The Netgear Orbi mesh WiFi system is one of the best in its class, providing excellent wireless coverage in homes/offices and also very fast speeds in the WiFi air channels.
By default, the whole system (i.e Orbi router unit and Satellite units) work seamlessly with a single SSID name which is the same for both frequency bands, that is on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
The above is one of the strong user-friendly features of all mesh WiFi systems. By providing a single WiFi SSID name in the house, client devices (smartphones, laptops etc) can roam freely within the home without having to change WiFi networks.
If for example you have a router Orbi unit at the ground floor and a satellite unit at the first floor, the SSID name visible in both floors will be the same and devices can connect to whichever Orbi unit provides the best signal, speed etc.
Both “client-facing” frequency bands of the Orbi (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) emit signals using the same SSID name. Devices can select automatically to use either the 5 GHz band or the 2.4 GHz band. Usually, if the client device supports dual-band, it will try to connect first to the 5 GHz band because its faster.
Although the above default setup is great for most homes, there are some cases which creates a problem.
Usually, the above smart-gadgets work only on the 2.4 GHz band and in many cases they have a hard time connecting to an Orbi system which has a single SSID for all bands.
Moreover, if you try to use your smartphone which is connected automatically to 5 GHz in order to manage and configure one of the smart-gadgets which is connected to 2.4 GHz band, that might not work in many cases.
Personally, in my home network I have separate SSID names for 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies (for example, “mywifi-2.4” and “mywifi-5“).
For client devices that don’t need a lot of data bandwidth (such as smartphones and smart-gadgets), I manually connect them to the 2.4 GHz band. For higher-speed devices such as laptops and tablets, I connect them to the 5 GHz band.
The above might be a little hassle to setup initially, but gives me more control in my home network.
Also, if you get a new smart-home device that supports only 2.4 GHz band, I can connect it explicitly to the separate SSID which is assigned to this band with no problems.
In this article I will show you how to create two different SSID names on the Orbi router in order to separate the two bands as I said above. This can’t be done from the graphical GUI management interface. You will need to connect with Telnet (command line) to the router but its easy as I will show you below.
First you will need to access a special webpage URL on the router as following:
With your browser go to Orbi debug URL at http://192.168.1.1/debug.htm
(I assume that the Orbi internal LAN IP address is 192.168.1.1 (the default).
At this webpage you will see an option to “Enable Telnet”. Click the box next to this option as shown below.
Now you need to use a Telnet client from a computer to connect to the Orbi router (assuming the computer is already connected to the Orbi via WiFi for example).
On Windows machines you will need to Install and enable a Telnet client or download the free PuTTY software (or an alternative) which can work as Telnet client.
On MAC OS you can open a command terminal window and use Telnet from there.
Assuming you have a Telnet client installed on your computer (or you have enabled Telnet on Windows), run “telnet 192.168.1.1” which is the default internal IP address of the Orbi router. At the authentication prompt you need to use the GUI administration username and password (“admin” and your password).
After connecting to the Orbi device with Telnet as described above, execute the following commands:
config get wl_ssid (This command will show you the name of the 2.4 GHz SSID)
example output: OrbiWiFi
config get wla_ssid (This will show you the name of the 5 GHz SSID)
example output: OrbiWiFi
As you can see, by default the SSID names of both bands are the same (e.g “OrbiWiFi“).
Now we need to change the name of the 2.4 GHz.
The commands below will change the name of 2.4 GHz SSID:
config set wl_ssid=”OrbiWiFi 2.4GHz“
Verify that it’s changed:
config get wl_ssid
As you can see from above, the 2.4G band has a new SSID name which will be visible in the WiFi networks on your client devices.
UPDATE (Thanks to Bart in the comments):
The latest firmware versions of Orbi revert the above SSID changes back after some time. This means that the two separate SSIDs will be merged into a single SSID name again.
So you will need to disable the monitor process which makes sure that fronthaul and backhaul connections are up and running.
Do the following in order to prevent the Orbi from reverting the changes you’ve made above in the SSID names:
config set wifison-monitor_stop=1
(If you ever need to reverse the above setting use the command > config set wifison-monitor_stop=0)
Now reboot the Orbi in order to enforce the changes:
By doing the above you have created a new SSID name on the 2.4 GHz band which you can use to connect legacy client devices or smart-gadgets that have a problem connecting to Orbi with its default settings.