Buffering issues - sort of fixed

I recently purchased a DUAL LITE Over-The-Air (OTA) DVR. I have it connected to a powered antenna and a USB drive (500MB) in my attic, less than 15 ft (and two walls) from my primary Orbi wifi router.

It seemed to work fine for a few days, but then suddenly Sunday morning it would buffer (screen would go black) for 15-20 seconds, then play for a few seconds, then buffer again. Was unwatchable. I had the same experience on a TV (through a Roku device) as well as on my MacBook. Watching LiveTV as well as Recordings exhibited the same behavior.

I rebooted the Tablo and then the feed would go for a second, pause for 4-5 seconds, go for another second, pause again, and repeat. Again, unwatchable.

I tried going to the lowest bandwidth (2 Mbps) and that didn’t help.

On a whim, I decided to relocate my mesh router (Orbi) satellite up to the attic and connect it to the Tablo via an ethernet cable. That solved the problem – no buffering even at 8 Mbps for Live TV.

In other words, the only difference is that I am now using my Orbi satellite to communicate via wifi to my Orbi router, rather than via the Tablo’s built-in wifi.

Does it make sense that the Tablo’s wifi behaved this way?

So if I’m understanding correctly, the Tablo now thinks it is “wired”, correct?

I’m not super familiar with the details of the Orbi system but most mesh systems have “backhaul” amount of dedicated bandwidth used to communicate between the points in the mesh system. Sounds like maybe your general wireless connection was having performance issues, solved by utilizing the satellite to have more dedicated backhaul bandwidth available for the Tablo on the network?

Yeah, it appears that the Tablo thinks it’s wired. Though I don’t see any setting to tell it not to use its wifi connection.
I should’ve mentioned that I wasn’t seeing any other network degradation, nor am I now. Watched a show on Netflix (via Wifi to my Smart TV) with no buffering. Speedtest and Fast.com on my laptop (wifi) reported ~100Mbps download/5Mbps upload. I know, not blazing fast, but adequate for virtually all of our needs.
I’ve re-read the second part of your last sentence and am not sure that I totally understand. I sorta understand backhaul, but could use a little more explanation of what you think might be happening.

Since most people don’t know exactly what’s inside a wall I usually don’t expect tablo to have solid strong signals going thru 2 or more wall using 5G WiFi.

Connecting an ethernet cable to a orbi satelite is probably nothing more then using the satelite as an access point. And since the orbi satelite was designed to have a much more powerful directional WiFi radio then tablo it works.

tablo uses ethernet versus wifi if it’s connected to ethernet. You don’t pick one or the other.

@zippy has a good point. It may simply be the Orbi satellite simply has a better WiFi connection.

Makes sense. I guess I was surprised how poor the tablo wifi was. (I’ve not had any other issues with my wifi signal through my house’s walls.)
I would’ve located it nearer to the base Orbi router but that’s not an acceptable location for the antenna.
Oh well, I’ve got it working for now.

Tablo support suggested that it might have been an issue with my mesh network and pointed me to this article.
This is probably what was happening:

Recently we heard from a customer who was experiencing frequent buffering when trying to view content from his Tablo OTA DVR on his Roku. When our support gurus used a network analyzer tool to diagnose the issue, we found that because his mesh WiFi satellites had identical network names that his Roku was repeatedly bouncing back and forth between access points, causing the stream to pause as the Roku and Tablo waited to re-establish a connection after each hop.

To test that you can eliminate the WiFi satellite and have the Tablo connect to the main router directly via WiFi.
I’d be curious if that works or if you continue to have buffering issues. My experience wasn’t great with the Tablo on WiFi (single router network). Lots of factors at play, but I suspect the WiFi on the Tablo isn’t top notch. I’ve been very happy since arranging things so the Tablo is on a wired connection.