Need help fixing intermittent Wi-Fi issues

Ok first off, I know this is probably is the wrong section to be posting this problem, but I am desperate. Ok first I will describe my network, then describe what I think the problem is and then beg for help.

Ok, my Internet provider is Cincinnati Bell and I have their Fiber Optic type of internet service. My Download speeds are 50mb and upload speeds are 10mb. We are using a very basic combo unit provided by Cincinnati Bell. The combo unit is a Zyxel VMG4381-B10A. Now, remember except for my laptop all devices interconnect by WI-FI on the 2.4GHz band. This unit doesn’t have the ability of broadcasting on 5GHz band and is a single band unit. At any one time, there are 6-to 10 devices all trying to share the internet or trying to pass packets between them.

Ok, now to describe the problem. We always had poor WI-Fi performance and I have been recommending to my family that we need to add Ethernet to our really old house, but of course, that would entail a huge major upgrade to the house, which my mother can’t afford. The real tipping point happened when I was given a late Christmas gift, so for the last week we have been getting either intermittent WI-FI coverage (meaning sometimes we have WI-Fi coverage, and then anything but my laptop which is plugged directly into the combo unit will be able to connect to the internet.) or when I try watching TV I keep getting lost packets, but for some reason it doesn’t affect either of my sisters.

I had a Cincinnati Bell installer come today to investigate why we are having so many issues with our WI-FI, and the only thing he could figure out what the problem was a WI-Fi extender, which I had added to the network because I noticed when my sisters and I try to watch Internet television at the same time I kept dropping packets but they weren’t having any problems with their devices. The repairman advice was to remove the new device I added and either upgrade my service to their best internet plan or go out and purchase a new combo unit that has both the 2.4MHz and the 5MHz band on it. Another alternative was to purchase a better modem and a separate wireless router/access point and make sure it has 2 or more bands on it.

So I am asking for help with this problem which needs to be fixed as soon as possible because my sisters are about ready to either lynch me or go ahead and add two ore networks to the household, which I know will just make the problem worse. Attention @NetBandit and @Dexter_Kane could you please look at my problem and see if you can help me find a quick solution.

Could be plenty if things. If it’s an old AP it’s probably best to just upgrade to something modern. Otherwise the first place to start is by getting something like WiFi analyser on your phone and using that to fund a free, non overlapping channel to use. If there are no free channels then use one which isn’t overlapping with any other channels. You’ll see what I mean when you look at the graph on WiFi analyser. Usually with 2.4 you only wan to use channel 1,6 or 11, but if someone is using channel 3 then you will have to use 11. Sharing a channel with someone else is always better than using a channel that overlaps as that just causes interference.

If the AP has antennas you can try adjusting the orientation, orientation matters with WiFi signals especially with older defied which don’t have mimo. Some device won’t pick up the signal at all if the antennas are vertical while other won’t work of they’re horizontal, so some combination of different angles is usually best.

If you have a mix of devices on the network then one or more of them could be slowing the whole thing down. A WiFi network is only as fast as the slowest device. I’d suggest using cable as much as possible but if not the atleast get an AP with 2.4 and 5ghz channels so you can put slower devices on one and faster devices on the other to prevent the slow ones from slowing everything else down.


Maximum Ethernet cable distance per standard is 100m. This can allow you to be creative when it comes to routing the cable around corners and so on - which is what I’m suggesting that you do.

As a rule of thumb, no device connecting to WiFi is supposed to go through more than two walls, or more than one floor structure. Also, you’re not supposed to have less than 1 accesspoint every 100m^2 / 1000sqft.

Mikrotik announced new “hAP ac 2” for ~69 a pop.

I’d suggest you get some Ethernet, pull it around the house, not necessarily through walls as that can be messy and lots of work, or expensive if you need to hire a low voltage electrician to do it for you, and that you turn your extender / repeater into an accesspoint.

Then, after I while get a pair of those Mikrotik, turn your zyxel into just a modem, and you’ll be golden

I added a Wi-Fi analyzer app to my fire tablet like @Dexter_Kane sugested, and found an access point one of my sister’s added to the network which is interfering with my my television. So now starts the great network wars.


Well if it’s in your own house then at least you have some control over it. If the only signals you’re seeing are your own then you can set each WLAN to it’s own channel, but always keep it to channel 1, 6 or 11, never use any of the in between channels. If there’s no one else around then it doesn’t matter but it’s a good habit to get in to because it will cause all sorts of problems when there are more signals around.

1 Like

Unforchantly my mother is the owner of the house, so I have no control over the network, except I am a little more knowledgeable than my mother and sisters. I found out more information this morning, My sister Rose has an Xbox 360 and a subscription to Xbox live, and it’s the Xbox’s wireless WI-FI adapter that I think is interfering with my new 4K smart TV. She told my mother yesterday afternoon (we don’t have a very good relationship we hardly speak to each other)when she was asked did you doing anything to the network she admitted she put the Xbox’s wireless adaptor in what she called Airplane Mode, which I believe is what is causing everyone else to have even poorer WI-FI reception. I think the best short-term solution is to replace the combo unit with a separate Modem and wireless router, then in the spring get some outdoor rated cat 5e or cat 6 ethernet cable and connect my television directly to the router/ switch.

Installers usually dont know shit in my experience.

Yes, You want 5Ghz. Maybe not a unit from them but you do want 5Ghz. You can then segregate the wireless devices onto separate radios.

More APs = good. More repeaters = bad. Which one is it? If its a repeater you could try to configure it for a separate channel.

No, thats not how airplane mode works.

Yes, In fact you probably dont need a separate modem. Just put a new router on the old setup and put it in the DMZ.

1 Like

My recommendation is that you just get another router/AP combo, the cheapest one you can find that has 5Ghz, and do a single ethernet run to the existing switch ports. Get into the existing router and put the new router/AP combo on the DMZ of the existing one.

Where you place the new router/AP is up to you but if you want better coverage you would want to put it in a spot where you get shit for signal ideally.


Thanks everyone for the help, I think I have a solution that will allow me to sign an accord with my sister, thus ending the network wars. I really think it’s my sister Roses Xbox 360 that is causing the interference with my television, I think she has a repeater upstairs in her room, I don’t know for sure because we don’t have a very good relationship, but I know there is a device somewhere in the house that is causing interference, because when I went into her room while she was gone I disconnected every device from the network of hers, and bingo no more interference.

I mean its not out of the realm of possibility, but again you have to realize something really important. You are operating on 2.4Ghz only. You know what else does too? E V E R Y T H I N G. 2.4 Ghz is so crowded and to complicate things only 3 of the channels on 2.4 Ghz dont overlap eachother at 40Mhz BW.

You might be able to tweak it to make it better just by swapping channels but you need to know where all the interference is which is hard to do with only a site survey tool on a tablet. Bluetooth, microwaves, house phones, wireless keyboards and mice, if its wireless in some way theres a good chance its somewhere on the 2.4ghz band.

Dont get me wrong though, swapping to 5Ghz isnt going to be an immediate fix. As you go up in frequency you need more TX power to get the same coverage. The radios have a hard limit in what they will do and any gains you want to make will have to be in the antennae on consumer devices. You might find while 2.4ghz is weak where you are in the house, 5ghz is non existent. A remote AP is going to be your best option in this case.

I am going to pay out of my pocket to wire the whole house, but I need a fix right now, so I am going to implement a temporary solution that will satisfy everyone and then the spring or summer I will go ahead and add Cat 6 ethernet cables and a proper switch to the network. But because its winter right now where I live and the house was built sometime between late 1890 to 1920, I have to do research to figure out how best to proceed in doing so.

Could you recommend a good Access Point for me that doesn’t require me to either connect directly to the combo unit or connect it to a switch.

What you’re describing is a repeater. I have a linksys e1200 which I’m using to repeat my 2.4Ghz out to my garage for music. Its not fast. I get maybe 25-30mbps of the 140mbps I have. Its running DD-WRT which is not for the layman but it gives that little AP the capabilities needed to do that. Its not a high performance setup but its hard to argue with the $30 price tag. Any repeater is going to result in a performance hit. You’ll have to run a line if you want to do it correctly.

As far as a plug in AP I use an ASUS RT-N66U in AP mode to serve my upstairs. It has dual band 2.4 & 5Ghz. They are workhorses and support custom firmwares like Tomato and DD-WRT. I kept mine stock because I didnt need any features on it that it didnt have already.

Before spending any money, log into the router and try setting the channel manually. First try channel 1, then 6, then 11. See which gives you the best performance.

Also when I said switch I meant the switching ports on your current router, not an actual dedicated switch.

The stock firmware on a lot of access points is shit. Pure shit. They work for a few hours to a few days- good enough for a reviewer to give it a good rating, then they start to act up. I’ve seen it on every WiFi router over the last 15 years. They all suck. My sister is having a shit time with her WiFi too. Her house isn’t huge and she has to reset her access point (router) about once a week. The latest addition, a Ring doorbell, is just one more thing in the mix and it isn’t helping.

Next time I’m out there, I’m going to load DD-WRT on it.

If that doesn’t fix it, I’m throwing the router out and setting up pfSense, Unifi Access points, etc. That WILL solve the problem.

1 Like

Just an update, I found the device that was causing interference on the house network, it was my sister’s Xbox wireless adaptor, so my sister disconnected and gave back the Xbox to my Brother-Inlaw, but we are still having WIFI issues. So I am back to square one.

Yesterday I was in the neighborhood of a Cincinnati Bell store, so I popped in to find out what my options were in regards to upgrading my combo unit (which is about 4 years old). The salesman at the store did a sales job on me, he said I didn’t need to upgrade my combo unit, I just needed to add their Home WIFI System the Eero. Well, I thought what the heck, I could try it for 14 days and as long as I returned it before the 14th day I could get my money back no question ask. Well, the reason I am returning it today is that of the old wiring inside the walls of my mother’s house is so old it’s interfering with the Eero’s ability to keep the network up. So now I am back to square one.

What I am going to try next is to return their Home WIFI System and see how much more it would cost to get their best combo unit and see if that helps with my interment wireless issues.

The Network War is over, it ended with neither party satisfied, but there is somewhat a willingness for both parties to work together to come up with a solution that is satisfactory to everyone.

I don’t know what is holding your back from doing a little wiring?
When I lived with my parents, I was able to wire up the critical points without disturbing _ a e s t h e t i c s.
I ran wiring inside of closets, through the garage, etc, as to minimize knocking holes in walls (where you could see them), etc, then I’d just lay wire along the baseboard, and use some clear push pins to hold it in place. You could see it but it was removable, and done as cleanly as possible - for what it was.

As for gaming over WiFi, I hate those people. You can see who is on WiFi by all their strange movement. You’d see it in Forza with cars flying past you overhead, and in shooters, it makes hitting those people harder than it should be, or easier when they are lagged by dropped WiFi frames. I seriously wish games would segregate WiFi players from wired players.

1 Like

@NetBandit My mother doesn’t have the money to pay for an Ethernet DYI solution, and I was recently laid off from my Employer, so I don’t have the money to upgrade the whole house to Ethernet right now. I think the real reasons why my mother has objection what would fix the whole problem by wiring every device to the network is she thinks it’s going to cost thousands of dollars and she doesn’t have the confidence in my ability to pull off a DYI Ethernet Solution. Hense the reason every device that needs access to the internet needs to wirelessly.

While I agree with @NetBandit the best solution would be to go ahead and implement a DYI Ethernet whole house solution, it’s just not possible at this time. I want to give @NetBandit and @Dexter_Kane a special thank you, you guys helped me convince my mother that we needed to upgrade our network (and you don’t know how much of a battle that was) but she is still convinced there is a wireless solution to the wireless issues everyone is experiencing now. It very hard to convince a 79-year-old woman when she has her daughters telling her I am trying to take advantage of the situation to promote my own agenda.

Just another update, I was able to increase the speed of my combo unit 600%, and it seems to be more stable, but still having intermittent WI-Fi issues. The next thing I am going to try is to replace the combo unit with a modem and a L3 switch. I talked to a Cincinnati Bell Network engineer yesterday and he gave me some more idea’s on how to improve our WIFI signal, which should theoretically cure our WIFI issues. I Luckout It seems any Modem that will work on Spectrum’s network will also Work with Cincinati’s network.

My guess is there’s a mixture of issues going on here. Router/AP combos are notorious for doing neither job well.

Airplane mode, at least on mobile devices, typically means silencing all wireless connectivity. I’m not sure if that’s true for the wireless adapter for the 360 but i can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be.

I think the easiest and most budget friendly thing to do would be to disable wireless on your Zyxel router and install a dedicated AP. We have installed Ubiquiti products at multiple small businesses we support and we never get any complaints about dropped connections. We even have 4 Ubiquiti AP-LR units in a roughly 7000 sq ft. clinic and they work wonderfully.

You can find them for less than 100$, and the AirView utility that all Ubiquiti APs are able to use is invaluable for finding interference free channels.

If you’re going to be buying separate hardware, i believe that is your best option, but thats just my 2 cents.

EDIT: Also ubiquiti APs have an AirSelect feature that hops between channels and eventually settles into one or more that has the least amount of interference. I hate to sound like a shill but the more i use their products the more i love em.

You’re still going to need a router/firewall between the modem and your network. Also, why layer 3?