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Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:07 pm

I have marginal cell coverage at my house, which means it is completely unusable in the basement. Unfortunately my home office is in the basement. Solution has been to use the WiFi calling feature of my phone, but it randomly disconnects and won't automatically reconnect when that happens.

I'd been blaming this on Sprint (because, well, Sprint), since WiFi seems to be fine otherwise. This past weekend the WiFi AP in the Comcast router went sideways for several hours (no idea why... because Comcast!). Wired connectivity was still fine. As an experiment, I set up my laptop to act as a WiFi AP for the basement; lo and behold, the random WiFi calling disconnects went away! It was rock-solid stable if I use the laptop as an AP for the phone instead of the Comcast router (provided the laptop is on a wired connection).

Duh.

I guess I'll add a WiFi adapter to the desktop in my office and route the phone through that so I can reliably get phone calls in the basement without having to leave the laptop on and plugged into the wired network. Plus the range of the laptop's built-in WiFi adapter in AP mode really sucks... barely makes it across the basement (not terribly surprising, it's not designed for that).
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:53 pm

Do you have DOCSIS 3.0 (sub-gigabit), and are you paying to rent Comcast's Modem/AP? If so, consider looking for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal on a replacement device. For example, my parents got this one on sale for about $120: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0781Z5PCL

You could also consider a mesh solution but that's often more expensive. If your wireless AP is a few years old it might be worth upgrading to see how much better the signal is. Either way in roughly two years you'll break even and likely have a smoother experience.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:01 pm

Duct Tape Dude wrote:
Do you have DOCSIS 3.0 (sub-gigabit), and are you paying to rent Comcast's Modem/AP? If so, consider looking for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal on a replacement device. For example, my parents got this one on sale for about $120: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0781Z5PCL

You could also consider a mesh solution but that's often more expensive. If your wireless AP is a few years old it might be worth upgrading to see how much better the signal is. Either way in roughly two years you'll break even and likely have a smoother experience.

The signal strength and coverage on the Comcast-supplied AP is generally quite good (which is why I didn't look into alternatives). But if the ongoing WiFi calling issues are the AP's fault, it's time to look elsewhere.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:39 pm

just brew it! wrote:
The signal strength and coverage on the Comcast-supplied AP is generally quite good (which is why I didn't look into alternatives). But if the ongoing WiFi calling issues are the AP's fault, it's time to look elsewhere.
I see. There's also the xFi pods which are a one-time cost if you have a compatible AP, in case the connection is a little flaky in the basement.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:46 pm

I'm actually very surprised you're using the Comcast solution. Even if you aren't paying for it, there's still all that crap where they automatically share your connection with other Comcast subscribers. I want nothing to do with any of their equipment.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:03 am

Duct Tape Dude wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
The signal strength and coverage on the Comcast-supplied AP is generally quite good (which is why I didn't look into alternatives). But if the ongoing WiFi calling issues are the AP's fault, it's time to look elsewhere.

I see. There's also the xFi pods which are a one-time cost if you have a compatible AP, in case the connection is a little flaky in the basement.

The WiFi signal strength is excellent in the basement; it's the LTE and 3G cell coverage that evaporates once you go down the stairs (hence the need for WiFi calling).

So the WiFi calling flakiness is not a signal strength issue, AFAICT.

The Egg wrote:
I'm actually very surprised you're using the Comcast solution. Even if you aren't paying for it, there's still all that crap where they automatically share your connection with other Comcast subscribers. I want nothing to do with any of their equipment.

The shared connection is logically outside the LAN (so no security risk... at least in theory...), doesn't count towards the data transfer quota (if any), and connection quality falls off quickly enough with distance once you're outside the house that I'm not too concerned about anyone siphoning available bandwidth. I figure one of my neighbors (or someone parked in my driveway) would need to have a high-gain directional antenna aimed at my AP for it to make a significant dent in perceived network performance. Heck, given how cable internet works I'm probably sharing bandwidth with those neighbors anyway.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:36 am

All those combined modem / router / WiFi boxes are garbage. Put them in bridged mode, use a proper router and a proper WiFi setup like Ubiquiti
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:32 pm

The Egg wrote:
I'm actually very surprised you're using the Comcast solution. Even if you aren't paying for it, there's still all that crap where they automatically share your connection with other Comcast subscribers. I want nothing to do with any of their equipment.
Your connection may be shared, but you also are almost always overprovisioned by 20%. For example, if you pay for 150mbps, during quiet times you should have no problem maxing out at 180mbps. Bandwidth isn't an issue since all the Xfinity Wifi stuff is in addition to your paid speed, capped, and [de]prioritized accordingly.

The costs of turning that stuff on are negligible signal noise from other devices, a few dimes a year from the milliWatts of electricity spent processing/broadcasting another Wifi network, and your own sanity.

I still have my own stuff just for the rental cost savings.

Disclaimer: I work for a cool team within Comcast but the opinions I post here are my own.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:42 pm

Have you considered maybe getting away from Sprint? It may be cheap, but is it really worth it? Their HQ is in KC, and they STILL have terrible coverage in KS, and where they do have coverage the speeds are abysmal. Like, CDMA 3G speeds. ~1Mbps. Bad.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:10 pm

The other carriers seem to have crappy coverage in our subdivision too. We're just in a cell service hole for some reason. And Sprint actually has better coverage in the office where I work for some reason; one of those rare occasions I get to feel superior to the T-Mobile & AT&T users. :lol: (I guess we'll get to see if T-Mobile pulls Sprint up or Sprint drags T-Mobile down...)
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:19 pm

just brew it! wrote:
The other carriers seem to have crappy coverage in our subdivision too. We're just in a cell service hole for some reason. And Sprint actually has better coverage in the office where I work for some reason; one of those rare occasions I get to feel superior to the T-Mobile & AT&T users. :lol: (I guess we'll get to see if T-Mobile pulls Sprint up or Sprint drags T-Mobile down...)

Since you have a Sprint phone, it may be worth it to try Verizon prepaid. If your phone can work on VZW, just pop that sim in there. Though IIRC you have a GS4...may be a little old. But seriously. Verizon coverage for the win.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:28 pm

Duct Tape Dude wrote:
The Egg wrote:
I'm actually very surprised you're using the Comcast solution. Even if you aren't paying for it, there's still all that crap where they automatically share your connection with other Comcast subscribers. I want nothing to do with any of their equipment.
Your connection may be shared, but you also are almost always overprovisioned by 20%. For example, if you pay for 150mbps, during quiet times you should have no problem maxing out at 180mbps. Bandwidth isn't an issue since all the Xfinity Wifi stuff is in addition to your paid speed, capped, and [de]prioritized accordingly.
The costs of turning that stuff on are negligible signal noise from other devices, a few dimes a year from the milliWatts of electricity spent processing/broadcasting another Wifi network, and your own sanity.
I still have my own stuff just for the rental cost savings.
Disclaimer: I work for a cool team within Comcast but the opinions I post here are my own.

Regardless, I'm not in the business of paying for free wifi hotspots for the public to use. No matter how unlikely, if someone were to do something illegal/nefarious through my connection, I'm sure it would eventually be traced back to me/my location. Whether easily proven innocent or not isn't the point.

If Comcast wants use of my location and electricity, I think about $300/mo sounds fair. Plus fees of course. Yeah, there's definitely going to be a few fees...
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:00 pm

DancinJack wrote:
Since you have a Sprint phone, it may be worth it to try Verizon prepaid. If your phone can work on VZW, just pop that sim in there. Though IIRC you have a GS4...may be a little old. But seriously. Verizon coverage for the win.

Sprint family plan, 4 phones of varying ages (the other three consist of a couple of ancient slide-out-keyboard feature phones and a fairly recent iPhone). Odds of all of those working on VZW even if mine does are probably slim to none. :lol:

The Egg wrote:
Regardless, I'm not in the business of paying for free wifi hotspots for the public to use.

They are only "free" to other Comcast customers, and you are "free" to use any other Comcast customers' hotspots. You have to log in using your Comcast account ID and password to access them.

The Egg wrote:
No matter how unlikely, if someone were to do something illegal/nefarious through my connection, I'm sure it would eventually be traced back to me/my location. Whether easily proven innocent or not isn't the point.

As noted above, other Comcast customers must authenticate with their Comcast account. The public hotspot also uses a different public IP address; I just checked, by connecting my laptop via the "public" hotspot in my Comcast modem. The public IP addresses are completely different. Not even in the same subnet. Completely different IPv4 address block, even.

The Egg wrote:
If Comcast wants use of my location and electricity, I think about $300/mo sounds fair. Plus fees of course. Yeah, there's definitely going to be a few fees...

The modem/router is powered up and taking up space anyway. As I've pointed out, you're letting them provide a service, in exchange for making that same service available to you when you're not at home but within range of another Comcast customer's AP.

While there's always a possibility that they'll f**k something up, it doesn't seem like an unreasonable arrangement to me.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:47 pm

Oh, and speaking to the original topic of this thread, after a couple of days things do seem to be better running the Sprint WiFi calling service through the DIY access point. It has still disconnected a couple of times, but is way better than when running through Comcast's AP.

FWIW the WiFi adapter I'm using is this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YIFHJY/

Setup was effortless in Kubuntu 14.04... yeah my desktop OS is in need of an update, but inertia. Adapter automatically showed up in network configuration, clicked Add... Wireless (shared), set the SSID and WiFi password, and done. WiFi AP running from my desktop PC. Quite gratifying when stuff "just works" like this; makes up for the times when you have to go "down the rabbit hole".
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:31 pm

The Egg wrote:
Regardless, I'm not in the business of paying for free wifi hotspots for the public to use. No matter how unlikely, if someone were to do something illegal/nefarious through my connection, I'm sure it would eventually be traced back to me/my location. Whether easily proven innocent or not isn't the point.
It doesn't work like that whatsoever. Every IP connection is tied to an underlying auth and raw packets are separated for security along various networking tiers that rarely cross. ISPs don't need IP addresses nor your physical location to find who accessed what--that's the point of signing in to access WiFi.

The Egg wrote:
If Comcast wants use of my location and electricity, I think about $300/mo sounds fair. Plus fees of course. Yeah, there's definitely going to be a few fees...
Not sure why you're telling us this, you're welcome to contact Comcast and demand a refund, cancel service, bargain for a peering agreement, demand they pay you despite signing a contract to pay them, etc. You stick it to them however makes you happy.

(Again, these views are my own.)

just brew it! wrote:
Odds of all of those working on VZW even if mine does are probably slim to none.
Yup. It's typically better to buy a new phone when switching carriers, since each carrier uses its own handful of bands and not all phones support all frequencies.

just brew it! wrote:
makes up for the times when you have to go "down the rabbit hole".
Yeah, like switching LTS versions only to find they rewrote the network configuration again. :evil:
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:40 pm

Duct Tape Dude wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
makes up for the times when you have to go "down the rabbit hole".

Yeah, like switching LTS versions only to find they rewrote the network configuration again. :evil:

Yeah, and 18.04 LTS introduced some really bad interactions between systemd and mdraid. :evil: :evil:

(Backed my home server off to 16.04 LTS because I ain't got no time to deal with that sh*t! :-?)
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:46 pm

The Egg wrote:
Regardless, I'm not in the business of paying for free wifi hotspots for the public to use. No matter how unlikely, if someone were to do something illegal/nefarious through my connection, I'm sure it would eventually be traced back to me/my location. Whether easily proven innocent or not isn't the point.

If Comcast wants use of my location and electricity, I think about $300/mo sounds fair. Plus fees of course. Yeah, there's definitely going to be a few fees...

Sure, install your own equipment if that's what makes you happy; it's what I did, and I'm not buying anything beyond Internet, so one SurfBoard later plus the Ubiquiti equipment I was already using, and I'm done. But your arguments are kind of silly, it's a partitioned service with login tracking and uses a partial fraction of nothing in added power draw. And yeah, I've used my login a couple times on other peoples' modems when I can't hotspot my phone effectively due to limited cell service. Could even call me a free loader although given that our townhome is in the middle of a mixed neighborhood including a large apartment complex across the street, there are countless Xfinity WiFi APs available and no need of one more to pollute the spectrum.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:01 am

ludi wrote:
The Egg wrote:
Regardless, I'm not in the business of paying for free wifi hotspots for the public to use. No matter how unlikely, if someone were to do something illegal/nefarious through my connection, I'm sure it would eventually be traced back to me/my location. Whether easily proven innocent or not isn't the point.

If Comcast wants use of my location and electricity, I think about $300/mo sounds fair. Plus fees of course. Yeah, there's definitely going to be a few fees...

Sure, install your own equipment if that's what makes you happy; it's what I did, and I'm not buying anything beyond Internet, so one SurfBoard later plus the Ubiquiti equipment I was already using, and I'm done. But your arguments are kind of silly, it's a partitioned service with login tracking and uses a partial fraction of nothing in added power draw. And yeah, I've used my login a couple times on other peoples' modems when I can't hotspot my phone effectively due to limited cell service. Could even call me a free loader although given that our townhome is in the middle of a mixed neighborhood including a large apartment complex across the street, there are countless Xfinity WiFi APs available and no need of one more to pollute the spectrum.

I was mostly being facetious and poking fun at Comcast, but still. Bogus Comcast credentials can be used. If you happened to live in said large apartment complex (or somewhere within the range of many others), and someone did something very very bad using your hotspot as the connection, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that you could get an inquiring knock on the door. Whether or not they'd be trying to implicate you is beside the point; not worth even a infinitesimally small chance of being hassled with that sort of thing, IMO.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:13 am

The Egg wrote:
I was mostly being facetious and poking fun at Comcast, but still. Bogus Comcast credentials can be used. If you happened to live in said large apartment complex (or somewhere within the range of many others), and someone did something very very bad using your hotspot as the connection, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that you could get an inquiring knock on the door. Whether or not they'd be trying to implicate you is beside the point; not worth even a infinitesimally small chance of being hassled with that sort of thing, IMO.

If bogus Comcast credentials are used, that would tend to point at the person whose credentials were stolen... not the person whose hotspot was used.

If you're really that worried about an "infinitesimally small chance of being hassled", I'd expect you to be living in a shack, off the grid, miles from civilization (Unabomber style).

Heck, that level of paranoia would probably preclude you from participating in online forums like this one...
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:49 am

just brew it! wrote:
The Egg wrote:
I was mostly being facetious and poking fun at Comcast, but still. Bogus Comcast credentials can be used. If you happened to live in said large apartment complex (or somewhere within the range of many others), and someone did something very very bad using your hotspot as the connection, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that you could get an inquiring knock on the door. Whether or not they'd be trying to implicate you is beside the point; not worth even a infinitesimally small chance of being hassled with that sort of thing, IMO.

If bogus Comcast credentials are used, that would tend to point at the person whose credentials were stolen... not the person whose hotspot was used.

If you're really that worried about an "infinitesimally small chance of being hassled", I'd expect you to be living in a shack, off the grid, miles from civilization (Unabomber style).

Heck, that level of paranoia would probably preclude you from participating in online forums like this one...

:roll: I think you're wildly overestimating my level of concern (seems to happen with me a fair amount online, regardless of how many disclaimers I include). I'm not actually worried about it; it's more a matter of principle. From a risk/benefit perspective there's no benefit to me whatsoever, so why would I accept any amount of risk, no matter how small? Even without risk/hassle, they're offering no incentive to share, and charging for the equipment to boot.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:27 am

just brew it! wrote:
I have marginal cell coverage at my house, which means it is completely unusable in the basement. Unfortunately my home office is in the basement. Solution has been to use the WiFi calling feature of my phone, but it randomly disconnects and won't automatically reconnect when that happens.

I'd been blaming this on Sprint (because, well, Sprint), since WiFi seems to be fine otherwise. This past weekend the WiFi AP in the Comcast router went sideways for several hours (no idea why... because Comcast!). Wired connectivity was still fine. As an experiment, I set up my laptop to act as a WiFi AP for the basement; lo and behold, the random WiFi calling disconnects went away! It was rock-solid stable if I use the laptop as an AP for the phone instead of the Comcast router (provided the laptop is on a wired connection).

Duh.

I guess I'll add a WiFi adapter to the desktop in my office and route the phone through that so I can reliably get phone calls in the basement without having to leave the laptop on and plugged into the wired network. Plus the range of the laptop's built-in WiFi adapter in AP mode really sucks... barely makes it across the basement (not terribly surprising, it's not designed for that).



I had a pretty similar situation with WiFi connectivity. Long story short, antennas matter. Really, really matter. I had an "all in one" SB router/wifi/modem unit, but I had to get a separate WiFi router and disable the radio on the modem unit. The lack of a good antenna array handicapped the unit too much.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:39 am

The weird thing is, signal strength from the Comcast AP shows as excellent. Yet I still get the frequent connection drops when using it.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:19 am

Just because the signal strength is strong doesn't mean that they aren't dropping packets all over the place.

All WiFi drivers are garbage. There seems to be something about the teams developing them, no matter the manufacturer. I'd say the microwaves are frying brain cells but they just aren't powerful enough. I suspect they employ drug addled coding monkeys rather than professional developers. :evil:
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:37 am

Here's the DIY access point, strapped to a shelving unit in my basement office. It's plugged into a USB port on my desktop PC (which is on a table next to the shelves). Way more reliable than the AP in the router.
Image
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:55 am

I use WiFi calling with my Pixel2 with the Comcast-supplied modem/wifi-router and my Netgear extender. Seems to work fine without any drops. My wife's iPhone (I think a 7) seems to be ok as well.
 
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:37 pm

TEST & MEASUREMENT

SOLDERING

(things we dare not describe)

SSD

2.5" HDD
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:49 pm

ludi wrote:
TEST & MEASUREMENT

SOLDERING

(things we dare not describe)

SSD

2.5" HDD

This is all I saw.
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:06 pm

DancinJack wrote:
ludi wrote:
TEST & MEASUREMENT

SOLDERING

(things we dare not describe)

SSD

2.5" HDD

This is all I saw.

Where's the fun in knowing where it all is instead of just rummaging through 6-7 unmarked postal bins full of accumulated cruft?
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:14 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Where's the fun in knowing where it all is instead of just rummaging through 6-7 unmarked postal bins full of accumulated cruft?

That's the organized part of the office. And there are a lot more than 6-7 unmarked boxes in the unorganized area (most of them are "Bankers Box" style filing boxes or beer case boxes full of random crap). :lol:
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Re: Comcast AP and WiFi calling

Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:03 pm

just brew it! wrote:
The weird thing is, signal strength from the Comcast AP shows as excellent. Yet I still get the frequent connection drops when using it.


Maybe the antenna/receiver design is really sensitive to multipath, noise, etc. Great overall power, but tons of noise or an inability to tolerate much noise.

Put a large metal bowl behind the AP and point it at your phone... :D

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