– Ben Martens

Ubiquiti WiFi

ubiquitiunifiOur house is just big enough (or has just enough walls) that a single WiFi router has a hard time fully covering the whole thing. Early last year, I added a second router downstairs with the same SSID as upstairs. That helped a bit, but it still had a problem. Basically your device connects to the strongest signal and then as you walk around the house, it struggles to stay connected to that same signal. It won’t automatically hop to the strongest signal. That finally got annoying enough that I upgraded to some access points from Ubiquiti. Ubiquiti makes enterprise grade network gear at consumer prices.

I purchased two Ubiquiti Networks UniFi AC LR AP┬ádevices. There are a couple different ones available but this seemed to fit the bill for me. I was particularly excited about the “zero handoff” roaming feature. A program is always running on one of your computers to analyze your wireless clients and hand them off to the appropriate access point. It does it so smoothly that even time-critical traffic like VoIP calls work fine. Unfortunately, after I got everything installed, I realized that the zero handoff feature only exists in some of their more expensive models.

But all was not lost. My reading informed me that the feature really isn’t that important if you set up your network properly. The key is to not have your access points overlap too much, and, if necessary, you can tell the access points to intentional drop traffic once they reach a certain signal strength. These access points will let me fine tune all of that to get the correct behavior. Additonally they also support beam steering which means that I can tell devices to prefer the faster 5GHz network if they support it.

I took this opportunitiy to redo my SSIDs so if you come over to my house, you’ll need to redo the wireless settings for your phone/tablet/laptop. But hopefully once you do, you’ll have faster Internet access. These new access points support 802.11ac and will serve up bits to you at up to 867 Mbps!