Wifi Woes

Home Wifi: Enterprise equipment required

Up until a little over 6 months ago, my home wifi network was terrible.  Which is a sad, sad admission considering I’m an IT Professional.  My access point needed to be rebooted almost once a week, and on top of that, reception in certain areas of my house was just terrible.

Relative XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1865/

I attempted to remedy my wifi situation by adding additional access points, which certainly increased the coverage footprint of the Wifi Network.  However, it was ultimately a complete failure.  My devices would not seamlessly switch to the strongest signal, requiring me to turn off, then on, wifi on my device when the signal was low.  Best of all, I now had 3 access points to reboot on a weekly basis, yay!  After messing around with various wireless and network settings over the course of a few weeks, I finally gave up.  I had exhausted all of the options w/ my existing consumer equipment… which, by the way, was not cheap or poorly rated hardware.  I was using an ASUS RT-AC66U ($109 at the time this was written), and a couple Buffalo WZR-HP-G450H’s (Now discontinued, but was $95).

Having completely given up on my existing hardware, I decided to venture into the commercial/enterprise wifi space for equipment.  I settled on the Ubiquiti UniFi UAP-AC-LR ($93 at the time this was written) due to how cheap it is, and the plethora of positive reviews you can find on the web.  I personally, have been using an Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite as my main home router for a couple years and have been very impressed with it’s reliability, feature set, and cost.  So I figured, I should at least try their wifi equipment.  Boy, I was not disappointed.

With just one access point, in my basement of all places, the entire house, including the front porch, garage, and the 3rd floor, all have wifi coverage.  Matter of fact, I now have the opposite problem… The wifi signal reaches so far outside of the house that some devices can see the network but don’t have a strong enough wifi radio to reach back to the access point.  I’ve had to turn down the transmit power of the access point so that devices drop off the network when they’re too far away to transmit back.  Reliability is excellent as well.  So far, I have never had to reboot the access point to correct wifi connectivity problems.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to using consumer grade equipment.

Anyway, I wrote all of this to say that for those of you that have been plagued with dismal wifi in your own home, you might want to take a look at Ubiquiti’s line of enterprise access points.  They’re cheap, and the setup is fairly simple now that Ubiquiti has introduced an “easy setup” process via their iOS or Android app.

If you want to read an in-depth review of the UniFi access points, I highly recommend reading ArsTechnica’s review.  It’s a couple years old now, but has a ton of information.