Client Case Study: Optimal Wi-Fi Coverage
Client residence is approximately 3400’ SQ/FT over two floors with a full unfinished basement on .40 acres. Residence has approximately 40 smart devices connected to Wi-Fi. An additional 15 smart switches communicate wirelessly (proprietary technology) with a hub device that is wired directly to the router. 20 locations across the property were identified for speed testing. Speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second) both from a download and upload perspective.
Generally accepted in the industry are the following download speed benchmarks:
1 – 5 Mbps is sufficient for checking email and web browsing.
5 – 40 Mbps is sufficient for streaming video content and single player online gaming
40 – 100+ Mbps is sufficient for streaming HD video on multiple devices, multiplayer online gaming, and downloading large files quickly.
The industry benchmark for upload speed is that each HD quality smart camera requires 1 – 3 Mbps to upload video to the cloud.
OPTIONS & OBSERVATIONS
Setup Option 1: The original Wi-Fi setup consisted of a single Comcast Xfinity Gateway (modem/router combination) Device. A single Wi-Fi extender was plugged into an outlet on the first floor on the opposite side of the house from the Gateway device.
Option 1 Observations: 9 of the 20 locations struggled to maintain consistent speed results greater than 10 Mbps. Significant interference from the large chimney in the center of the residence greatly impacted devices being able to maintain a consistent Wi-Fi connection when they were not stationary. Exterior testing locations switched between Wi-Fi and cellular connections frequently. Upload speeds for exterior cameras were sufficient but Wi-Fi connections often were dropped.
Setup Option 2: In this scenario Powerline Extender Wall Plugs (1 port 2 extenders) were used to transmit the internet signal over the electrical circuits to a first-floor room in the residence. A Mesh Hub Access Point (wired connection to the Gateway device over Powerline extenders) and 2 Satellite Access Points were deployed.
Option 2 Observations: 6 of the 20 locations struggled to maintain consistent speed results greater than 5 Mbps. 5 of the 20 locations had speed increases of 200+% over option 1 readings. Handoffs of devices between access points was not seamless and often devices would maintain a connection to an access point that was not the closest one. This often-caused speed readings to be single digits in ½ of the chosen locations. This also caused upload speeds barely acceptable with most locations at 1-3 Mbps.
Setup Option 3: In this scenario the Powerline devices were removed. The Mesh Hub Access Point was deployed in the same room as the Gateway device (connected via ethernet cable). 1 Satellite Access Point was deployed on the second floor at the other end of the residence.
Option 3 Observations: All 20 locations had minimum download speeds consistently over 20 Mbps. 10 of the 20 locations had speed increases of 350+% over option 2 readings. Handoffs of devices between access points was seamless and unnoticed by users both during active phone calls and zoom conferences. Upload speeds increased significantly with all locations returning at least 20 Mbps.
CASE STUDY LESSONS LEARNED:
Wi-Fi signal travels better from the router down and out instead of up and out (second floor placement is better than first floor or basement placement)
Access points are preferred over extenders. Extenders routinely cut speeds in half before broadcasting the Wi-Fi signal.
In most residences the fewer access points the better.