Network Advice (esp Router)

First, what a great resource this place is. Such a wealth of info. Thank you all.

Situation: I rent 3 floors of a 4-story brownstone. I have “1 gig” service from my cable provider (Spectrum)–940/40. It’s an OLD brownstone but the owner did a reno years ago and, bless him, he wired it with cat 5e, all terminate in the basement where there’s a patch panel. (I have access to the basement.) The cable modem and Spectrum provided router currently live on the 3rd (top) floor. I used one of the LAN ports on the wifi router to connect to the ethernet drop in the office, which in turn connects to a Netgear unmanaged gigabit switch in the basement. From there the switch distributes to the patch panel and lights up the rest of our floors. In addition to the Spectrum wifi router, I have an Orbi mesh system (router + satellite) on Floors 1 and 2 for wireless coverage. The Orbi had been on an ethernet backhaul, but it was acting odd, so I ditched that. This overall setup is mediocre at best (which is more than I can say for my networking skill/knowledge). The main problems I experience are dropouts during WebEx/Zoom calls and basic file transfers to my office while WFH. What I want is something rock solid in terms of reliability and stability. I don’t want to worry about dropping off of webexes. (This happens even when hardwired into the Spectrum router.) Otherwise, my needs are just like most families: kids remote schooling, streaming movies, wife part-time WFH, son’s PS4, Amazon Alexa, Philips Hue, etc. I’d like to add cameras at some point but that is not a big consideration now. We’re renting so I need to be able to rip this stuff out.

I am pretty much set on a Unifi switch with PoE (either 16 or 24) and maybe 2 Unifi APs, but where I’m really having problems is the router aspect. I’m not loving the reviews of the Unifi routers, but I do love the centralized management they offer because while I love learning about this stuff, I am really green and just don’t have the time to screw it all up with Board meetings on the line. I’m willing to roll up my sleeves but I can’t learn how to program a router using CLI from the ground up. So I want something pretty easy to set up that will allow me to see what’s going on and provide much higher quality for videoconferencing.

Sorry for the long post. TL; DR – Network newb enthusiast wants MUCH better network but is spooked by reports of Unifi routers. Is there another routing solution that is much better than consumer-grade/mesh but still easy to set up and use for my use case above?

It’s strange that you are experiencing dropouts when connected via ethernet, in your shoes I would try to identify what the cause of this is, else you are likely to have the same outcome after splashing the cash.

I would check your cabling is ok, I would buy a tester first.

Maybe there are settings in your current router you can look at tweaking, perhaps it’s faulty and you can swap it out.

As you are renting I would buy as little kit as possible.

However if you are still hell bent, for your needs I’d suspect that Unifi kit will work for you. Their routers seem to lack advanced features but it still works :slight_smile: I don’t use Unifi but I see the appeal of a single common UI.

Thanks so much for the reply. Agree on the dropout issue. I’m guessing that the ISP provided router is lousy. It’s also almost completely locked down so I can’t make any settings changes and can see only the most basic info on my network. Typical heavy handed cable provider. I’m wondering if maybe the switch implementation on the router is screwed up.

I have confirmed that the cabling is ok but thanks for the reminder because I have indeed run into some bad ones. As potential speeds increase, bad cables become a more common and insidious problem.

I suppose I could swap out the ISP’s modem temporarily and try to use the Orbi exclusively, but I’m not convinced that it’s Ethernet backhaul is 100% reliable.

And I’ll admit it, I like new and shiny stuff.

Not getting into your own router, dude I wouldn’t like that !

What I’d do is a speed test @ Internet Speed Test | the delta between unloaded and loaded speeds indicates your bufferbloat, as a gauge mine is 10ms after fixing my bufferbloat. This might be a cause for your video calls dropping, I think another poster said they had similar issues.

If you have a bufferbloat then I’d call your ISP and tell them to sort it out.

Then go out and buy a new router, you’ve got some North Korean malarkey going on !

I have spectrum and all I can say is I have never looked back after ditching their router. My ancient router ran better than the one that gave me. I would suggest at a minimum even if for an experiment. Go buy a $59 router then get a modem only solution. I bet you will be happier…

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Would you replace their modem too? They gave me a modem, the UBEE EU2251, and a separate wifi router, a Sagemcom SAC2V2. Apparently, they will permit BYO modem (this is DOCSIS 3.1 if that matters).

As long as you have a modem separate from the router vs a combo box I would keep their modem. I run at full line speed with their modem and an edge router x. With their combo I could never get full line speed.

Also, a possible tip. If you turn in their WiFi router you may save a few $$ per month. They are sleazy and don’t charge for the modem but if you have what they call spectrum WiFi they hit you with a few bucks… might be worth asking the question.

You’re absolutely right. They charge 5 bucks. I’ll probably keep it just in case I need to put the network back together if I need them to roll a truck for something but the principle bugs me for the sleaze factor alone.

Meanwhile I’m still really wrestling with this router decision. I need to be honest with myself. I love this stuff but I’m a newb with routers so I need easy.

If you need easy and you don’t plan any advanced vpn things possibly a usg or rather a dream machine could be a good option.

I like my edge router works great. The web interface is reasonable in regards to ease of use. Plus it is only like $59. So it was a great place for me to start and learn.

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