Router Steering - Brilliant feature or a waste of time ?

  • Thought I would start a discussion about the Router Steering feature. I can't make my mind up if this feature is brilliant or just pointless. The basic premise of it forcing devices to the router for a better signal where possible sounded like a great feature at first but then i read the official Amplifi description where it says it may well force a device to the router even if that is not the best signal. This is where the confusion comes in. If you want a MESH to work as it should then you don't want to be directed to the router in parts of your property where being connected to a MESH Point would be more beneficial surely?
    Anyone agree / disagree ?

  • @tim-sparling-0 I do agree. In fact, I find Band Steering also useless in a properly meshed home environment. I distribute my mesh points perfectly around the home to enable a strong 5 GHz signal everywhere I need it. I don't want my 5 GHz devices falling back to 2.4 GHz at any point, so I want different band SSIDs. Not band steering. I also want my stationary devices to connect and stay connected to the AP with the strongest signal on the appropriate band. Don't want router steering confusing my stationary devices when inevitable momentary interference happens.

    I understand the reason behind band and router steering and shared SSID between 2.4 and 5 GHz. However, in a home environment I think these are unnecessary and I would rather see our product developers focusing on features to provide more stability, better perf, and better control: Separate band SSIDs, ability to pin stationary devices to the best AP/mesh point. Along with faster/better client AP switching support for phones and laptops to move a lot. I appreciate Amplifi for enabling some of this in beta versions. But my complaint applies to all recent routers/mesh systems I've tried that seem stuck on the idea of forcing shared SSID between bands and band and router steering.

  • The Small Net Builder articles on WiFi Roaming and Roaming Secrets (first of three) are pretty good reads.

    Amplifi doesn't really give an option for balancing 5 GHz vs 2.4 GHz coverage that I have found.
    As @David-Lee states, you can place AP's for ideal 5 GHz coverage, but then you could significantly over-saturate a property with 2.4 GHz coverage and may suffer some strange roaming characteristics (I wish we could selectively turn off or turn down the 2.4 GHz band on individual AP's).

    Anyways, I could see in some cases where a 2.4 GHz connection directly to the main router may be better than a 5 GHz connection via a mesh point, especially if you are sharing that 5 GHz link for a wireless backhaul.

    In such a case, it might be better to turn on Router Steering and/or turn off Band Steering.
    There are also a lot of factors to consider, like bandwidth, how many devices are sharing channels, etc.
    And I am not sure how AmpliFi has implemented Router Steering.
    But I figured that's why they offered the option and keep it off by default.

    Ultimately the device still has to make the decision of what AP to connect to and when to roam, and the AP's are pretty limited in their ability to influence that decision.

  • I would say that the real issue is that all of the APs/bands all have the same SSID. I would prefer to be able to bind certain devices to certain BSSIDs then allow them to "bounce" based on fluctuating conditions. This is supposedly coming in the next firmware version but through the ability to create a second SSID on an access point (specifically for IoT devices.)

    For instance I have an internet-connected garage door opener that has always been an issue on a mesh. Being able to always tie that device to a single point would be great, especially if I did not need to have a separate SSID to deal with. Devices like phones, tablets and PCs move around and I would like to say "always connect to the strongest signal with the most throughput." I'd rather connect to a router with 400Mb/s at 50% strength than to a mesh antenna at 80% strength that tops out at 120Mb/s. The overall throughput is better on the router. Signal strength alone is a poor indicator of overall performance, it is a combination on strength and throughput that should decide.

  • @john-fruehe Hi John.

    This exists on the current beta firmware. The specific SSID for certain devices. I've used it and can confidently say it works. So that's a positive.

    I have that set up with my smart lights currently and it works really well. They all connect to one extra SSID specifically set aside for them and never leave or move or deter from that, no matter where a better signal is coming from.

    Edit: Router steering is great if you want devices to connect to the main router. I have so many mesh points that it's pointless.

    Band steering on the other hand is a life saver for apple devices.

  • @john-fruehe and in testing the additional SSID I find that it is actually worse for disconnects. Had to pull out the old D-Link just to keep the garage door working.

  • @david-lee
    "Along with faster/better client AP switching support for phones and laptops to move a lot."

    I couldn't have said it better. I have a robot vacuum that is Connected to Wi-Fi. No issues at all until I went with this mesh system. Now I have been losing, randomly, remote connect functions.

  • @guy-salazar One of our more recent updates allows for additional SSID's to be created per router/meshpoint. By created a separate SSID on your router and connecting your robot vacuum to that SSID it would prevent that device from bouncing from node to node.

    This may help in your situation, but please let me know if it does not so I can help you find a solution

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