I have the following setup for my house:

  • Cable modem (upstairs)
  • Ethernet upstairs / main floor / basement
  • Bunch of old routers
  • OnHub

I'm trying to figure out what the right layout here is. I was thinking of putting the OnHub on the main floor, so that it's central (can reach basement and upstairs), but then the cable modem is upstairs, which means I need some switch upstairs (old router). I can do DDWRT on the old router, and try to bridge them with the OnHub, but I feel like I'm doing something unnecessarily complicated.

Alternative #2, put the OnHub upstairs next to the cable modem - but then does it reach the basement? And then do I need to have a second router for the basement as an extender?

  • For Wi-Fi, "Does it reach" can be only answered by yourself, experimentally. (For example, I work at a place where the signal can easily reach through two floors, but the walls are completely impenetrable...)

  • If you need a switch, then... buy a switch? They're cheap. You don't need a whole combo router/switch/Wi-Fi "wireless router" that costs 10 times as much, if all you need is more Ethernet ports and aren't going to use the routing functions.

    Even if you already have a bunch of old routers, I'd still say use a switch where you need one. Or at least configure those routers in bridge mode (as below).

  • Similarly, if you need more Wi-Fi APs, you can actually get standalone APs, without a router function. (I think some stores call them "Wi-Fi extenders"?)

  • Whatever layout you choose, try to avoid stacking routers – leave routing enabled in the "main" router, but switch all others to "bridge" mode (e.g. see OnHub's docs on that). This avoids double NAT.

    If they do not have an option to switch from routing/NAT to bridging, then just turn off DHCP and connect everything to LAN ports instead of WAN.

  • This is great advice - one of the problems I neglected to mention was that my cable modem requires connecting to a router (it needs an associated MAC address). So a switch next to the modem won't do... – aronchick Dec 22 '15 at 7:08
  • It "needs an associated MAC address"? As in... it's just a modem without any routing functions and requires an actual router in front of it? (In that case, sure, put a router in front of it.) Or does it do something weirder, like checking LAN clients' MACs? (Never used cable modems, it's all ADSL here.) – grawity Dec 22 '15 at 7:09
  • Yep, it locks to a MAC address, but does not check all client's MACs - you have to hard reset it when you switch routers. – aronchick Dec 22 '15 at 17:35

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