WiFI "slow" upstairs, "fast" Downstairs - Apple Airport Extreme

Hi all - Will try to explain carefully ... thanks for reading ...  

My problem:
I am experiencing intermittent issues when watching a movie, which is a 7GB file on a local network drive of mine. Downstairs all works fine. Upstairs, when the issue occurs, the movie will play for 10 seconds, then I get a wait-icon (hourglass or what have you) for about 10 second, back & forth over & over.
Sometimes it behaves this way, and other times is perfect.

My Network:
Fast Ethernet service (Time Warner) from the street into my Modem. All over Downstairs it clocks at 110 Mb download and 13 Mb upload, using speedtest.net.
UPSTAIRS I have an Apple Airport Express, setup as a Bridge "Extend an existing network", which worked fine downstairs until I moved it upstairs.  Then connected to that is an Apple TV connected wirelessly, using the same netwk name (SSID).  It clocks at 30 Mb down & 8Mb up, way slower than Downstairs, but I thought would still be fast enough to watch a movie without speed issues.

Note that the data/movie is coming over my LAN ... that I have saved on a local network drive in my house. It is *not* being streamed from any services!  The 7GB Movie is on an ext hard drive plugged directly into the Airport Extreme Base Station.

Can anyone suggest how to troubleshoot this? It's been a long time since I broke a perfectly working network and had to do this!  I am thinking:
- Get a meter or Util to measure exact bandwidth/signal strength?
- Change to use unique SSID's/Netwk Names to I can switch between the two to see if one WiFi works (between the Airport Extreme Base Station Downstairs, whose signal might be reaching upstairs,  and the Airport Express Upstairs)?
- Run an Ethernet Cable upstairs from  Airport Express to Apple TV, at  least to identify is that WiFi connection is the culprit.
- Is a 7GB Movie too large to download/stream internally over my LAN & WiFi??

If you've read this far, thanks in advance !!! Any suggestions or help is appreciated.
- B
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
Keep in mind WiFi is a short haul proposition.

For long hauls... which includes passing through many walls with wiring or any other metal/conductive barrier, you're better off using a Power Ether solution.

These little boxes run very fast Ethernet over internal house wiring.

I use two of these boxes to connect my upstairs + downstairs. They run almost 1G (their advertised speed) continuously.

They also have a signal strength indicator, so you can try plugging in various wall sockets to get highest speed. Then just hook your Airport extreme in bridge mode (what I do) connected to your Power Ether box.

Since 1G is faster than your 110M incoming connection, you'll always be running at your full incoming connection speed.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
WiFi speed is generally SNR dependent.  It sounds like a marginal signal situation.  What is the WiFi relative signal?  Anything below -70dB is marginal.  Having a relay makes it harder to know exactly but you can turn off the relay upstairs and use a laptop with something like insider to get the relative signal strength (from downstairs to upstairs) where the relay is located.

The best location for a relay or wireless extender is more or less HALF WAY between the source and the target.
Well, that would be where the signal loss is half really AND if the booster has about the same power output as the original source - which is fairly realistic.
So, if you have -30 downstairs and -80 upstairs then where do you have -55?
Assuming that the attenuation would be 25 for each "hop" then that's the place to put an extender.
It's easy to think that you want to "boost" the signal at the target so the extender should be located there.
But, you not only want to boost the signal at the target but also assure good input signal to the repeater.
Otherwise the input to the repeater is no better than the input to the target.

Signal Equations:
-30 at the source downstairs
-25 dB attenuation to the so-called "midpoint"
-30-25=-55 signal available at the midpoint.
-55+25 (extender assumption) = -30 signal out from the extender at the midpoint.
-25 dB attenuation to the target from the midpoint.
-30-25=-55 signal at the target.

Otherwise, if the booster is at the target then:
-30 at the source downstairs
-50 dB attenuation to the target
-80 signal available at the target
-80+25 (extender assumption) = -55 signal out from the extender at the midpoint.
The problem with the latter example is that the SNR at the booster is inadequate so having the same signal level at the target is likely a signal full of noise compared to the first case.

Well, this is really an oversimplification but the idea remains sound.
Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
Home use WAPS tend to have a lenticular distribution pattern, with most of the signal being transmitted to the sides, rather than up and down. This makes sense, as it matches typical shapes of living spaces.

Also, building floors are often concrete, or have a lot of steel or foil insulation, so signals are partly blocked.

Thus, the repeater is probably going to have trouble getting a strong and reliable signal from the source WAP.

Running a CAT5 cable between floors would be my suggestion. It can sometimes be tricky to get a chunk of wire in place, however it will be many times faster and more reliable than wireless.

Powerline networking, as suggested by  David MAY work. Speed with these is dependant on a LOT of variables, and may change as powered devices are plugged in. They work best if the power cable between them is short. So, if you have a power point downstairs connected to another upstairs by 3M of cable, it will work very well.  If the power cable is 20M, it will work less well. If the upstairs and downstairs are on separate fuses, running on different phases, there may be no throughput at all.
SolarWinds® VoIP and Network Quality Manager(VNQM)

WAN and VoIP monitoring tools that can help with troubleshooting via an intuitive web interface. Review quality of service data, including jitter, latency, packet loss, and MOS. Troubleshoot call performance and correlate call issues with WAN performance for Cisco and Avaya calls

Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
A few things to get out of the way

- Is a 7GB Movie too large to download/stream internally over my LAN & WiFi??
NO, the file size of a Movie is NOT an issue.  HOWEVER the quality of the video (720P/1080P/4K etc) will determine the rate at which the data is consumed so if you're watching 4K quality it will need a MUCH faster connection than a 720p video.
Type                  Standard (24, 25, 30)            High (48, 50, 60)
2160p (4k)            35-45 Mbps                        53-68 Mbps
1440p (2k)            16 Mbps                              24 Mbps
1080p                  8 Mbps                              12 Mbps
720p                  5 Mbps                              7.5 Mbps

The short explanation is that the WiFi speed typically reduces by half (and sometimes more) if you use a repeater. You'll not be able to get the WiFi speed at the repeater above a certain level but if it worked better downstairs clearly there is some room for improvement.

If you have a laptop/phone/tablet there are apps which can allow you to map wifi strength as you move around the house. For Laptop use NetSpot - https://www.netspotapp.com and there are iOS apps - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wi-fi-sweetspots/id855457383?mt=8

In summary ...
1. If you can easily connect the AppleTv via Ethernet to the Airport Extreme Base Station downstairs that will completely eliminate the WiFi issue.
2. If that isn't a long term solution you can experiment by moving the Airport Extreme Base Station downstairs and the Airport Express upstairs closer to each other .. for example if you can get the Airport Express physically closer and a bit further from the Apple TV that'll improve the speed delivered
3. Due to the layout of your house, floor/ceiling materials, location of power points etc. it may simply not be possible to get the Apple Airport Express much closer to the base station downstairs.  If Option 1 isn't possible I'd recommend you look at the Internet over powerline adapters .. these are relatively cheap .. you plug one into the socket close to the base station and connect to it via Ethernet .. should cost about $60-$80 for a 2 part kit - https://www.cnet.com/topics/networking/best-networking-devices/powerline-adapters/
Honestly, I would just go with option 3 from Eoin, but I'm also assuming that the AppleTV isn't that close to the upstairs Airport Express.
David AndersTechnician Commented:
I have installed several PowerLine kits. They work well, only one unit has failed after 5 or 6 years.
The Wirecutter has a good comparison.
nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.Commented:
Can you run Ethernet cables to Access points rather than wifi repeaters?

If so, fish some 25 or 50ft cables, depending on your need and install wireless access points.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I had figured that the powerline extender option had been well recommended earlier.
I can but endorse that approach.  
It's generally lots better than any wireless method.
Of course, you can use wireless at the endpoints.
Depending on your needs and wants:
You can purchase a powerline extender with a wireless access point at the far end.
Or, you can plug in a separate access point at the far end.
Some have 1, some have 2 Ethernet ports at the far end.  You can always add a switch as well to get more ports.
I've generally been using D-Link.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Wireless Networking

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.