Creating a Better Home WiFi Network

So let me start out by saying that I am a nerd wannabe, and not a true nerd. I say that as a form of early apology for likely not saying the right things, and for my lack of knowledge. I’m hopeful that some of you may be able to help me learn how to move beyond a basic home network system and really optimize our setup.

My wife and I have Spectrum as our IP and rent a modem through them. We’re paying for 400mbps since we’re both working from home and are on a lot of video calls. We have three eero cupcakes: one connected to the modem, another close by connected to an Apple TV, and another upstairs connected to a second Apple TV. I know nothing about the quality or capacity of the Ethernet cables. For the most part, everything works just fine. But I have this feeling that things aren’t as great as the could be.

Apple TVs have almost no interruptions, thought every so often there are minor lags. I have a MacBook Air for work, and experience frequent slow internet, and dropped Zoom calls. I don’t have to use a VPN for work and speed tests come in around 150mbps.

My wife works on a Lenovo and has to be connected to a VPN (Cisco) and has awful internet speeds - around 20Mbps (yes, 20 - not a typo). Neither of us connect our computers via Ethernet although I’d get my wife’s connected. I’m just not sure what would be best. Do I connect to any cupcake? Which one - the one connected to the modem? Do I need an Ethernet switch? Should my WiFi performance be better than 50% of what we’re paying for? Are their settings I should be tinkering with?

I want to learn, but just don’t k ow where to start. Of course I’ve turned to Google, but there’s so much out there and it’s pretty confusing.

Any help would be so appreciated. Thank you!!!

My philosophy is that anything that can be hardwired with Ethernet cables should be. Hardwiring the Eeros would be the first task to minimize slowdowns among them. Are you in a house, townhouse, or apartment? Lots of nearby access points can raise the noise floor and reduce wireless capacity. People in crowded apartments can often run into problems. Have you verified your connection speed with the Eero Activity Report? Shows if you’re getting what you’re paying for. I’m supposed to get gigabit but the best I’ve seen is about 800. You could have congestion on the cable lines.


Thanks, @glenthompson!

We live in a single family home. It’s about 3000 sq feet, but occupy about 2/3 of it with WiFi connected devices.

When you recommend hardwiring the Eeros, does that mean to one another? Or the two not currently connected to the modem being independently connected to a switch? And if I understand correctly, the switch would be connected to cupcake 1 and not the modem, right? You can’t connect an Ethernet switch to the modem, but to the router, which is cupcake 1?

And I have not looked at an Eero Activity Report. Honestly didn’t know that was a thing, but I’ll look into that now.

Looks like I’m pulling 400+ mbps at night. Assuming this is an update that Eero is running… :man_shrugging:

Based on this, would you say my IP is providing the speeds we’re paying for?

Buy your own cable modem and WiFi router. The investment outlasts the rental. I have two (cable modems and wifi routers) at two separate locations that have been in place for … about three years now at least.

But … before you do …

Test your cable modem speed by disconnecting everything but the cable modem to the cable. That means removing the splitter that likely also sends cable signal to your TV. Connect your computer directly with an ethernet to the cable modem. Do a speed test in that configuration and report back. When it is not near 400 MBPs, get Spectrum to do remote or house-visit testing. You may be responsible for the wires up to and in your house or they may be. Ask. In the former case, you may have to pay a service fee for them to troubleshoot. In the latter case, milk Spectrum for all that you can (test the cables from the road to your cable modem).

Also check this link about cable splitters and their affects on internet speeds.

Next, make sure that your ethernet cable from the cable modem to the WiFi router is at least Cat5E. Yes, the Cat5 cables should be obsolete in these days but … you would be surprised how many of them still seem to be packages in the “standard install box” from Spectrum or Times Warner or … whatever.

Finally, as has been noted, hard-wire wherever you can. I have a long ethernet cable snaking its way through the hall simply because COVID-19 demands better than WiFi with my Zoom meetings. Once I can find an inexpensive handyman, I’ll have this wired up properly.

Hope this helps get you on to a higher speed experience.



Thanks for the discussion @matthewtvincent

Are your Eero’s connected to Ethernet coming out of the wall?

Coax – Cable Modem — Eero #1 ) ) ) WiFi devices
Wall socket #1 — Ethernet cable — Eero #2 ) ) ) ) Wifi devices
Wall socket #2 — Ethernet cable — Eero #3 ) ) ) ) Wifi devices

Does Eero let you do the backhaul through Ethernet? I have three NetGear Orbi’s that do everything through WiFi and occasionally they slow down. I can get Ethernet near them via MoCa. If all these WiFi extenders/mesh network devices to do all their backhaul through cables, does that create better wifi performance?

@DrJJWMac thank you so much!

I’ll absolutely retest speeds by connecting my laptop straight to the cable modem. We don’t actually have cable TV so I don’t think there’s a splitter. Although I’m now recalling a splitter in a box attached to the outside of our house (we recently purchased the house and there’s a lot of DIY we’re undoing).

When I previously tested speeds connected right to cable modem, we tested on my wife’s Lenovo and I think because she’s required to use a VPN speeds we’re around 25-30mbps. So I’ll retest using my MacBook.

Any way to visually identify Cat5 versus Cat5e? I wouldn’t be surprised if we had old cables. I have no idea where our Ethernet cables came from ha!

The cable should be marked.

Another thing to consider: who is your DNS provider? If it’s Spectrum, you might switch to Google or CloudFlare.

@oldblueday thank you!

I have to admit that your “speaking” a little over my head. I can confirm that only one of my eeros is connected to the cable modem. The other two are meshing my WiFi, if I’m saying that correctly.

Using your description, it would be something like:

Coax – Cable Modem — Eero #1 ) ) ) WiFi devices
WiFi — Eero #2 ) ) ) ) Wifi devices & Ethernet → Apple TV 1
WiFi — Eero #3 ) ) ) ) Wifi devices & Ethernet → Apple TV 2

I’m not sure what backhauling means… Sorry!

Thanks, @jec0047 ! I’m honestly not sure, and not sure how to check. In that case I suspect it’s Spectrum. Any advice on where to learn more about DNS and how to switch providers?

You can find out more than you want to know about DNS on the Internet. As to how to switch, that would be a setting in your router. If it says “automatic” then more than likely you’re getting DNS from your ISP. This is rarely the best service available. Try switching to CloudFlare, which is . If you want to try Google use . There are others.

I’m not an expert at all. We cut the cable TV about 10+ years ago and have been streaming since. That would kill our wifi speeds. I don’t have ethernet cables running through our house so we installed MoCa (which sends Internet signal over the coax cable already running through the house) and was able to connect those to the Apple TV’s.

If you can connect your Eero’s directly to ethernet (either through ethernet cable already in your home or sending internet signal through your power lines or coax cable), I wonder if that would speed things up.

I don’t believe anyone has answered OP’s question of whether the Eero’s should be interconnected via Ethernet cable. I can’t answer authoritatively because I don’t have a mesh network.

Edit: I see @oldblueday kinda answered the question, but does anyone have authoritative advice?

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That’s really interesting @oldblueday. I’ll have to check out MoCa and whether that’s an option for us.

Awesome - thank you, @jec0047

Just checked, and it’s set to default. Will explore changing that to an alternative.

Could you elaborate on how you have this set up? Maybe a diagram?

Edit: I read your comment more carefully, and I think I was being dense (I hear people saying “What’s new?”). You’re saying you have two separate cable connections, each with its own modem and router, at two completely separate locations, aren’t you?

The eero system does support wired (Ethernet) backhaul, and I would suggest using Ethernet cabling wherever possible. As far as I am aware, the eero units do not have a dedicated WiFi backhaul radio, and so wireless backhaul does use some wireless bandwidth.

I have three eeros connected via wired backhaul and two additional units with WiFi backhaul. We are able to stream TV to at least three TVs at any one time (YouTube, YouTubeTV, Netflix, Disney+, etc) without any bandwidth problems, as well as using internet connectivity on two additional devices (usually two iPads or an iPad and computer) without issues as well.

I think a speed test as recommended with a direct connection to your cable modem would be in order. That could be your bottleneck. We hare on 500MBS fiber, but I would note that previously we used the same setup without any issues on a cable internet connection as well.

Is this done in a “star” configuration, or can the units be daisy-chained?

@nlippman thank you so much! I just did some poking around about backhauls. If I’m understanding correctly, an example may be:

Im on a zoom call and my MacBook is connected to eero #3. Since it’s not Ethernet connected to anything, it’s wirelessly backhauling to eero #2 or eero #1. And that backhauling is taking up some of its bandwidth. My wife’s laptop is also doing the same thing. so even though our supplied internet is strong, we’re maxing our the bandwidth of our Eeros?

If we connected the Eeros together via Ethernet, we’d be creating wired backhauls and reducing drain.

Am I getting this right?