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WiFi 3G/4G Router – mesh?

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(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

No fiber to my address so stuck with a 3G/4G Router provided by MEO. Granted, I’m from the Bay Area and I’m used to gigabyte service, but this thing feels like the ice age.

The router itself is the flimsiest I’ve ever seen. It covers a very small area. I’m sure I have an old WiFi router in a box in San Francisco. Will it work here? 

What are options for a better router? Mesh WiFi? Can I buy an eero truemesh system in the US and use it in rural Portugal?

If I can’t do better, I may have to resort to Starlink—but I signed a two-year contract with MEO, so I’d like to see what’s possible. (FYI: NOS Does not have a tower nearby.)

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(@demonrik)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 9

@jma by covering a small area I assume you mean wifi coverage in the house.

Have you considered wifi repeaters? They are a lot more straight forward to setup and maintain. To use a 3rd party router/wifi requires some good technical knowledge to get something that works reliably and consistently – key to that is knowing if the MEO router supports bridge mode or not.

Wifi repeaters connect to the MEO router’s wifi and rebroadcast the wifi around the house. There are different types depending on your home. The main thing to beware of is that if it’s just connecting through wifi then you are immediately 1/2ing your wifi bandwidth since it has to send it twice. Hence I like to recommend things like the Powerline TP-LINK TL-WPA4221 (for just €50ish via Worten) which connects over the internal electric wiring allowing you complete freedom to move it through the house.

There are some restrictions depending on the house wiring. The best way to find out is to set it up close to your MEO router, confirm all is good, then move the wifi repeater side to where you want it and see if it still works. I would recommend this setup and try method even with a wifi only repeater like the TP-LINK RE200 (€25)

The beauty of the repeaters is you can make sure the MEO router is in the best possible place for internet reception and then have the repeater(s) closer to where you want internet.

 

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(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 28

@demonrik By “connects over the internal electric wiring,” do you mean it plugs in? I found a little white thing in a drawer and tried it. Helps some, but my Sonos system drops when I move a portable speaker away from the router—and when it connects via this device. Does that mean I’m 1/2-ing the system like you mention? 

And is there nothing that can be done about a better router? Really flimsy. 

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(@demonrik)
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Posts: 9

Posted by: @jma

@demonrik By “connects over the internal electric wiring,” do you mean it plugs in?

Sort of.. For that solution there are 2 devices. BOTH plug in to the power sockets. 1 is closer to your MEO router and you connect a network cable from it to your MEO router (I’m assuming this is not their portable router). The other one plugs in elsewhere in the house where you need better wifi. This allows you to place the MEO router closer to a window, while moving the wifi signal further into the house and all the data between them goes over your electrical wiring. The single device solutions have to use wifi to move data from it to your MEO router.

I found a little white thing in a drawer and tried it. Helps some, but my Sonos system drops when I move a portable speaker away from the router—and when it connects via this device.

I’ve no idea what the little white thing is – are there any markings on it to indicate manufacturer, model number or part number? I assume you did more than just plug it in? If is similar repeater you would have to at least configure it to connect to the MEO router’s wifi. If you didn’t then that explains why the Sonos doesn’t work when you connect to it.

The sonos dropping when you move away from the router is weak wifi from the router. That it drops when connecting via the device sounds like it’s not configured correctly to connect to the MEO router (assuming it is a repeater).

Does that mean I’m 1/2-ing the system like you mention? 

Doesn’t sounds like it – sounds like missing configuration. 1/2ing the system speed means you might get more buffering circles when watching netflix.. but it should still connect.

 

And is there nothing that can be done about a better router? Really flimsy. 

Well – yes.. but it’s not straight forward – hence was trying to avoid this long bit of the post 😉 – so forgive the next long part. 

But first – its flimsy because it really doesn’t have much in there. The real size of the device should be no more than the size of a packet of cigarettes. But for better reception they make it larger to accommodate better antennae – so most of its box is just air!

The MEO router performs 3 functions – it’s a wireless modem (the 3G/4G) connecting to the MEO mobile/cell service, it’s a router moving data from connected devices over the internet, and it’s a wifi access point allowing wifi devices to connect.

That first function can be tricky. Not many router manufacturers make router/modem for cell service, and is just like a phone so you need a modem that’s approved by MEO to be on their service. A certain operator in US was notorious for spotting such routers and charging customers as if they were cell phones instead of home broadband, and/or blocking them – not sure what MEO does.

On some services, not sure about MEO, there is an option in the router configuration to place the router in what’s called bridge mode. This disables its router and wifi functions and allows you to move these to your own router/wifi device which is connected to one of the network ports on the back of the MEO router.

Without bridge mode – you can still add your own router/wifi and configure the MEO router to disable WIFI and some additional options.. BUT it causes another issue which can have negative impact on voice or video calls (or gaming) – fyi, is called double NAT (Network Address Translation). 

Then there are problems that can arise when MEO pushes a firmware update to their router – it can cause all this to go wrong and you will need to realize it’s probably the router, then go and reprogram everything to the way you want it. Since is a 4G modem though is not likely to happen often. 

So, in summary on using your router – best would be a bridge mode – but you’ll need to check the MEO router configuration options to try and find it – if it even exists.. Otherwise you need to disable things on the MEO and connect your router – and even then it may cause problems with Zoom/Skype.

Finally.. I didn’t mention Mesh yet..

It is certainly an option. And in any mesh solution (eero, deco or other) one of the devices acts as your router like above and they provide some basic tools in the setup to position the other devices to complete your Mesh.

I wouldn’t bring one from the US for a few reasons. But main one is there are slightly different specifications between US and EU wifi. It will work – but you can cause interference on other wireless things, or be more susceptible to interference on your wifi. And from a quick check on Worten and Amazon – is pretty much same price to get the EU version of something as the US these days – $ for € and some small increment for the VAT. The TPlink Deco or Netgear Orbi are very good – I’ve not tried Eero outside the US.

Again, sorry for the long post, but honestly – am glossing over a lot here. In short, you can add a Mesh or existing router/wifi. But there are gotchyas to navigate through. Hence I suggested the wifi repeater option since usually that’s a plug it in, connect to it, configure it to connect to your MEO wifi, and done. It sounds like you might have one of these – but need to configure it 😉

If you want simple – the wifi repeater is the option to go for.. Then after that it’s down to how comfortable you are with technical stuff

 

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Community Member
(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 28

@demonrik Great answer. I’m understanding the whole picture much better now. I’m sorry you had to type so much, but I really appreciate it!

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Community Member
(@demonrik)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 9

@jma glad it helps.

I actually do this crap for a living – well, write the software for wifi access points, and other networking equipment – so know how badly the whole industry makes it too complicated.

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Community Member
(@atrumgeost)
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi there,

 

I recently moved to Portugal and noticed the same problem with the router I was provided with. Wired connection was fast, the wireless was terrible. I solved the issue with an Eero system. No need to order from the US, you can order from Amazon Spain and have it delivered to Portugal.

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Community Member
(@demonrik)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 9

@atrumgeost this can work – make sure either the router from provider is in bridge mode, or your eero is in AP mode – this will ensure no DoubleNAT issues with video/voice calls.

fwiw – just got to my house in Faro to see what MEO had installed for fiber. And the gateway/router does have a bridge mode option.

Is under the ‘LAN Local Area Network’ menu – all the way at the bottom of characteristics. Says to then use LAN4 port for plugging in the other router.

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Posts: 28
Community Member
Topic starter
(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

Since I live in the countryside, I don’t have fiber. Will the eero work with 3G/4G? I have eero mesh in my home in Berkeley, and it works great. The fiber is wicked fast, though. (I’m getting used to waiting for pages to load, but it isn’t fun.)

BTW, I just checked Starlink. It’s half the price it used to be—both the hardware and the monthly subscription. 

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Community Member
(@demonrik)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 9

@jma you can try.

If possible attach the eero in AP mode.. i.e. only does wifi, then turn off wifi at the Meo router.

If you can’t do that, then see if there is a bridge mode on the Meo router and that will turn off its routing part leaving it to the eero.(might have to plug the eero into a specific port)

Failing that it will work for browsing and many apps. Just if you use zoom or FaceTime it can bug out because of the double NATing.still turn off wifi in the Meo router to reduce interference.

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