly to the Comcast modem. My wife is out of the house with the keys to that room at the moment but I can try it in a few hours.

Thanks so much for your help guys. I am learning quite a bit dealing with all of this which is a big plus.

I do have one more pretty simple question while we are at it about boosteds reply. The modems I have had in the past from various cable companies have had several ethernet ports in them so I have been thinking of them as kind of a hybrid modem/router. Is this correct? Assuming that is correct, would the Comcast modem I am currently using be considered only a modem because it has a different ip address assigned to each port from Comcast? To be clear, I am not talking about the dynamic ip addresses that routers assign to different devices but actual ip address of the modem itself.

Thanks again!
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August 21, 2014 5:04:41 PM

I'm still not certain what that Non-WiFi Router is. Or isn't. That's a critical question to answer.

In most homes, here is the simplistic wiring diagram:

ComCast (Broadband) Modem --> WiFi Router --> Switch -->All other devices

with all WiFi Devices being "fed" IP Addresses and DataSignals via that WiFi Router. All the 'wired' computers would be "fed" thru that Switch.

A modern wireless (WiFi) router will be able to assign 256 IP addresses on the fly. A wired router, on the other hand, is likely to have a certain specific number of IP addresses it can assign. 8. 16. 64. 128. If you've ever seen a "server closet" in a corporate environment, you'll see tower-racks with kajillion cables streaming downward - those are coming from Wired Routers going to ?? more switches or other end-user devices like PCs or servers.

Your ComCast Modem might be able to address two different routers - as you've indicated. I don't know because I don't know the specific ComCast Modem Number that's installed. You wrote that it was "business class" so I assume that it's possible you DO have two Routers - a wired one and a wireless (WiFi) one. But I just wanted to be certain - it makes a difference to providing a more specific, more likely correct answer.
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August 21, 2014 5:12:08 PM

Ill post more specific information about the devices when I can get into the room in a bit.
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August 21, 2014 5:29:06 PM

(That's fine... I've got supper, kids, wild people, chandelier swinging, etc, for the rest of the evening. I was going to say, "I would have gone from ComCast Modem to Your WiFi THEN to the Non-Wifi Router" instead of your previous option. WiFi Routers can be a bit more 'forgiving' than Wired Routers. I turn off all of this equipment before swapping cables around, by the way. That should NOT hurt anything... not in our oh-so-perfect world... but I'd do cable-swaps with power off and deliberate sequences of powering-on devices.)
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August 22, 2014 8:36:15 PM

Well I locked myself out of the mechanical room last night but I am back with some better info.

The non-wireless router is a Linksys "EtherFast" Model #BEFSR81

Link to it on Amazon -

 fficial&channel=sb&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.73612305,d.cGU,pv.xjs.s.en_US.txy94ARuv8s.O&biw=1920&bih=969&tch=1&ech=1&psi=0Af4U5KyC8bnoATP7YD4AQ.1408763854695.3&sa=X&ei=7wj4U9HLA9S5ogTR5oLQCQ&ved=0CO8DEMQVMAA&prds=hsec:specs" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">https://www.google.com/shopping/product/225618988222296...

The comcast router is a SMC8014.

I think this is the right link but mine is black and does not have the -BIZ suffix.

http://www.speedguide.net/routers/smc-smc8014-biz-busin...


Last night I tried to connect my wireless router to the non-wired one and the connection on everything was lost just as it did when I connected my router in the community room which makes sense because both of those things are basically one in the same. However, I remembered that at one point I was able to connect my old Belkin router up in the community room without that happening. Is it possible that when my new linksys router is connected to the other one that they are both trying to use the same IP address and that is why the connection gets lost? I think my old router used XXX.XXX.0.1 instead of XXX.XXX.1.1 which might explain why that router worked when connected in the community room. I don't know if something like this is even possible but its an idea.

Thanks again guys!!!

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August 22, 2014 8:50:30 PM

Whats that feeling?...it must be....of accomplishment!

After changing my routers ip I plugged it into the other router and the connection was not lost to any of the computers so that must have been at least part of the issue. It seems messy and inefficient to have a router connected to a router when I could just have two routers connected to a modem so I switched it back. Time will tell if this fixed the problem, in the mean time I will try not to get my hopes too high :p 
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Best solution

August 23, 2014 5:23:49 AM

Stab, the two routers indeed should have different IP addresses - just change the 2nd-to-last digit... one can be xxx.xxx.1.1 and the other xxx.xxx.0.1...

Or xxx.xxx.xxx.1 and xxx.xxx.xxx.200

Then plug them into the ComCast modem. It's got 4 ports on it so it MUST have some kind of 'switch' abilities to address multiple IP'd devices.

SUBNETs by the way - if you keep the same Subnet value on both routers, then the computers attached to each should be able to communicate with each other - ie, file sharing, printer sharing.

As I make changes to devices, I usually try to keep a list of those changes, by the way... nothing is 'permanent' so I can always go back to change some setting back - IF I remember what I changed. hint hint...
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August 26, 2014 3:02:00 PM

A big thanks to everyone who helped me through this. I wish I could choose more than one of you for the "solution post". Everything is working great now!
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