A question asked about the complexity of fixing your network…

Home automation series continued. I got a great email yesterday from a long time reader. Interesting that I’ve never actually met this person we’ve only communicated via email since he started reading my blog 9 years ago.

clip_image002He asked “I am trying to complete the first step in your process and I am really confused by the many range and Wi-Fi extenders out there. As in that is almost as confusing as actually automating parts of my home.”

There are a number of products in the Wi-Fi improvement space. 10-12 companies that offer solutions with various levels and types. They fit into two types in the end. One type connects to your Ethernet and basically is able to rebroadcast the same Wi-Fi address as your cable modem, fiber optic, DSL, ISDN or satellite connection to the internet. With these you are bound however to have the physical Ethernet for the most effective use. The other primarily available option is buy boosters. These basically connect to your Wi-Fi and then boost the existing signal. Its less effective over time and if you saturate a boosted network it will not function effectively. There is a third option that is probably the most expensive overall. That would be a complete network segregation. The reality is you are bound to the bandwidth available within the spectrum you are using. IE if you buy multiple Wi-Fi routers and have multiple SSID’s within your house you are still bound by the total capacity of your router and the available bandwidth within your house. But you can do this last option. Have more than one wireless network in your home. I normally have at least two but with the last upgrade I did I now actually have 3. I have my standard network from my Fiber Optic provider, the same network but pushed to the 5 ghz band and a 3rd network that has both a bridge for home automation protocols as well as offering a separate Wi-Fi network.

With three networks I can actually segment off IoT devices. I have a home automation hub thatclip_image004 further segments off traffic as well. This gives me the ability to have a managed home network. Yes it very similar to what many enterprise and government agencies do in that they have a production network and a guest network. The segmentation of traffic coming together in a single point increases the ability of the network to be resilient. It does however potentially put a greater strain on your router. If you don’t have the upload speed there is a level of risk here.

clip_image006Of course the first step even though it is complex still requires some time and testing. Even if you segment your network into two, three or more you still need to validate your signal strength. That is the time consuming part but luckily it is also the only one that doesn’t have to cost money. Well it can cost money but there are a number of free speed testing sites you can use. Yes there are ads but they don’t charge you for the service.

Once the corners of your house can connect you now can actually start to automate.


IASA Fellow