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Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

Wireless Download Speeds Sluggish


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kitjv

 
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During the past few days, I've noticed that the download speeds of all web pages on my wireless network have decreased on both my '07 MacBookPro & '09 iMac. Both machines are located within 7 ft. from a Airport Express.

My ISP ran a check on my broadband modem & claims that it is functioning properly. Download speeds of 8 Mbs upstream are what they should be.

By bypassing the Airport Express & plugging the ethernet cable from the modem directly to my iMac, web pages load much more quickly. To me, this suggests that there is an issue with my wireless network.

I have not installed any new devices in my house that might interfere with the Airport Express (e.g. cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc.). Also, I live in a low-density neighborhood where I can detect only one other wireless network with no appreciable signal.

To resolve the issue, I have checked the "use interference robustness" in Airport Expres Utility. No difference whatsoever. I have manually set up the Airport Express on several different channels. Again, no difference whatsoever.

So ... maybe the culprit is not interference, but a problem with the Airport Express itself. (This is a "g" unit purchased 4 years ago). Is this possible? Can the Airport Express actually begin to function more slowly, yet still be operational?

Thank you for any guidance that you can suggest.
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harryb2448

 
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Check to see if there are any firmware updates you may have missed, and if not switch the AE off, unplug for ten minutes, and reboot to see if there is any improvement. There is nop great difference in real world speeds between g and n formats.

Also what does Apple System Profiler have to say about Airport?

Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!
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BrianLachoreVPI

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
There is nop great difference in real world speeds between g and n formats.
Would have to respectfully disagree here. I get about 12 Mbps better performance with the new 'n' router - but the statement could be true - depending on the data rate provided by the ISP. For instance - if you only have 10 Mbps service - then you may not see better performance - although there are some range enhancements provided by the 'n' spec.

To the OP's original questions:

Quote:
Can the Airport Express actually begin to function more slowly, yet still be operational?
Tough to guess. Electronic chipsets don't typically tend to degrade gracefully - at least not in a manner that would cause "slower" operation as you've described. When they go - they go - but in this case - I could think of scenarios where it might be possible.

To better quantify your wired vs wireless performance use this site Speedtest.net - The Global Broadband Speed Test and report back the differences. Additionally - are you seeing any improvements in throughput if you're in the same room with the Airport Express?
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Just to illustrate my point regarding improvement. The early peaks you see are where I plugged directly into the 'g' router to validate that I was getting the full performance I was paying for. The installation of the 'n' router now allows me to achieve those speeds consistently from my couch downstairs.

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Wireless N vs. G routers? - Yahoo! Answers

The real advantage of 802.11n is the additional range of the router. My speed using a Netcomm 802.11g router is 8.56MB/s and on a Linsksys 802.11n 8.70MB/s.

Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
Wireless N vs. G routers? - Yahoo! Answers

The real advantage of 802.11n is the additional range of the router. My speed using a Netcomm 802.11g router is 8.56MB/s and on a Linsksys 802.11n 8.70MB/s.
Unfortunately - that link you posted has incorrect answers - not to mention out of date.

But - if you take a look at my answer and graph you'll see it supports what I was saying - as well as what you see. What's your wired speed? I'm going to guess 12-15 Mbps? If so - you're right - you wont' see improvement. If you have 30 Mbps from your ISP, or even higher, - then yes - you'll definitely see improvement.

It might also be interesting to note (just as an aside) that the new MBP's are the only (that I know of, although I haven't done a comprehensive survey, yet) laptops out right now that can handle 3x3 MIMO n streams - which can get you up to a theoretical 450 Mbps PHY rate.
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kitjv

 
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Thanks, guys, for the responses. Following your suggestions, here is where I'm at.

First, let me clarify what I meant by slower download speeds. I am referring to the time it will take a web page to load. With a direct ethernet connection from the modem to my Mac, load time is 1 -2 seconds. On the wireless network, load time is 15 - 20 seconds. With that said, here the the results of following your suggestions.

I rebooted the AE after about 25 minutes. No effect on speed at all.

I currently have AE firmware version 6.3 which (according to Apple's download site) is the latest.

Running the speed test, results were as follows:
Download speed: 7.94 Mbps Upload speed: 1.00 Mbps (for both Mac wirelessly).
Download speed: 7.93 Mbps Uploead speed: 0.74 Mbps (for both Macs via ethernet connection to modem).
I am paying for 8Mbps from my ISP.

Does any of the above trigger any further ideas? Thanks again.
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BrianLachoreVPI

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitjv View Post
Thanks, guys, for the responses. Following your suggestions, here is where I'm at.

First, let me clarify what I meant by slower download speeds. I am referring to the time it will take a web page to load. With a direct ethernet connection from the modem to my Mac, load time is 1 -2 seconds. On the wireless network, load time is 15 - 20 seconds. With that said, here the the results of following your suggestions.

Running the speed test, results were as follows:
Download speed: 7.94 Mbps Upload speed: 1.00 Mbps (for both Mac wirelessly).
Download speed: 7.93 Mbps Uploead speed: 0.74 Mbps (for both Macs via ethernet connection to modem).
I am paying for 8Mbps from my ISP.

Does any of the above trigger any further ideas? Thanks again.
Do you know what your upload speeds are supposed to be from your ISP? It's not uncommon to have asymmetric speeds - but ~1Mbps upload seems kind of slow.

Otherwise - the good news is - nothing seems to be wrong with your Airport express. You're getting the kind of performance you should be. (assuming your upload is inline with what you're paying for)

Which browser are you using? It might be a worthwhile experiment to try another browser to see if anything improves.

I'd recommend you try a little system maintenance - Use Onyx, check and repair Disk permissions, but even more appropriately - let Onyx clear out your caches and see if that improves your browser performance.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
Wireless N vs. G routers? - Yahoo! Answers

The real advantage of 802.11n is the additional range of the router. My speed using a Netcomm 802.11g router is 8.56MB/s and on a Linsksys 802.11n 8.70MB/s.
Actually that's not true. N is noticeably faster than G internal network connections between machines. I have personal experience to back that up. N and G are irrelevant when comparing for the purposes of internet connection speed since most net connections are slower than the real-world speed of either protocol. But to say N and G are capable of the same real-world speed is just not true.

N routers make a huge difference, especially if you do any kind of media streaming within your network.

As far as range, N does not extend range over G, and in real-world scenarios is often less than G since the 5.8ghz band is more susceptible to physical objects blocking the signal than 2.4ghz.

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kitjv

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post

Which browser are you using? It might be a worthwhile experiment to try another browser to see if anything improves.

I'd recommend you try a little system maintenance - Use Onyx, check and repair Disk permissions, but even more appropriately - let Onyx clear out your caches and see if that improves your browser performance.
I generally use Firefox, but I have the same issue with Safari.

Ran Disk Permissions several times & did a complete cleaning/maintenance with Onyx. No difference with web page download speeds.

Since all 3 of my Macs on my wireless network exhibit the same problem, I keep coming back to the thought that the culprit seems like its in the wireless network. But not sure where to turn to from here short of getting a new router (which really seems like a crap shoot).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitjv View Post

Since all 3 of my Macs on my wireless network exhibit the same problem, I keep coming back to the thought that the culprit seems like its in the wireless network. But not sure where to turn to from here short of getting a new router (which really seems like a crap shoot).
Hmmm- that's interesting - I have to admit - I missed the critical point about all 3 of your Macs demonstrating the same symptom. Just as a sanity check - have you tried any of your other macs on a different wireless network?

Just to rule out your ISP - try plugging directly back into the router (wired connection) as you did for the wired speedtest - and see if you still see the problem.
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kitjv

 
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No, I have not tried any of the Macs on any other network. But the fact that all 3 Macs seem to exhibit slower web page download speeds seems to extricate the machines themselves from being the problem source.

When I bypass the AE & plug the ethernet cable directly into the Mac from the modem, web page download speeds are with in 2 seconds.
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Well. I'm stumped. Hopefully someone else can help. I can't make sense of your normal throughput results with SpeedTest via the AE, yet still maintaining the poor browser performance you report - which goes away when you bypass the AE - yet your speed results are the same.

I can see how you would conclude that it must be the AE. Makes me wonder if you ran more iterations of the speed test (wirelessly) if we'd see fluctuations in the results. That would be my next test - I'd run about 10 speed tests in a row and see if they were consistent. If so - then I remain stumped. If not - then I can think of some possible causal factors (interference being high on the list).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post
Well. I'm stumped. Hopefully someone else can help. Makes me wonder if you ran more iterations of the speed test (wirelessly) if we'd see fluctuations in the results. That would be my next test - I'd run about 10 speed tests in a row and see if they were consistent. If so - then I remain stumped. If not - then I can think of some possible causal factors (interference being high on the list).
It's worth a try. If all else fails, maybe I can find inspiration in a good bottle of wine.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitjv View Post
It's worth a try. If all else fails, maybe I can find inspiration in a good bottle of wine.
Absolutely! If nothing else, the issue won't bother you nearly as much.
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