The Invisible Hurdles: Diagnosing Wi-Fi Issues in a Dual-SSID Home Office


In a rental property where running Ethernet cables isn’t an option, I have a main access point (AP) in the living area and a secondary mesh unit in the office, connected to a PoE switch for wired devices. Originally, there were two SSIDs: one dedicated to IoT devices (22 lightbulbs, a doorbell, and a vacuum cleaner) and another for general use (approximately 5 devices).

However, I’ve been experiencing severe connectivity issues on the wireless network, with erratic ping times reaching as high as 4000ms and significant packet loss. Speed tests show around 50mbit/s, which is subpar for a 1Gbit connection. Interestingly, the desktop connected to the PoE switch (and thus the meshed AP) maintains speeds over 500mbit/s and seems unaffected.

Upon replacing the APs, the issue persisted: poor ping, packet loss, and slow speeds. Yet, when I disabled the IoT SSID, the performance issues vanished. I’ve since moved the IoT SSID to the router (Mikrotik RB4001), which resolved the problem, although the IoT devices now have weaker signals at the far end of the house.

Could you provide any insights into what might be causing such drastic performance degradation with 29 devices across 2 SSIDs and 2 APs? This is especially puzzling considering we’ve successfully supported over 50 devices on a single AP at client conferences without issue. There’s no significant traffic or unusual activity on either SSID that could explain this behavior.

I’d greatly appreciate any advice or theories, not only to resolve this issue but also to enhance my understanding for future scenarios. Thank you.


In the realm of wireless networking, particularly within the constraints of a rental property, the challenges of maintaining optimal connectivity are manifold. The scenario presented—a main access point (AP) in the living area and a secondary mesh unit in the office connected to a PoE switch—exemplifies a common attempt to balance coverage and convenience. However, the issues described, such as erratic ping times, significant packet loss, and subpar speed tests, signal underlying complications that merit a closer examination.

The network’s performance degradation, characterized by ping times as high as 4000ms and speed tests capped at 50mbit/s on a 1Gbit connection, is indeed troubling. The fact that these issues persist across two SSIDs—one for IoT devices and another for general use—yet are absent when the IoT SSID is disabled, is indicative of a potential conflict or resource contention within the wireless environment.

Potential Culprits:


SSID Overlap and Interference:

With two SSIDs operating in close proximity, there’s a possibility of co-channel interference, where multiple networks compete for the same channel bandwidth. This can be exacerbated by the presence of numerous IoT devices, which, despite their low individual bandwidth consumption, collectively contribute to a congested wireless channel.


AP Capacity and Client Load:

While it’s noted that client conferences have successfully supported over 50 devices on a single AP, it’s crucial to consider the capabilities of the specific APs in question. Different models have varying capacities for handling concurrent connections, and exceeding these limits can lead to the issues experienced.


Mesh Network Complexity:

Mesh networks, while advantageous for extending coverage, introduce additional hops that can increase latency and reduce throughput. The meshed unit’s connection to the PoE switch, although seemingly unaffected, could still play a role in the overall network performance.

Investigative Steps:

To diagnose and address these issues, consider the following steps:

  • Channel Analysis:

  • Use a Wi-Fi analyzer tool to assess the channel utilization and identify any interference from neighboring networks. Adjust the channels used by the APs to minimize overlap and interference.

  • AP Specifications Review:

  • Examine the specifications of the APs to ensure they align with the network’s demands. If necessary, upgrade to APs with higher capacity for concurrent connections.

  • Network Topology Optimization:

  • Reevaluate the placement of the APs and the mesh configuration. Reducing the distance between the main AP and the mesh unit could improve signal strength and reduce latency.

  • IoT Device Management:

  • Segregating IoT devices onto a separate SSID was a prudent move; however, ensure that this SSID is configured with appropriate QoS settings to prioritize critical traffic.


    The migration of the IoT SSID to the Mikrotik RB4001 router and the subsequent improvement in network performance suggest that the initial AP setup was unable to efficiently manage the combined load of IoT and general devices. By isolating the IoT traffic, the network’s stability was restored, albeit at the cost of signal strength for distant IoT devices. This trade-off underscores the importance of a tailored network design that accounts for the unique characteristics and requirements of each device category within the ecosystem.

    In summary, the performance degradation experienced is likely a multifaceted issue, influenced by factors such as interference, AP capacity, and network topology. A methodical approach to troubleshooting, coupled with strategic network adjustments, should yield a more stable and efficient wireless environment.

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