Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

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Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Neil Laubenthal
Saw an article on the Macobserver http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/answers/4-wi-fi-tips-from-former-apple-wi-fi-engineer this week. In here the former Apple wifi engineer recommends not naming your 2.4 and 5 GHz networks differently…but rather to just use a single SSID and let the client choose.

I used to have my Airport Extreme set up this way but sitting in my RV one day I checked throughput from my rMBP via copying files to and from my gigabit wired file server. After that I changed my Airport so that the 5 GHz network had a different and then specifically joined that network instead of the 2.4 one. Doing this gave me about 2-3x the throughput.

Since it worked better…I left the separate SSID in place, made sure that it’s SSID came first alphabetically for connection to iOS devices since they choose alphabetically, and moved it higher in the list to ensure that the rMBP and MBA connected to it.

Since this conflicts with the Apple engineer’s advice…I was wondering if anybody else had tried this and/or knew a solution. Clearly not having a separate SSID for the 5 GHz is simpler and therefore should be better…but since the rMBP and MBA didn’t connect at 5 GHz when I had a single SSID maybe I am missing something.

Any ideas or thoughts?

-----------------------------------------------
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neil





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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Rodney
On Jul 11, 2014, at 19:53, Neil Laubenthal <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I used to have my Airport Extreme set up this way but sitting in my RV one day I checked throughput from my rMBP via copying files to and from my gigabit wired file server. After that I changed my Airport so that the 5 GHz network had a different and then specifically joined that network instead of the 2.4 one. Doing this gave me about 2-3x the throughput.

So, you couldn't tell for sure that you'd previously been connected to the 2.4GHz network; you inferred it by the changed connection speed?

I had the same SSID for both networks on my Airport Extreme, so after I read your message I decided to see what would happen with two SSIDs.  I don't have anything on my Mac Pro to test the speed, but I did give speedtest.net a try.

The result was that my iPad Air got about 4Mb/s down on the 2.4GHz network, and 16.5Mb/s down on the 5GHz network.  Since I'm used to seeing 16+Mb/s with my iDevices, I guess my devices were connecting to the 5GHz network by default, assuming I interpreted the results correctly...


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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

jerryk36
I think that is a good reason to consider using two SSID’s  
        At least you can look at Settings in an iDevice (or the WiFi menu item on a Mac) to see the connection you are using.
        We have club meetings each week in a public facility that we provided the WiFi routers. We have different SSID so the presenters (often video based) are using the better network.  I don’t want 80 people checking their email to interfere with the video feed from one of our remote speakers.
                And yes, we eventually went to a password structure for the presenter SSID because members cheated and logged into that channel


Jerry

On Jul 11, 2014, at 2:58 PM, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> The result was that my iPad Air got about 4Mb/s down on the 2.4GHz network, and 16.5Mb/s down on the 5GHz network.  Since I'm used to seeing 16+Mb/s with my iDevices, I guess my devices were connecting to the 5GHz network by default, assuming I interpreted the results correctly...



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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Jack Rodgers
I think there're is an ancient rule of thumb that wireless defaults to the
slowest wifi device connected but not sure how it applies here.

On Friday, July 11, 2014, <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think that is a good reason to consider using two SSID’s
>         At least you can look at Settings in an iDevice (or the WiFi menu
> item on a Mac) to see the connection you are using.
>         We have club meetings each week in a public facility that we
> provided the WiFi routers. We have different SSID so the presenters (often
> video based) are using the better network.  I don’t want 80 people checking
> their email to interfere with the video feed from one of our remote
> speakers.
>                 And yes, we eventually went to a password structure for
> the presenter SSID because members cheated and logged into that channel
>
>
> Jerry
>
> On Jul 11, 2014, at 2:58 PM, Rodney <[hidden email] <javascript:;>>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > The result was that my iPad Air got about 4Mb/s down on the 2.4GHz
> network, and 16.5Mb/s down on the 5GHz network.  Since I'm used to seeing
> 16+Mb/s with my iDevices, I guess my devices were connecting to the 5GHz
> network by default, assuming I interpreted the results correctly...
>
>
>
> ____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Rodney
In reply to this post by jerryk36
On Jul 11, 2014, at 21:38, [hidden email] wrote:

> I think that is a good reason to consider using two SSID’s  
> At least you can look at Settings in an iDevice (or the WiFi menu item on a Mac) to see the connection you are using.

For me at home, I don’t normally care, so I’d prefer one SSID.  In your case, I certainly understand why you’d want two SSIDs.


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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Rodney
In reply to this post by Jack Rodgers
On Jul 11, 2014, at 22:07, Jack Rodgers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think there're is an ancient rule of thumb that wireless defaults to the slowest wifi device connected but not sure how it applies here.

A bit of common sense, and my personal experience, say that you have it backwards.  The device defaults to the fastest network connection.

This proved to be a problem for some people with LTE mobile phones; when the mobile connection was faster than their Wi-Fi, the phone would go with the mobile network and quietly eat their monthly bandwidth allowance.  As I recall, Apple fixed this with an update.


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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Chris Poterala
I believe he means the wireless network will use the slowest supported
speed of the connected devices. A device that can only access b networks
would cause a b/g router to just use b even if the other devices supported
higher speeds.

I don't know if that still applies to the later wifi standards.

chris poterala - [hidden email]
http://twitter.com/potsie


On Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Jul 11, 2014, at 22:07, Jack Rodgers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I think there're is an ancient rule of thumb that wireless defaults to
> the slowest wifi device connected but not sure how it applies here.
>
> A bit of common sense, and my personal experience, say that you have it
> backwards.  The device defaults to the fastest network connection.
>
> This proved to be a problem for some people with LTE mobile phones; when
> the mobile connection was faster than their Wi-Fi, the phone would go with
> the mobile network and quietly eat their monthly bandwidth allowance.  As I
> recall, Apple fixed this with an update.
>
>
> ____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
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> Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
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>


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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Rodney
On Jul 11, 2014, at 22:29, Chris Poterala <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I believe he means the wireless network will use the slowest supported speed of the connected devices. A device that can only access b networks would cause a b/g router to just use b even if the other devices supported higher speeds.

He’ll have to tell us what he means I reckon.  I can only go by what he said.

But yes, in days of old if you had a router configured to support both B and G devices, you’d get slower throughput for the network as a whole even when there were no B devices active.  At least that’s what the documentation for my old LinkSys router said.  Obviously, B devices could only operate at B speeds.  I can’t remember whether or not every device in the network slowed down to B speed.

> I don’t know if that still applies to the later wifi standards.

It doesn’t apply to the current situation.  If you have a dual-band router that shows the same SSID for both bands, iOS devices will connect at the highest speed they support, or at least mine do.



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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Alan Forkosh
In reply to this post by Neil Laubenthal
If you are using a Mac, you can check various wireless connection statistics by holding down the Option key when you click the wireless icon in the menu bar. Among other things, you get readings for the current channel and band being used, as well as the current transmission rate. At the bottom of the menu, there is an option to run the Wireless Diagnostics program. If you click it (and give permission, you get the window for the diagnostic test assistant. However, in you access the Window menu in the menu bar, you can open the Utilities window which has frames for logging your connection and also viewing information on nearby networks.

[Different issue] My 2.4 GHx and 5Ghz networks share the same SSID. When I wake my 2012 MacBook Air from sleep it usually connects to through the Airport in the same room on a 2.4 GHz channel. However, if I toggle WiFi off and on, it reconnects on a 5GHz channel at greatly increased throughput. The Airport is in the same room, so there shouldn't be any issues of signal attenuation.

Alan Forkosh                    Oakland, CA
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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Neil Laubenthal
In reply to this post by Rodney
On Jul 11, 2014, at 1:58 PM, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:

> So, you couldn't tell for sure that you'd previously been connected to the 2.4GHz network; you inferred it by the changed connection speed?
>

I tried it a couple times back and forth and when I was on the original SSID Harp2 I consistently got about 6-8 MB/sec. I did check on at least one occasion with the option key and it was 2.4. When I used Airport Utility to create a different SSID FasterHarp2 for the 5 GHz and then checked it I got on the order of 20 MB/sec. Shifting back and forth between the two networks a couple times this afternoon confirms the slower performance and I did check to verify that it was connecting at 2.4 this afternoon.

To respond to a couple other questions…

The slowest device rule of thumb doesn’t really apply since everything we’ve got (2 iPhone 5s’s, 2 iPad Airs, and 1 iPad Mini Retina along with the rMBP and 2013 MBA) are all at least 802.11n capable. Connie’s Air is 11ac compatible of course but I won’t upgrade the Airport until I have more ac capable devices.

Mac OS doesn’t default to the fastest connection…it defaults to the highest priority network (i.e., visible in Network System Preferences) that it can see. If you have multiple frequencies on the same SSID then it will default to the radio that it thinks will give it faster connectivity based on signal strength…that was made clear in the article on macobserver and the MGG podcast.

I thought it would take the faster signal as well but since giving the 5 GHz definitely improves performance with no other changes it clearly doesn’t (at least in this case). As I sit here on my rMBP I can see all 3 of my wifi networks (I also have the one from my WiFi Ranger turned on but having it off didn’t make any difference to the results), 2 or 3 other networks in nearby RVs, and the park wifi. When I did the test I could see more than that

I’ll try disabling the separate 5 GHz network again and see if it makes a difference…but sitting in my recliner where I always use the laptop both Harp2 and Faster Harp2 show max signal strength in the Airport menu extra and iStumbler shows 53% and 55% respectively (i.e. the 5 GHz has better signal since noise is 9% for both). Maybe it was a temporary issue and/or some firmware update along the way resolved the issue.


-----------------------------------------------
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neil





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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Rodney
On Jul 12, 2014, at 02:11, Neil Laubenthal <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I tried it a couple times back and forth and when I was on the original SSID Harp2 I consistently got about 6-8 MB/sec. I did check on at least one occasion with the option key and it was 2.4. When I used Airport Utility to create a different SSID FasterHarp2 for the 5 GHz and then checked it I got on the order of 20 MB/sec. Shifting back and forth between the two networks a couple times this afternoon confirms the slower performance and I did check to verify that it was connecting at 2.4 this afternoon.

My Mac is a Mac Pro without Wi-Fi, so I only need Wi-Fi for my iDevices; an iPhone 5, an iPad Air, an Airport Express (I stream music through my stereo with it), an Apple TV, and a Kindle PaperWhite.  Those that can seem to connect to the 5GHz band by default, at least I'm assuming this based on performance.

> Mac OS doesn’t default to the fastest connection…it defaults to the highest priority network (i.e., visible in Network System Preferences) that it can see.

Good point.  But, what does it do with several protocol alternatives? A laptop could have Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a cellular dongle.  Previously, there were problems when the mobile signal was faster than the available Wi-Fi, but Apple changed the priority so that mobile gets chosen last, I think.

My Apple TV goes with Ethernet if it is available, then Wi-Fi if it isn't.  I live in a crowded section of Paris, and there are maybe a dozen strong Wi-Fi networks near me.  I have no problem with most Wi-Fi applications, but sometimes streaming HD content from my Mac to my Apple TV over Wi-Fi can be a problem even though they're not far apart.  I solved this by going with high speed ethernet over power line.  The management software claims I'm getting about 400Mb/s, and that's fine for HD movies, and it is far more reliable than Wi-Fi.  I did have a problem a couple of months ago when one of my power line plugs died, and the Apple TV silently switched back to Wi-Fi.  I didn't know I had a problem until I started seeing erratic streaming again.


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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Neil Laubenthal
On Jul 11, 2014, at 8:20 PM, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Good point.  But, what does it do with several protocol alternatives?


I didn’t try it but presume that it follows the priority order under the Network preference pane since there’s a Set Service Order option under there.

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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Thomas Perrier
In reply to this post by Rodney
On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 12:10 AM, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:
> But yes, in days of old if you had a router configured to support both B and G devices, you’d get slower throughput for the network as a whole even when there were no B devices active.  At least that’s what the documentation for my old LinkSys router said.  Obviously, B devices could only operate at B speeds.  I can’t remember whether or not every device in the network slowed down to B speed.

That's proof the documentation isn't always right. If there are only
802.11g devices, even if 802.11b is allowed, then the devices will
connect at g speed and will not get slowed down. However, if there's
at least one b device in range on the same channel (not necessarily
connected to the same access point as the g device), the g one will
still connect at g rates, but will need to announce its transmissions
at b rates (to allow b devices to hear them and not try to transmit at
the same time than the g device), which reduces overall throughput. By
the way it's the same thing in all mixed modes cells: g or a and n, n
and ac, etc.

As for Wi-Fi clients using the 2.4 GHz band instead of the 5 GHz one,
despite the latter being usually the best: many devices are
unfortunately lousy at selecting the best band. Some advanced APs
(like enterprise Cisco ones) can be configured to try to fool clients
so they believe only 5 GHz is available, but even this trick doesn't
always work. The client decides which access poiont and band to use
using various parameters, like receive power: but the 5 GHz signal is
often lower than the 2.4, since attenuation in the air is worse at 5
GHz than 2.4 (ie, the signal travels less far). Besides, receive power
is absolutely not enough to decide if this or that signal is better,
because Wi-Fi performance depends on a host of other factors:
signal-to-noise ratio, channel utilization, interferences level, etc.

So a single SSID is best if you notice your Wi-Fi clients choose
wisely. If that's not the case, separating the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands is
a good idea.

-Thomas



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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Bill Rowe
On 7/14/14 at 10:07 AM, [hidden email] (Thomas Perrier) wrote:

many good points that I snipped.

>So a single SSID is best if you notice your Wi-Fi clients choose
>wisely. If that's not the case, separating the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands
>is a good idea.

The real trade here is the same as for many other aspects of
computing. If you understand the trade space and your particular
situation you can often improve things by tweaking various
settings even when this is different than what is frequently
recommended. But if you do not have a good understanding of the
trade space you are most likely better with allowing
software/hardware to make the selection.

By using a single SSID, you are letting hardware make the
decision which may or may not be optimal. By using separate
SSIDs for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, you are making the
decision which again may or may not be optimal.




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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

@lbutlr
In reply to this post by Rodney
On 11 Jul 2014, at 14:18 , Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Jul 11, 2014, at 22:07, Jack Rodgers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> I think there're is an ancient rule of thumb that wireless defaults to the slowest wifi device connected but not sure how it applies here.
>
> A bit of common sense, and my personal experience, say that you have it backwards.  The device defaults to the fastest network connection.

Old 802.11g routers would run at the speed of the slowest device connected.

--
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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Thomas Perrier
On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM, LuKreme <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 11 Jul 2014, at 14:18 , Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On Jul 11, 2014, at 22:07, Jack Rodgers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>>> I think there're is an ancient rule of thumb that wireless defaults to the slowest wifi device connected but not sure how it applies here.
>>
>> A bit of common sense, and my personal experience, say that you have it backwards.  The device defaults to the fastest network connection.
>
> Old 802.11g routers would run at the speed of the slowest device connected.

That's not how Wi-Fi works. Each client connects at its own negotiated
rate (the highest feasible, and constantly evolving), independant of
any other client. Your wife using her tablet in the back of the
garden, barely able to hold the connection at 1 Mb/s, won't prevent
your computer in the same room as the router to connect at full speed.
If you had a 802.11g router behaving as you described, it's simply a
piece of junk.

-Thomas


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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Al Varnell

On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 02:10 PM, Thomas Perrier wrote:

>
> On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM, LuKreme <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On 11 Jul 2014, at 14:18 , Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> On Jul 11, 2014, at 22:07, Jack Rodgers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>
>>>> I think there're is an ancient rule of thumb that wireless defaults to the slowest wifi device connected but not sure how it applies here.
>>>
>>> A bit of common sense, and my personal experience, say that you have it backwards.  The device defaults to the fastest network connection.
>>
>> Old 802.11g routers would run at the speed of the slowest device connected.
>
> That's not how Wi-Fi works. Each client connects at its own negotiated
> rate (the highest feasible, and constantly evolving), independant of
> any other client. Your wife using her tablet in the back of the
> garden, barely able to hold the connection at 1 Mb/s, won't prevent
> your computer in the same room as the router to connect at full speed.
> If you had a 802.11g router behaving as you described, it's simply a
> piece of junk.

It’s possible that Airport Utility was not properly displaying such rates, but when I was using an 802.11g AEBS several years ago, I could see the rate of all g devices drop when using the one b device on the network.  That is no longer true with the 802.11n Airport BS’s I now use.


-Al-
--
Al Varnell
Mountain View, CA







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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Curtis Wilcox
In reply to this post by Thomas Perrier
On Jul 15, 2014, at 5:10 PM, Thomas Perrier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM, LuKreme <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> Old 802.11g routers would run at the speed of the slowest device connected.
>
> That's not how Wi-Fi works. Each client connects at its own negotiated
> rate (the highest feasible, and constantly evolving), independant of
> any other client.

That's how early 802.11g routers worked. He's not talking about the negotiated rate, he's talking about the network specification used between client and access point  ("PHY Mode" in Airport's details). The router couldn't handle well some clients using 802.11b and others using 802.11g so if there was even one 802.11b client, performance for all clients was reduced. I'm not sure whether all clients were literally forced to use the 802.11b spec or if they were still using 802.11g but were somehow constrained. Wikipedia refers to 802.11g supporting two modulation schemes, it may have been using the inferior scheme shared with 802.11b that constrained performance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/802.11g#Descriptions 




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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Mike Noonan
In reply to this post by Al Varnell

>>
>> Old 802.11g routers would run at the speed of the slowest device connected.
>
> That's not how Wi-Fi works. Each client connects at its own negotiated
> rate (the highest feasible, and constantly evolving), independant of
> any other client. Your wife using her tablet in the back of the
> garden, barely able to hold the connection at 1 Mb/s, won't prevent
> your computer in the same room as the router to connect at full speed.
> If you had a 802.11g router behaving as you described, it's simply a
> piece of junk.

It’s possible that Airport Utility was not properly displaying such rates, but when I was using an 802.11g AEBS several years ago, I could see the rate of all g devices drop when using the one b device on the network.  That is no longer true with the 802.11n Airport BS’s I now use.

The key word in Lukreme’s reply is “old”.

see this snip from Wikipedia article (IEEE 802.11g-2003) for clarification:

“… 802.11g hardware is fully backwards compatible with 802.11b hardware. Details of making b and g work well together occupied much of the lingering technicalprocess. In an 802.11g network, however, the presence of a legacy 802.11b participant will significantly reduce the speed of the overall 802.11g network. Some 802.11g routers employ a back-compatible mode for 802.11b clients called 54g LRS (Limited Rate Support).[2]

The modulation scheme used in 802.11g is orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) copied from 802.11a with data rates of 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, and 54 Mbit/s, and reverts to CCK (like the 802.11b standard) for 5.5 and 11 Mbit/s and DBPSK/DQPSK+DSSS for 1 and 2 Mbit/s. Even though 802.11g operates in the same frequency band as 802.11b, it can achieve higher data rates because of its heritage to 802.11a. ..”

MIke




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Re: Different SSID for 2.4 and 5 GHz Networks?

Neil Laubenthal
In reply to this post by Thomas Perrier
On Jul 15, 2014, at 4:10 PM, Thomas Perrier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> That's not how Wi-Fi works. Each client connects at its own negotiated
> rateIf you had a 802.11g router behaving as you described, it's simply a
> piece of junk.
>
Nope…some of the older routers did exactly that…the speed of the whole network was reduced if you had one slower device on it. IIRC it was something to do with the protocol definition. 802.11n doesn’t have the same issue…but this situation was definitely true…I think it was if you had a g network and put a b device on it but it’s been awhile so I may be misremembering some of the details.


-----------------------------------------------
There are only three kinds of stress; your basic nuclear stress, cooking stress, and A$$hole stress. The key to their relationship is Jello.

neil





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