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Thread: Home internet and wi-fi overhaul

  1. #1
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Home internet and wi-fi overhaul

    It's time to evaluate our options with home internet service. We've had DSL for many years and are still renting a wi-fi router from the phone company, which has always struck me as a bad deal. I'd rather pay $XXX up front to purchase than rent something for $X per month indefinitely.

    I'd rather not pester you guys with a hundred questions if I can educate myself. I know I can start googling, but I thought maybe some of you tech pros or serious hobbyists could point me in a useful direction.

    Can anyone suggest a website or two where I could read and learn about the latest in home internet service options and wi-fi routers? I would much rather get information from independent sources that aren't trying to sell me the products and services on their site.

    Topics of interest to me:

    Cable vs. DSL vs. something else?

    One physical connection point in the house (what we have currently) vs. plug in anywhere (such as with cable internet, which we've had previously, where we could plug into any cable jack in the house).

    Outlet network boxes (if that's the right term for those boxes you plug network cables into in your power outlets) vs. other options such as "better" wi-fi or options I may not know about.

    Modern wi-fi routers that let you choose and change your own passwords, set up a guest network, and whatever else I don't know about. Recently a couple visitors to our home seemed shocked when I went upstairs to copy the password from the manufacturer's label on the router to give to them so they could use our wi-fi. "You don't have a guest network?! You canít change the password?!"

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I used to use dslreports.com. Not sure if they're still the go-to, but I also haven't heard of them turning evil.

    AFAIK, the two real options for high speed are cable and fiber. Fiber's pretty limited (FiOS only made it to certain parts of West LA and it hasn't expanded in nearly a decade) but is easily the fastest. Cable's still pretty quick (I usually get 120-130mbps). DSL looks like it might have gotten better than when I had it, but I still see the maximum being 120mbps, and that's only if you're within 2,000 feet of the switch. I struggled to get above 3mbps when I had it at about a mile from the switch.

    I honestly have no idea if I can plug my cable modem into any cable outlet, I haven't tried, so no idea there.

    For Wi-Fi, if you can afford it it seems like the newer Mesh Networks are the way to go. You have one main router and then repeaters that all run on the same SSID, so it seamlessly transitions between them as you move through the house. I really want to get that, but haven't been able to justify it when my non mesh repeater works well enough (it has a different SSID, so sometimes devices don't want to switch over as we move and just lose a reliable connection and you have to manually intervene). If you don't have coverage worries, then a decent router isn't too expensive. I'm using this one, which runs for about $85 and has been working great for me for a while now: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Also, you may be able to change your password on the rented router, you probably just need to look up the manual for that model online, and it's either running the default admin password (in which case you *definitely* want to change it, even if your ISP balks) or you can find out how to reset it to the default and then setup your own. It's still likely cheaper in the long run to buy your own, I've had mine for a little over two years now, so if they're charging more than $4 a month this one would have paid for itself by now. Fair warning, though, it does light up like a Christmas tree so hopefully you can find somewhere to put it out of the line of sight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    (such as with cable internet, which we've had previously...
    what happened there? Why'd you switch back to DSL?

    Setting up Wi-Fi passwords should be easy; just type in the IP address in a browser and go through the options at pop up.
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    Corvette Enthusiast Kchrpm's Avatar
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    I like the network management app that you can use with Google OnHub and WiFi routers, but there isn't a desktop version so it requires a smartphone or tablet to set up.

  5. #5
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Thanks Tom. Thanks for the router recommendation.

    Quote Originally Posted by balki
    Why'd you switch back to DSL?
    Cost savings, at the time. This was back when our kids were very young. We only had one computer in the house, no smart phones or Netflix or Roku back then, and DSL was maybe half the cost of cable, or less. I don't remember the details now, but it made sense at the time.

    Setting up Wi-Fi passwords should be easy; just type in the IP address in a browser and go through the options at pop up.
    Thanks balki. I'll give that a try, even though I figure it's time to replace our old router with something else.

  6. #6
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kchrpm
    it requires a smartphone or tablet to set up
    Not a problem now, and somewhat expected since a college buddy recently visited and told me he can instantly turn off the wi-fi in his house from his smart phone if his kids don't do their chores or whatever.

    Also, I saw a meme somewhere that showed an unhappy child. The text something like "Want today's wi-fi password? Finish your homework and do all your chores".

  7. #7
    Member Member 21Kid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Not a problem now, and somewhat expected since a college buddy recently visited and told me he can instantly turn off the wi-fi in his house from his smart phone if his kids don't do their chores or whatever.

    Also, I saw a meme somewhere that showed an unhappy child. The text something like "Want today's wi-fi password? Finish your homework and do all your chores".
    That's exactly what I use Google wifi for. You can set up schedules and instantly pause it if you want. It's pretty great.

  8. #8
    Director Freude am Fahren's Avatar
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    I've been having problems with my router ever since I had the power go out one time last year. It must have slightly fried something in it, who knows. It's also like 8-10 years old.

    I have all sorts of speed and/or connection issues, and every time the power goes out, it doesn't like to come back from space.

    Finally after getting disconnected from a work meeting this morning, I decided to get a new router. Went with Netgear again, as I have forever pretty much. Everything is working so much better/faster now.

    Who knew my ISP had 100Mb/s...

  9. #9
    High Plains Luddite George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by balki View Post
    Setting up Wi-Fi passwords should be easy; just type in the IP address in a browser and go through the options at pop up.
    I never got around to doing this until this weekend when we got an email and a browser notification from our ISP that someone had downloaded copyrighted material on our network. It was three torrents of a video game, apparently Ė the notification says Forza on all three downloads.

    From the dates and times of the infractions provided by the ISP, I know it wasn't anyone in our house. I immediately suspected our son, but he was in school when two of the three downloads occurred.

    A lady in tech support at our ISP gave me router's IP address over the phone and lo and behold, there is a web page with all kinds of controls. Neat! I immediately changed the password from the original password printed on the side of our router and debated changing the name of the network, but held off on that for now.

    However, something doesnít seem right here. Of course, I realize anything is possible, but do people actually spend time finding other peopleís networks to hack into to download a game? Really?

    And if it was some dude in a white van parked out front (repeatedly?) or a neighbor, how could they have figured very long sequence of numbers and letters that was our password? Iíve heard of programs that automatically throw random combinations of characters against password entry fields until they find one that works, but how much of that is from TV and the movies vs. actual reality?

    Just curious. Hopefully the password change will protect us for a while, and I suppose I can change it as often as I like, now that I know how.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I never got around to doing this until this weekend when we got an email and a browser notification from our ISP that someone had downloaded copyrighted material on our network. It was three torrents of a video game, apparently – the notification says Forza on all three downloads.

    From the dates and times of the infractions provided by the ISP, I know it wasn't anyone in our house. I immediately suspected our son, but he was in school when two of the three downloads occurred.

    A lady in tech support at our ISP gave me router's IP address over the phone and lo and behold, there is a web page with all kinds of controls. Neat! I immediately changed the password from the original password printed on the side of our router and debated changing the name of the network, but held off on that for now.

    However, something doesn’t seem right here. Of course, I realize anything is possible, but do people actually spend time finding other people’s networks to hack into to download a game? Really?

    And if it was some dude in a white van parked out front (repeatedly?) or a neighbor, how could they have figured very long sequence of numbers and letters that was our password? I’ve heard of programs that automatically throw random combinations of characters against password entry fields until they find one that works, but how much of that is from TV and the movies vs. actual reality?

    Just curious. Hopefully the password change will protect us for a while, and I suppose I can change it as often as I like, now that I know how.
    Given that even a very good Wi-Fi Router will be unlikely to broadcast more than a couple of hundred yards in any given direction, it'll be someone local, most likely a direct neighbour. And they've likely got the password from someone in the house, possibly one of the kids. Does that IP address show what security has been set? It should be WPA2-PSK as a minimum. Most Routers would also show what devices are connected so you can tally up your home devices and see if there is someone you don't know on the network.

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