Mesh Wi-Fi Upgrade - advice please

Seeking guidance from any home networking experts please, as we are considering upgrading to a mesh Wi-Fi system, specifically the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi 6 discs.

Currently using a BT Smart Hub1 router (no issues), plus 2 x BT Home Hub 5s, connected via ethernet cable to the Smart Hub1 via long cable runs, and then a couple of network switches, and both are configured in slave mode creating their own independent Wi-Fi hot spots for the dead zones in the house. This cures the Wi-Fi issues to a point, but doesn’t allow seamless Wi-Fi roaming which is now the aim. A couple of questions…

  1. Any compatibility issues between the Smart Hub1 and the Whole Home Wi-Fi 6 mesh discs?
  2. Worth upgrading to the Smart Hub2 at the same time?
  3. Would my legacy UnitiQute2 still work with the upgraded mesh system (essential).

Any pointers gratefully received folks :slight_smile:

If you are already with BT, best is to go to the BT Smarthub 2, this is an outstanding devise designed for trouble free & simplicity of use. Add to that the designed for specifically Smarthub 2 extender disc (the black coloured disc) (not the white ones)
You will probably only need one in a normal sized home, two for a larger house or longer in house distances.

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I’ll be watching this thread with interest as I have considered the same thing. The BT black discs only work with the Smart hub2 and so you would need to ‘upgrade’ to that package for an additional monthly fee. What I dislike about the BT Smart Hub2 though is that you cannot separate the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wifi channels. This can create a problem when adding certain devices that connect to 2.4Ghz only. Also, I like the choice of which of my devices connect to 2.4Ghz and which to 5Ghz.

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@Mike-B Yes, already using BT as a broadband supplier. Great to hear that the Smart Hub2 is an upgrade over the Smart Hub1. The house has four bedrooms, but also has an extended kitchen diner and work room annex, (hence the Home Hub 5 slaves), so assume we’ll need a couple (perhaps more) of the black discs.

@Finkfan Ah, many thanks. I didn’t know that the black BT Wi-Fi discs only work with the Smart Hub2, so would have to commit wholly to the new router. What advantages are there to separating the Ghz channels? Not sure if I’ve done this on the SH1 in the dim and distant past when setting it up. I’ll have to check on that. Also, will I have to subscribe to BT’s more expensive package - was hoping / intending to acquire all items secondhand?

Anyone using the Smart Hub 2 with a legacy Naim streamer - NDS / NDX / UQ2 / SuperUniti etc?

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I have only one SH black disc extender in my 4 bed & it’s work great.
Maybe your extension area needs one more, or maybe try just one first & add a second if it needs it.
Remember the extender needs to talk to the main hub, so it extends the good signal area further beyond itself. Also placing the extender in an upper level room is better than the same level as the main hub.

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Thanks Mike, that’s good to hear that one Wi-Fi extender covers such a wide range. The annexed work room is quite a way from the house router, so that will definitely need one disc, plus another in the main house, so perhaps could get away with two.

Just did the BT website wi-fi selector “Which Whole Home Wi-Fi is right for you?” and it recommends the mid “Premium Whole Home Wi-Fi” Tri-band AX3700 package of three white extenders. Interesting!

Also going to talk to BT about winding up our landline as we never use it these days.

The advantage of separating the GHz channels for me was that I could decide which devices used which channels. We have various devices around the home using the 2.4Ghz channels including my laptop. I had to do this as my HP printer will only communicate with a device also on 2.4Ghz. I have iPads and phones on 5Ghz. None of these devices can find the printer.
I had to help a customer of mine whose new wifi enabled heater would not connect to his home network. It turned out that he had a Smart hub 1 and the channels were not separated. After separating them, the heater worked perfectly, connecting to the 2.4Ghz channel.
When it comes to the Smart hub 2 I have no idea if you’d actually need to sign up to the more expensive package or just purchase a hub and discs and set it up. I’m sure someone here will be able to tell us more

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I have the smart hub 2 and 6 discs (long old house with 1m thick walls). Works well with the NXD2 is all I can say. I went for the 1000GB package so it is fast (need this for work v family). The only problem we have and it’s not hifi related, when you move around the house devices switch from one disc to the next and this can create dropouts between disc sometimes. Apart from that all is good!

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@Finkfan Thanks for the clarification re the Ghz channel separation. Funnily enough, our central heating boiler is also Wi-Fi controlled via a Honeywell hub, so this is going to be interesting, as I’ve just spent the last half hour online with BT upgrading our broadband package (as we were out of contract anyway), so a new Smart Hub 2 will be winging its way to us, so I guess I’ll be able to try it and see how it all works.

@Neil_D That’s great if the wi-fi extenders work so well with those sort of thick walls! Interesting that there are some drop outs between discs, I thought the mesh system eradicated those sorts of issues to give seamless roaming. Are you using the white Whole / Premium Home or the black Whole home Wi-Fi 6 black discs?

We don’t have any mobile signal on any network, so I use wifi calling on the mobile. This is when it is most noticeable. It’s a lot better than the old power line plug in option though! HiFi / TV etc is all very stable and my laptop seems to work fine anywhere, just when it swops, seems to phase the phones!

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Ah, thanks, I see now!

I think you will be fine with Smarthub 2 and black discs. I have a modern 5-bed house. The Innuos and ND5XS2 are connected by Ethernet to my router as is the main Sky box in the Lounge. A Sky mini box is connected to a black disc in the Family room. Upstairs, all computer gear is connected via switch and Ethernet cable to a second black disc. All other devices - phones, iPads and my son’s laptop connect wirelessly as needed, with no problems at all since installed. These devices use a mixture of 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz as they see fit with no intervention from me.

I have the SmartHub 2 configured just as set at the factory with no fixed ip addresses. With previous BT Hubs I did split 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz for some reason, which is not needed now. The only configuration change I made on the Hub is to allow port forwarding for Roon Arc.

I chose to use Ethernet connection from Sky boxes to router and black disc so I could avoid previous issues with the Sky mesh dropping out regularly; now the Sky mesh Wi-Fi is switched off completely and all traffic goes through the BT mesh / Ethernet.

Everything has been solid since I got the discs. Hope this helps!

Cheers, Ian

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@Timberwolf Thanks, that’s very helpful to read that going from the split Ghz channels on the older Smart Hubs to the new combined Smart Hub2 worked just fine with your items on the network. A Smart Hub 2 will be sent out soon, so I’ll go from there - fingers crossed. Aiming to acquire either the Premium or the Wi-Fi 6 secondhand in the coming weeks. No urgency!

How does this work for non-BT ISPs? Our router plus current wifi ‘disks’ seems to need rebooting at least once a month (when the wifi just seems to stop).

Is there a reason you can’t have the slave units configured to use the same SSID and password config settings as your BT HomeHub1 which should then enable seamless roaming?

@Blythe Interesting, I don’t know how to do that as it’s a little more involved for my modest networking abilities! I simply followed a basic tutorial as to how to reset the old HH5 routers. Any pointers / tutorials on how to do this?

Also, the reason I’ve been prompted into action is that one HH5 is now playing up and requires a reboot every few days, so thought I’d finally get things up to date with a mesh system.

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I am not familiar with your particular equipment but if you’re resetting every few days, why not have a go? If it all goes wrong, just reset them anyway!
However, if one is playing up, it may be time to bite the bullet and update your system.
Most routers and wifi access point have a user interface accessible via a web browser.
I’m sure if you Google your particular model, you’ll find a tutorial somewhere.
Try searching for " Use a BT Hub 5 as a Wireless Access Point Wi-Fi extender".

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I went down the route of buying 3 TP Link Deco Mesh discs , had it for a year or so now and works seamlessly. Can prioritise devices like my Naim for bandwidth and the Freesat box.
Also I have some smart devices that run on on 2.5ghz only so can set them to that.
Turned off the WiFi on the Router because some devices need to be on the same network like printer and Pc.
Worked out cheaper than BT,s disks

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I like the idea of switching the wifi off on my hub and using 2 discs. Can each disc be hard wired? The problem I have is wifi doesn’t pass through my walls very easily and if only the first disc can be hard wired and the rest form a mesh via wifi it just won’t work for me.

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Ideally you want the mesh Access Points to be hard wired back to your router.
If you mesh using a wireless backhaul those AP’s will be sharing the same 5GHz channels as client devices and each hop will effectively halve the supported bandwidth of that radio.
You can also provide power and data to those AP’s using PoE (Power over Ethernet) and connect them to a PoE switch which in turn connects to your router.
The performance of the mesh when using Wi-Fi backhaul is the weakest link, you are at the mercy of channel congestion and backhaul radio attenuation. With a Wired backhaul you’ll have a link rate of throughput for all clients (shared) so likely to be 1Gb/s but can be more (2.5 or 5 Gb wired backhaul links)

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