What I Learned About Networking While Reworking My Network

WiFi is slower than hard wired. This is ALWAYS true. If and when you can, hard wire. Everything in my studio is connected by Ethernet cables. Only my phone and tablets are wireless.

This weekend marked a transformation in the studio and throughout my home. I’ve ditched my “s-l-o-w” 35/350 Mbps Internet service from Cox and traded up to “Gigapower,” AT&T’s 1,000/1,000 Mbps offering.

This afternoon I uploaded a 2:30 HD video clip to Nebraska in under 30 seconds!

Speed equals time. Time is my most valuable commodity.

Speed Test on AT&T Gigapower

My first concern after ordering the service was can my current infrastructure handle it. 1 Gbps is a recent addition to the possible.

A quick check found two switches that handled up to 100 Mbps. Hey, whaddaya think this is, 2015? A dumb switch is a commodity device. It works or it doesn’t. I bought two new ones by price.

WiFi doesn’t make it from the garage/studio to the family room or master bedroom above it. There’s an extra AP (access point) in the family room. Our 2013 home already had cabling in the wall to tie all this together. Welcome to the new world.

That AP too was a generation behind. What’s one more device to upgrade? I put a new 300 Mbps WiFi AP behind a cabinet.

The speed in the family room won’t be Gigabit, but it’s plenty fast for web surfing. Because of overhead processing web requests, getting data faster makes a smaller difference than you’d expect, especially when it’s already fast.

WiFi is slower than hard wired. This is ALWAYS true. If and when you can, hard wire. Everything in my studio is connected by Ethernet cables. Only my phone and tablets are wireless.

With this upgrade my intention was to try and leave my equipment’s IP addresses unchanged. It looked like the router built into my modem supported that. Looks can be deceiving.

AT&T has neutered this box. A bunch of things just don’t work and there’s no explanation, only the muffled screams of other nerds on web forums.

In the end I was forced to let the box’s DHCP server hand out IP addresses. To my surprise most of the network ‘relationships’ between my computers needed no touching. It just worked, even with the new addresses.

Some of the equipment, like my server, have to face out onto the Internet. That meant port forwarding and punching small holes in the firewall. It went pretty easily too.

My printers were a little tougher to wrangle. Their original IP addresses were hard coded in. I needed to uninstall then reinstall on six separate computers.

My Nebraska VOIP phone stopped working. I speak to our production coordinator every night. She is four digits away. Like the printers this was a hard coded IP problem.

One part of my switchover needed tight coordination. Weather maps for News Channel Nebraska are sent to my server from WSI in Massachusetts. If my system goes down their system grinds to a halt. My longtime buddy Don Morelli was on-the-case Sunday evening. Seamless!

There are twenty four devices on this LAN. A few boxes used as spares or only occasionally haven’t yet been powered up. A Mac and iPhone will be added the next time Stef visits.

The goal was to accomplish this on my off days with no impact or downtime. Mission accomplished!

One thought on “What I Learned About Networking While Reworking My Network”

  1. I have read your blog with interest, and hope you are satisfied with the network you have installed. It occurred to me while reading that if you literally did what you said you are likely wasting 90% of the potential of your Giga-feed. I wonder therefore if your goal was to get a faster network, or to get a replacement network at a low cost. I say that because, for example, a commodity 100mb switch only passes 10% of a Gigabit of data upstream to your feed. Running a speed test from the router would never show this – you need to run it through the switches to see the throughput from your computer.

    I also would observe that a 300mb wireless unit is three times the speed of a 100mb switch. The lower end wireless routers and access points generally share a signal with all connections, whereas the newer “AC” units can provide distinct connections to several devices at once. While this would not speed up an individual unit, it would allow for better throughput for all users when multiples are connected.

    Basically, from what you have described, you have throttled your network at the first switch after the router. If its throughput currently satisfies you then you are all set. When you decide it isn’t enough, a simple upgrade of a switch or two to “giga” speed will provide the boost you need at that time. After that, upgrading the access point to at least AC1200 will boost your wireless throughput.

    Have fun with your studio 😉

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