Sky Q, Sonos and other ‘mesh’ services

Sky-Q, Sonos and some other devices have their own built in WiFi network that allows them to ‘mesh’ together, so one device can pass media to another, without having to use your local home network or cables.

Sounds good on paper.

The reality, is that they do this by using a private WiFi network, usually in the 5Ghz range. Until recently, many WiFi devices used 2.4Ghz frequencies, so this private network was pretty much out of the way. Since around 2016, most new devices (tablets, phones, laptops etc) now come with ‘dual band’ WiFi adapters – meaning they can use 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies, so the possibility of interference is much more likely.

Sky-Q is the main problem here – by default, Sky set up their Sky-Q boxes to use the full 80Mhz of available spectrum for indoor use in the 5Ghz range. So if your home WiFi router is dual band, and your iPad opts to use 5Ghz for it’s connection, then either your internet connection will be affected, or the Sky-Q boxes won’t work properly / disconnect. Either way, this usually results in a support call to us to say the internet isn’t working, or Sky-Q isn’t working properly and it was before.

With all these technologies, frequencies are limited; consider an analogy of walkie-talkies, if a pair of people are having a long conversation on a channel, nobody else can use it. Scale that up to streaming video to multiple rooms, and suddenly Sky-Q has stopped access to the internet via 5GHz WiFi in your house.

The advice:

  • Where possible, use network cables to connect fixed devices. TVs and Sky boxes rarely move much, so run a cable from the router to them and disable their WiFi. If you can’t easily run cables, look at things like Power Line ethernet to use the ring mains instead of WiFi.
  • If you really need to let these devices use WiFi to communicate between themselves, then check the settings for them; see if you can limit or control how much frequency (or channel width) they use. For the Sky-Q case, you need to talk to Sky and ask them to change your Sky-Q boxes so they only use a 40Mhz channel – which then leaves the other 40Mhz free for your normal WiFi to work properly.
By |2020-03-30T10:07:03+01:00March 30th, 2020|0 Comments