Congested Network Woes

Having trouble with our Wifi for the last few months and looking for suggestions/advice.

When we moved to Tennessee in 2020, the only game in town for gigabit speed was Spectrum. Their tech told me that my modem (Motorola Surfboard) and router (Velop mesh) were not supported. Had to use their equipment but there were no rental fees. I agreed and everything worked great for 9 months… last 3 months have been not so great with buffering and congested network messages. Multiple modem and routers resets would only “fix” the issue for a few days at best. Working with Support did not find any issues on their end, except that we have almost 40 devices connecting to wifi currently.

We had about 10 devices connecting when we moved in and creating a Smart home bumped the number up rapidly. I have plans to add more devices in the future. I also sent my Velop setup to my oldest child when his router died. He and his roommates absolutely love it since they play console games.

My question is:
Do I ask for the Velop system (wifi 5) back or step up to a Mesh Wifi 6 setup?
Our home is 1,600 square feet with a lower level/basement the same size. Current wifi has always been weak downstairs, hence the idea of going back to a mesh system.

I purchased a slightly used unmanaged Cisco 16 port switch to hardwire a number of devices and connect a few hubs (Caseta/Ring/Hue/SONOS/etc) to help balance the load. My spouse told me that whatever I decide, it should hopefully be “future proof” for all our Smart devices. She is very interested in setting up scenes and rules!

Looking forward to the comments…

Moving some devices to ethernet is a good idea.

It sounds like you have the issue identified, that their router isn’t very good. So long as their modem-router allows bridge mode, you can plug a better router you want into its ethernet. Google suggests Spectrum does provide users with modems that support bridge mode, possibly an Arris, given when this all happened?

Can’t say whether you should disappoint your son or spend more money. :slight_smile:

My experience with people that work for these companies is that most of them don’t really know what’s going on as far as what you can actually do - they just know what they support. Big difference.

I had an existing mesh system, and when the tech came out to install my fiber he said that I couldn’t use my mesh system, but that their system “had the mesh stuff built in”. Their one router was, apparently, a complete mesh network according to him.

I didn’t even give their system a try as far as wi-fi - I just spent maybe 15 minutes getting my existing mesh set up.

I agree that everything that can practically be wired should be wired. Eliminates some congestion. But if you’re trying to “future proof”, I’d start by saying that nothing is actually future-proof - you’re just buying yourself time before an upgrade.

Wi-Fi seems to come out with a new standard about every five years, so if the Velop would work for you for another few years, I’d say “get it back”. But if you discover you’re hitting congestion now, then I’d upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 setup.

Don’t most consoles have Ethernet? If so, to replace the Velop, you could send your son a 1000-foot spool of Cat6, a crimping tool, some connectors, and a link to a YouTube video about how to make cables. :smiley:

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There are a lot of variables left out in your post.

Here is the list of modems Spectrum authorizes, but not sure what model you were previously using. I have 1gbps service through Comcast in Memphis. With that speed, I upgraded to a Surfboard supporting DOCSIS 3.1. To connect, Comcast requires you call and have customer service register the modem with them. When you do it shows up on their web interface/dashboard.

My personal experience is that provider equipment is crap. Every time I switch to my equipment everything improves. FWIW,worst case take out their WiFi and plug in your Velop. If their WiFi is built in to the modem, go in and turn it off then plug in your Velop.

I recommend testing hubs on your switch by plugging them directly into the router to see if there is a stability / speed difference. If there is, consider getting a new gigabit switch.

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Installing the wifi6 Orbi’s has changed….my….life :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Are your issues mostly on WiFi? If so check for interference.

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Paraphrasing Matt Damon’s character in The Martian, I think you need to science the :snoopy-curse: out of this.

As first steps I would suggest:

  • Do a speed test to establish a baseline

  • Turn off the 30 devices you added. Does the speed increase?

    • no - it’s not the 30 devices
  • Run an ethernet cable from a device to the provider’s modem, set it to non-bridge mode, do a speed test. Does the speed increase?

    • yes - it’s not the provider’s modem
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So this morning I decided to disconnect every device on our Wifi network to “Science” the issue…

6 HomePods
4 iPads
2 outdoor smart plugs
5 indoor smart plugs
3 AppleTV boxes
3 Smart TV’s
2 OMNA cameras
RING Outdoor lights hub
LiftMaster Garage door opener w/MyQ wifi

Logged onto my ISP info page and found 3 devices connected still. One was another HomePod (in the Guest room) and the other 2 are Apple Watches. Forgot the Watches connect to wifi!

Ran a Speed test from my Mac mini that is connected via Ethernet and found 917 down and 35 up. Ran same test on wifi only and got 98 down and 40 up. Hmmmm

Did online chat with Spectrum and they reset Modem, then Router and found no issues. I had reset both last night with only minor success for a few hours. Clicked the link to chat with a human. Offered up all the details and troubleshooting so far. “Amber” agreed that the wifi router is probably the weak link and suggested replacing it. No charge if I stop by the local office or I can pay for a Tech to bring one by later this week. I chose the Free Option. Then I asked her how many devices are supported with this setup. She answered “about 6”. I explained that I had used a Mesh system before and didn’t have these issues before but the Installer insisted I had to use their equipment. She seemed puzzled and said that she couldn’t explain why the Installer told me that. Turns out I could have used my previous setup all along (not that this is a surprise to many of you here).

I plan to add the following items to our network… each hardwired to the Cisco switch.
SONOS Bridge for the Home Theater setup (7 speakers total)
Philips Hue Hub (I still have some 1st gen bulbs)
Lutron CASETA Hub for dimmer and standard light switches (15-20 so far)

I also think I should upgrade to Wifi 6 specs and let my son keep my old VELOP system. He did seem nervous when I asked him for the model numbers.

Linksys VELOP is what I am leaning towards again. Looking at the Wirecutter site didn’t really help me with their choices. Opinions???

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I can. At least around here.

Installers aren’t Spectrum technicians. They’re subcontractors that get paid by the job, and their job is to show up, make sure the wiring is good, drop a Spectrum modem at your place, verify that the modem has good signal, and get out of there.

They have very little incentive to leave you to your own devices (pun intended) regarding setup, and there’s really no reason for them to even bother to learn what’s allowed and what’s not as far as equipment.

A number of people are on the eero bandwagon. I have been stunned with the performance of WiFi 6 Orbi’s. The more you can put on ethernet to clear out the WiFi traffic the better.


Took wifi router to Spectrum per online help suggestion. Explained that it is failing and asked for their Wifi 6 router they are now carrying. I figure what the heck, let’s give it a shot. Setup was very easy and I restarted all devices just to be safe…

Holy Moley!!!

I am seeing 516 down and 40 up on the Wireless network now. Went down to the lower level/basement where the Apple TV saw 1 bar, maybe 2 in the past, and full strength is now showing. We always had weak coverage issues there.

I still plan to purchase a Mesh system (because my wife said I could/should) in the near future. Hoping for some Holiday sales to arrive. My next steps are to rename the wireless network and a secure password. I only want to have to setup all the Smart Plugs once.

Thanks to all who chimed in with advice… I hope we helped other folks too.


I’ve had good luck with Ubiquity Networks’ home Wifi products. They’re super stable and very reliable, but a bit pricey.

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Ugh……I would LOVE to upgrade to Ubiquity.