Time for a new router?

philb2

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I'm wondering if my current router is on its last legs, and it's time to get a new router, probably a mesh system.

My current router is a Netgear Nighthawk 8000 X6, which I put into service in October, 2019.
Aside from frustrations I have with the interface, I think that the 5.0 radio is getting weaker. Correction: I know that the 5.0 radio is getting weaker, because the signal strength on my desktop is a lot weaker than it used to be. And I no longer get any 5.0 signal in my upstairs bedroom.

Because of the weaker 5.0 signal, I recently got a TP-Link RE550 repeater, but the signal strength improvement is a lot less than I had hoped it would be, particularly in the upstairs bedroom. So that's goes back to Amazon.

Or, can I revive the router somehow? How?
 

Keljian

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Gonna be blunt. This is what you expect with consumer gear.

How big is your house? what internet connection?

My default recommendation for tech savvy types these days is:
For connections under 800mbps symmetrical - 800/800 or 1000/40 etc - Get a mikrotik hex router (PoE version ideally) and a unifi U6 pro access point.
For connections over 800mbps - Get a mikrotik RB5009UPr+S+IN and a unifi U6 pro access point

Deal with the mikrotik interface (cause you won't need to deal with it much once set up)
 

philb2

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Gonna be blunt. This is what you expect with consumer gear.

How big is your house? what internet connection?

My default recommendation for tech savvy types these days is:
For connections under 800mbps symmetrical - 800/800 or 1000/40 etc - Get a mikrotik hex router (PoE version ideally) and a unifi U6 pro access point.
For connections over 800mbps - Get a mikrotik RB5009UPr+S+IN and a unifi U6 pro access point

Deal with the mikrotik interface (cause you won't need to deal with it much once set up)
My house is 2400 sf, two floors, with a detached 2 car garage about 15 feet away from the "far" corner of the house where I have my router.

My Internet connection is a 1.2 GB/sec Arris T25 cable modem, with 1 GB download service from Comcast.

Right now I'm running a PoE pair of adapters between the upstairs and downstairs of the house. The upstairs is on a separate subpanel, and performance is so poor that I use the PoE only to put a laser printer on the LAN.
 

SamirD

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Right now I'm running a PoE pair of adapters between the upstairs and downstairs of the house. The upstairs is on a separate subpanel, and performance is so poor that I use the PoE only to put a laser printer on the LAN.
You probably mean EoP aka powerline adapters. And if you're using anything but the newest standard, don't expect anything over 100Mbs, and even with the newest, don't expect to even hit 200Mbs. Moca will get you full ethernet speeds if you have coax.
 

philb2

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You probably mean EoP aka powerline adapters. And if you're using anything but the newest standard, don't expect anything over 100Mbs, and even with the newest, don't expect to even hit 200Mbs. Moca will get you full ethernet speeds if you have coax.
Yes, I did mean EoP, and these are probably not latest-standard devices. And yes, I'm getting maybe 100 Mbs. I know MoCA will get me full Ethernet speeds, but, but, but. The coax under my house was all installed like over 30 years ago, including the splitters. From what I have read, I will need to replace all those splitters, even for 1 Gbit Ethernet. There is a very tight crawl space under my house, and it has always been a bitch to move around, really crawling on my hands and knees, or sliding on my back. And hate to say it, but I'm not as young as I used to be, so the prospect of all that crawl space work is not appealing. And She Who Must Be Obeyed may be so worried about injuries that she might just veto the whole idea. That's why a mesh router is attactive to me, even if the cost is higher than say 2 or 3 MoCA adapters plus replacement splitters. In favor of MoCA, I have old Netgear routers that I could attached to the MoCA adapters. (I don't recycle or throw things away unless they are really, really old.)
 

Keljian

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I stand by what I said earlier. Unifi devices can be used in mesh configuration, but they're all PoE devices so you'll need injectors. An option may be to use the U6 Mesh "coke can" style units as they come with injectors. Be warned that they put off a bit of heat, so if you put them on something wooden, you will want a coaster or something under them.

They will work without it, but if you have a server (even a raspberry pi) to run the unifi application in a docker, you'll get the most out of them. I run mine on my synology nas in a docker - doesn't need much in the way of resources.
 

SamirD

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Yes, I did mean EoP, and these are probably not latest-standard devices. And yes, I'm getting maybe 100 Mbs. I know MoCA will get me full Ethernet speeds, but, but, but. The coax under my house was all installed like over 30 years ago, including the splitters. From what I have read, I will need to replace all those splitters, even for 1 Gbit Ethernet. There is a very tight crawl space under my house, and it has always been a bitch to move around, really crawling on my hands and knees, or sliding on my back. And hate to say it, but I'm not as young as I used to be, so the prospect of all that crawl space work is not appealing. And She Who Must Be Obeyed may be so worried about injuries that she might just veto the whole idea. That's why a mesh router is attactive to me, even if the cost is higher than say 2 or 3 MoCA adapters plus replacement splitters. In favor of MoCA, I have old Netgear routers that I could attached to the MoCA adapters. (I don't recycle or throw things away unless they are really, really old.)
Got it--yeah that's the pain of moca--the splitters. I've been able to just disconnect the two lines I need and stick a barrel connector but not everyone can do that.

But the newest powerlines can do wonders compared to the older ones. I have 500av, 600, 1200, and 2000s, and the newest ones (the 2000s) iperf at 4x the 500av units--4x the bandwidth. But even at max bandwidth, the powerlines will not give you your full lan or wan bandwidth.
 

philb2

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Got it--yeah that's the pain of moca--the splitters. I've been able to just disconnect the two lines I need and stick a barrel connector but not everyone can do that.

But the newest powerlines can do wonders compared to the older ones. I have 500av, 600, 1200, and 2000s, and the newest ones (the 2000s) iperf at 4x the 500av units--4x the bandwidth. But even at max bandwidth, the powerlines will not give you your full lan or wan bandwidth.
I would need at least 3 MoCA units. I think I have 3 unused routers to attach to them. But the stomping elephant in the room here is the need to upgrade all the splitters under the house, which I mentioned in a prior post.

I think a new mesh router would cost maybe the same as those 3 MoCA units, or maybe less than $100 more at most. I'm willing to spend a bit of money to make things easier with my tech.

For example, rather than spend hours and hours trying to overclock my system, and maybe even watercool it, I just spend a bit more upfront for the CPU and RAM, and then run my system at stock speeds. If I will eventually water cool my desktop, I will buy an AIO cooler, rather than build a custom loop. (You can go crazy just deciding on the various brands and options for blocks, fittings, resevoir, coolant, type of tubing, etc.)
 

SamirD

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I would need at least 3 MoCA units. I think I have 3 unused routers to attach to them. But the stomping elephant in the room here is the need to upgrade all the splitters under the house, which I mentioned in a prior post.

I think a new mesh router would cost maybe the same as those 3 MoCA units, or maybe less than $100 more at most. I'm willing to spend a bit of money to make things easier with my tech.

For example, rather than spend hours and hours trying to overclock my system, and maybe even watercool it, I just spend a bit more upfront for the CPU and RAM, and then run my system at stock speeds. If I will eventually water cool my desktop, I will buy an AIO cooler, rather than build a custom loop. (You can go crazy just deciding on the various brands and options for blocks, fittings, resevoir, coolant, type of tubing, etc.)
Asus has a pretty good thing going with their aimesh--then you can still build your own and maybe even use those older routers if they're asus and support the aimesh firmware.
 

kydsid

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IMHO, if you are on hardforum the only reason to be using consumer wifi routers is in bridge mode, as APs only, or with custom firmware (maybe). The consumer space has become crap for the hardforum user. Get a commercial/smb router/gateway with good firmware, software and hardware (ubiquiti need not apply here sorry - I don't recommend them to anyone anymore- beta products at best for too high a cost) and separate APs that do what you want. When wifi tech improves, it ALWAYS does, or you have a radio failure, much rarer depending on what AP you buy if ever (ahem consumer class radios made to self destruct it almost feels like vs commercial that just lasts), replace the APs. In the long run it will be cheaper even if today it is more, but even today if looking at $400 Google systems who knows. And used commercial is just fine too depending on age, specs and needs to save money.
 
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Nicklebon

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The consumer space has become crap for the hardforum user.
I would argue always has been crap for everyone but I'm an elitist asshole when it comes network gear and just an asshole when it comes to everything else so box of salt required. :)
 

philb2

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Asus has a pretty good thing going with their aimesh--then you can still build your own and maybe even use those older routers if they're asus and support the aimesh firmware.
Unfortunately my existing router collection is 1 TP-Link and 3 Netgears of various generatons.
 

philb2

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I would argue always has been crap for everyone but I'm an elitist asshole when it comes network gear and just an asshole when it comes to everything else so box of salt required. :)
I am a bit of an elitist in my desktop home build and laptop purchases. I just bought a "Build it yourself" Lenovo, where I got the cheapest NMVe drive, which I will replace with a 1 or 2 TB drive. And I will probably add another 16 GB of RAM. Much cheaper than paying Lenovo's prices. Same with my printers, Wacom tablet, mice, keyboards, etc.
 

Nicklebon

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OK. I looked up Aptiva and now I understand your friend.
Sorry, I assumed you were familiar with the fact that Lenovo is basically the old IBM PC Company business unit with Chinese overlords. The US headquarters is just down the road from the IBM site that used to house them back in the 90s and early 2000s.
 

Keljian

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(ubiquiti need not apply here sorry - I don't recommend them to anyone anymore- beta products at best for too high a cost) and separate APs that do what you want.
This is a bit ... over the top - Unifi products are better than the general rabble, but they're not as good as the high end stuff.
 

kydsid

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This is a bit ... over the top - Unifi products are better than the general rabble, but they're not as good as the high end stuff.

Eh, it's opinion. They had a niche to themselves above consumer, below enterprise. They squandered it. There is a lot of direct and equal competition to Unifi now, with very competitive pricing. Point should be look around they aren't the be all end all
 
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TheSlySyl

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Please, tell me, have you monitored how much these devices send upstream?
I have 10+ google devices in my house and their upstream is significantly less than my roku TVs/single amazon device. Those Roku devices are insane with how much they try to upload, even when "off".

Anyway, I've had good luck with Mid-high end asus systems in AImesh. Probably gonna stick with them and Merlin firmware for a while because its rock solid and does everything that I need, and what I need is quite a bit. I have my main, older router (AC5300), a secondary AImesh node (AC68u), a 24 port switch and the whole thing is being ran through adguard home as my DNS/DHCP server with at least 50 devices connected consistently.

I would go for a newer router though, looking to upgrade myself, mostly because I want faster than 1Gb.
 

philb2

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Sorry, I assumed you were familiar with the fact that Lenovo is basically the old IBM PC Company business unit with Chinese overlords. The US headquarters is just down the road from the IBM site that used to house them back in the 90s and early 2000s.
Actually I am quite familiar with the Lenovo history. I was just a young 'un in the tech industry when IBM released the first PC. And I have watched IBM spin off its chip foundry, and most of its hardware businesses. I think only the mainframes remain, because they are high-margin, and customers are locked in to all that legacy-legacy software.

In 1980 I was working for OEM disk drive maker Shugart Associates. (long, long gone ...) We got an RFP from IBM for 5 1/4" floppy drives, with a volume range of 20,000 to 60,000 in the first year. Of course, IBM PC numbers were way higher than those numbers.
 

Keljian

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I have 10+ google devices in my house and their upstream is significantly less than my roku TVs/single amazon device. Those Roku devices are insane with how much they try to upload, even when "off".

I would go for a newer router though, looking to upgrade myself, mostly because I want faster than 1Gb.
Having done extensive research into the topic of late here are my thoughts:
  • Each family member who uses the internet at the same time needs about 25mbit (down)
  • If you're going to spend up on a router, get one that has CAKE QoS/SQM support cause speed is not the killer, latency is.
    • Getting CAKE going at >1gpbs requires a lot of processing power (but you only need it on download if you have 1 or more family members hitting the max download rate)
    • OpenWRT and DD-WRT (and the usual XXXsense suspects) have CAKE
    • Amazon eero & google nest have FQ_codel which is nearly as good
    • Mikrotik RouterOS 7.3 and above has CAKE and FQ_Codel support. But getting something Mikrotik that will comfortably do 1gbps symmetrical Qos with Cake is ... interesting (I'm still testing the RB5009 for this)
    • Unifi Dream machine pros are capable of 700-800mbit with it.
    • Edgerouters support it but are only capable of 400mbit or so.
    • The R4S nanopi running OpenWRT or DD-WRT is probably the cheapest 1gbit CAKE capable router.
 
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philb2

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Having done extensive research into the topic of late here are my thoughts:
  • Each family member who uses the internet at the same time needs about 25mbit
  • If you're going to spend up on a router, get one that has CAKE QoS/SQM support cause speed is not the killer, latency is.
    • Getting CAKE going at >1gpbs requires a lot of processing power
    • OpenWRT and DD-WRT (and the usual XXXsense suspects) have CAKE
    • Amazon eero has FQ_codel which is nearly as good
    • Mikrotik RouterOS 7.3 and above has CAKE and FQ_Codel support. But getting something Mikrotik that will comfortably do 1gbps symmetrical Qos with Cake is ... interesting (I'm still testing the RB5009 for this)
    • Unifi Dream machine pros are capable of 700-800mbit with it.
    • Edgerouters support it but are only capable of 400mbit or so.
    • The R4S nanopi running OpenWRT or DD-WRT is probably the cheapest 1gbit CAKE capable router.
Thanks. I just learned something, CAKE.

In our house, I do some light downloads, e.g. email, and some heavy downloads, e.g. videos or large software installs. Same for my wife, but neither of us does heavy downloads all day long, and not usually at the same time. Plus she more than me will watch Roku stick programs, for which throughput is important. Hence my plan to get a mesh router.
My Comcast plan has 1 Gbit download speed and my Arris modem goes up to 1.2 Gbps.

Here's the thing. Different people have different usage patterns. I remember a sign I saw years and years ago in a pizza parlor. "We have a deal with the bank. They don't make pizza and we don't cash checks."
 

Keljian

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Thanks. I just learned something, CAKE.

In our house, I do some light downloads, e.g. email, and some heavy downloads, e.g. videos or large software installs. Same for my wife, but neither of us does heavy downloads all day long, and not usually at the same time. Plus she more than me will watch Roku stick programs, for which throughput is important. Hence my plan to get a mesh router.
My Comcast plan has 1 Gbit download speed and my Arris modem goes up to 1.2 Gbps.

Here's the thing. Different people have different usage patterns. I remember a sign I saw years and years ago in a pizza parlor. "We have a deal with the bank. They don't make pizza and we don't cash checks."
You're welcome.

The problem usually arises when you're trying to watch a video (eg roku) and you're doing video conferencing/calls, or if you're downloading and watching a video. Throughput is important, but queue management is more important. Specifically - which packet gets to go through first. CAKE basically says "ok you all get a slice" diffserv says "ok you're sending video/audio, so you get preference over that person over there downloading stuff, cause they can handle a bit of latency on their packets, where you can't".

Let's say you are watching a roku video and your wife decides to call the family on facetime/teams/zoom etc, both of you have competing demands and both need to have a bit of priority - but your wife's packets will need to go first.

When you have an asymmetrical connection (eg 500/40) this is especially problematic because you have "ack" packets going up on a limited connection while you're doing a download.

Summary: CAKE is good. Test for bufferbloat (the problem it solves) here: https://www.waveform.com/tools/bufferbloat and http://www.dslreports.com/speedtest

My original intent with getting my RB5009 was to future-proof for >1gbit links when they eventually roll out here, and it will work for that purpose, the question is if I can have my CAKE and eat it too -- pun intended
 
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SamirD

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If you're familiar with the history of Lenovo then this term coined by a friend may make you laugh ... Scraptiva
Geez, that was the ONE LINE that IBM/Lenovo had to make to compete with the other crappy 'home' computers out there. I wouldn't judge the book by that paper cover.

I have one Lenovo that was on 24x7 as a server at a hotel for 10 years and that has now seen another 10 years of duty after being rotting in a utility chase for at least 5 years. And the workstation Lenovo for that hotel that was connected to that same server is also still going strong today. Lenovo's normal/business line is just as good as Dell/HPs except they were a little faster on the same specs or at least felt faster.
 

SamirD

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Sorry, I assumed you were familiar with the fact that Lenovo is basically the old IBM PC Company business unit with Chinese overlords. The US headquarters is just down the road from the IBM site that used to house them back in the 90s and early 2000s.
Every company is now chock full of chinese overlords btw...
 

SamirD

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Having done extensive research into the topic of late here are my thoughts:
  • Each family member who uses the internet at the same time needs about 25mbit (down)
  • If you're going to spend up on a router, get one that has CAKE QoS/SQM support cause speed is not the killer, latency is.
    • Getting CAKE going at >1gpbs requires a lot of processing power (but you only need it on download if you have 1 or more family members hitting the max download rate)
    • OpenWRT and DD-WRT (and the usual XXXsense suspects) have CAKE
    • Amazon eero & google nest have FQ_codel which is nearly as good
    • Mikrotik RouterOS 7.3 and above has CAKE and FQ_Codel support. But getting something Mikrotik that will comfortably do 1gbps symmetrical Qos with Cake is ... interesting (I'm still testing the RB5009 for this)
    • Unifi Dream machine pros are capable of 700-800mbit with it.
    • Edgerouters support it but are only capable of 400mbit or so.
    • The R4S nanopi running OpenWRT or DD-WRT is probably the cheapest 1gbit CAKE capable router.
Or you just get an enterprise router that is designed to do far more than any of these and you can pass on the CAKE and still eat it too. ;)
 

SamirD

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You're welcome.

The problem usually arises when you're trying to watch a video (eg roku) and you're doing video conferencing/calls, or if you're downloading and watching a video. Throughput is important, but queue management is more important. Specifically - which packet gets to go through first. CAKE basically says "ok you all get a slice" diffserv says "ok you're sending video/audio, so you get preference over that person over there downloading stuff, cause they can handle a bit of latency on their packets, where you can't".

Let's say you are watching a roku video and your wife decides to call the family on facetime/teams/zoom etc, both of you have competing demands and both need to have a bit of priority - but your wife's packets will need to go first.

When you have an asymmetrical connection (eg 500/40) this is especially problematic because you have "ack" packets going up on a limited connection while you're doing a download.

Summary: CAKE is good. Test for bufferbloat (the problem it solves) here: https://www.waveform.com/tools/bufferbloat and http://www.dslreports.com/speedtest

My original intent with getting my RB5009 was to future-proof for >1gbit links when they eventually roll out here, and it will work for that purpose, the question is if I can have my CAKE and eat it too -- pun intended
The root cause of the problem is consumer hardware trying to do more enterprise like workloads. Enterprises don't worry about things like 'bufferbloat' or 'cake' or anything else like that because they're already built ground-up for multiple forms of activity all the time. And with the cost of consumer routers skyrocketing compared to what used enterprise gear can be found at, I see no reason at all to waste money on even the latest and greatest consumer stuff.
 

Keljian

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The root cause of the problem is consumer hardware trying to do more enterprise like workloads. Enterprises don't worry about things like 'bufferbloat' or 'cake' or anything else like that because they're already built ground-up for multiple forms of activity all the time. And with the cost of consumer routers skyrocketing compared to what used enterprise gear can be found at, I see no reason at all to waste money on even the latest and greatest consumer stuff.
The RB5009 is basically enterprise gear.. the problem isn’t the router. The problem is the connection.
 

SamirD

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The RB5009 is basically enterprise gear.. the problem isn’t the router. The problem is the connection.
It is, but not really since it's more like pfsense in that you have to mess with the OS to get it working. All the usual names like fortigate, etc 'just work'.
 

Keljian

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It is, but not really since it's more like pfsense in that you have to mess with the OS to get it working. All the usual names like fortigate, etc 'just work'.
With a fortigate you still have to configure it. The RB5009 is kind of "enterprise lite" with a huge feature set - and the defaults "just work"
 

SamirD

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With a fortigate you still have to configure it. The RB5009 is kind of "enterprise lite" with a huge feature set - and the defaults "just work"
So you don't have the load Router OS on it and it's ready to go out of the box? Most Mikrotik stuff I've seen isn't like that.
 

Keljian

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So you don't have the load Router OS on it and it's ready to go out of the box? Most Mikrotik stuff I've seen isn't like that.
It has routerOS out of the box, and is set up and good to go from the get go. (Obviously you should change the password and harden it if deploying into production, but still) .. All mikrotik stuff these days comes with an appropriate OS on it …
 
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kydsid

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The root cause of the problem is consumer hardware trying to do more enterprise like workloads. Enterprises don't worry about things like 'bufferbloat' or 'cake' or anything else like that because they're already built ground-up for multiple forms of activity all the time. And with the cost of consumer routers skyrocketing compared to what used enterprise gear can be found at, I see no reason at all to waste money on even the latest and greatest consumer stuff.

Is it really in this context? It's 2022, QoS isn't a new concept. Its really an old one, that marketing rolled out too early, died in the minds of consumers, and then the engineers really got to work. There is really some divergence in QoS styles between enterprise and consumer markets, the later mostly focused on gaming latency issues, the former well a mixed bag of implementations techniques. I don't know of a jack of all trades in this area myself. I know several enterprise routers very good with their implementations of QoS that if they added CAKE could capture a significant portion of the market from consumer via gamers. And I know some consumer routers pretty good with their implementations of QoS but they are limited in other areas. Basically pick what is important is all you can do as far as I know.

But that is specific for low latency in gaming when you have to have the lowest latency. If you can forgo the lowest latency their then SMB/Enterprise all the way. My neighborhoods FB is flooded with people clamoring for symetrical gigabit because they have too many users at home. Being the geek I am my wife asked me why I'm not in those conversations (aside from its FB, of course). I told her because we have an enterprise router and I know how to manage our 400/20 line which is even more than we need for 4 users always on streaming TVs, plex, VOIP etc. We could go down in bandwidth and be fine. They are complaining because they have crap routers, or more probably crap wifi APs/combo router (because honestly who besides the geeks runs standalone APs for wifi, can a I get an AMEN!) or can't use what they have correctly. Honestly as expensive as the CableCo who has a monopoly makes it right now, if my neighbors wouldn't think I was nuts, I'd offer to extend my lan to both sides of my house and split the bill three ways. That would be 10 users, 7 IPTVS, various cameras, laptops etc and would be easy on 400/20 line with my router.
 
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