Setting Up Alien To Replace Current Router


  • I’ll be using my new Alien to replace a current router, Apple Extreme, that is in bridge mode connected to a Verizon Fios router. It needs to be that way to maintain certain tv/dvr functions. The Fios router’s radios are turned off. The Apple router provides my wifi network.

    I also have the 2.4 band and the 5 labeled/named separately so that I can keep all my ios devices connected to the 5 band, a printer and one or two other devices use the 2.4. I would want to continue this with the Alien as the 5 band will or should reach most of my apartment. I’d rather have it that way than not knowing which band a device is on. In my building there are quite a few 2.4 networks and I want to avoid that interference for the ios devices. The 5 band is also the band that provides the highest speeds.

    Looking at the Alien documentation it looks as if I could turn off the common SSID function and separately label the 5 and 2.4 band, and set the ios devices to join the name of the 5 network that I will choose, and the others will connect to the separately named 2.4. Would that be the best way to accomplish what I want?


  • Hi @John-Pappas - that is very similar to how I have Alien configured in a high density apartment building

    The Alien is actually tri-band, so you can have 3 separated bands and SSID's if you desire:

    • 2.4 GHz 4x4 WiFi-6 (backward compatible with WiFi-5, although some people have reported issues with certain devices like Wyze cams)
    • 5.2 GHz 4x4 WiFi-5 ONLY (enable Additional 5 GHz Radio)
    • 5.8 GHz 8x8 WiFi-6 (backward compatible with WiFi-5, also used for wireless mesh backhaul)

    As you noted, you can disable Common SSID and give the WiFi-6 bands (2.4 & 5.8) separate SSID's

    The Additional 5 GHz radio was only intended for compatibility reasons and is not recommended for general use by AmpliFi, but you can find reports online and in this community for people achieving better overall throughput on the 5.2 GHz band while firmware matures

    One speculation is that because the 5.8 GHz channel is not user selectable the Alien may not be automatically using the best channel in the environment since some people have throughput issues and some don't

    For now I am using 3 SSID's, placing WiFi-6 devices on 5.8 GHz, WiFi-5 devices on 5.2 GHz and leaving the rest on 2.4 GHz

    But you may find with your testing that you do not need the 5.2 GHz band, or just use it for less critical 5 GHz devices

    One other option for the Additional 5 GHz radio if you have a spare standalone HD...you can install it in 3rd Part Router mode (has to be managed separately) to the 5.2 GHz band and use it as a wireless bridge for remote Ethernet ports and/or extend WiFi coverage to a lower priority area (i.e. outside lawn)

    That probably works for a standalone Instant router as well, but I haven't tried using one for that purpose


  • @Derek-Saville said in Setting Up Alien To Replace Current Router:

    The Additional 5 GHz radio was only intended for compatibility reasons and is not recommended for general use by AmpliFi, but you can find reports online and in this community for people achieving better overall throughput on the 5.2 GHz band while firmware matures
    One speculation is that because the 5.8 GHz channel is not user selectable the Alien may not be automatically using the best channel in the environment since some people have throughput issues and some don't

    Thanks for the response! That’s quite helpful. On my current Apple router I select the 5GHz channel manually, 149, I found that leaving it on the Automatic setting did not achieve the best coverage or download speeds. So if I understand what you’ve said just turning off the Common SSID and selecting that 5 band may not work as well as creating the additional 5 band radio and selecting the channel manually.

    If that’s the case, and I’ll first try this with the default radios, naming the 2.4 and 5 separately, letting my printer and cameras connect to the 2.4, and have my ios devices, all are recent ones, connect to that 5 band. If that doesn’t return the results I want then I could enable the additional 5 band radio, name it separately to make certain the ios devices connect to it. In that instance would I re-enable the Common SSID for the default radios, using a different name than the additional 5 radio, and have my other devices connect to it? Or should I keep the Common setting off and name all 3 separately?


  • Hi @John-Pappas -...

    So if I understand what you’ve said just turning off the Common SSID and selecting that 5 band may not work as well as creating the additional 5 band radio and selecting the channel manually.

    With the current Alien firmware, if you Disable Common SSID, you can create a separate 2.4 GHz WiFi-6 SSID with a user selectable channel between 1 to 11, and a 5 GHz WiFi-6 SSID using the 5.8 GHz band (channels 149 to 161) which is NOT user selectable

    FWIW, every time I have checked, my Alien has automatically selected channel 149

    But for now you cannot manually force the selection of channel 149

    If that’s the case, and I’ll first try this with the default radios, naming the 2.4 and 5 separately, letting my printer and cameras connect to the 2.4, and have my ios devices, all are recent ones, connect to that 5 band.

    You can just name the SSID's the same as you have them now, and assuming they use the same password, everything should connect the same

    The only things that could possibly mess that up is the Alien's auto selection of the 5 GHz channel, or a device not liking WiFi-6

    If that doesn’t return the results I want then I could enable the additional 5 band radio, name it separately to make certain the ios devices connect to it. In that instance would I re-enable the Common SSID for the default radios, using a different name than the additional 5 radio, and have my other devices connect to it? Or should I keep the Common setting off and name all 3 separately?

    You can only really well determine this through testing with your devices in your environment

    When you Enable Additional 5 GHz Radio it gives you a WiFi-5 only optional SSID with a user selectable channel from 36 to 48

    In your case, if you re-enable the Common SSID, then the SSID will have the same name for both the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, if that matter to you

    Just know there is a high amount of flexibility, and using a different name for the Additional 5 GHz Radio is also optional - if you choose you can have a single SSID for all 3 bands

    I personally found that separating everything into 3 different SSID's worked better since a single Alien could cover the entire apartment and some 5 GHz devices seemed to like the WiFi-5 radio & channel more than the WiFi-6 channel that the Alien was auto selecting


  • @Derek-Saville said in Setting Up Alien To Replace Current Router:

    I personally found that separating everything into 3 different SSID's worked better since a single Alien could cover the entire apartment and some 5 GHz devices seemed to like the WiFi-5 radio & channel more than the WiFi-6 channel that the Alien was auto selecting

    Thanks again. I am curious how you get your devices to use the band you want. With my ios devices I had them “forget” my 2.4 band network so that they would only join the 5 band. Otherwise they would pick up the 2.4 outside my apartment and hold onto it when I came back in, and I would eventually notice a slowdown in items loading. By “forgetting” the 2.4 they only pick up and join the 5 so I don’t have to manually make a switch.

    From what you said it seems that separately naming and using the default bands will work best without needing to enable the additional 5 network if that only uses the lower channels. The lower channel numbers of the 5 band do not have the range or speed of the upper ones, which I’ve manually set to 149.


  • Hi @John-Pappas - same here...my devices only know the their respective SSID, and therefore band, that I want them on...

    • SSID 'Chez24' for devices I want only on the 2.4 GHz channel
    • SSID 'Chez52' for WiFi-5 devices I want only on the 5.2 GHz channel
    • SSID 'Chez58' for WiFi-6 devices I want only on the 5.8 GHz channel

    Maybe as the firmware matures, and we are able to manually select the upper 5.8 GHz channel, I will try out a common SSID again, but for now I just stick with what works for my clients in this space

    At a couple of other locations I do have Aliens that just use the Common SSID and there have been no complaints of connections issues, but the WiFi environments there are also pretty clear of interference as well

    That's why I appreciate the flexibility the Alien has (other than not being able to manually select the 5.8 GHz channel)...


  • @Derek-Saville Got it! Thanks very much, you’ve been a big help. Looking forward to getting my Alien and setting it up, hopefully soon.


  • Hi @John-Pappas - a few other things to keep in mind...

    Your Alien will probably still be shipping with the original manufacturing firmware v3.2.0, which from my experience, had many issues making it unusable

    Firmware v3.2.2 was available from day one when the Alien shipped to correct some of those problems

    Firmware v3.3.1 is the latest public release, but reports are conflicting on how stable it is

    However, firmware rollback from the web UI has NOT been implemented yet, so if you want any firmware version prior to v3.3.1, you need to obtain a download link and install manually from the http://amplifi.lan/fwupdate.php site

    I am personally still running v3.2.5 which has been very stable for my site, and I cannot afford any connectivity risks while still restricted to WFH for at least another month, so I won't consider updating for now unless something goes wrong

    The beta firmware v3.4.0rc has had pretty positive feedback so far, but it hasn't universally solved all of the issues reported for v3.3.1

    Many issues reported relate to using multiple Aliens in a mesh, so if you are only installing one Alien, you probably have a higher likelihood of stability

    All of the above is to say, don't expect to stay on v3.2.0 for very long if you don't update right away (which I typically do not), and when you do move to v3.3.1, if you have problems, know that manually rolling back to v3.2.5 or going onto the beta release candidate will very likely bring more stability


  • I just got the Alien set up. It was very easy actually, the app worked perfectly. The new software update was picked up immediately and installed without issue. There were a couple of issues, naturally, and I need some additional guidance.

    When I first set it up I turned off Common SSID and named the 2.4 and 5 network separately. I used the same names and passwords I had used on the router it was replacing. The reasoning was that the download speeds have always been considerably faster on the 5 network in my condo building since there are multiple 2.4 networks around me. However with my phone connected to the 2.4 band, I did not play around with specific channels I let the Alien set those, I found that download speeds were just as fast as I had ever previously seen on my 5 band. With the old router speeds were dramatically lower on 2.4.

    Seeing how good the performance was on 2.4 I decided to enable the Common SSID since it appeared performance would be the same. The common name was the name of the 2.4 band. That worked well for my phone as well as another iPhone 7 which we use as a house phone. I had to enter the password to get them to join because I had in the past made them forget the 2.4 network and only use the 5 but once I made them join the common name which was the 2.4 name everything seemed to be fine.

    But when my wife came home I could not get her iPhone XS or her iPad Pro to join that name network. When she first came in I looked and hers had picked up the 5 band which has a different name than the 2.4 and the Common. When I tried to make them join the Common name, which again was the name of the 2.4 band, they would not join. I entered the password correctly, the passwords are the same for both bands as well as the Common name, but they refused to connect.

    I restarted her devices but that didn’t change anything. And now the name of the 5 band no longer appeared in the list since I had enabled the Common SSID. I had to turn that off again, and go back to the separately named 2.4 and 5 bands. As soon as I did that her devices picked up the named 5 band and are working fine. But I cannot figure out why her devices wouldn’t join the Common SSID. I’ve left them separate for now since everything is working.

    One other setting I need advice for. When I originally set my internet and tv service up, I have Verizon Fios, I was told I needed the Verizon router for certain tv functions but since I was going to use my own router for my wifi network I was instructed to place my router in bridge mode. I did this and turned the wifi radios on the Fios router off. Now having set the Alien up I have not enabled bridge mode and everything seems to be working properly. Do I need to place this in bridge mode? I had read something about the possibility of double NAT but with the Fios radios off is that an issue?


  • @John-Pappas said in Setting Up Alien To Replace Current Router:

    used the same names and passwords I had used on the router it was replacing

    In some instances, I have seen devices not connect to a new router because of this. The solution I found is to remove the network from each of these devices respectively, so on an iOS device: Settings app > WiFi > tap the blue "I" ? Forget this network. Then select the network from the list and enter the password.

    Do I need to place this in bridge mode?

    You will have two firewalls, and two DHCP servers running, now if anything is plugged into the LAN ports on your Fios box, they will not be able to communicate with your AmpliFi network. Besides that other port forwarding rules may be needed as issues arise. But yes, it is recommended to place AmpliFi into Bridge mode.


  • @UI-Brett Thanks Brett. When I first set the Alien up I left the Common Name enabled, I did use the name of the 2.4 band that I had previously used, and I did have to force my devices to join it. I had previously made those devices “forget” that network/band and only connect to the 5 band which was named differently. I did that with my 2 iPhones and ipad and this worked. I ran a couple speed tests and wandered around my apartment and everything seemed fine. Even devices that only use a 2.4 band were working properly. But when my wife got home with her iphone and ipad I checked their settings and they had picked up the 5GHz band/network even though the Common name was enabled so it was a bit confusing. However they were working fine. It wasn’t until I made them join that common name network that they just wouldn’t. So that’s when I turned off the common name and my wife’s devices immediately picked up the 5 network and everything has worked well since so I’m just leaving as separately named networks.

    I created a new post with the screenshots below. I’m curious about the 5 band network, previously I was told that the channel used would not be user selectable. However when I turned off the automatic setting I was offered 3 channels, all lower numbered ones such as the 36 shown in the screenshot. On my previous router I used 149 as that gave the best performance on the 5 band throughout my apartment, but those higher frequencies are not shown as an option on the default network. Right now everything is working well so I have left the setting on automatic. And I haven’t enabled the additional 5 as I’ve seen no need.

    I also would like to know what those other settings in the other screenshot below the Additional 5 GHz, the Router Additional SSID toggle settings. What are those used for?
    1_1590524949247_E3E2899D-4529-4A30-9B6A-2168DF787EB8.jpeg 0_1590524949246_BCD2D957-0D83-46F7-AF45-A18E8A9A2C8B.jpeg


  • @John-Pappas The additional 5Ghz radio is the legacy radio option (WiFi 5 only) This was included in case certain devices did not play well with WiFi 6, and the need for a dedicated WiFi 5 broadcast was needed.

    With the channel selection, that is adjusting the WiFi 5 channels, not WiFi 6. The ability to change WiFi 6 channels was discussed in a different thread, and it is something we are working on but have not yet released to the system.


  • @UI-Brett So you’re saying that the 36 I’m seeing, with the option to select two other channels if I turn the automatic setting off, is for the WiFi 5 band even though I haven’t enabled the additional 5GHz band? Is there a way to see what the WiFi 6 5GHz channel is? And what are those other SSID options for?


  • Hi @John-Pappas - if you have the AirPort Utility installed on an iOS device you can enable the WiFi Scanner in its Settings panel and then do a scan to see what SSID's are using which channels

    The Alien has 3 radios, each on separate bands...

    • 2.4 GHz WiFi-6 Radio - Channels 1 to 11 (Always On)
    • 5.2 GHz WiFi-5 Radio - Channels 36 to 48 (Optional)
    • 5.8 GHz WiFi-6 Radio - Channels 149 to 161 (Always On)

    As of the current firmware, you can only optionally manually select the channels for the 2.4 GHz WiFi-6 Radio and the 5.2 GHz WiFi-5 Radio

    So if you did a scan of your network based on the image of your setup you should see:

    • SSID "Extreme" on channel 6
    • SSID "Extreme 5GHz" on a channel between 149 & 161

    If you want an SSID in the 5.2 GHz band between channels 36 to 48, then you need to enable the Additional 5GHz Radio option

    The available options for SSID can get very confusing...quick summary

    • All 3 Radios can be on the Common SSID
    • You can leave the two WiFi-6 Radios on the Common SSID and give only the optional WiFi-5 Radio a Unique SSID
    • All 3 Radios can be given unique SSID's

    It just depends on what you need for your environment and your client devices

    Those settings for SSID's and Channel selections are common and will apply to all router and access points in a mesh setup

    The "Router Additional SSID" settings are unique to each individual router and access point in a mesh and serve to primary purposes...

    • if you have fixed placement devices (no roaming) that only works on one band (i.e. Sonos speaker on 2.4 GHz) you can provide a unique SSID for those devices on an individual router or access point
    • if a roaming device does NOT work with the Common SSID, an additional unique SSID can be given, per band, per router and access point

    If you want a Router Additional SSID on more than one access point in a mesh, you have to set it up on each one individually


  • @Derek-Saville Thanks Derek. I just found it confusing to see that 5GHz band on 36 under the automatic setting. I thought that was showing me what I was currently connecting on when I joined that Extreme 5 network. But I did as you suggested with the Airport Utility and found that it’s actually on 161.

    I was assuming that the two channel’s being shown in that screenshot above, 6 for the 2.4 and 36 for the 5 would be the active channels currently in use by my devices.

    Anyway everything is actually working very well, all devices that can use the 5GHz band are able to connect throughout the apartment so I’m leaving them as separate networks, otherwise I might try that common name setting again to allow them to be switched over automatically if it were necessary, but that’s not an issue. I’m just being anal about what all the settings actually mean. Thanks again to both of you!


Log in to reply