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This is probably a very basic question, and I apologize, but I'm really not sure where to turn for networking help, and it's driving me nuts.

At home I have a cable modem attached to a router - call it the "main" router. That main router has some ethernet connections, including to another router in another part of the house. That downstream router - call it "router 2" - has DHCP off. Router 2 is then connected by ethernet to another downstream router in another part of the house, also with DHCP off (call it "router 3"!). All three provide WiFi with the same SSID and security settings. The main router also has a separate 5G signal that does not reach far. The downstream routers are fairly old - maybe 5 years or more? The main one is probably about 3 years old.

Normally this works fine, and the main WiFi covers the whole house with a decent signal all on the same network, and devices seem to switch seamlessly. (The house isn't that big - just old and not signal-friendly.)

Lately, though, the WiFi connection keeps going bad. The signals are still strong, but I frequently lose the connection to the internet, or even other local devices. When I test from a desktop connected by ethernet to router 3, though, I am still connected fine all the way downstream. The main router also has a separate 5G signal, and when I am in range of that I can connect to it and it too is fine, while the regular signal will flounder. I can fix it by unplugging router 3, then router 2, then the main router, waiting a bit, and plugging them back in (in reverse order, main then 2 then 3).

Possible relevant factors:

  • A recent change in ISP plan, from 20 Mbp/s to 100 Mbp/s. (But the non-5G WiFi seems to max out at about 50 Mbp/s anyway.)
  • Sonos music system running its own mysterious network on its speakers throughout the house (this has been around and working for a long time, but has been known to "flood" the network in years past - whatever that means).
  • A fair amount of recent downloading and uploading on my desktop, connected by ethernet to router 3.

Any thoughts about what's going on here, and how I can fix it? Thanks in advance!

  • 2
    You say the downstream routers have DHCP off, which I take to mean that its DHCP server is off, but what's equally important is that they have NAT off (or, if it's one of those routers that doesn't let you turn NAT off, you must ensure you're not connecting anything to that router's WAN port). Can you confirm that you are not doing double or triple NAT on your network, and that it's all one IP subnet, and that everything that gets a DHCP lease gets it from the head-of-"main" router? – Spiff Oct 22 '18 at 18:33
  • Thanks @Spiff. Man, this is stuff I knew about just long enough to put the network together, and have forgotten since. I basically followed rote directions somewhere for setting up downstream routers. I don't explicitly remember turning NAT off, but I do seem to remember thinking that I shouldn't put anything to the WAN ports ... and all my downstream IPs - via wifi and ethernet - are assigned out of the main router's 10.0.0.255. I will try to check and get back to you. At the moment, to be honest, I don't even remember how to get to the admin panels of the downstream routers. – Steve Petersen Oct 23 '18 at 15:19

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