Multicast Rate is usually an often talked about “advanced” router option that can seriously hinder your wireless use experience if you misconfigure it. We have written an easy to use and understand guide of how multicast tx rate works so that you can have a better understanding of when and how to use it.
In general, the multicast rate in router settings is the same with most of the major brand routers such as Motorola, Asus, netgear, airport, and more. However, they do not really do a good job at explaining the best way to set it up.
Please note that many of the existing articles written or forum discussions about multicast can be a little deceiving with how they are written. They are either outright wrong, or misphrased in ways that can be considered as wrong and be misunderstood easily by most average users.
First, multicast rate options by itself does NOT affect the actual range of your router and wireless network. For example, if you have 1 devices that are outside the range of your router, having lower multicast rate will NOT magically extend the wireless range of your router. The reverse is true, having higher multicast rate will NOT shrink the range of your wireless network. In a nutshell, multicast rate does not extend or shrink your router’s network range by itself.
Second, multicast rate will not affect the level of wireless noise nor interference, nor your wireless signal strength, quality, maximum speed, or minimum speed. Changing multicast setting will not affect any of those wireless characteristics.
This is what multicast rate does, it will however improve the overall performance of your network when used at the right time and right places. A high multicast rate can however “lower” the effective area coverage of your wireless network, when the router is serving multiple devices at the same time. Now we will go into what multicast rate actually means and how it can impact your home wireless network.
Multicast Rate Setting in Router
The common multicast rate options in router refers to IP multicast. You can check for more details at the wikipedia for IP multicast. Without the tech speak and mumbo jumbo, it basically means that your router combines multiple messages and instead sends 1 jumbo message to multiple devices. The multicast rate determines how big that jumbo message can be.
The benefit of higher multicast rate is to lower the amount of wireless collisions that your wifi data may have. The biggest effect is seen only when you run multiple media streaming devices or services at the same time.
How to Optimize Your Wireless Network’s Multicast Rate Settings
First off, the best setting for multicast rate for your router is usually the lowest amount. Lower mbps value will typically benefit your normal web uses like browsing or file loading. In this case, You should turn off or disable IGMP Snooping and set the multicast rate to be fixed at the lowest value possible. Some routers have the lowest value as 1mb, 2mb, or 5mb.
Imagine two scenarios: Your router is located in your living room and a) You have a single laptop in your bedroom. and b) You have multiple tablets and mobile devices streaming music, plus AppleTV or Chromecast streaming Netflix in your living room. In this case, the scenario b will benefit from higher multicast settings. However, too high of a multicast rate can hinder the performance of your laptop inside the bedroom, as the multicast will take away the available bandwidth.
The only time you should optimize and test different optimal multicast rate settings is when you run multiple streaming devices simultaneously in your home. Some of the multiple streaming services example include but not limited to multicast required services like IPTV, or content streaming around your house with multiple airspeakers.
Now, if your home internet use is like most people with some computer use and occasional media streaming, your best bet is to either set the Multicast rate to auto and/or enable IGMP Snooping.
If you want to experiment with the best fixed values, set the rate setting to around the middle or medium of the spectrum first, then modify the mbps numbers as you experience your wireless network performance. Increase the value if media streaming is having issues, and lower the value if your computer web surfing is having performance issues. There is no set “best” number for the multicast rate, each network is different and the settings can change depending on how you use your internet wifi network.
The reason is that higher multicast rate can hinder your individual internet usage by sacrificing it to boost your wifi network streaming throughput. However, setting it too low can cause your streaming devices such as AirPlay to drop connections when the usage gets high.
Relevant Multicast Rate Information
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