"Impossible" home networking mission - powerline? - HELP!!


After trying most things and spending money like water, I still cannot get our home network to be adequate and I am out of options - hope someone can help.

> We rent our house (so it makes no sense to splash out getting Cat 6 installed)
> It's a very old house with very thick walls, thick floors, large rooms
> The actual internal ingress (from the service provider) is into the home office, which is on the top floor of the house. This is perfect for the workstation I use up there, but means that the wireless router is a long way from the living floor where we need to have good, fast wifi
> So I can't use a wired ethernet (no wire) and wifi doesn't carry well enough
> The house configuration is a living floor on the 2nd floor, electric switchboard on the ground floor, bedrooms on the 3rd floor, office (where the internet connection comes in) on the 4th floor
> The big challenge is to get fast reliable wifi on the second floor, when there is no wire from 2nd to 4th and wifi doesn't work

I have tried a lot of things:

1. Tried using two 100MBit/s Netgear routers "bouncing" signal to each other (Wireless Repeating Function). Not ideal as security is small and speed was slow (<10MBit/s) but at least it worked. However these routers had to get pensioned off when we put gigabit ethernet in the office - and the Netgear replacements (a) still have the security limitations with wireless repeating, (b) anyway see to do a worse job of repeating.

2. Tried buying Netgear directional high-gain antennas and directing the signal point to point to a second router - didn't work at all.

3. Tried Powerline (this was in 2008). It sort-of worked but was unreliable and dog slow. I think this is probably not helped by the fact that this building is OLD, most of the wiring is OLD, and anyway the electrical path would take the signal from the 4th floor, down some very old wiring to the ground floor, across a very old switchboard, and back up to the second floor... it's not quite the same as a modern house with modern wiring.

4. Most recently tried using Netgear's Wireless Network Extender. Again, it sort of works, but it's NOT fast at all. In addition there are times when some of our computers using the extension segment of the network are unable to connect - they can still see 3-4 bars of signal, but they cannot get on the network. Appears to be an issue relating to gateway, or DNS, not sure. But I would say about 1 day in 3, when I come home, my wife tells me that the "internet is off".


I had a few thoughts but no idea if any of this is any more likely to work:

Have powerline devices improved since 2008? Which is the best? Keeping in mind I am NOT bothered about trying to get 500Mbit/s working, for me I need the device which is best at working at a reasonable speed over crappy old wiring and a long distance, rather than super-fast on modern home wiring. I am pre-disposed against Netgear just because I feel I've spent SO much trying to get a Netgear solution to work - they've had enough of my money.

[ii] Is there a better way to "bounce" wifi through the house with shorter bounces, so that there is less loss for each bounce?

That's about all I can think of. Any help much appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

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More about impossible home networking mission powerline help
  1. can you list the model numbers of the network devices you have on-hand?

    powerline adapter have become better and more powerful.
    but I am not sure if it will do the job because of the length of the electrical wires since you only got 10Mbps on the old once.

    also do you have coax cable running through out the house?
  2. Sure (and thanks for your help).

    My previous config (I still have the devices) was 2 x Netgear WNR834Bv2 wireless routers. One was connected to my internet cable model (from my SP) and configured for Wireless Repeating Function as the base station, the other was two floors away high on a bookcase and was configured as a wireless repeater. This wasn't fast, but it worked, and it was stable.

    Now in the house I have the following setup:

    - "Main" router (connected to internet cable model) is a Netgear N750 (aka WNDR4000) gigabit ethernet router

    - To achieve the wifi bounce, I am using a Netgear WN3000RP wireless repeater. This 'appears' to be working and, to be fair, most of the time we have at least basic connectivity. However to make it stable I had to assign it a static IP address, and we have unexplained instances where network access appears simply to stop despite (a) plenty of wifi signal, (b) the repeater being accessible via a wireline network connection and appearing to be functioning normally, and (c) some of the wireless connected computers working fine. For example, two nights ago, my wife's Mac continued to work, but sitting 6ft away from her using my Tosh laptop it decided it could no longer connect and absolutely would not be persuaded otherwise.

    - In addition I am still using an old Netgear WGPS606 wireless printer server. This is because our printer sits in the middle of the house and, again, hard to get network there. Since this is an old device, it only support TKIP (not AES) and it does not support 'n'. As a consequence I have the N750 set to "Up to 54MBps" - sadly, the slowest option - and we are using TKIP despite the performance degradation.

    - As an aside, for reasons I won't bore you with, I have an ADDITIONAL Netgear N750 router which is unused and sitting in a box - I had a 'plan' which involved replicating my original setup using gigabit routers, but (a) no point of course because the repeating function only works on slowest speed, and (b) anyway it didn't work as well as the old routers!! (I felt good about the money I spent that day...!)

    That's it. I had a bunch of powerline kit but I dumped it all (gave to a friend) because it didn't work anyway.

    One option: if you tell me that powerline is a lot better now, that still might be the answer for me. Honestly if I could get 10Mbit/s stable, that would be OK. 20Mbit/s would be perfect. We use our computers intensively at home but we are not a WLAN multimedia household streaming HD movies from our server! All we want is for the internet to be accessible all over the house and be reliable. So I wonder whether the latest 500MB powerline technology would at least be able to squeeze 10-20MB out of our creaking old electrical wires... what do you think?

    Thanks again

  3. Emerald said:
    can you list the model numbers of the network devices you have on-hand?

    powerline adapter have become better and more powerful.
    but I am not sure if it will do the job because of the length of the electrical wires since you only got 10Mbps on the old once.

    also do you have coax cable running through out the house?

    PS - sorry - we DO have coax running through the floors, it delivers our TV, our phone, and our 100MBit/s broadband internet. Is it also possible to use out-of-band on this cable for internet? What devices does one need?
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