back to article The home Wi-Fi upgrade we never asked for is coming. The one we need is not

Magicians, management, and marketing depend on misdirection. A deception that doesn't quite qualify as a lie, it implies something they want you to believe while drawing attention away from questions that would destroy that perception. It's worth learning how to spot these as they highlight exactly the questions you should be …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Another reason not to use the ISP's router - they can't log in remotely as PlusNet did with mine, lock it down and prevent me reconfiguring the DHCP reserved IP addresses I'd previously set up when it was still open to configuration from the LAN side.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or if you're with Virgin Media, they routinely update the firmware and wipe user settings on their hubs, and/or break as many things as they fix, as well as trying to direct everything to their DNS so they can pimp user browsing data, offering pitiful firewalls and configuration options. Can't speak for other ISPs, but I'm pretty sure VM make things massively worse by homebrewing their hub firmware from RDK-B, which is a level of dabbling clearly well beyond the company's capabilities.

      All such problems went away when I bought an entry level mesh system. I could have bought something a lot more hardcore from Netgear, or congugured multiple Asus routers as a mesh, but a TP-Link Deco does everything I need faultlessly. It gives me wifi that just works, without the unacceptable compromises of running an ISP router.

      1. tony72

        For many years when I was with Virgin, they simply supplied a Cisco cable modem that, as far as I can recall, never had a single problem. Then at one stage, I had to accept one of their SuperHubs, and it was definitely a step backwards. As I recall, it was flaky, and you couldn't change the DHCP address range. It pretty quickly got put in modem mode with my own router behind it. I don't know why ISPs insist on going down the route of supply their own branded router, I'm sure the costs and problems outweigh any benefits over just offering decent off-the-shelf kit.

        1. Victor Ludorum

          The majority of non-technical customers just want a router that they can plug in and it just worksTM.

          The majority of ISPs want as little as possible (with the minimum of configurable options) connected to their service so they don't have to support an endless combination of devices.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          I think it's support. They don't want to hire or train people to figure out what the user's equipment interface looks like and talk them through getting set up, but if they provide a box which has maybe five options, it should be hard for the user to mess it up. I'm relatively technical, but even I have managed to break a router configuration when I've tried to do something I didn't have experience with. The same reason explains why some ISP-provided equipment now has a remote login method: if the user has messed it up, it's usually easier for the support person to go into the interface and figure out why than to talk the customer through that part. These are, of course, the same things that we want them not to be able to do. As such, I have to disagree with the writer here. I've known ISPs who don't mind if you want to bring your own equipment and don't do anything if you use their equipment as a dumb modem, and I think they don't care about us because we're not likely to call them if our routers are misconfigured. It's the others they're worried about.

        3. hoola Silver badge

          Mainly because the average user does not care, does not have the expertise and does not need the functionality a very small subset of techies need.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          At one stage that was the case...back in the ISDN days...BT would just come and install an ISDN line and that was it. You were left to find your own dial up provider and kit to interface with it.

          Those were amazing days, because you could get a lot more internet for your was often cheaper and quicker to run a bundle of ISDN lines to a property but only terminate one and leave the rest capped off in the wall.

          I got an early "home highway" installation, towards the end of the "trial" and ended up with 6 ISDN lines, one in the massive HH box, along with an analogue phone line, and 5 hidden away in the walls. I had a very fun all nighter trying to terminate them and bond them together using Fritz! PCI terminal adapters...I was only 12 or 13 at the time I think, so it took me a while...didn't have a crimping tool, just a flat head screwdriver, a soldering iron and a bunch of spare ethernet cables. It was the most janktastic wiring job I've ever done, but I managed a 384kbps connection, which I used for around a month until the old man got the phone say he hit the fucking roof is an understatement...never seen him that angry before or since...he demanded to know how I'd racked up such a massive bill, so I showed him what I'd done. The HH box was inside a built in wardrobe, so I had him crawl in to take a look...he came out a changed man. Instantly cool, calm and collected...I had to help pay off the bill, not because he couldn't afford it, but because he wanted to "teach me a lesson" apparently...about two weeks earlier, I was caught messing around with a phone box in my village (broad daylight isn't the best time to pull and strip wires kids) but he didn't think much of that, I didn't really get into trouble for it. BT weren't happy, but they didn't pursue anything...they just decommissioned the phone box...apparently, what had alerted them is that the phone box hadn't been used in years and suddenly it was getting hammered with dial up traffic.

          For those wondering, the lesson I learnt...find an 0800 dial up provider if you want free internet. Thanks Madasafish!

          I think we had the HH for 3 years, everything went DSL around then, so I took a minor downgrade for a while to 256kbps...but it didn't take me long to figure out how to get 1mbps...but that is a story for another day, involving late night trips to the local phone exchange with some mates (one of which had a Dad that worked as a BT engineer who didn't seem to bat an eyelid at the intense interest we all showed with how DSL was wired back then and how his tools worked)...we were never caught for this one! Though when we legitimately "upgraded" to a faster package, the BT engineer came back from the phone exchange after spending 2 hours there, moaning about how "the last installation engineer left a right fucking mess". :>

      2. sorry, what?

        Modem Mode Manifestly More Manageable

        I've been with Virgin Media since they were NTL and have pretty much always run their router in modem mode. This was originally essential to allow multiple wifi access points (you couldn't use the router as one and a separate access point together without getting drop outs and other issues for some weird reason, and it was through the "virgin community" I discovered I needed to lobotomise their router to get this working).

        This has worked so well for me, I continue to have separate devices and keep the Virgin router in modem mode even now.

        1. myhandler

          Re: Modem Mode Manifestly More Manageable

          I used to have the VM router in modem mode but when I moved house I left the new kit in standard mode thinking I'd change it when I had time, but it's been fine. There's still some port forwarding oddities but my work around of 'Sleep PC / Wake PC" kicks it back into life.

      3. jvf

        mesh good, access points-not so much anymore

        By happenstance I just had to install two different mesh systems for a client in two different buildings, one (Deco) specified by me and the other (Eero) purchased by one of his employees because he uses it at his house. They both require an account and “apps” which totally sucks and probably makes it impossible to do any deep troubleshooting compared to traditional access points. I chose mesh because unlike consumer Access points, it implements the fast roaming handoff scheme whose 802.11 standard designation I don’t remember. I chose Deco because it offered Poe which seems to still be somewhat rare as of this writing and because Eero was borged by Amazon. Both backbones are hard wired. The Deco (5 units) was very easy to set up and works great. The Eero was much more difficult to set up and somewhat finicky requiring several reboots of one unit before it behaved. It seems to work ok but, as might be expected, the app is cluttered with Amazon ads.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: mesh good, access points-not so much anymore

          I hate consumer mesh WIFI always becomes a problem at some point. I especially hate mesh networks that rely on an "app" on a phone or tablet.

          What I've been using at home for a while is a bunch of Unifi access points with the controller running in a VM on my server. I know, I know...not everyone has a server...but they work great, I also have my parents access points on the same system...there is a site to site VPN tunnel between them and my house, and I've configured their APs to communicate with my controller over the VPN so I can monitor them from here.

          I have 5x Unifi AP Pro access points and my parents have 2x Unifi AP Lite access points...they have all been running without issues for 3 years.

          I don't particularly rate any other kit from Ubiquiti, their switches and routers are a bit "naff" and overpriced, but their WAPs, can't complain at all...solid, reasonably priced and extremely easy to manage and with my setup, I can roam onto their wifi when I turn up for Sunday lunch because it is all one common network....better yet, with the site to site VPN, I don't get that fucking annoying "is this your household" message when using Netflix.

          My mother in law is currently renovating a new house and I will extend the network to her as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Whoops !!!

      Doctor Syntax,

      You missed the No.1 Golden Rule ... never use the supplied ISP Router.

      Lock Down and/or 'Random' reconfiguration is the 'joy' you are trying to miss !!!

      I want to configure the router to *MY* requirements and improve the security of the connection.

      I do not want to harm anyone else by mis-configuring the router but generic configurations are not safe as if you break through one config you can attack *all* the ISP's routers equally.

      P.S. Cloning the MAC Address of the original ISP router can be useful to avoid 'simple' detection if you replace the router !!!

      [... something about grandmothers & eggs ..... :=) ]


      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Whoops !!!

        "Cloning the MAC Address of the original ISP router can be useful to avoid 'simple' detection if you replace the router"

        Didn't bother, just stuck a TP-Link in as was. Only issue with that, several generations of router have been quite happy to live with the name I chose to give the router in my hosts file. This one doesn't like it so I just use the IP address to connect to it.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Whoops !!!

        To their credit, VM are ok at this. Putting the superhub into 'modem mode' is just a couple of clicks in the web interface, and a reboot. Honestly, the reboot is the longest part of the whole process.

        Then just plug in your own router and you're golden.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whoops !!!

          ...until you need to call them when your line goes down and they insist on you putting it back in router mode because their "tests won't work".

          I am on Virgin using Modem Mode and it drives me nuts when I have to phone them up to get a problem fixed.

          "We can't send an engineer until you reset the router and we can run our tests".

      3. BOFH in Training Silver badge

        Re: Whoops !!!

        Exactly, I have never used the ISP supplied router, even when it was "free". They are generally passed on to someone else in need of an emergency / temp router if their main router gives up the ghost (rare, but it happens).

        Actually am in the process of changing someone else's ISP supplied router, which can't even do proper port forwarding.

        ISPs should just ask the end user if they want a router - will probably end up saving alot of gear from being junked.

        1. Roopee Bronze badge

          Re: Whoops !!!

          Nor me, until I moved to Zen - theirs s great (but 1950s ugly!).

    3. chris street

      That sounds like you should be reporting them for an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.... except the ploddery wont be able to figure that out and will go "Thats a civil matter sir"

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Just go back to using a router of my own. Had to buy another because the older ones had died or probably full of unaddressed CVEs. One of the advantages of that is thet a more modern one combines the FTTC modem whereas the old setup had a separate emodem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm moving in a few months due to a job change and buying my own Wifi 6E mesh gear will be about the first technical purchase for the new place, together with a 1Gb circuit as they're now becoming commonplace where I live. I heard from some friends in Switzerland that they even have 10Gb pipes, but (a) I don't live there and (b) it's far more than I need (also because I watch little TV - the only reason for me to stream would be if there was a legal solution to watch UK cricket and rugby abroad - recorded, as I don't have that much time).

          The only time I had a decent signal from an ISP router was when I had a BT connection and lived in a flat above a cricket club in a park. No neighbours to mess up my signal, and the club had its own circuit so their players would not share my bandwidth. It was a fun place to live for a while, and about the best view of the cricket field in the park to boot :).

          I don't think I'll spring for a static IP address this time, though. I no longer have need for a VPN into my home network. If I fit cameras or any remote control things, maybe (don't like a 3rd party account for it), but otherwise not. That said, maybe it's time to experiment with an IPv6 static address, just to get a bit familiar with it. I think IPv4 will slowly disappear other than for LAN use, and then I have something to mess, sorry, experiment with when I retire :).

          1. Lonpfrb



            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Slingbox

              Yeah, had a look at that and it's interesting gear, but I think it'll be a herd of Netgear Orbis. Costly and stupidly OTT for what I need, but I call that my engineering margin :).

              What's more, the ones I bought about 4 years ago I installed last year at my son's place and are still doing well there. I rather like gear that keeps working.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Slingbox

                Exactly, as techies we should always demand the best, because ultimately we'll be handing kit down.

                Most of my kit I end up selling second hand for relatively cheap to friends, family, pensioners etc, to take a dent out of my next purchase...some of it I even give away for free and because it is kit that was once mine, it's much easier to support because I know it's history etc.

                There are at least a dozen people in my "tech orbit" using my old kit, which is just fine for them.

                I usually aim to get a solid couple of years out of something before I pass it I always divide the cost of the kit by 730 to work out the "cost per day" of the kit and I try to keep the "cost per day" of my setup within what I charge for an hour of my time on an average day...because that way, I know that the first hour of my day is paying for the kit, and the subsequent 8-9 hours is "profit". I know I'll get at least 20-30% back on resale, which opens up additional budget the next time around. The result is, every upgrade is an actual upgrade and I'm always competitive with the services I offer.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "(b) it's far more than I need"

            Ah yes, the curse of broadband roll outs for those of us that do need faster pipes.

            "due to lack of demand, we're not upgrading your area".

            Always take the fastest package you can, unless you can't afford it, even if you don't need it, because one day you might. If you don't, the infrastructure in your area will age like fine milk and when you do one day have a requirement for more, it won't be available...and these days that can have a significant impact on the value of your property.

            Ever since ISDN became available (which took ages round my way due to lack of demand), I've had a policy of always being on the fastest possible package to ensure that there is at least me demanding it to keep the area upgraded to ensure I can upgrade in a timely fashion...I also never bundle my broadband with other services. I always pay separately for it, for a few reasons...1) It's waaaaaay cheaper 2) The added shit doesn't add any value (TV packages etc) can get those separately, as and when you need them now, so why pay for thousands of channels for nothing? Also, having a complicated package makes negotiating your price a lot more difficult because you're giving them more pieces on the board to move. If you have only one piece on the board they have to either drop the price or lose you, if you have a complicated package, they can nickel and dime you. 3) shorter contracts, with a a shorter contract you can negotiate the price more often and you don't get kicked in the balls quite so much...I am currently on Virgin GIG1 for £41 a month, renewed around 3 months ago, price goes up in 9 months, but I will negotiate long before then to keep the price down...I've been with Virgin for over 10 years and over that time, they have probably gathered a large fucking dossier on me recorded on their system...each and every person that sees my record, can probably see my negotiating they know what to expect and tool up their side accordingly...if they think they can get away with charging you through the nose, they will...if they can see that isn't possible, they won't...but they won't want to lose you either...if you've been a customer for an extended amount of time, never missed a bill and you have a decent credit score (they know what your credit score is) they won't want to lose you. If you've missed bills or they deem you as "risky" because of your credit score, they won't work hard to keep you, they'd rather you were someone else's problem.

            Where property value is concerned...

            There is a street in Sutton (near Croydon) that is walking distance from the town centre...but because of the residents of that street, you can't get anything better than ADSL...every street around it can get superfast fibre etc...but not that particular on that street (which aren't bad properties, they are at least the same standard as surrounding streets) are probably worth £10k-£20k less right now. With WFH being more common now, it's probably more important than ever to ensure you have solid broadband.

            Someone I know sold their house on that street about a year ago, and it sold for £30k less than an identical house on the next street (which sold around the same time) along and his house was in much better nick, had a larger garden, had a driveway agent told him the buyer of the other house turned down his house almost entirely because of the broadband situation...if not for the broadband, he'd have bought my mates gaff.

            I'll reiterate. Someone turned down a house in better condition, with a larger garden and a driveway...because the broadband was shit.

            The person that turned the house down had a family, 3 kids and a wife, the people that bought the house with shit broadband was a retired that street has no fucking hope. It'll be bulldozed within 20 years and flats will pop up in it's place because it'll become so damned cheap to snap up the street compared to other streets, developers will be drooling over it.

          3. garwhale

            It's "up to 10 Gbs". I usually get max 0.6 Gbits in Switzerland, but haven't bothered to complain because the bandwidth is more than most websites/streaming services will deliver.

      2. Tom 38

        That sounds like you should be reporting them for an offence under the Computer Misuse Act

        It really doesn't - the ISP supplied router is (usually) not your device, it remains the property of the ISP - which is why you have to return it at the end of your contract. As it's their device, they're free to access it to do anything necessary for provision of service.

        My ISP (Hyperoptic) does something fairly sane, you need the ISP router plugged in for the line to activate (or clone the MAC address), and after that you're free to unplug it and use whatever router you want. However, if you want to complain about something not working to tech support, they require the ISP router to be plugged in and in use. If the ISP router works and your's doesn't work, well that's your problem, but if the ISP router doesn't work, they'll work it out - either a new router or an engineer visit or both.

    4. thondwe

      Not the ISPs Router

      Better still pick an ISP that doesn't even provide a router (not many, but I'm with one - Aquiss FYI) - so my own kit (pfsense etc) just hooks to the FTTP ethernet port.

      Happens, I've got a whizz connection (WFH) - but really can't see the need for Wifi to go faster that the 1GB/s I've got wired to my desk.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Not the ISPs Router

        > "...but really can't see the need for Wifi to go faster that the 1GB/s I've got wired to my desk."

        The reason is because that 1Gb/s (they are boys, not bytes) is that much up, and that much back. With WiFi they are shared, so you now need 2Gb/s for the same. Now consider that the other things that all have their own 1Gb/s cable would be sharing the same WiFi bandwidth too, including the thing your desk is talking to at 1Gb/s (local NAS maybe) so maybe now you need 4Gb/s or 8Gb/s...

        1. thondwe

          Re: Not the ISPs Router

          Noted - but the mix of household devices I have doesn't really need the latest greatest wifi speed. Real reason I've got 1Gb/s fibre (My brain knows it bits not Bytes, but my fingers not always that accurate!) is to get more upload speed/response when playing Office/Teams/Zoom et al.

          Why oh why can't FTTP be speed symmetric?

          1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

            Re: Not the ISPs Router

            Why oh why can't FTTP be speed symmetric?

            Because such things are still determined by the marketing types who still think it's a reasonable way to try and coerce businesses into paying more for a connection. What services you have available are not determined by engineers who would say "as much as the kit will do", it's determined by those with a mindset of "how can we persuade people to pay more". And they still persist with that thinking years after the upload speeds of FTTC have meant that for most small businesses (and techie users) it's enough and hence not worth paying more for a business connection.

            Some years ago we had a client in a town that didn't have great ADSL speeds. Unfortunately they didn't ask us before signing on the dotted line as their ISP had managed to sell them a very expensive symmetric "bond a few DSL lines and present it as an ethernet port" service which actually had a slower download speed than their ADSL. That's the sort of marketing led problem we are still up against.

          2. Chris 239

            Re: Not the ISPs Router

            symetric? - it can be! I'm with Giganet and a test just now with Ookla gave 930Mb/s down and 941Mb/s up :-)

            BTW just noticed that now showing "Allpoints Fibre Networks Limited" as my ISP - used to show as Giganet, what's that about?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          GigaBoys per second?

          Just how many BBC presenters were at this party?

    5. Marty McFly Silver badge

      I had a real network that I manage running on the inside of mom's ISP router. Their device saw one thing and one thing only - the WAN port on my firewall. They can go F themselves.

      That was all fine and dandy until they day mom had a problem and was courteous enough not to call me for help. The ISP remotely re-enabled their crappy wifi, told her the new network to attach to, etc. The one time an ISP actually tried to be helpful. It was a 120 mile drive to her house to put everything back the way it should have been.

      Oh, and the original problem was completely unrelated to the network infrastructure.

    6. DS999 Silver badge

      The only configuration of an ISP router I care about

      Is putting it into bridge mode. That has the useful side effect of (most likely) preventing them from getting at it to make changes, so they can't disable that and I alone decide if/when I want to update its firmware.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only configuration of an ISP router I care about

        That's not the case with Virgin Routers...they still get firmware updates regardless of the mode you're in.

    7. Luiz Abdala

      ISP router wifi is a mistake.

      ISP router? That thing that had the wifi name and password stickered to the bottom of the unit? That any former disgruntled employee could have collected and do whatever he can?

      Hard pass.

      Sometimes, I may open a DMZ setting on my router to access some feature directly, but most of the time, the ISP wifi is no man's land for me.

  2. Flak

    Interest, expertise and time

    The geeks among us will like the idea of being able to tinker with all sorts of settings on devices, disaggregate devices and services and deploy our own hardware.

    I run my own LAN and Wifi setup at home and use my broadband router as a modem only (yes, sadly still on FTTC), giving me exactly the choices outlined.

    Most will have neither the interest, expertise or will to invest the time to eke out the last bit of performance from a home network because largely it is 'good enough'.

    WiFi 7 just brings with it the opportunity to sell more hardware - new end points, more access points (one per room please) and the network to connect them all.

    Marketing at its best...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Interest, expertise and time

      "sadly still on FTTC"

      Not sadly at all as far as I'm concerned. C is only a few hundred metres away so fast enough. Why pay more?

      1. Altrux

        Re: Interest, expertise and time

        With some ISPs, you pay less! I'm with A&A, who are great of course, but my broadband will be £8/month cheaper once I finally get FTTP, on the slowest tariff (which will still be more than twice as fast as the current FTTC).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interest, expertise and time

        Depends on state of cable to cabinet - suspect mine is made from 1950s 3Amp fuse wire

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Interest, expertise and time

          If it is 1950s then it will be copper and you are fine.

          The issue is from the 1980s when copper was expensive so aluminium was used. At the point it is joined to anything the aluminium oxidises and the connection becomes flaky. This is particularly critical is you have a crimp that is copper to aluminium.

          Where I live there is a mix of copper and aluminium to the cabinet at the end of the road. Back in early 2000s i started having endless issues with the broadband. BT were sent out (I was with PlusNet) and a very capable engineer did some tests, disappeared for about an hour then came back with a verdict. We were on an aluminium cable for part of the run from the exchange. The bit to the house from the cabinet was copper. There was one pair of copper lines left, he swapped it at the exchange and cabinet, bingo, all problems gone for good.

          Now it is someone else's problem. More recently we had FTTC and that has been rock solid with a Fritz! router.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Interest, expertise and time

        "Why pay more?"

        Just one reason in my case (albeit rare and unexpected). A couple of months ago an indirect lightning strike on the copper 'last mile' from the cabinet took out my modem, router and the port it connected to on my core switch. I dismantled the modem and router and found an arc burn indicating a short at the input to the modem and an exploded input capacitor on the router's modem port. It appears that the initial surge caused POTS voltage to be presented on the router's ethernet port and thence to the port on the switch. FTTP is immune to this problem (and with luck won't be more expensive once POTS is shut down).

      5. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Interest, expertise and time

        When Openreach’s 21CN copper rip comes through your area you won’t have a choice… but on the plus side it’s a free upgrade that will take your FTTC broadband to FTTP at a solid 70/20.

    2. Altrux

      Re: Interest, expertise and time

      Same - I have a lovely decentralised setup now, using the excellent UniFi kit. A Draytek router acts as an FTTC/DSL modem, and is ready for FTTP (ethernet WAN port) when it finally arrives in 2058. Then a nice UniFi POE switch powering a 'cloud key' hub, and some cameras and WiFi APs, plus a VOIP phone base. Soon an RPi with POE hat as well, probably. All works beautifully and the whole network (apart from the router in the garage) runs off one plug.

      1. thondwe

        Re: Interest, expertise and time

        And a UPS for those times when the world goes dark (happens too often in my village!) - Oh and am friends with the neighbours so could use their wifi for VOIP/wifi calling (no worthwhile mobile signal) when my FTTP died - damaged connections in the splitter apparently... DR/Backup plans!!

    3. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Interest, expertise and time

      > sadly still on FTTC

      All of us limited to ADSL are sending you good feelings that you aren't suffering too much.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Interest, expertise and time

        All of us limited to ADSL are sending you good feelings that you aren't suffering too much

        I'm having to replace my old firewall as the old HP Microserver with a Celeron in it (running Astaro Sophos UTM) can't keep up with my gigabit (nearly) FTTP...

        Trouble is I've got used to it and it's little foibles and, at my age and state of alcohol-soakedness, adjusting to the OPNSense way of doing things is taking me time..

    4. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Interest, expertise and time

      I tend to use the appellation "enthusiast". As in someone who can't stop tinkering but doesn't necessarily know what they're doing. The rest of us just want the damn thing to work.

  3. Oddlegs

    Of course you're right that wifi 7 isn't going to offer anything anyone actually needs over and above wifi 6 but I actually disagree that what the country needs is for ISPs to stop bundling their own router in with the package. There will always be some who want a dumb modem they can attach to their own mesh network but 9 out of 10 people just want a single box they can plug in and start using immediately. And that's before you consider the support headache of a customer phoning up their ISP to complain that "the internet isn't working" when there could be a whole myriad of boxes between their laptop and the modem.

    By all means campaign for ISPs to offer better routers or routers which are updated more frequently but forcing the customer to go out and buy, configure and maintain their own router isn't solving the problem.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      But mostly, please do campaign for the ability to put the ISP's box in dumb mode.

      I have OpnSense for my routing. pfSense is another alternative which does much the same thing.

      I have a separate pair of wireless access points, currely Apple AirPorts but I will likely replace them at some point in the near future.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      But wouldn't it be even better if the router was not tied to a specific ISP, so when you change ISP you don't need new hardware. In much the same way as when you change electricity supplier you don't need a new meter. Same for water, gas, even POTS phones.

      Yes, I understand how PPP is involved etc, but it doesn't have to be. Just stick DHCP on the ISP's end and routers would be truly plug and play, not even needing TR-069 provisioning.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        FTTP should do that.

        The fibre terminates in a box that's got an RJ45 and (optionally) a phone socket on it.

        The RJ45 is actual Ethernet.

        In other words, you don't need the ISPs hardware at all, just a PPPoE capable router.

        That said, the ISP needs to tell you that username and password.

        I'm also somewhat bemused that NordVPN say PPPoE is "no longer widely used".

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          You sometimes have to read the details. I now have FTTP (CityFibre cable, ISP is Fibrecast) as well as VM for cable TV (yes, I known...) and the catch with mine is it is on a VLAN so I needed to set your router's WAN port to match.

          Other than that it works brilliantly!

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          >” The fibre terminates in a box that's got an RJ45 and (optionally) a phone socket on it.”

          The Glide box has neither, it’s just got two LC/UPC Simplex outlets.

          Glide will give you a choice, use their router or pull the fibre SFP module out of their router and put it in your router (or buy the relevant module so you have a spare (*) ).

          Obviously, if there are faults on the line they expect you to reattach their router so they can do end-to-end diagnostic investigations.

          (*) plug for give them the serial number of the supplied module and they will tell you which modules are compatible.

  4. CowHorseFrog

    whats the bet it barely goes thru 1 wall befor eits out of range.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      But that’s the benefit!

      Having WiFi that doesn’t go through walls to any great extent means less neighbour to neighbour interference, the question is whether the WiFi drops out less due to it no longer constantly channel hopping.

      Having WiFi that doesn’t go through walls means people need a “mesh”/WiFi repeater offering, step up the ISP with their “Complete WiFi disc” etc. product.

  5. Fazal Majid

    Too pessimistic

    The 6GHz band's failure to penetrate walls is a feature, as it means you are less likely to experience interference from other units in an apartment building, as 2.4Ghz is a lost cause and even 5GHz is congested in most places. It does require you to have a multi-AP setup, preferrably with wired or optical backhaul, but I am starting to see new build housing equipped thus.

    Most consumer-grade WiFi gear is indeed ghastly, with numerous bugs that cause inexplicable (and practically undebuggable) authentication bugs and connection brown-outs. Most could do with a simple watchdog timer that performs a scheduled reboot at 3AM to maintain stability throughout the day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too pessimistic

      In most newbuild houses in the UK (and indeed most in the past 25+ years) most internal walls will be plasterboard, so the attenuation of signals within the property will be minimal. Even internal supporting walls for a two story house will typically be lightweight blocks that are mostly air.

      1. prandeamus

        Re: Too pessimistic

        My house is a typical 30s built suburban semi, with all internal walls being brick. In some cases, definitely some sort of Friday afternoon brick with neutron star density. It has an extension beyond what were originally the outside walls. As you would expect it's a pain to get coverage from the main router. I've tinkered with additional access points with mains power backhaul, and though they work quite well for devices that don't move around like the Amazon firestick, phones and tablets and laptops don't handle the transitions well as you move around the house. Are true meshes - with reliable switchover as you move around - even possible? Should I try a single access point with a honking big ariel (or whatever)?

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Too pessimistic

          "In some cases, definitely some sort of Friday afternoon brick with neutron star density."

          I recognise the pain - it took three diamond tipped core drills to get through the first ~1.5mm of our external brick... that third bit then managed the rest of that brick and the entirety of the inner brick.

          1. Giles C Silver badge

            Re: Too pessimistic

            My mums house is like that, the external walls are east to drill into, round some of the windows on the internal side the seem to have used fire bricks (well you almost set the drill bits on fire)

            It is a 1960s house.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Too pessimistic

              You need a percussion drill - cuts through engineering bricks as if they were made out of cheese.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: Too pessimistic

                I see what was sold 40 years back as a percussion drill is now called an SDS drill.

          2. Roopee Bronze badge

            Re: Too pessimistic

            You need to buy an SDS drill! Lidl do an excellent basic small one for £30 + battery btw. Assuming you were trying to drill a small hole for a broadband-related cable of course. Core bits are for big holes.

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: Too pessimistic

              And a good quality SDS bit, not the 10 for £2 sort! Armeg make some worth getting.

            2. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Too pessimistic

              Soil pipe - so a pretty big hole.

              Mind you my first house was a concrete construction - and the aggregate they used was flint... I was going to chain drill holes for a dryer vent... and by the time I was a couple of inches into the wall with the first hole... the hole was about 4" across and was well lit internally from the sparks off the flint at the tip of the drill.

        2. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Too pessimistic

          Don't see how a sprit from Shakespeare's Tempest will help no matter how honkingly big she is. Perhaps an aerial would be more useful.

          1. prandeamus

            Re: Too pessimistic

            I knew I should have written "Antenna"

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too pessimistic

          "Are true meshes - with reliable switchover as you move around - even possible? "

          That's basically what defines a proper mesh system. I've had no problems with my TP-Link Deco, and any mesh system from a reputable hardware maker should cope seamlessly with transitions between network nodes. I just did an ipfail continuous test for a walk round the house, and their monitoring detected no dropouts even as my phone switched from secondary to primary node.

          If you buy really cheap unbranded (and perhaps Tenda) stuff, or use things like VM's mesh emulation on its own threadbare hub then you can expect those transitions not to be quite as seamless. Only you know what your requirements and budget are - if like me you want wifi as an appliance without a desire to tinker, then something like a TP-Link Deco S4 could be a very good choice for around a hundred quid for three units. They will work best if wired up with ethernet cables to the primary unit, but absent that they should work competently with a wireless backhaul link but at slower peak speeds. If you want a mesh system with full on tinkerability, then you're looking at stuff like Netgear's more expenisve Orbi units, or some of the Asus ZenWifi offers, and the full fat versions of those can be eye watering.

          1. Ben Tasker

            Re: Too pessimistic

            > I've had no problems with my TP-Link Deco, and any mesh system from a reputable hardware maker should cope seamlessly with transitions between network nodes

            There's slightly more to it than that unfortunately.

            I also have a TP-Link Deco setup and it works fantastically for our phones etc.

            The Nintendo Switch, however, is another story. It will not switch stations if the one it wants is even *remotely* visible, even if that means extended dropouts.

            Having a mesh setup isn't enough on it's own, the hardware you're using needs to not do dumb stuff.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Too pessimistic

            >” I just did an ipfail continuous test for a walk round the house”

            I found it is useful to follow this up with a streaming test like a HD music video to an iPad, the eyes and ears are really good at detecting glitches. The other good thing about this test is that you can get users to do it and report back. The only tricky part is confirming the iPad is switching APs ( with a PC you can run a script that reports the MAC address of the AP it is associated with).

        4. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

          Re: Too pessimistic

          > Are true meshes - with reliable switchover as you move around - even possible?

          Yes, providing your phone/tablet/laptop supports it. There’s an interesting set of posts over on the OpenWRT forums of what devices support 802.11r and related protocols. TLDR, yes: most iPhone/ iPad models, Windows laptops, Macs with Apple silicon and (get this) not many Android handsets. No: the rest. Not sure about Linux laptops, YMMV.

        5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Too pessimistic

          My house is a typical 30s built suburban semi, with all internal walls being brick. In some cases, definitely some sort of Friday afternoon brick with neutron star density

          Current orkplace, we support a bunch of old buildings, including castles. Many years ago, one of them wanted me to do a survey about fitting wifi into the office spaces within the castle and guest wifi everywhere else.

          They looked at my plan and BOM and had a minor shrieking/fainting fit - one AP per room!

          I gently explained that 3 foot of flint and mortar walls *really* don't let wifi through - even at 2.4Ghz. They eventually went for the guest wifi only since that was mostly outdoor spaces and the new-build cafe etc.

          I don't think they have office wifi even now.

      2. Duncan Macdonald

        Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

        One friend lives in a recently built property with plasterboard internal walls - UNFORTUNATELY this plasterboard and the plasterboard on the external walls has a layer of aluminium foil on the back making internal WiFi problematic and mobile phone calls do not work unless right by a window.

        1. Chloe Cresswell

          Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

          Because when you have a requirement for a thermal reflective layer on the outside wall which can be done by simply using foil backed plasterboard, who is going to buy different plasterboard for the internal walls... *nods*

          1. Lurko

            Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

            The foil lining is not there for thermal reasons, it is a vapour barrier. It can be used for internal use, but as it's notably more expensive than unlined plasterboard it makes no sense and anybody specifying the materials would only use foil lined for exterior walls. Then again, many things builders do makes no sense.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

              Then again, many things builders do makes no sense

              Indeed. Like our en-suite bathroom handbasion - turn on the cold tap at the same time as the cold tap in the main bathroom and it sucks in air so that, pretty quickly, it forms an airlock and no cold water comes out.

              The solution is to hold your hand over the mixer exit grille and turn both taps on. The hot water pushes the air up until you can hear it bubble out the header tank - at which point the cold water works again. The house was built in 1997.

              But at least we don't have odd patterns in our exterior brickwork where it clear that a brickie made a mistake in laying and, rather than undoing it, they just bodged it to be approximately right and they could lay the next course.

              1. Roopee Bronze badge

                Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

                Sounds as though your water pressure is too low?

            2. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

              Sometimes at the bulk level house builders purchase stuff at, it is cheaper to use the expensive stuff everywhere rather than have to deal with using two different boards. Also contractors tend to be on a piece rate, so there are times when they will use whatever is to hand so that they can finish a house on time.

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

          Curiously - in this German 'Massiv' house the walls and ground floor are cast concrete: Wifi doesn't always want to work through the cellar roof but the phones, albeit showing a low signal level, are fine.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

            It probably matters what frequencies the local mobile phone tower is using.

            From what I just read, in Germany 4G ranges from 700MHz up to 2600MHz. 5G is at 3700MHz. The higher the frequency, the worse wall penetration is. Maybe you lucked out and the local tower is on the lower bands, hence the acceptable mobile signal bu no WiFi.

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

              Probably. I just bought the house next door, with a three month overlap while the rental notice on this one works itself out, so there might be a bit of careful placement of WiFi units on windowsills to stretch the signal until it all changes over.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

                Well, maybe when 3G is turned off, they'll re-use those lower frequencies for 5G. That'll confuse the "5G protestors" when they can no longer tell the difference :-)

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Oh Matron!

          Re: Too pessimistic

          Microwave ovens work at 2.45GHz, which is closer to the WiFi range you've had since, we;;. WiFi began

        2. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Re: Too pessimistic

          Too right.

          One day they are going to go up to 600THz (yes tera Hertz!) or more and then what are we going to do?

          Actually, I was checking and the new PoE switch I installed today *already* emits modulated EM radiation around 550THz[1] so now I'm wondering what effect that'll have - it is in the attic so I'm probably safe from it getting out, right?

          [1] someone did try to tell me that this is eco-friendly, if you can believe that! He was insistent that this is actually perfectly green energy![2]

          [2] gimme a drum sting - bmm-tsssh!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Too pessimistic

            "One day they are going to go up to 600THz (yes tera Hertz!) or more and then what are we going to do?"

            I recommend a good pair of sunglasses and consider some factor 14

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Too pessimistic

      "It does require you to have a multi-AP setup, preferrably with wired or optical backhaul,"

      And here we have the problem. Start to explain to anyone whose home is already built what this means and what they'll have to do and they'll get confused. I've set up a mesh network in a house that didn't have the infrastructure for it, and while it worked, it wasn't pleasing from an aesthetic or an infrastructure point of view. Access points hidden behind or under furniture where I could find a power point that was unused, and no, they didn't happen to have ethernet to every room so I had to use some more basic backhaul methods. At least, because this was 5 GHz, I didn't have to install so many access points. Even if the walls won't absorb the frequencies, their range will be rather small. When compared to putting a single access point in the center of a location, which works very well for a small apartment and not terribly in a house whose walls are not radiopaque, people will tend to prefer that. If I'm building my own house, I'll try to have ethernet ports all over the place and convenient power sources for wall-mounted access points, but most places aren't built like that.

  6. Jonathon Green

    I’ve found that a lot of the problems with WiFi in the home can be solved quickly and easily by investing in a bunch of ethernet cables for those things which don’t actually need to move around…

    …but then that won’t generate any revenue for the ISP and doesn’t look great on the marketing material.

    1. Wu Ming

      But then the chatter will move to the “best” cable. Cat 5 is marketed for the poor now, cat 6 being the “smart” choice and cat 7 “future proof”. I came to realize salespeople recognized long ago how to play ego and ignorance effectively. Unfortunately we can not afford gross negligence in recognizing the environmental disaster we are in anymore.

      1. DoContra

        In this specific case, for cable that is going to live wall-side (or even tray-side), salespeople are not wrong. In my 3rd world, bureaucratic nightmare of importing, you can get brand-name (non-plenum rated) OG Cat-6 cable for ~20% on top of the cost of an equivalent brand (non-plenum rated) Cat-5e. Even the UV-resistant cables have little price difference between categories. I have done some cabling projects for workstations in my work in the mid 2010's and am already regretting not going for Cat-6a (rated for 10Gbps up to 100m/300ft) instead of Cat-6 (can do 10Gbps up to ~30m/100ft)...

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Cat6 a is a marked improvement over Cat6 particularly for PoE applications, with little per 100m reel price difference. Only issue is Cat6a is markedly heavier, stiffer and harder/more fiddly to terminate correctly. But the toolset required for small domestic installs isn’t particularly expensive.

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    You forgot "politicians" ...

    in that first sentence: Magicians, management, and marketing depend on misdirection.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: You forgot "politicians" ...

      Nah, politicritters rely on down right lying!

      One who merely relied on misdirection would be considered an outlier, and would be shunned by the rest of the herd!

      1. Mast1

        Re: You forgot "politicians" ...

        Surely that should be spelt : "outliar" ?

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: You forgot "politicians" ...

          Surely that should be spelt : "outliar" ?

          You missed the "Tony" prefix..

  8. chris street

    You mean like Zen internet?

    Unlocked router - that gets firmware updates regularly.... and you can buy another unlocked one off the shelf if you want and mesh it out the box....

    And they don't connect in... and encourage you to fiddle... as long as you are responsible they don't give a hoot what you are using....

    There are still some good ISP's out there.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      I think Zen will be my next ISP.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Second thumbs-up for Zen. I had them as my ISP when I was living in the UK and they were just great.

        I’m now in Oregon on a microwave uplink down the valley that gets me a fraction of the Zen ADSL speed at a multiple of the price, but hey ho.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      You mean like Zen internet?

      I did get a slight ticking off about using their SMTP servers as smarthosts - apparently that's not how you are supposed to do it. But that's the extent of it..

      (Some domains really don't like traffic coming from me even though it's a commercial line and I have a proper SPF setup.. so emails for those domains get relayed via Zen)

    3. Munehaus

      Just a warning if using Zen's Fritzbox...

      Don't plug in the Fritz if you value your existing POTS landline working. Especially if your landline is needed for emergency calls.

      We have VDSL from Zen which came with a Frizbox, which until a year ago was unused as I had a PFsense firewall. I had to use the PFsense elsewhere so plugged in the Fritz as a temp replacement. Roll on a year and the Fritz was still there, so Zen without my permission or even telling us, decided to move the landline to the Fon port on the Fritz since it was connected. I only found out this is what they had done when I reported the landline as faulty teo weeks after they cut of the emergency line. Although unlikely, someone could have died because of this.

      I've now switched back to PFsense and Zen appear completely unable to restore our landline to any kind of working fashon and even though I have a Yealink phone with multiple working AAISP VoIP lines on my desk, the Zen VoIP details wont work. Worse than that, our broadband is very flaky VDSL that resyncs several times a day (ongoing Openreach issue) and the landline is (or was) used in case of medical issues as a backup to VoIP and wifi calling. Zen also have no battery backup options to ensure 999 access.

      Our only solution now appears to move the number to AAISP and presumably also the broadband.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        > Don't plug in the Fritz if you value your existing POTS landline working. Especially if your landline is needed for emergency calls.

        OTOH we haven't had any such issue with Zen and their Fritz!Box router.

        Having said that, as the Fritz!Box was just plugged in in place of its predecessor, into the ADSL side of the filter, and the other handsets are just plugged into normal 'phone extension wiring, not sure how the Ftitz!Box _could_ usurp our landline.

        As to "restoring the landline to working condition" - um, unplugging the Fritz!box? If that doesn't work then wouldn't that indicate that your POTS had been switched off, which is down to BT, not your ISP (Zen or otherwise)?

  9. Swordfish1

    I'm on City Fibre out in the sticks of March, in the Fenland of East Anglia.

    My ISP is Zen, and my package for £40 per month provides me with 900Mbps up and down which I do check regularly,

    However, I don't use the ISP provided Friz Box.

    I use a Netgear RAXE500 triband Wifi 6E router/

    Its excellent, providing coverage for all my devices, over the 3 bands it operates on, with minimal interference.

    Our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra;s operate on the 6G Wi-Fi band, and using Wi-Fi analyser it appears we are the only ones using that band in the area.

    But that will change, as more devices come onto the market, that can operate at those frequencies.

    I welcome Wi-Fi 7 and will probably upgrade my router a few years from now. But in the meantime, I'm happy with my current set-up, with over 20 devices, spread over all 3 bands, and up to 4 over ethernet on our network

  10. Wu Ming

    WiFi 4 for all

    Deferrable data transfer? It is being deferred. Non deferrable, near real time transfer? It is optimized for WiFi g.

    Promoting network equipment for speed only few need is promoting waste and pollution. We can not afford them anymore.

    One data point: we have two of almost everything. iPhone s, iPad s, laptops. Plus environmental monitor. WiFi 4, 1x1 with 60 Mbps Tx serving everything, including work from home, is perfectly sufficient. Because everything was optimized long ago.

  11. navarac Bronze badge


    marketing... marketing. In other words. BS.. BS.. and even more BS.

    1. xyz Silver badge

      Re: Marketing....

      You were sold double glazing as a child... Admit it.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Marketing....

        You were sold double glazing as a child

        Except that double glazing has clear and quantifiable benefits..

        (I have to say that since my wife worked for a double-glazing supplier when I met her 35 years ago. They sold to the install companies, not the public. She's now plumbing the depths as a Sharepoint admin..)

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Marketing....

          > She's now plumbing the depths as a Sharepoint admin..

          With a nod to the old joke, she should tell the kids she’s actually a piano-player in a brothel… it’s less embarrassing than the truth :)

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Marketing....

          > Except that double glazing has clear and quantifiable benefits..

          Which were compromised (in the days before uPVC) by fitting in aluminium frames which lacked a thermal barrier..

          What I detest about the companies (especially the majors) selling double glazing, alarm systems, solar panels, paving etc. is their rip-off add it on to take off approach to pricing and offers only available if you sign now (hence why they ask to have all with an interest i the property present when they do the “survey” and “quote”.

  12. Lee D Silver badge

    I only ever use my own router providing my own wifi.

    Purely because I don't want the ISP to have any control over my modem, or any access - theoretical or not - to my Wifi key and/or network.

    Same in every workplace I work in, and at home.

    I like the Draytek routers as they have VDSL, 4G failover, proper Wifi with multiple SSIDs, VLANs, QoS, VPN and all kinds of good features for a decent price. My previous one has been through 3 houses with me and is still my preference even if it's "only" Wifi 4 (802.11n).

    It allows me to block off my CCTV cameras and "smart" devices onto their own SSID and VLAN and they can still get out to the Internet if necessary but can't interfere with my local machines (remember everything behind your "firewall" can talk, so those things could be probing your laptops and desktops and will be in the "trusted" local network!).

    I will happily buy a Wifi 7 model of the same Draytek and I have no doubt that they'll make one. Hell, I was about to buy the Wifi 6 model anyway, to be honest, I don't need the extra speed. Maybe one will push the price of the other down?

    But ISP-supplied routers? Straight in the bin. Most of the time you have to fight to get them into modem mode, their wifi is awful and doesn't want to co-operate with anything else, and the ISP can literally do what they like on them which I don't like... ISPs have had their modems compromised before now and used to open up huge holes in corporate and home networks.

    It's one of the (many) things that puts me off Starlink too... the home stations only offer out over Wifi... er... nope. Not having that. Besides the fact that it's then inherently limited by the Wifi connection from the roof into the house, I don't want it broadcasting and taking up all the bandwidth twice (because I would then have to send it to my existing wireless), and they could have just slapped on an Ethernet port for a pittance. They have it on the business models, but I'm not paying for the business subscription just for an Ethernet port.

    And now I hear that my ISP is going to be cutting my phone line and making me use VoIP for my home phone number. So they are going to send me lots of digital adaptors, etc. to plug into "their" router. Nope. Just give me the SIP trunk details and I'll plug them into my Draytek which can handle that no problem as it has the adaptors built-in already on the V voice models (and I'll still never use the phone, but hey, you never know).

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      I only ever use my own router providing my own wifi.

      Likewise - sort of.

      Internet -> router [1] -> firewall -> internal network [2].

      [1] Some sort of Draytek acting purely as a router - not the FritzBox Zen supplied. DHCP/NAT/FW all turned off. All it does is make the PPPOE connection and then hand everything off to the firewall [3]

      [2] Including 2 Unifi APs and two Unifi mesh APs with the management running on a VM on one of my virtualisation (Proxmox - yay!) servers.

      [3] Had several tries at getting the firewall to do the PPPOE and, for some reason, it's never worked. Maybe I'll give it another go when the OPNSense F/W goes in.

  13. 43300 Silver badge

    "Put it into modem mode and pass all the packets straight through to a third-party router."

    If the connection uses a standard Openreach line, as many do, you can just dispense with the ISP router and connect an alternatice direct to the line.

    It's only if you are with one of those ISPs (e.g. Virgin) which requires a bespoke router that you need to keep it and put it into modem only mode - which is the only sensible option with the Virgin ones if you want any control, as the rotuers themselves started with very limited configuration capability and have got worse with new models over time. They were always limited to 192.68.x.x for the LAN, but the latest ones are even more restrictive and won't allow anything other than 192.168.0.x.

  14. martinusher Silver badge

    Fundamental issues unaddressed

    WiFi is a kludge, it has fundamental inefficiencies but one standout feature of the technology from the beginning has been how marketing has been able to successfully gloss over them and sell it as something that it isn't. This doesn't make it less useful overall but its the reason why its performance always falls short of what's advertised. "Never mind", we're constantly told, "the next version will be much better" (quoting some highly theoretical and totally unrealistic performance figure). All the weird bit is that everyone just laps it up unquestioningly.

    The protocol we know as WiFi isn't very efficient, as you'd expect from a non-synchronous shared medium protocol. The fact it works as well as it does is nothing short of miraculous, especially as it was crammed into the old ISM bands, bands which were regarded as useless due to atmospheric absorption of the signals at the frequencies used. The fux for more throughput has always been obvious, and political -- more spectrum. Going up in frequency to a band with little to no penetration might be what's needed but it won't be WiFi as people understand it, it will be more like Super Bluetooth (and actually going back to WiFi's roots in the infra-red protocol offered for laptop to laptop communications in the 1990s).

    Anyway, raising the coding rate does nothing to mitigate the losses due to interframe gaps, training sequences, collisions with other transmitters and the like. Its just the one thing that marketing can grab onto that they know the public will recognize. Prepare to be disappointed.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Fundamental issues unaddressed

      "Wifi is 20 times slower than a cable".

      It's always been true, it's still true now and it will likely always be true.

      However the bandwidth is now coming out of the "for casual use, it'll work okay" into "it's so damn fast it doesn't really matter" areas.

      The big problem is legacy kit, taking up far more frequency and generating far more noise than required, but with WPA3 that will start to solve itself too and anything not WPA3 capable will be consigned to a bin.

      I hard-cable servers, etc. obviously, and at home I'm cabled to my main laptop (mostly for gaming ping!), but I have probably 50+ wifi devices, and my neighbours have a few, and it all "just works", so long as you're not expecting perfection and zero latency and perfect response. And that's on an 802.11n (Wifi 4) network.

      To be honest, we're now at the point where something like Wifi 6 or 7 "just works" for almost any application, but we'll all keep servers etc. on multi-gigabit guaranteed connections for a few generations more, I imagine. By that point, everything will be cloud and then all we need is Wifi and core networking on the back-end.

      It's come along a lot, and it achieves marvellous things, but it's now at the point where brute-force and ignorance of the problems pretty much just makes everything work together. A bit like when we all started using sensible amounts of CPU and RAM and nobody had to hand-optimise stuff any more.

      Not saying that's great from an engineering point of view, but for domestic and small business, nobody is going to care about the difference and they'll just Wifi 7 everything and it'll work - maybe with a QoS tweak or two, but it'll work. The use cases of cabled hardware for domestic / small business are getting less and less every day. Even access control, CCTV, etc. aren't going to care about a short blip any more.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Fundamental issues unaddressed

        "The use cases of cabled hardware for domestic / small business are getting less and less every day."

        I already have clients that have switched entirely to WiFi in the offices for the users. It's much cheaper to just put WAPs everywhere in both new build and existing offices, especially where everyone has gone open plan. No need to pay for all those extra wall and floor points to be installed that may never get used, no need to run extra cat5 all over the place when the desk layout is changed yet again etc. I'm not sure I agree, but the Beancounters are happy and Infrastructure/Facilities are happy since it's much easier for people to be moved around without expensive change requests or extra switches being hung of a wall point in an office. And all those WAPs just go in the suspended ceiling space, out of sight and out of mind :-)

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Fundamental issues unaddressed

          Are their staff fairly light users - i.e. office documents and the like? Probably acceptable for them in some circumstrances but if used for video editing, GIS modelling, etc I suspect the users would soon get pissed off!

        2. HereIAmJH

          Re: Fundamental issues unaddressed

          These days, you have to install the WAPs anyway. There has to be full WIFI coverage for the office. In general, the company probably doesn't want huge volumes of traffic running on the employee's machines anyway. Unless it's online meetings. It's also beneficial for getting rid of those user 'servers' under the desk that IT doesn't know about.

          Where I work we used to have hardwired ports in all the cubes. Most were turned off because we moved to laptops. For security, you know. Then they renovated the offices and took away all the cubes. Now we just have 5' call center type desks, for 'team building'. Since they bought standing desks, I suspect the next cost cutting will remove all the chairs. BTW, we no longer have suspended ceilings since the remodel. All that HVAC ductwork is just modern industrial art, and the WAPs are suspended on the bottom of a short piece of conduit. At least they sprayed sound deadener on the bottom of the concrete floor overhead.

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: Fundamental issues unaddressed

            Sounds a thoroughly unpleasant working environment!

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Fundamental issues unaddressed

              "Industrial chic" :-)

  15. AndrueC Silver badge

    Lol, this is not a new idea. I'm still using my original BT supplied HG612 in modem mode and my own supplied Vigor router doing all the clever stuff.

    I would never use an ISP that insisted on me using their router and as I've posted here before I dislike ISPs that promote themselves on the basis of their router's Wifi capabilities. I will never believe that an ISP supplied router (nominally supplied for free) will ever be as good as a router that I have chosen myself and have paid money for.

    I'm with IDNet and although they will sell a router it's a reasonably good off-the shelf router and all they do is configure it for your account. You don't have to buy it and they are quite happy to let their customers use their own routers and will even try and help you with them although understandably they advise that if they didn't supply it there might be a limit as to what they can do.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An awful lot of the UK housing stock

    will make this next to useless.

    Unlike the USA where STUD walls dominate much of the UK housing stock has brick or breeze block walls which are a problem with 5G signals.

    Add in 2ft thick stone walls, as is the case with my 16th Century home and this stuff is a much use as an N95 mask is to Donald Trump when he's wearing bronzer.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: An awful lot of the UK housing stock

      Unlike the USA where STUD walls dominate much of the UK housing stock has brick or breeze block walls which are a problem with 5G signals.

      I'm not sure it's as 'bad' as that. My house was built in 1991 and has stud walls so that would lead me to assume that every house built in the last 30 years does. Given how many houses have been built since then I'm not convinced that solid walls 'dominate'. They might even be the minority.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An awful lot of the UK housing stock

        > Given how many houses have been built since then I'm not convinced that solid walls 'dominate'. They might even be the minority.

        Oh joy, the UK housing stock is going downhill in every way imaginable.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: An awful lot of the UK housing stock

          Been a race to the bottom for a while now. Minimise build costs, minimise land usage.

  17. Kev99 Silver badge

    I recently dumped Spectrum and switched ISPs and installed a TP-Link Archer AX3000. Guess what? I can't see a bit of difference even tho' the Archer is WiFi6 and Spectrum was WiFi5. Do I need faster speed? Nope. Do I care? Nope. Do I want to swap out all of my devices with their built-in WiFi chips just to have a few milliseconds shaved off sending an e-mail? You're kidding, right?

  18. bpfh

    Ahhh, finally 46 gbit bandwidth

    And plugged into a fibre connection that gets 150 meg on a good day.

  19. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Can I haz a 46GbE switch?

    Buying just one ordinary 10GbE switch with 4+1 ports is painful. All that does is link a desktop and server. Faster LAN hasn't reached the 2.5GbE WiFi access points because those are each behind more 1GbE switches that would need upgrading. Putting that speed to use would mean adding a 10GbE NIC to the backup NAS too.

    Fly, money, fly away!

  20. scote

    Sky full fibre cant support 3rd party routers if you use their landline phone. Proprietary phone support on their router only. Looking at 3rd party voip now before full fibre upgrade. Only other way is double nat as their router doesn't support modem mode.

  21. jollyboyspecial Silver badge


    This is nothing new. It's what we used to call "The same problems only faster"

  22. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I use Virgin Media, and generally, they've been quite reliable, apart from the odd outage (which can be expected), and have offered near the gigabit connection I pay for, so I'm usually happy.

    The one thing I never use though is their router.

    I had used my own router before I had virgin, and carried on using it when I initially had a cable modem, so I was happy to manage my own network.

    Then, I upgraded and had to have a superhub, so I switched to use that as a router.. Wired connections were fine, but Wifi lasted around 7 days before vanishing and requiring a reboot to get back.

    So, I bought a new router (the WRT54G I had used before was brilliant, especially with the DD-WRT firmware, but I needed something faster). Ended up with some awful looking Asus Gaming thing that did offer excellent speed and connectivity for the time, and ultimately replaced that with a mesh network of Orbis. The orbis are missing a couple of things that would be nice (it would be nice if they offered local DNS for instance, so I could access any device by name rather than IP, and I would like some freedom to add DHCP options), but they do work with very little fuss once set up.

    I just think it would be nice for Virgin to offer the option of a dedicated modem if you don't want a router.

  23. raglits

    Give me more range, not more speed!!

    Stop making wifi faster and work out a way of improving the range!!

    Or maybe have a two pronged approach, better coverage from fewer routers/access points for home users and fast as hell with a gazillion access points required for businesses that want to get rid of cabling to the desks.

    Why do I need faster wifi? It's already faster than most devices can read data off the storage anyway (at least for the majority of home users). Even my modest 4 bedroom house has required a mesh system to get decent signal on the top floor (3 storey town house here) and even then I needed to play around with positioning of the main router and the satellite to stop the wireless backhaul from dropping out every so often. The internet connection comes in at the front of the house on the ground floor and wireless signal on the top floor at the back of the house was borderline with most routers (no idea what the BT one is like as it's still in the box with the shrink wrap on it).

    Just glad I never connected a landline phone up when we moved here as if I wanted to carry on using the landline I'd have to get the router out the box and either use their router or double NAT as it can't be put into modem only mode. Personally I don't think that they should be allowed to do that but I can't be arsed arguing with them as I never use the landline anyway.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Give me more range, not more speed!!

      Range is limited by the maximum power levels in the 801.11 standard. Buy a branded AP and it will give you the maximum output.and range (circa 85m without obstacles). The cheap ISP routers seem to use less powerful and sensitive radio circuits to save on component costs. However, the really important consideration is the range of your mobile devices; the AP needs to be able to hear them. It seems counter intuitive but I have improved reliability of a WiFi network by turning the TX power down so that it isn’t deafening the RX and also because the device gets a less powerful signal it will increase its TX power …

      Personally ,if you floors are standard wood construction, I would invest in PoE ceiling mount WiFi AP and mount on the ceiling of your top floor (mine is located above the stairwell central to the house) and a wired connection back to the router (use the right grade of cable and it can be routed externally), also turn off the routers WiFi.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Give me more range, not more speed!!

        Correction that should be 802.11 not 801.11.

  24. rlightbody

    Modem mode and Google Wifi - easy life

    Couldn't possibly agree more with the conclusion of this article.

    Years ago, I switched my awful Virgin Superhub 3 into model only mode, and added 2 Google Wifi 'pucks' in mesh mode. I've never looked back. Consistent. reliable wi-fi through the house and better understanding of what is going on when required.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Of course you're right that wifi 7 isn't going to offer anything anyone actually needs over and above wifi 6"

    For the previous 2-3 generations of WiFi (since 802.11ac), I'd largely agree.

    However, anyone who's bothered to look in any decent depth at the specification for WiFi 7 (like, beyond just the headline speed difference, OP) would have to admit that the features being added look very promising and useful indeed.

    The use of Multi-Link Operation and Multi-Resource Units, for example, are very exciting, as they will likely go a long way to tackling the real limiting factor of most WiFi networks today, which is congestion due to interference between multiple stations operating on the same station.

    This has been the Achilles heel for the 802.11 standard ever since WLANs really took off, as a consequence of the extremely densely packed WiFi networks that are unavoidable in urban settings and the limitation of only 3 non-overlapping channels in the most commonly used 2.4GHz band.

    The use of dynamic channel use in WiFi 7 is therefore a massive change, which should help to significantly remedy the issue.

    Aside from that, the addition of RTWT (restricted target wake time) should go a long way to making TWT operable in practice, which has big implications for energy efficiency and extended battery life for IoT devices.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >” the limitation of only 3 non-overlapping channels in the most commonly used 2.4GHz band.”

      The problem (*) that strategy was addressing largely went away with the move away from the initial 1~5mbps signalling. But things enter the collective conscience and become firmly embedded and set in stone.

      There were papers based on live experiments published on it circa 10~15 years back. Also the original Aruba office AP deployment used a single channel across multiple APs…

      Yes, there is some interference but it will typically be less than 5%.

      Also with higher speeds requiring more channels, channel conflicts become unavoidable and thus the transmission design has to take this into account. If you think of the carrier wave as a corridor, a collision only happens if the bit of data my AP sends - which normally my device antenna receives, occupies the same airspace at the same time as the bit of data from my neighbours AP - something which happens relatively rarely. Transmit and receiver diversity reduces this problem as my device is receiving the same bit on multiple paths.

      I run my home WiFi on channel 9 (2.4ghz) and a similar channel on 5ghz not normally used by ISP supplied routers (thus disabling its antiquated frequency hopping algorithm) and everything works fine, last time I looked the error/retransmission rate was circa 1 percent and the neighbours Sky, BT et al routers were happily using their default channels that overlap with mine.

      [Aside: I also disabled the sub 10 mbps connection speeds - if all your devices are 802.11g or better this won’t cause a problem. Whilst I could have set my default channel higher, many devices over the years - including HP and Dell laptops don’t scan the non-US channels, but once they had associated will switch to using non-US channels. Similar considerations apply to the 5ghz band and the DFS impacted channels.]

      (*) The 3 channel limit on 2.4ghz was due to US frequency/channel availability, for most of the rest of the world it was 4 channels. Interestingly, I see many ISP routers eg. BT also limit their use of 5ghz to 3 channels.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >” laptops don’t scan the non-US channels, but once they had associated will switch to using non-US channels.”

        Note this functionality only turns on if your AP supports region/country setting and it is set to UK etc. without this the device will assume it’s in a region with restricted channels, namely the US.

  26. Luiz Abdala

    I come from the gaming community, and I say:

    "There is no wireless in the planet that can replace a stable, low ping Cat 5 under the carpet, when it comes down to headshots".

    Now, really, some games are uber-sensitive to channel hopping these wireless devices are prone to doing.

    Some will drop you out of the game completely, some will lag you out, some will LITERALLY crash the game.

    If you can get wired, DO IT. It doesn't matter how good the wireless is, a cable will best it, eleven out of ten times.

    I don't care how deep are you into Wifi specs, as a home user, a cable will best a wireless, every time. Even the crappiest, scratched, nailed on ethernet cable will trump a wireless connection.

    And even when you DO find a neat wireless, it will suck 2 amps out of the wall, and probably burn red while you do it, or all the time.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    QoS only fixes the problems if it works!

    I bought an Asus RT-ACRH17 router specifically because it had QoS settings - my private server was doing cloud backups over our slow connection, causing all other connections to not function well. Seemed like setting that machine to lowest-priority would do the trick.

    Nope. After trying every combination of QoS settings I could think of, I finally contacted Asus... who tried the same things again, and finally suggested I do bandwidth throttling instead. (Which I had intentionally not done, as I wanted those backups to use the full pipe at 4 AM when all other devices were quiet.)

    Turns out that that model has SETTINGS for QoS, but it doesn't actually FUNCTION - it seems to ignore them entirely!

  28. garwhale

    More easily blocked

    Being more easily blocked by walls may be a positive for the consumer, as well as a negative. Many consumers will still be running 802.11g or 802.11n, so they will notice a difference if they switch up to WiFi 7.

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