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... the Blu-ray, which has both a USB and an ethernet port, could be plugged in directly to the STB (CHS435HDC). Would that work? ...
Short answer: No. Can you run either Cat 5 (or better) or install a MoCA adapter, both of which will do the job.
... running cable from the router definitely isn't an option, and a MoCA adapter may be beyond both my technical capabilities and my price range.
Elsewhere on this board folks have suggested using a second Actiontec router (of no particular vintage and often available on eBay at a good price) as a wireless repeater in a better location for your streaming device. Just a thought.
...Apparently the router is designed so a repeater or extender to strengthen the signal won't work...
This is not true. I'm successfully using a wireless extender with my Verizon router. It's a Netgear WN3000RP and it works great for me. My tablet needed a stronger signal to reliably connect and it was too far away from the primary router, but the "repeater" connects with complete reliability.
Keep in mind that a repeater does not exactly "strengthen" the WiFi signal. The repeater connects to the wireless router and sets up its own WiFi network, and then sends the packekts back back to the router. When you connect to the "repeater" it routes back to the primary network router. It's a nuance, but you actually connect to the "repeater's" SSID, not the primary router.
My router is made by Actiontec. I was told by two of their reps that it was manufactured to Verizon's specs, which specifically excludes WDS (wireless distribution system) and therefore won't support an extender or repeater -- even though other Actiontec routers (as well as those made by other companies, as you've discovered) do. Other ideas?
I also have the stock Verizon Actiontec router. The Netgear model I quoted is the "extender." Which Actiontec model do you have?
MI424WR Rev. I.
Well my Netgear "repeater" works just fine with the Verizon Actiontec router.
Are you trying to use the Actiontec as the primary router with some other "repeater" or as the "repeater" to some other router that is primary?