Bud has a two-story condo, but his WiFi is a dead spot. He tried an extender, but it didn't do anything. Can he use a mesh system? Leo says it probably won't work. The garage probably has a firewall that has metal in it, which is treating his garage like a faraday cage. So a mesh router won't work. But there's a better way to solve it ... powerline networking. TPLink makes devices that you plug into your AC on one end and one in your garage. As long as there isn't a fuse box or a junction box in between, you can use your electrical grid as a data network as well as for electricity.
Paul is upgrading his eero mesh router in favor of either the Pro 6 or 6 series. Thoughts? Leo says that the difference is that the Pro 6 is tri-band, while the regular 6 is dual-band. So the Pro 6 gives you a second 5 GHz band. If you use a lot of devices, that can be beneficial. The 6e, though, is on the horizon, and that will give you a fourth band. So a new series 6 may be 6e capable, though it may not be turned on. So it could be worth it to wait until after CES if you can.
Victoria wants to know about WiFi extenders. Leo says that WiFi extenders help give better coverage in the home. WiFi doesn't travel well through walls and people. So the best way to improve WiFi is to place a router up higher in the house. Like on a shelf. It's also a good idea to use a router that is dual-band. Let smart devices use the 2.4 band, while you use the 5.0 band. A Mesh WiFi router will also help solve the problem because users can add satellites that can expand a mesh network and improve the coverage.
Charles wants to know if he should upgrade to a WiFi 6 mesh router. Leo says if you want to future proof, it may be a good idea, but he won't get more than 10% better performance. And it's not so much the devices are faster, but that WiFi 6 networks are better at managing all the devices that can connect to the network. Up to 73 of them. And most of the devices aren't WiFi 6 compatible. And WiFi 6e is coming quickly, followed by WiFi 7. So it's OK to skip a generation.
Richard wants to connect his smart plugs to his Google Nest mesh router. But they aren't connecting. Leo says that Google Nest Mesh is a dual-band / tri-band and the smart plugs are looking for just 2.4 GHz. It's possible that they have mistakenly attached to the 5 GHz band because its signal may be stronger. Some routers allow you to turn that radio off and the plugs should connect. Once it's paired, you can then turn the 5 GHz band back on.
Pam just bought a house in Arizona and the area doesn't have the best internet service. How can she improve the speed? Leo says most have two choices ... the phone company or the cable company. Anything else is wireless. T-Mobile is offering cellular internet home access, though. It's a bit more expensive, but if her cellular is good in the area, it's an option. WISP is an option. But the newest, hottest option is Elon Musk's Starlink service. But it's not cheap. $99 a month plus $500 for equipment. She will need a clear view of the entire sky for it to work.
Richard wants to know how different a mesh network is from a network extender. Leo says that extenders repeat the signal and send it along the way. So the bandwidth gets cut in half because it's communicating half the time. Mesh, by contrast, has its own back channel to talk to the router and satellite units. Leo says it's a little primitive, but he could have two of the same wifi routers with the same SSID and password, and they could hand off the signal to each other. But the Netgear Orbi Mesh router is the better option. And it uses WiFi6.
Eric recently upgraded his internet for GB access. But he's having issues with where the network terminal is located. He has his own wifi router but the problem is the wall separating the optical router. So he had to buy a long ethernet cable in order to move the router to where he can get a good connection. But it slows him down. Leo says that powerline networking is an option, but the speed will drop about the same. It's also dependent on the quality of wiring. MOCA is possible, or wireless over cable. It's essentially Ethernet over coax. And it's pretty fast.
JC's Asus router is no longer supported by the company. What router should he buy? Leo says he doesn't really have to buy a new router. He can install DDWRT's firmware on it and then keep that router up to date. The chatroom recommends going to asus-wrtmerlin.net for a custom firmware for the Asus router.
But if he wants a new one, Leo recommends getting a mesh router, especially for a house as large as JC's (2500 sq ft). A base station and a beacon would be good. Leo's favorite is Eero.
Peter gets a Gig up and down with Fiber. Leo says he probably doesn't get that all the time. Would he get that with WiFi and a mesh router? Leo says if all devices are WiFi 6, maybe. But everything has to be wifi compatible. The thing is, WiFi 6e is right around the corner, so it's probably a good idea to wait. Leo had the Orbi with WiFi 6 and it was only 10% faster. Not really worth the extra expense.