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Old 2017-02-19 , 09:24
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Lightbulb Improving DSTV WiFi Connector etc. reception

Earlier, @Linoman made the following post elsewhere, @Sandtonman and I think it needs its own thread for more detailed discussion;


So today I decided that I needed to improve the WiFI reception in my bedroom. Wife has been complaining about it.

After being so impressed with the DSTV WiFi Connector and considering its a bargain at R190 at Dion Wired.

The downfall is that it is solely configured for bridge mode. However, I do have an old Netgear Router.

In short, I've extended my WiFi range to my bedroom and increased it. One DSTV Wifi Connector plugged into my old router acting like an AP.
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Old 2017-02-19 , 09:33
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Thanks B, Yes; I've been doing quite a bit of work on similar problems and would like to share them here. It should help resolve some Explora connectivity problems. I'll construct some detailed posts) offline and copy them here starting this morning. Watch this space! Cheers, K
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Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-02-19 at 10:16. .
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Old 2017-02-19 , 10:55
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Default Fundamentals - First Tutorial.

OK, so Linoman and Optimist have triggered me into posting some research and advice on the subject of general internet and wired network performance and WiFi quality. I will then relate the effects of such quality to the performance of connected services on the Explora STBs.

This will take a bit of time and will spread over a number of posts with screenshots where appropriate.

Please feel free to contribute as we go; but I'd respectfully ask that it should initially be by way of adding to the overall knowledge base and/or asking us to clarify or to add to any aspects; NOT please about asking us to solve your specific issues at this point.

I have seen many complaints on the Forum about issues with connected services (Showmax, Catch-up+) on the Explora. Some of these issues are certainly due to the Explora STB and MC's Media Servers (and the paths to get to them); however I have it on personal experience that the many (if not most) of the issues reported are due to a poor internet service arriving at the Explora itself.

All the Speedtest results shown in this post were performed on my home network this morning, specifically for this post

So how do we go about checking out our networks?

First, we should perform a speed-test at the home router itself, using a wired Ethernet connection, by way of a "benchmark test" .

So, connect a Windows PC to your home router using an Ethernet cable between the Ethernet socket on the PC and any one of the typically 4-ports on the back of the router. Be sure to turn OFF the WiFi on the PC.

The PC should then be connected to the internet with a wired connection. Windows may ask you whether this is a Home, Work, or public connection. It will typically be "home"

Make sure that there are NO other application running in the home that are using lots of internet bandwidth. (folks watching video or downloading files)

Open a browser and launch http://www.speedtest.net/ and start the test. Dont be fooled into clicking on any of the adverts on the page. Just "start" the Test.

You should see a screen similar to the one shown in attachment "Benchmark Speedtest wired at router"

This result is the best you can expect anywhere in your home. It should be close to the connection you are paying for with your ISP. I am fortunate to live very close to the Telkom switch, so I get close to the up-to 20 Mbps that I'm paying for with Mweb.

As important to note as the maximum download speed, is the consistency of the connection. You can see from the yellow highlighted graph that my connection is almost as flat as a billiard table (even though there is other stuff connected in the home and using some bandwidth). If your graph goes up and down like a roller coaster then there are problems to resolve even before we attempt to connect your Explora.

So as a very first step, satisfy yourself that your primary internet connection is what you expect it to be.


Assuming you are happy with the test results, you can disconnect the test PC now if it is not part of your regular set-up. If you are not happy with the test results you will need to take that issue up with your ISP as it is beyond the scope of this forum.

Modern dwellings use a lot of concrete and steel so a WiFi signal can get attenuated very easily around the home. This results in poor WiFi internet connections, depending on where you physically are, in relation to the wireless router; also relating to the quality of, and set-up of the wireless router itself.

Attached are two examples of Speedtest results on PCs in our apartment using two different WiFi Networks that I've set up.

See attachment "very good WiFi Speedtest" which is from a PC connected to a top-of-the-line LinkSys wireless Router placed centrally in the apartment. You should be aiming for similar results which are not substantially reduced from the benchmark tests and IMPORTANTLY are very consistent. See the very slight undulation on the ringed graph.

See attachment "Poor WiFi Speedtest" (This is what triggered me to set up the Linksys router as my primary WiFi network). The attachment shows the Speedtest results of a PC on my balcony when connected to the original router in my study (where I performed the wired benchmark test).
You can see that the results are at-best around half a good as the benchmark test. I found that the PC would sometimes drop off line with this level of connection.

With the Linksys router centrally placed, I get a lightning quick connection throughout the apartment; both on the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi services. This was not a cheap solution, so I suspect most folks will shun it.

OK so how does all this relate back to the performance of my Explora?

For this test, I have paired a DSTV WiFi Connector to my original network in my study, instead of connecting it to an Explora, I have simply used the the same Ethernet cable to connect to a PC. I then turn off WiFi on the PC and run a Speedtest using the DSTV WiFi Connector as my internet connection. This connection is exactly what the Explora would see.
See " Terrible DSTV WiFi Connector Speedtest".

You can see that the results are terrible! At best the download speed is around 20% of the benchmark test. Plus, (looking again at the ringed graph) the results are very variable, at times close to zero. Most folks will not have a 20 Mbps connection to start with so, would be getting around 20% of a much lower benchmark with this example.

There is no way that the connected services on the Explora would work as required; though you would still see 2 green ticks on the connectivity test!

You would typically get buffering of the content being played out (watch now) out from Showmax or Catch up Plus. You would typically see a pop up top right of TV screen saying " disconnected" Downloads would take forever if they ever finished and HD content would be iffy at best.

NOTE: None of this poor service is the fault if the DSTV connector itself or, of MC!
It is all due to a poor WiFi signal from the router arriving at the the DSTV connector. It is totally within your control and not the responsibility of MC.

How can the problem be fixed?

You can try to physically move the DSTV Connector a metre or so up-down, left right also NOT to place it on or near equipment or metal surfaces; all of which may attenuate the signal. If you have flexibility regarding the placement of your router, you could move it.

If this does not resolve the problem you may need to go for a direct wired Ethernet connection between a port on your router and the Explora.

Alternatively you can go for a fairly inexpensive and trivial to set-up solution. Ethernet over Power. I am using the TP Link units in the attached Picture. They are under 25 quid on Amazon and are available with a 2-pin plug (instead of a UK plug) if you hunt around on the website.

Despite having a terrific WiFi service from the centrally-placed Linksys router, I still prefer to use a direct cable connection in my lounge ('cos I can); and Ethernet over Power * in the bedroom.

My apartment simply has too much concrete and steel for the DSTV Connector to work well with the original router, because of the router's location in the study relative to the position of the Explorae. It's a decent new D-Link VDSL router branded as Telkom. It's simply badly placed to get a WiFi signal around the apartment.

I hope this mini tutorial is of assistance and gives some food-for-thought. If so I'll continue in the week with some more tips and tricks, in a new post! Please let me know if you see some value?

Cheers, K.

PS * Ethernet over power devices do not work on different phases of a 3-phase mains supply. Only on the same phase. k
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Benchmark Speedtest Wired at router.jpg (74.7 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg Very Good WiFi Speedtest.jpg (100.0 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg Poor WiFi Speedtest.jpg (100.3 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg Terrible DSTV WiFi Connector Speedtest.jpg (77.0 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg TP Link Ethernet Over Power.jpg (103.4 KB, 17 views)
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Bedroom: Unicable Feeds from lounge: 2 x Explora-1s, Sony V-Series TV, HDMI + Fibre audio, Sony Blu-ray HT System, Slingbox Solo; Chromecast

Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-02-20 at 11:04. .
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  #4  
Old 2017-02-19 , 12:44
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Bump. Above long post complete. Comments and suggestions please.
Is this type of tutorial of value?
Or am I simply wasting a Sunday morning?
Cheers, K.
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Bedroom: Unicable Feeds from lounge: 2 x Explora-1s, Sony V-Series TV, HDMI + Fibre audio, Sony Blu-ray HT System, Slingbox Solo; Chromecast

Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-02-19 at 13:25. .
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Old 2017-02-19 , 15:56
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Firstly I must say that I don't think posting important help like this can ever be a waste of time. Yes, too many here are "shy" to post, IMO due to only be willing to put in effort when there's bashing to do
Anyway, each to their own, and the info is certainly always well read - going back to old posts months / years later often then shows they have been read 10's of thousands of times!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandtonman View Post
This result [of the Speedtest] is the best you can expect anywhere in your home. It should be close to the connection you are paying for with your ISP.
Typically this was not the case though with the "slower" connections mentioned on this forum, perhaps due to the average distance from a Telkom Switch being further.
But Telkom then upped the "speed" a bit.
My 2Mbps by that newer standard is close to an actual 2Mbps, but if anyone on another speed option is seeing 75% of the official speed then that could be normal - I'm not certain if Telkom made the improvement to all line options.


I'm unlikely to add much more, like a few others here we always prefer fixed line options to wireless (although we do use WiFi at times). But that doesn't mean wireless can't perform well if done properly.
My main interest is academic, for then helping others when I have the time.

I highly recommend reading all of Sandtonman's post #3 detail, very revealing.
Going to add a link to this thread to the tech "floating sticky".
Thanks Keith!
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Old 2017-02-19 , 16:48
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Thanks for the time and effort 20 Mbps baby. Many will appreciated your quality input I'm sure.
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Old 2017-02-20 , 08:25
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Thanks K for a comprehensive guide for connecting the Explora to the internet and improving wifi in the home environment. I am using a LTE(4G) mobile router at home not currently used to connect the Explora to the internet. I am using a repeater to improve coverage in my house which is working very well. My neighbour tells me that my wifi signal is stronger in his house that that of his router. Herewith a short description of how the repeater function.

How Does A WiFi Repeater Work?

A WiFi Repeater effectively contains two wireless routers, similar to the wireless router you already have in your home or office. One of these wireless routers picks up the existing WiFi network. It then transfers the signal to the other wireless router, which transmits the boosted signal.

How Do I Install A WiFi Repeater?

WiFi Repeaters are very easy to install. All you have to do is place the repeater in a location that can receive your existing WiFi network, and then attach the power supply. You can then log into the WiFi repeater via your computer, and input the login details and password of your existing WiFi network, to allow the WiFi repeater to connect and extend.
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Old 2017-02-20 , 08:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Horn View Post
How Do I Install A WiFi Repeater?
Thanks for your post, Jan! More similar suggestions from other Forumites would be welcome. This thread can then become a good resource for resolving WiFi issues and poor Explora connected services performance

Yes; as you so correctly point out Jan, WiFi repeaters can be a quick, easy and cheap solution for wireless range extension.

I would however strongly suggest exactly the same speed-test steps as in post #3 above (using the repeater's on-board Ethernet port) when setting up a Wireless range extender. It needs to be receiving a fairly strong, interference free signal; otherwise it will simply be repeating a poor signal with bad speed and error characteristics; even if it presents itself as a " strong" signal.

So, the physical positioning of the wireless repeater is very important for the best signal characteristics. Speed-test is an easy way of checking this. Try using the repeater in several mains sockets all around the room where you want to use it (and even in an adjacent room or hallway). You may be very surprised in the difference in the speed-test results !


The Ethernet port of any WiFi range extender can be used instead of the DSTV connector to connect to your Explora. There is nothing magic about the MC product.

The AirTies Air4400 is the range extender which has been re-badged by MC as the DSTV Connector. It is a very good device and I would recommend it in its native form.

MC has however installed firmware that only allows it to operate in bridge mode (as Linoman points out in post-1 -- which is why he is using an old router, also in bridge mode, to create his additional WiFi network) that means that it will bridge between your existing wireless network and a wired Ethernet port for connection to the Explora. It will not repeat your wireless network or generate a second network with a different name.

( Please let's not get into a discussion about why MC made the decision to remove the range extension capability. They wanted it to connect to an Explora and (providing it receives a decent WiFi signal as we've discussed) it does this very well. MC does NOT want to have complaints about why the WiFi range extender gives poor results for any reason; so they've chosen to disable that functionality. )

See additional tips and tricks in post #13

Cheers, K
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Bedroom: Unicable Feeds from lounge: 2 x Explora-1s, Sony V-Series TV, HDMI + Fibre audio, Sony Blu-ray HT System, Slingbox Solo; Chromecast

Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-02-20 at 11:43. .
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Old 2017-02-20 , 09:19
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What I like about the repeater is the seamless switch between the router and the repeater when moving around the house seeing it uses the same ssid and password. I ran the speed test in the bedroom where the repeater is located and got 19.62mb/sec download and 12.47mb/sec upload speed with a nice flat curve comparable your result. Not bad for a mobile connection. The router is in the lounge where I found the best 4G coverage.
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Old 2017-02-20 , 09:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Horn View Post
What I like about the repeater is the seamless switch between the router and the repeater when moving around the house seeing it uses the same ssid and password. I ran the speed test in the bedroom where the repeater is located and got 19.62mb/sec download and 12.47mb/sec upload speed with a nice flat curve comparable your result. Not bad for a mobile connection. The router is in the lounge where I found the best 4G coverage.
Good stuff Jan! So you have covered all the bases with your speed-testing and device positioning. I suspect that many folks will have no idea about such tests and the importance of the relative positioning of wireless devices. As a result, they will have no idea why their Explorae perform so badly with connected services.
Cheers, K
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Bedroom: Unicable Feeds from lounge: 2 x Explora-1s, Sony V-Series TV, HDMI + Fibre audio, Sony Blu-ray HT System, Slingbox Solo; Chromecast
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