4 Replies Latest reply: Oct 2, 2010 6:59 PM by jrc362
jrc362 Level 1 (5 points)
Posted this in the Airport Extreme 802.11 forum but got to response. Thought I'd try here.

I have an Airport Extreme Base Station bought in 2003. We use a wireless Roku Video Player to stream video and even though I pay for the fastest speed from my cable ISP, I get average quality streaming on my Roku player. I am fairly computer savvy but confess that when it comes to wireless tech specs I am in a fog. Could the reason my Roku registers average quality video be because the Airport Extreme is older and therefore slower when it sends the video stream to Roku? Would a new Airport Extreme give me better results? I am considering getting the new Apple TV because of the interface but am hoping to tackle this problem first. Any info would be greatly appreciated. By the way, the tech specs for my older Airport Extreme are below if that helps.



Airport Specs
Wireless Data Rate: Up to 54 mbps
Range: Up to 150ft
Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
Radio Output Power: 15 dBm
Standards: Compliant with 802.11 HR DSSS 11 Mbps standard, 802.11 DSSS 1 and 2 Mbps standard, and 802.11g draft specification

MacPro, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • John Galt Level 8 (46,000 points)
    It's always best to avoid any wireless connection at all for video streaming. A wired network eliminates all the environmental variables that potentially affect a wireless network's performance.

    Wireless will be acceptable if the Roku is very near your Extreme, but if they're that close to one another you might as well run an Ethernet cable between them anyway.

    To definitively find out if your wireless connection is limiting your throughput, connect your Roku player directly to your Extreme's LAN port. If that reliably fixes things, you could research ways to improve your wireless performance, but it's unlikely a new Extreme alone will solve the problem.

    What Roku model do you have? If it's one of the XD models it's capable of 802.11n, like the new Extreme, but transitioning to an 802.11n network isn't necessarily a panacea.

    Since you're paying for the fastest possible option, what speed does your ISP say you ought to get?
  • jrc362 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks for the reply. In answer to some of your questions, the Roku box is about 40 feet from the Extreme. Not sure if that is considered "very near" the Extreme or not.

    I do not have the XD Roku model. I have the HD model.

    Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles with Turbo usually hits between 15 and 25 Mbps when I run the test on my office computer which is connected directly with an ethernet cable. The same test on my laptop which is about ten feet away gets around 4Mbps download speed. Funny, I went to tTime Warner's website and couldn't find anything that actually stated a speed. They just use words like "fast" and "blazing fast" to distinguish the price plans. I measure through speakeasy.

    Anything here jump out at you? I will try to hook up the Roku box in my office but I have no TV in here to test it so that might take me a while longer to test.

    Thanks again,

  • John Galt Level 8 (46,000 points)
    The Roku HD is 802.11b/g only so that rules out any potential for any performance improvement the new 802.11n Extreme could provide. Not a problem, since 802.11g is more than adequate even for 25 Mbps.

    40 feet doesn't sound like much, but if it's through walls or floors or even furniture, the distance will probably reduce your wireless performance. Video is very demanding. If your throughput goes down to 11 Mbps or less - likely, considering the distance - it will probably affect your ability to stream in HD.

    Speakeasy's speed test is good. That's what I use.

    Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles with Turbo usually hits between 15 and 25 Mbps when I run the test on my office computer which is connected directly with an ethernet cable. The same test on my laptop which is about ten feet away gets around 4Mbps download speed.

    It's difficult to pin down just how much bandwidth is required for HD streaming, but 7 Mbps seems to be about right. The fact you're only getting 4 Mbps with a nearby wireless connection tells me you're probably a victim of some degree of wireless interference. 4 Mbps just won't be enough for reliable HD streaming.

    Time Warner and every other ISP will simply refuse to guarantee any particular speed, hence their silly marketing terms. It will vary with the amount of load on their network, but 15 to 25 Mbps is about the fastest anyone can reasonably expect to achieve from cable Internet. Verizon's FiOS is supposed to be about twice as fast, but its availability is limited.

    In any event, if you're getting 15 to 25 Mbps Time Warner will probably say it's the best you can expect. They will make no promises for wireless performance since they can't control anything beyond their modem.

    So, as much as I would like to say buying a new Extreme will solve your problems, I think your only solution will be to run Ethernet from your Extreme to your Roku HD. You will find it's worth the effort.

    If you're averse to running an ugly Ethernet cable along the wall and through doorways, and can't find a creative way to hide it, you should look into Ethernet "powerline adapters". They couple an Ethernet network to your home's existing electrical wiring. I've never used them, but I've heard reports of success.
  • jrc362 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks for narrowing it down. I think you're right. Hardwiring it is the way to go. I'm sure between the walls, furniture and wireless phones it's causing problems. I hooked up the Roku to my den TV which is about 7 feet away and the Roku likes it much better there. Thanks for the advice re: the powerline adaptors. Think I will give that a try at least for the bedroom which is the set 40 feet away from the Extreme.