TP-Link Deco M5 Not Strong Enough in My Concrete Wall Apartment

I live a 70's built 2 bedroom apartment with solid concrete walls. With TPG broadband and the modem/router must be placed at one end of apartment whilst "home office" is the opposite end. Wifi signal drops from 80 to almost nil at other end, which is a problem for work.

I got Deco M5 TP link with 3 decos. Turned the TPG supplied Archer VR1600 into a bridge and after some fiddling/resetting have connected all 3 decos. Last deco sits in the "home office" room. Whilst improved download speed only goes up to about 20Mbps

Any suggestions what I can do ? Are there some settings to tweak with the deco 5 ?
Don't want to spend more but will a more exxy mesh system have stronger signals and penetrate better ?


  • What kind of connection do you have FTTN, FTTP etc…?

  • +3

    I've got cable run instead and never looked back….

  • +1

    As suggested from one of the comments is to get the apartment with ethernet into the rooms, yes they could look ugly with holes in the walls or conduit holding the cables running around the walls of the rooms but it would make a difference. You'll have to find an ACMA licensed cabler to do this for you. it will provide better speeds, you'll need to have an ethernet cable connect to your computers.

  • How big is your apartment? If you put all 3 units with line of sight, do you get good speed?

  • +1

    Run cable in conduit at the wall/ceiling corner

  • If cabling isn’t an option, I’d suggest trying to reposition the deco devices, or add a couple more.
    Our split level house is spread out, and the m5 three pack was OK, but I added a couple more of the cheaper E4 model and it filled in the black spots.
    We have 100mbps NBN and 80mbps is regularly available everywhere.

  • the apartment block using NBN HFC and apartment is about 100m2, not big.
    home office room runs diagonally opposite the corridor, so cabling will make it pretty ugly, plus punching holes concrete walls is hard, not preferred.

    sounds like might have to play with positioning of the units. Problem is finding powerpoints along the corridor to have them 3 in line of sight, then maybe add more in the rooms off the corridor ?

    • A more expensive mesh setup doesn't equal a stronger Wi-Fi signal. The problem here is the solid concrete walls. The VR1600 shouldn't be bridged on HFC. Why don't you plug in the Deco to the nbn NTD? Are you using TPG VoIP to make phone calls?

      The more Deco's you add the slower your speeds will be. What you can do is reposition the Deco's, Ethernet cabling to each Deco or test out an EoP kit.

  • +1

    Change wifi channel? Nearby wifi could be affecting it

  • +2

    Try with only 2 deco units spread evenly apart. The M5 Deco do not have a dedicated backhaul so you will loose some speed with every hop that the signal has to make. As always make sure you are using best wifi channels in your area and best placement for mesh units.

    Yes, wired backhaul is best if you can do it otherwise maybe upgrade to a Deco M9 with wireless backhaul if nothing else works.

    • The M5 Deco do not have a dedicated backhaul so you will loose some speed with every hop

      Well there's your answer.
      you need to hardwire the Deco's (assuming they support wired backhaul?).

      Powerline Ethernet could be the solution.

      • Deco M5 supports wired ethernet backhaul.

  • +3

    If you're willing to consider non-wireless option, I use ethernet over power (EoP) to get good bandwidth to the far side of my house.

    The decos have models that have EoP built in, or you could just get a pair of standalone EoP units.

    • +1

      Go onto Gumtree and search for "ethernet over power" and then check out the speed of the units before buying them. They vary in speed from 100, 200, 500, 1000 and some higher.

      I has a house and WIFI signal was like you found hopeless going through multiple brick walls. One wall was reasonable, but two was hopeless. As expected the 2.4GHz was allot better than the 5Ghz.

      If you are on the top floor you may be able to "hide" the modem in a cupboard and run cat 5E cables into the roof and then down some conduit in the office. I did this in an apartment I owned 15 years ago.

    • thank will have another look at wired options.
      Sadly in an apartment, there's no roof space to throw cabling around and drilling trenches in concrete walls not preferred. Running conduits have challenge of getting into rooms with only door as way in/out

      • The good thing about ethernet over power options is that there's no extra cabling, or drilling required.

        For most smaller houses, or apartments, as long as you have a powerpoint near your modem and another where you want internet, then you're generally good.

        Here's a random example of what I mean:

        Some mesh products will even let you back-haul through the ethernet connection

        • Thanks will look into it. This might sound stupid but is it utilizing the electrical/power network to feed the connection around ?

          • @Poopsie: No worries.

            Yeah, it actually uses your electrical wiring as a rather cool way of getting free cabling. The technology has evolved in leaps over recent years, so as @AndyC1 mentioned, there are a couple of different generations of vastly different speeds on the second hand markets.

            It's not great for larger houses with complex wiring, because it is really dependent on the two power sockets being on the same electrical circuit, but since your average house/apartment puts all of the sockets on the one circuit, it's not a problem for most.

            I have a fairly old pair running between the NBN modem in the home office and the living room on the far side of the house and it has absolutely no problem with netflix, etc.

            • @bobbieb: this looks promising. Would you know whether i should use this with the deco m5 mesh system or would you just remove the decos and just plug this direct with the modem/router from TPG ?

              • +1

                @Poopsie: You can do both ways.

              • +1

                @Poopsie: Better to still use the M5 router so you get the benefits of the Mesh WiFi.
                Apparently the M5 can use ethernet backhaul, don;t know if it needs to be programmed to use it

                • @ESEMCE: Random but related question - does when video calls are made through Microsoft Teams - is this using VOIP ?

                  If it is and VOIP is needed, might have to do away with the mesh system just rely on EoP. Though I would prefer mesh as there are a few smart lights/devices

                  • +1

                    @Poopsie: No, but very similar.
                    VoIP is for making a landline telephone call only.
                    If you need landline telephone, then you'll "have" to use the TP Link.

                  • +1

                    @Poopsie: MS Teams doesn't use TPG VoIP.

  • -2

    OP. which TPG HFC plan are you on? What is the connected link speed showing on the Archer? Running a device in Bridge mode can effectively 'halve' your network in many cases.

    • You misunderstand the use of "Bridge mode" in this context.
      In this case, the Modem in the Archer is bridged direct to the router in the M5, bypassing the router components in the Archer. There is no speed difference in this configuration.

      • Then it might be incorrect use of the networking term and clarity is required. Also begs the question what plan is OP actually on? I'm curious if this is within expected speeds i.e. 25 or 50 ect

        • Bridging doesn't halve your speed. Hops in a mesh setup can drop your speed if there is no dedicated Wi-Fi backhaul. The problem here is the concrete walls.

        • The OP says they Bridged the Archer to the M5.
          This is common practice, no further clarity is required. Just cause you're not aware of it, doesn't make it incorrect or unclear.

          They did not say they Wirelessly Bridged which is the only form of Bridging that I'm aware halves your speed.

  • I'm in double brick apartment, and when i did the m5 deco's, i just started with the first one and tested the speeds/connectivity until it was too low for comfort, then worked backwards and find an appropriate room/area with powerpoint to apply. repeat until the 2 satelite units are in

    by the time i get to the other end of the apartment, it's running about 60% speeds/strength compared to where the original is, which is still significantly better than what i had before

  • Any chance of a paint diagram, to show where the concrete walls are and the NBN Port location? Your problem might best be solved graphically.

  • +1

    On pic have indicated where I've tried putting in decos - also the position of where the work desk will be for deco 3.

    distance is really not far at all, seems like the concrete walls are like a few have said.
    Are we saying a chain of clear sight deco is best bet ? Trouble is corridor doesn't have powerpoints and the deco power cables aren't that long

    And to add, apologies if terminology not quite right, the main deco is wired directly to Archer VR1600, turned the VR1600 into bridge by adding new VDSL, 'bridge' as internet connection. Yes am aware I can't use VOIP anymore, that's a problem for another day.
    Did this with TPG on the phone. Took a few goes and resets with the other 2 decos to get it to find the new network created. But now they are connected.
    I tried connecting to the 5G version of the network but it gave an error message and unable to connect, so I'm guessing I can only connect to the 2.4

    • Line of sight is best. HFC isn't VDSL and you don't need another modem if you are not using VoIP. Plug in the M5 to the nbn NTD.

      • I don't have the NBN black box, its FTTB so guessing it went direclty to the model/router TPG provided. Are you suggesting to skip that and go directly into the M5 ? Would I not need the modem TPG configured ?

        • I was going off your earlier post when you said you had HFC.

          For FTTB you have the right setup. Have you checked if the speed improves if you remove the Deco from bed 2?

          • @Twix: I had linked deco 2 in bedroom to the main deco first, thinking that would enlarge the wireless network reach first, and only then could add the deco 3 in the home office to the network. But can give it a go

            its a bit confusing, the TPG plan I'm on says its FTTB but on the TPB NBN readiness check, says the building uses NBN HFC.

            • +1

              @Poopsie: Are you on TPG's own FttB (ie non NBN) perhaps?

              • @ESEMCE: could be, it's called "FTTB M Bundle Contract". Not sure of the difference

    • +1

      Using the 2.4Ghz in an apartment is a data congestion nightmare. You getting 20Mbps on 2.4Ghz is good outcome.

      Keep trying on the 5Ghz. Yes concrete walls attenuate 5Ghz signal by a lot, but your unit is not that big. Try connect to the archer wireless router directly in 5GHz, with you two steps away from it. Once connected, what speed do you get?

      If then you move into your office and your network speed drops significantly, then place the second deco on the wall facing the two bedroom doors, on the wall next to linen. It will take some cabling creativity to route the power and ethernet cable there

      • thanks, I'll keep trying 5G. I thought the error msg meant it wasn't possible but learnt these could be temperamental

        will think about the wall facing the bedroom walls, problem is there is no powerpoint in the cupboard or in the corridor. I'm assuming each unit needs its own power source and can't share electricity through a cable.

        Was thinking maybe a deco right above the laundry door, as there is a powerpoint in laundry. That should be direct line of sight, if the main deco was fixed to be around the wall in the corridor to where it currently is - or do some cabling

        • +2

          I wholeheartedly think once you set up the Deco backhaul to use the 5Ghz network, your situation will improve.

          I believe your low network speed is due to congestion in the 2.4Ghz spectrum in an Apartment setting. you can check in your phone/laptop by using some sort of free wifi analyser app in your living room and see how many 2.4Ghz networks are visible in your unit. I expect you see tonnes. If so, the concrete wall attenuation is not the issue.

          If you only see your network, which I doubt, then move your deco inside your room closer to your doors will help. Where you placed them at the moment, is like suffocating someone with your pillow, then asking that person if they hear what's happening for your living room, and then asking them to relay what you said. Not ideal position - but that is if the concrete wall is indeed the cause of the problem.

  • +1

    Hi al, thought to come back in case anyone was interested in the solution
    So EoP worked !
    My network is now of TP link M5 3 decos and TP Link AV1300 Powerline 2 units. One AV1300 unit plugged to main deco and the other in the study powerpoint, both with ethernet cable to the Deco 5. So have the mesh network going.
    Chose the AV1300, may be a little overkill for it's purpose, but it's not that much more expensive then cheaper versions - it has a powersocket, so you don't 'waste' one for using it, it's plug and play, doesn't have WIFI (but I had M5s to do that)

    Just note it is chunky, it says it's optimal to be directly plugged to powerpoint however it is likely to cover the other socket if you have the double powerpoint.
    The deco in room in between the two AV1300/M5 is just as fast now.

    Thanks all for your suggestions and help

    • What sort of speeds are you getting?

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