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New to 5ghz


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#1 mfc90125

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 03:29 PM

Hello,

 

Just traded up for the newest Comcast router.  I live in a two-story (with the Internet on one end of the house), and getting Internet to all parts has been a challenge.  It has the dual band setup, so I have these questions:

1. I did change the SSID and password, but it asked me to choose between N/AC antennas.  Should I limit the 5ghz to just AC (for my Firestick and Chromecast), and set up everything else (Harmony Smart Hub which only seems to like 2.4, old Windows laptop) to 2.4?

2. I also have a home wiring system, and have been running as many wired connections to my devices as possible through a DLink Green switch and Gigabit boxes where I have multiple connections.  All of my wiring is Cat5, including the wiring leading from the wall.  To ensure I'm getting the fastest wired speeds possible, do I need to upgrade any of the wiring from the wall to the devices?

3. I would like to offer my friends/guests access to the 2.4 environment without them being able to access any network folders.  How do I set up the modem so that everyone only sees the 2.4 and has access to Internet only?

4. Finally, if I'm able to do #3, I'd love to hide the 5ghz entirely, and only grant specific devices access to it. Is that easy to accomplish?

 

Thanks for everyone's help in advance!

 

Matt



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#2 Trikein

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 04:32 PM

1. Yes, if possible. The hangup I see is the smart hub pushing commands to the Firestick when on different wireless CPUs. 

 

2. Is its CAT5 or CAT5e? CAT5 will limit you to 100Mbps, so if your ISP or LAN is faster then that, then I suggest upgrade. If you have CAT5e, then upgrade to CAT6 is not important.

 

3.What model gateway/router/modem do you have? Most routers will have guest networks that restrict access to your network(inTRAnet) and only allow internet. Some ISP disable these features in the firmware however. 

 

4. Accomplish-able, but not recommended. Hiding your SSID can cause some devices difficulty connecting to the network and can cause other networks around you to have problems as they broadcast over a wifi network they can't see. What is your goal in hiding it? Security? Simplifying  the user experience?



#3 smax013

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 05:23 PM

The hangup I see is the smart hub pushing commands to the Firestick when on different wireless CPUs.


I don't see any issue with that. Both wifi "networks" will be operating on the same local network, so there should be no issues that I can think of, but maybe I am missing something.

#4 smax013

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:05 PM

Hello,
 
Just traded up for the newest Comcast router.  I live in a two-story (with the Internet on one end of the house), and getting Internet to all parts has been a challenge.  It has the dual band setup, so I have these questions:


It is my understanding the range of the build in WiFi access point on Comcast modem/routers generally is not that great. This is has also been my experience and I have had at least one Comcast customer service person agree. As a result, I personally don't use the WiFi built into my Comcast modem/router. I have two separate routers...one for my use and the other supplies a network for close family to use and one for guests to use. Both have better range than the Comcast modem/router. Like you, my routers are at one end of my house (the back end). If you do go with a third-party router, you can put the Comcast modem/router into "bridge mode" that will turn off the router and WiFi functionality on the modem/router and then use the third-party router.

1. I did change the SSID and password, but it asked me to choose between N/AC antennas.  Should I limit the 5ghz to just AC (for my Firestick and Chromecast), and set up everything else (Harmony Smart Hub which only seems to like 2.4, old Windows laptop) to 2.4?


That is kind of up to you and your use. It will depend on what devices you have that can use 802.11ac, 802.11n, etc. Generally, the 2.4 GHz band will have better range, but has higher chance for interference and cannot attain the speeds of 802.11ac running on 5 GHz. 5GHz will generally have less interference, but will have more trouble getting the signal through obstacles (i.e. walls, especially masonry wall, etc). So, the real question is do you have an 802.11n devices that don't work well on the 2.4 GHz band due to interference. If so, then you might want the 5 GHz band to use the 802.11n chipset/speeds rather than 802.11ac...unless you really have devices that can take advantage of the speed/throughput increase of 802.11ac. Tthis will generally be something like a laptop that is transferring data to another computer that is connected by 802.11ac or Gigabit ethernet...things like a Firestick or Chromecast will generally not benefit that much from 802.11ac other than maybe better range as a Firestick or Chromecast is generally bottlenecked by the speed of your Internet connection. And unless you have an Internet connection that is significantly faster than 100 Mbps, it will be your bottleneck for most things.

2. I also have a home wiring system, and have been running as many wired connections to my devices as possible through a DLink Green switch and Gigabit boxes where I have multiple connections.  All of my wiring is Cat5, including the wiring leading from the wall.  To ensure I'm getting the fastest wired speeds possible, do I need to upgrade any of the wiring from the wall to the devices?


It depends on the devices you have and the things you do with those devices. Only if the device itself is capable of Gigabit ethernet (i.e. has a Gigabit port) AND you use that device for things that can take advantage of those Gigabit speed would you then potentially be interested in considering upgrading to Cat5e or Cat6 cabling. And note that ALL cables and network devices (switches, routers, etc) the send data between two Gigabit devices (or between a WiFi device capable of more than 100 Mbps and a Gigabit device or two WiFi devices capable of more than 100 Mbps) would need to be Gigabit compatible. A cable in the wall that is only Cat5 or a FastEthernet (100 Mbps) network switch (either stand alone or built into a router) would be your bottleneck making using Cat5e or Cat6 cables else where a waste. And generally, the only function that benefits from Gigabit is transferring files across your local network between computers. This is because generally most US Internet connections are still less than 100 Mbps and even if you do have a faster connections, odds are it will not be that much faster than 100 Mbps. Unless you are lucky enough have Google Fiber potentially with 1 Gbps or something similar, odds are you are bottlenecked by your Internet connection.

FWIW, I have a Comcast connection that typically gets me at least 75 Mbps. I do use either Cat5e or Cat6 cables throughout my network, but some are Cat5 patch cables. All of my network switches are Gigabit switches. The reason for this is that I have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device and all my computers are Gigabit compatible. As a result, I do a fair amount of transferring data from my computer to and from the NAS, including backing up over the network to the NAS. These files transfers can benefit from the Gigabit speeds. All my other functions (browsing the web, checking email, gaming, watching streaming video, listening to either local or streamed music, etc) don't benefit at all from the Gigabit speeds, so technically any device that I ONLY use for those functions (my TiVo, my Apple TV, my Roku, etc) would be fine with Cat5 cables connecting them to my local network.

3. I would like to offer my friends/guests access to the 2.4 environment without them being able to access any network folders.  How do I set up the modem so that everyone only sees the 2.4 and has access to Internet only?


As previously noted by Trikein, unless your router has a guest network function, you will not be able to hide your local network from friends/guest that connect to your wifi network. And I don't believe that any of Comcast's devices do (although you have a newer model than me if it has 802.11ac capability). This is generally another argument as to why to get a third-party router. These days, many third-party routers will have a guest network function.

4. Finally, if I'm able to do #3, I'd love to hide the 5ghz entirely, and only grant specific devices access to it. Is that easy to accomplish?
 
Thanks for everyone's help in advance!
 
Matt


Hiding a network SSID is done by turning off the "Broadcast Network Name (SSID)" function (that is how it is named on my Comcast modem/router, but it could be something similar but different).

Granting only specific devices access to the network is called MAC (note: Note Mac as in Macintosh computers, but as in MAC, or media access control, address) filtering. What you essentially are doing is setting up your WiFi network to only allow connections from devices that have their MAC addresses pre-approved.

As noted by Trikein, this can sometimes create more problems than it really helps. Hiding an SSID will not deter someone serious about finding your network as there are still ways to see the network SSID even if you are not broadcasting it. And MAC filters will not stop someone serious about trying to get into your network. As a result, I personally don't both with either anymore. The best thing to do is setup a good password while using WPA2 encryption for your WiFi network.

#5 technonymous

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 07:56 AM

I wouldn't force N on the 5Ghz only. WiFI N works both on 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz.band. To get faster speeds internet or local, then everything needs to be Gigabit capable. Wiring atleast cat5e or better. As well as NIC, Switches, Modem all need to Gigabit. Working with clients computers usually this is the problem with a mix of old with the new. Everything being Gigabit and the modem itself was still using a 10/100 WAN uplink port. Comcast speeds was limited to 50-60Mgbit. This will be a bottle neck for those on the Comcast extreme internet speed tier. The XB3 router/modem combo Comcast leases is a ok unit. However, it's a big clunky thing. Not a lot of features you see with a AC routers. It has it's downsides like the USB port on the back is not functional and it likely doesn't have beam forming technology. One of the reasons why I put mine into a Bridged mode. It does have a telephony (voip) phone that comes with triple play packages. Another downside with that is Comcast doesn't give you a battery backup for the unit. Kind of disappointing considering voip 9/11 service charges. In a the event of a power outage you can't make a emergency phone call without the battery backup. ::::FACEPALM::: Comcast and their infinite wisdom is astounding.



#6 smax013

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 09:46 AM

Another downside with that is Comcast doesn't give you a battery backup for the unit. Kind of disappointing considering voip 9/11 service charges. In a the event of a power outage you can't make a emergency phone call without the battery backup. ::::FACEPALM::: Comcast and their infinite wisdom is astounding.


It is called "being cheap"...or maybe "nickel-and-diming" as you can buy a battery from them (I believe you still can) or you can buy a battery from like Amazon. When I first encountered this with my dad's new modem several years ago (at that time, the modem that Comcast had provided me came with a battery), it pissed me off. When I re-activated my Comcast service (I had moved), the new modem had no battery. Now, however, I consider it less of an issue as I use a number UPS devices for my computer equipment and electronics. I have one UPS that is dedicated to the modem, my routers, my third-party VOIP device, and a base station for a cordless phone (a couple printers plug into the surge only plugs on the UPS).

#7 Wand3r3r

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 10:16 AM

"In a the event of a power outage you can't make a emergency phone call without the battery backup."

 

If the power outage affects the local CO you won't be able to make a call either. One point of failover doesn't supplement the rest of the single points of failure.


Edited by Wand3r3r, 13 July 2016 - 10:16 AM.


#8 Trikein

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 10:28 AM

I used to work for Cox, a ISP simular to Comcast, and IMO getting rid of the battery(default) actually helped overall. First, the batteries were only included because a FCC mandate that made all major telecommunication include them for e911 services. This lead many to buy and include the cheapest batteries available, refurbishing them as they went. Cheap batteries could cause minute fluctuation in the power, causing transmit errors with the cable modem inside. In addition, the batteries made resetting the units harder, having to either take out the battery or use a tiny reset button. Furthermore, the batteries purpose, to provide service in a "emergency", did not work well. Any power outage larger then a few streets would cut power to the ISP's node, stopping the MTA from working anyway. The only time it would serve a purpose is a house, or maybe street power outage, which aren't common for most. Last, the battery serves as a failure point. Granted, the ISP didn't switch for any of these reasons, they did it to save money, but I like to look on the bright side.  :cherry:



#9 technonymous

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 05:22 PM

"In a the event of a power outage you can't make a emergency phone call without the battery backup."

 

If the power outage affects the local CO you won't be able to make a call either. One point of failover doesn't supplement the rest of the single points of failure.

That is true. However, Many systems have a backup generator that immediately kicks in ran by diesel or propane. IE: If the grid power goes down to a cell tower it's propane generator will kick in. Many times the power gone out to my home for a 8 hour period and I still had cell service. It's just irritating that they offer VOIP & 911 without telling the customer you might want to get a battery. Majority of the customers have no clue about that techy stuff. Till one day they need to call out to 911 on a stormy night. That has happen to me personally relying upon that 911 service and got no phone. Luckily I had cell service. That is another reason to keep a old cell phone around even if you don't pay for cell service. All 911 call will go out on a cellphone regardless if they have service activated on it or not.



#10 Trikein

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 05:43 PM

Even though many cellular systems have batteries and generators, this is not how most cable providers work for most of their footprint. Most cable providers now use packet-switch technology(VOIP) which require the CMTS to be online for service. Some providers still use circuit switch(POTS) or use it for some of their network, which is easier to power through secondary efforts. Basically if your cable internet goes down during a power outage, so will your phone. I agree that customer education is very important, but usually the people selling the service know very little about how it works. Technical support "should" know better, but with bottom line outsourcing, Tier 1 will usually only know what's printed in their script.


Edited by Trikein, 13 July 2016 - 05:48 PM.


#11 mfc90125

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 10:31 PM

Thank you to everyone who replied to this post - you've given me a lot to think about, especially in restricting access and whether Comcast's new router is the way to go.  While on that subject, can anyone recommend a good modem and separate router?  I remember earlier attempts to use my own equipment years ago was hampered by conflicts between the devices.  Friends are using the ASUS RT-AC66R router.

 

One more thing: how do I know what cabling I have?  I looked on the side of the exposed wire and couldn't read anything that indicated whether it was 5 or 5e.



#12 smax013

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 10:58 PM

Thank you to everyone who replied to this post - you've given me a lot to think about, especially in restricting access and whether Comcast's new router is the way to go.  While on that subject, can anyone recommend a good modem and separate router?  I remember earlier attempts to use my own equipment years ago was hampered by conflicts between the devices.  Friends are using the ASUS RT-AC66R router.


If you want to buy your own modem, then Comcast has a list of "approved" and "tested" modems. It is located here:

http://mydeviceinfo.xfinity.com

Ideally pick on with three stars (means more extensive testing was done), but having only one star should still be fine.

The only this to be careful of is whether or not you have telephone service through Comcast. If so, then you need to get one of the modems with the telephone capability included. As far as I can tell, there is only one such "approved" telephony (that at least has telephony in the name) modem/gateway listed that is available for retail purchase and that I could actually find somewhere to buy (on Amazon) and that is this one:

http://mydeviceinfo.xfinity.com/device.php?devid=421

You can find it on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NR1EHP8/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_16?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

If you don't have their telephone service, then you will have a lot more options.

Of course, you could keep the gateway that you have an just put it into "bridge" mode (or not) and then hook up a third party router. If you put it into "bridge" mode, then it will no longer act as a router/switch/access point (i.e. only the third party router can/should be connected to it and the Comcast's gateway's WiFi will be turned off). If you don't put it into "bridge" mode, then it will still act as a router and you will effective have a double NAT router setup, which will still work (that is how I am setup at the moment as this allows me to hook up some devices that I don't want "behind" my third party router, such as Vonage device, and a second third party router that I use for close family WiFi network and my "true" guest network...keeps them completely separate from my local/WiFi network).

As to which router, that will at a minimum depend on what features you want and how much you want to spend.

One of my routers (my "guest" one) that I use is an Asus RT-AC68U and it has worked well for my purposes. I did want an AC router and I liked the added security features. But, since I don't use it as my primary router (I use an Airport Extreme for that), I don't use some of the features like the ability to mount an external drive and access it locally or anywhere from the Internet.
 

One more thing: how do I know what cabling I have?  I looked on the side of the exposed wire and couldn't read anything that indicated whether it was 5 or 5e.


There should be printed/stamped lettering periodically along the length of the Ethernet cable. That lettering should somewhere say "CATxx" where the "xx" will be either "5", "5e", or "6". You might have to look further down the cable, if you can. Some cabling will have the same thing on it every 6 inches or so. Others might have it every couple of feet.

Edited by smax013, 29 July 2016 - 11:00 PM.


#13 Trikein

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 01:42 AM

+1 one everything smax013 said. The only thing I would caveat is:

 

"If so, then you need to get one of the modems with the telephone capability included."

 

Technically you don't absolutely have to use a phone modem for your internet. Comcast can assign the phone service to one modem (eMTA) and the internet to another modem. Most people just get 1 unit that combines both, but this limits your options. Plus side is with separate phone modem and internet modem you have more choices what internet modem you use. Down side is splitting the signal between two modems means each modem only gets half the signal compared to if you used a combo unit. This can be a issue with installs that have a low cable signal from the start. If you do use your phone modem for internet, I would suggest getting a non gateway version of one. Bridging a gateway can be problematic depending on the gateway. I have seem some still broadcast a broken wifi signal even when bridged, conflicting with the Wifi of the router next to it. 

 

cat53-vs-ca6.png

 

As for the ethernet wires, if there are no physical markers on the wire, try connecting it to a 10/100/1000 device and see if it can connect at 1000Mbps. If so that rules out CAT5. The main difference between CAT5e and CAT6 is a plastic seperator that runs through the center conduit. I have a feeling your wiring is CAT5e but I am curious about when you said:

 

"All of my wiring is Cat5, including the wiring leading from the wall"     Do you have ethernet outlets? If so, do you know anything about the switch or patch panel that connects your ethernet outlets together? That also needs to be 10/100/1000 capable for optimal wired speeds. 


Edited by Trikein, 30 July 2016 - 01:51 AM.





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