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I'm a novice when it comes to networking. I live in a large two storey building that used to be a school and we have an internet connection with BT (british telecoms provider), the connection speed is 12Mb.. Basically our connection is slow and very intermittent and I was wondering if anybody here could provide some help or ideas.

There are about 11 people in the building who could be online at any time. We have a router on the ground floor which is bog standard supplied by BT. To provide Broadband access to the 1st and 2nd floors, we used an old switch/hub that the school left, we have a cable running from the router on the first floor to the hub which connects to a wireless router which is configured as a bridge on the 2nd floor supplying broadband access to the 1st and 2nd floors. Additionally we have 3 computers that are connected via the hub/switch through the ethernet sockets left by the school on the ground floor.

The router we use on the 2nd floor came in a pack of 2 and cost about £15 (bought by another person). Sometimes the connection is perfectly fine, ie early hours of the morning or when everybody is out, we have rang BT who say that the connection cannot cope with the numbers of people online, plus I'm not sure whether each person is streaming etc.

Can anybody offer any advice?

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migrated from Feb 26 '11 at 16:56

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You will have better luck on with this sort of question. – Justin Feb 26 '11 at 11:47
There's no such thing as a "hub/switch". A switch is definitely a better choice. – Cody Gray Feb 26 '11 at 11:48

First, you need to find the sources of problems:

  1. Is the connection from BT reliable? Router may be able to let you keep logs of connectivity.

  2. Is the wired connections in the building reliable? Ping flood pairs of machines (ping -f with Linux systems) in the building and look at packet loss. Note that OS X rate limits ICMP replies, so don't use an OS X system as your ping flood target. Most networks should handle ping floods without more than one or two dropped packets every now and then.

  3. Wireless systems can collide channels with other nearby wireless networks. Make sure you're on a relatively free channel. Most routers have tools to find noise floor levels.

  4. You're not all going to be able to stream Doctor Who and Top Gear on iPlayer at once. Make sure you've got realistic expectations of how far 12 Mb goes. :)

One thing to try, put some Quality of Service rules in the routers; most commodity routers will let you specify traffic to prioritize (I suggest UDP port 53 for DNS and TCP 80 packets that are smaller than 1000 bytes (if possible)). This will help 'interactive'-feeling web sites without much other consequences. You could try putting traffic limits to specific netblocks or per-IP address traffic limits to try to keep some amount of bandwidth available for everyone else, but this may be stepping out of commodity router territory. (Maybe tomato can do this? If not, a simple Linux firewall certainly can.)

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@sarnold cheers 1. the logs show no problems from what I can see 2. did a ping flood: 100 packets transmitted, 100 packets received, 0.0% packet loss round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 1.772/6.528/242.448/23.784 ms 3. I would assume the wireless channel is fine as it works in general, we tinkered with it before and it never made any difference. – Jack Feb 26 '11 at 15:04

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