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The Main Router Discussion Topic

El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

The Main Router Discussion Topic

Non-techies, please bear with me on this. I'm starting a discussion about router technology here which may quickly get hard to follow in places. We have a lot of Techies on these forums, and their knowledge is extremely valuable in solving problems. I'm hoping we can concentrate some of that knowledge here on the key role that wireless routers play in overall system performance and maybe provide some useful information that could help you troubleshoot your own connectivity problems.

I know there's a lot of information and discussions spread all across these Forums about routers. And dwelling on routers frequently gets dissed as just some ruse to ignore the "real" problem. But the router is the piece of gear that is the first and only "point of contact" for most customers' iPhones, tablets, laptops, and you name it. Connect a bad $40 router to a good $600 system and you have a bad $600 system.

I was reminded of this today when I visited a customer's home to figure out why they were having problems with their 1-month-old Gen4 system. Ready to have the whole system ripped out, they were.

Frequent disconnects, buffering, slow page loads, you name it, we've read these same symptoms described in these community forums over and over again.

Plugged a LAN cable into the router, a new, Linksys E1200-NP N300 we installed with the system. Took 30 seconds for a page to load. Bypassed the modem and plugged my laptop directly into the modem, and everything came up immediately.

Traded out the Linksys with a Netgear N300 WNR2000100NAS and that did it. Ran three speed tests and came up with consistent 20 Mbps downloads on a 10 Mbps plan. BTW, this is on Beam 19, one of the most crowded beams on HughesNet's Jupiter platform. Everything normal. Customer reassured.

This isn't the first time we've seen this problem, and I can't stress it enough. Here are a couple of cheap $40 routers, one good - one bad, serving up the business end of several hundred dollars of HughesNet gear. This has to be frustrating to HN Tech Support staff and out of their control, so it's no surprise it would be one of the first things they try to eliminate while troubleshooting and so should you.

I should point out the E1200 is on HughesNet's list of approved routers. But that list can't anticipate some approved routers being bad. Just because a router is listed doesn't mean it's working.

So, let's open this up to some more observations and "Best Practices." I'd be interested in hearing from anyone about their experiences with routers, good and bad, and perhaps we can come up with some ways to help others quickly diagnose router problems, instead of simply "blaming the system." Certainly OK to point to other topics and use this one as a central "jumping off" point.
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
95 REPLIES 95
C0RR0SIVE
Associate Professor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

One of the best tests to perform is the modems LAN Speed Test, this helps pinpoint if the issue is local (Modem, cables, router, computer NIC).  The HT1000 should almost always get between 20 and 35Mbps on such a test when going through a router, where as the HT1100 if the network is full Gigabit should get between 150Mbps and 210Mbps.

The next issue is, a router is more than a divider, it has to handle all the connections.  Just because there is a single PC on that router, doesn't mean that there is a single connection.  If the router chokes up when there are 500 links being created and they all have some traffic, then speed/response issues WILL occur.  Just a tip, you might visit a website, but as many as 1000 different connections are being created or more, Skype alone, when it initially logs in attempts to connect to well over 300 different addresses for advertisements, updates, log-on authentication and more.  That's just skype, on one PC.  If the routers processor and RAM can't handle that much, then you will get slow speeds.  This is why it's important to have a proper router with plenty of internal RAM and processing capabilities.

Tests I perform when it comes to slow speeds/responses.

1: Modems LAN Speed Test - Is it testing GOOD?  If so, go to next step.
2: WinMTR to www.google.com for 10 minutes.  This lets you see average latency as well as spikes at every single hop, it sends a continuous ping to each hop inspecting it.  Do all results fall under 1000MS for Jupiter platforms? If yes continue.
3: Load up testmy.net, test, do speeds fall between 50 and 90% of plan speeds? If yes, continue.
4: Loadup speedtest.net and test using various servers located NEAR the gateway (Alan, you should have an idea of figuring out where gateways are, like BIL is Billings Montana)
5: Test using P2P, as this mimics generating hundreds of connections, but also has a drawback, it consumes vast amounts of data.  Find a GOOD legal torrent that has hundreds, to thousands of seeds that will provide you 20Mbps or more at any time while on a cable connection.  

When doing test #5, please note the modem may glitch and cause a short outage for the download, but it isn't very common.  If the speeds never reach 50% at a minimum for a sustained period of time, and the modem isn't tripping statecode checks, or the GUI for the modem hasn't become sluggish, it's ALMOST safe to assume it is the router having difficulties processing multiple connections.

6: So far everything looks good, next question is to see if the client is using a laptop, are they using the Wifi, or are they plugging in?  If they are plugging in, MAKE SURE they are NOT connected wirelessly at the same time, this can cause serious traffic confusion and collisions with the router.  If they are wireless only, pull out your smartphone, and load up an app which detects 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz wireless signals.  Some apps can pick up signals even if the SSID is hidden, but can't show the SSID, but lets you know the signal is there.  Check the channel that signal is on, and make sure it's not the same channels as the customs.

7:  Make a backup of the router configuration, then do a firmware recovery/reset, restoring the router back to defaults, then re-run setup just enough to get it back online and test, did things improve?  Find the differences between the two setups, and apply the differences one at a time.

8:  Does conditions improve if the router is reset?  If so, you may need a new router in the near future, as it's not killing states properly, or it's just worn out from use.
BirdDog
Assistant Professor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

Alan, I have an E1200 in a box, it worked great on Gen4 until I upgraded routers, but you are right that hardware fails. It is a low cost solution however even the expensive ones fail and the wireless radio portion can flake out but the router still seems to be working.
I think the main takeaway is that when it comes to routers you can never really be certain it is functioning properly even when it appears it is. That is why you and the rest of us regulars here always as the "have you plugged directly into the modem" question.
You have raised a good point about equipment seeming to be in working order when it is not.
El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

Wow, thanks for that. A lot to digest. It made me think it would be great if someone had a router testing suite that would run all these metrics and come back with a health report, similar to testing apps for PCs.
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
Donna Skelton
New Member

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

I had a NetGear 300 router and they replaced it with a HUGHESNET router an it worked just as good as with "$50" router so rather than look price look at the quality of the router.
El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

Many times I've had a customer call me with connectivity issues. I almost always ask them to first reboot the router, and many times that solves the problem. But that makes me think rebooting is a band-aid for a deeper problem of what's happening inside these routers that's causing them to lock up in the first place. .
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

I wouldn't be surprised if HN builds a wireless router into their modems. This would be a great move because their techs would then be able to remotely access the router for troubleshooting, and it would help ensure consistency across their customer base.

No doubt that would have to lower costs, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce churn.

After all, how many customers don't need a router? Our experience has been maybe 5%.
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
BirdDog
Assistant Professor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

I personally don't wish this, then we would be locked into whatever they provide.
CharlesMcCool
New Poster

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

There is a well known issue with routers not being able to renew there DHCP lease with the Gen4 system on certain routers, a lot of Netgear and DIR series Dlink have this issue and cause the custome to cycle power to the router daily, a lot of customers dont see this problem because they try to conserve power and turn everything off at night then back on in the morning, if they were to leave the router and modem powered up 24/7 then there would be a lot more customers complaining about it. 
El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

Re: The Main Router Discussion Topic

That is a great point!
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com