Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
 
MU-MIMO

While the title looks suspiciously like a new game genre like MOBA and MMORPG, it in fact stands for multi user multiple input multiple output WiFi technology. The idea is that if you have a home network where you have several tablets and smartphones, plus gadgets like Apple TV or Chromecast, and whatever else using WiFi, you would benefit from this new technology that promises to give WiFi to multiple devices at once at the same speed. I just bought a Linksys EA7500 MU-MIMO WiFi router, and I'm still a bit puzzled by the performance.

My recent interest in WiFi speed is connected to the recent arrival of Fast.com, a service powered by Netflix that tells you your internet speed in the simplest possible way. With my old router I found that I had 36 Mbps on my main computer when nothing else was running, and 18 Mbps on my various WiFi devices. But when both me and my wife were watching Netflix on two different tablets, I experienced some stuttering sometimes.

With the new Linksys EA7500 router I have 20 Mbps *everywhere*, whether by ethernet cable or by WiFi, and even if I turn on video streaming on several devices the speed doesn't go down. No more Netflix stuttering! Also the new router has better antennae, so the signal is stronger in the remoter corners of the house. So, lots of everyday problems solved! However I now do worry that I lost speed on the main PC, as I don't get those 36 Mbps any more. I'm not sure how much difference that makes in practice, and whether I really would now take twice as much time to download for example a big game from Steam.

Of course 20 Mbps isn't bad compared to global average broadband speeds, and for most purposes having 20 Mbps on multiple devices simultaneously is better than having one faster device and stuttering problems on WiFi. But I do wonder why my PC connected with a cable isn't any faster than the WiFi any more, and whether there is something hidden in the settings where I could change that.

One reason I am wondering is that the setup for the new router was different from the old one. I do have a VDSL modem from my internet provider, and the router is connected to that. But with the old router that was all I had to do, while the new router required me to input my VDSL user data and password. Now I can simply plug my PC out of the router and directly into the modem, and my internet speed goes up to 36 Mbps. But then I am not on the same network as the other devices any more, and for example I can't connect to the network printer any more.

Somewhere there must be an overall limitation anyway. I don't think I could download large files on the PC at 36 Mbps and still have fast WiFi on several devices in the house. So maybe getting 20 Mbps everywhere is simply the best I can hope for. What do you think? Any experience with MU-MIMO lowering top speed in order to provide good speed for multiple devices?

[EDIT: Problem solved with the help of a reader who told me to look for "bridge mode". While the Linksys router comes with DVD with a big manual, the manual is only big because it is in many different languages. It doesn't actually explain all the options, and doesn't tell you how to switch to bridge mode.]

[UPDATE: I further increased the speed of my internet by getting a new VDSL modem from my internet service provider. So now I'm up to 45 Mbps. Awesome!]

Comments:
Do you know about bridge mode and routed mode?
If the VDSL modem and the new WiFi router are both in routed mode ("the new router required me to input my VDSL user data and password."), then there is a conflict between them. They both try to establish a PPOE session (or some other kind of session) with your ISP.

I myself have a VDSL2 modem (aka router) to connect to my ISP. The modem uses by subscriber name and password to do that. And then there is a "dumb" gigabit switch with eight ports to connect the rest of my home network.
 
Oh wow, it turned out that "bridge mode" was the magic word. I knew I wanted the modem provided by my ISP to connect to VDSL, and the new Linksys router to just dumb distribute the signal, but I didn't know which setting to change to get to that point. Once you told me that this was called "bridge mode", I found a description on the internet how to enable bridge mode. And now I have 36 Mbps both on my PC and WiFi. Brilliant!

What really surprises me is that the speed still isn't going down by much when I have both the TV (streaming from the same VDSL modem) and Netflix running. I still get 32 Mbps on Fast.com.
 
1.2 Mbps! I am a beast!

The reason it's so low is because I live in the woods, with the rest of the wild animals. DSL became available about 2 years ago, and that is a god send... I have Satellite Internet before that, and let me tell you, Satellite Internet is THE WORST.
 
TY for this! More acronyms to be aware of the next time I need to replace something.
 
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