Any recommendations to improve my “free wifi” repeating setup?

I have a fun setup using a GL-750S (Slate) to “steal” municipal wifi from the public 5Ghz hotspot on the street below my apartment, and tie it into my local network.

The Slate is a wifi client to the public network and acts as my router. It’s also a Wireguard VPN client. I have an old router acting as a dumb AP plugged into the Slate to serve Wifi on my network.

I’ve been doing this for a year and it works, but the connection is rough.

The public wifi seems to put out about a nice 150Mbps or more, which I can get when directly connected from my MacBook, even being 8 stories up from the hotspot. Unfortunately with the Slate setup, I get about 20Mbps and it often drops packets (especially when it rains…I swear lol). I modified my Slate to add a directional external antenna which made it slightly more usable (previously it barely connected), but nowhere near what my MacBook can get.

So what do you think the bottleneck is? WireGuard can become a bottleneck around 60Mbps, but it doesn’t seem any better with VPN off at this point. Is Slate’s radio just bad? Or is the CPU just too slow for this? Or maybe it’s a software oddity—I do have to connect using OpenWrt directly due to the GL.iNet interface’s lack of support for DFS networks like this. It was extremely buggy last year but firmware updates have fixed crashes, disconnections, and memory leaks. But slowness remains.

What do you think the issue is here?

So should I

  • Upgrade to a gl-ax1800 Flint or such with much better hardware overall?
    • It does seem a bit silly to have a Wifi 6 router just as a client and then tie it into my 10 year old access point :laughing:. So two Flints??
  • Get a USB wifi adapter with a better radio and add it to the Slate (suggestions?)
  • Build a custom router with a R-pi and a couple 5Ghz adapters since no off-the-shelf routers will have two decent 5Ghz radios and a fast processor for VPN.
  • Pay for real internet and give up this project LOL

From what you describe, you used 5G wifi to repeat, right.

It may be just channels. You know 5G wifi signal cannot really go through 8 stories. So they have multiple AP and your Macbook picked up an optimal one. But this may not be the case of your router.

When you connect repeater from your router (in luci), can you lock the BSSID to one AP? You can find the BSSID of the AP when you connect using your macbook.

Getting 20Mbps up 8 floors is pretty good over 5GHz wifi. A Wifi 6 router would probably not help as it still uses the same 2.4Ghz/5GHz bands and you are not close to the maximum Wifi 5 speed of the GL-AR750S Slate. An unreliable connection with packet drops may be more important in terms of usability.

If you want to keep using the free public hotspot and not paying for your own Internet service, then I recommend buying a long-range wifi device, rather than add-ons to or assembling your own equipment. Ubiquiti and other brands make such devices and, as an example, I have an inexpensive Ubiquiti NS-5ACL (<$100) with OpenWRT installed (not stock firmware) that works as an access point that sends 5Ghz wifi over 200 feet away. Even in my urban area, there are 5GHz channels available with little interference.

I do not work for and I do not have formal association with GL.iNet