Mesh Wi-Fi or Whole Home Wi-fi mesh network have become a hot topic in recent years. As technology advances and traditional Wi-fi becomes more readily available, it’s no surprise that people are looking to go cord-free with their internet connection. But what exactly is a mesh network? How do they work? And how can you use one for your home or business? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this exciting new way of connecting!
First off, let’s talk about the basics: What is a mesh network, and how does it work?
Simply put, there are two types of wireless networks – centralized (hub) and decentralized (mesh). A hub requires an access point from which all signals must be relayed through. A mesh network doesn’t require that one device serve as a base station and instead uses multiple devices acting as access points to relay the signal. Mesh networks are by far more reliable than centralized ones due to their redundant infrastructure.
The technology behind mesh networks is called “mesh routing” or “meshing”. Mesh Wi-Fi routers can be set up in various configurations with different levels of redundancy – from a single node to a fully meshed network of 50 mesh nodes. Mesh networks transmit data over the most reliable path, meaning your wi-fi signal will always be at its strongest, and you’ll enjoy better internet speeds as well.
Mesh networks provide greater coverage, even in areas with lots of interference, like apartment buildings. Mesh routers are also very versatile – they can be installed on walls, ceilings, inside a network cabinet, or anywhere else you want! Mesh router systems use “self-organizing” or “auto-healing” technology, which allows them to automatically detect any broken or disconnected nodes and adjust to make up for them.
In a Smart home, Mesh Networks are deployed to extend the coverage of short-range wireless technologies such as Zigbee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth used in smart home devices.
Let’s Break it down further:
Topology is the physical design or layout of a network.
Mesh networks are often discussed in terms of their topology, which can be broken down into two basic types:
Partially Connected Mesh Topology
A partially connected mesh topology is when some nodes in the mesh network are connected to each other.
Fully Connected Mesh Topology
A full mesh topology is when all of the nodes in a system are interconnected so that any node can communicate with any other node on it at any time without passing through another intermediate device.
A network can be made up of a fully connected mesh “back-bone” topology with partially connected mesh spurs.
A band is a range of frequencies in the radio electromagnetic spectrum. Different bands are reserved for different applications, such as radio broadcasting. To fully explain the following terms, “dual-band” and “tri-band”, we first need to give a brief overview of traditional Wi-fi.
Wi-Fi often referred to as WiFi, wifi, wi-fi or wi fi, is thought the be short for Wireless Fidelity. According to one of the original members of the Wi-Fi alliance Phil Belanger, the name Wi-Fi was created by a marketing firm as a pun upon the word Hi-Fi. True or not, we can all agree that it is catchier than its official protocol, “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence.”
Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transmit data from your wireless router to your Wi-Fi enabled devices like your TV, smartphone, tablet and computer. The frequency ranges within the wireless spectrum designated to carry Wi-Fi are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
In short, 2.4GHz provides greater distance coverage with slower speeds, while 5GHz provides shorter distance coverage but with much greater speeds.
Wi-Fi started with only the 2.4GHz frequency band, which was once and still is the most crowded. Besides Wi-Fi devices, cordless phones, Bluetooth gadgets and home appliances also use this frequency.
Wi-Fi networks available to too many devices often suffer from interference problems. Generally, 2.4GHz can be unreliable in urban areas and has remained that way since it first emerged as a viable network.
Introducing 5GHz. The majority of this frequency band is designated for Wi-Fi and provides a much higher wireless speed. 5GHz was available for a short period as a single-band solution to replace 2.4GHz. But due to its shorter range, the then low bandwidth speed, and the fact that there were many 2.4GHz-only clients, nobody wanted a 5GHz-only router.
As a result, Dual Band was introduced. Working with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
Tri-band adds another 5Ghz band into the mix, so you now have two separate 5Ghz bands. This lets you connect more devices to the internet using the faster 5Ghz band. If you’re using a mesh system with multiple nodes, The second 5GHz band acts as a dedicated communications line between two routers to speed up the entire system by up to 180% over dual-band configurations.
If you have Gigabit service or plan to get access soon, you’ll need a tri-band router. Homes with Tri-band mesh network setups have the best chance of future-proofing their data communications for increased speeds everywhere in the house.
Mesh Network or Wi-Fi Range Extender
Wi-Fi Range Extender
Wi-Fi extenders connect back to your existing wireless network, broadcast under a different name and act as a throughput for information back to your main wireless router. In short, your home will now have two different networks. For example, you may have coverage downstairs from your main wireless router, and the upstairs is covered by your Wi-Fi range extender. In this type of system, your device will swap between networks as you move throughout your home and usually will stay connected to the current network until it is completely out of range. As a result, there may be moments when it has a slower connection than the one it will soon connect to next.
Range extenders can often slow things down. Wireless networks are half-duplex, which means that a device can’t be sending and receiving information simultaneously. Every device on the network has to take turns talking., this creates a bottleneck in your network, which reduces overall performance. Range extenders can often make this problem worse because they have to repeat everything they hear.
Mesh networks are home Wi-Fi replacements, as opposed to an extension. Many people use their mesh network to supplement an existing router, but there is no reason you should. Mesh networks are an innovation designed to replace complicated router-and-extender setups with multiple identical units placed around your home.
Mesh systems have several advantages over traditional Wi-Fi extenders. Home mesh networks use a compilation of access points that are all aware of each other and can wirelessly forward traffic as needed. They all broadcast the same network name, which enables your Wi-Fi devices like phones and laptops to roam between mesh access points as they choose. That way, the handoff will be much more seamless than with extenders.
Mesh networks can help address the speed problems faced by wireless extenders, as these systems can use multiple radios. A mesh network can use one channel to communicate with its clients and another channel to share data with other nodes on the mesh.
Some mesh systems may even have three radios. One dedicated to communicating with the router, and a second for communications from laptop computers, phones, among other devices. This is advantageous when you have a lot of devices on the wireless network.
Advantages of a Mesh Wi-Fi network
There are many benefits to a mesh Wi-Fi network in your home. One of the biggest advantages has to be the removal of dead spots. No matter where you are in your home with Wi-Fi mesh, there should not be any dead zones. Another equally important factor in the advantages of mesh networking is the performance of the system. Redundancy coupled with speed compared to a traditional home network with a single router and extender is worth the investment alone.
Disadvantages of a Mesh Wi-Fi network
Depending on how large your mesh network installation is, the device density and excessive numbers of connections complicate network setup, management and maintenance. There is also an increased risk of security attacks in a mesh system as each node is a potential point of attack to the system. In a home installation, the risk here is minimised.
Buying Options for Tri-band mesh Wi-Fi
Descriptions obtained from Official amazon brand stores.
- Banish WiFi Dead Zone—Tri-band mesh WiFi system with unique antenna placement delivers strong WiFi to every corner of your home, providing a total wireless speed of 6600 Mbps
- Next-Gen Wi-Fi 6 Technology— With OFDMA and MU-MIMO, ZenWiFi AX enables more efficient, stable, and faster transmission even when multiple devices are transmitting data at the same time
- Hassle Free Control – 3 steps setup and easy management with ASUS Router
- App Always Up-to-date Protection— The lifetime free network security powered by Trend Micro makes sure your privacy on connected devices is protected
- AiMesh Supported– Mix and match ZenWiFi with AiMesh-compatible routers to form a powerful and flexible whole-home WiFi system.
Also available is a 3+ bedroom option of the Asus zenwifi, which has a reduction in speed to a max of 3000 Mbps.
As a special bonus to my readers, Use coupon code: AMMU6IE6EUQ6 for a discount on the ASUS Online Store.
- NO MORE DEAD ZONES: Whole home mesh WiFi coverage up to 4,000 square feet and 40+ devices with the Netgear Orbi; Mesh technology helps you stay connected as you roam around your home using a single network name; Extend coverage up to 2,000 sq. ft. with additional satellites (sold separately)
- ULTRA FAST GIGABIT SPEED: AX4200 WiFi 6 powers up to 4.2Gbps of streaming HD video, gaming or Internet surfing and downloads
- WORKS WITH ALL INTERNET PROVIDERS: Replace your existing WiFi Router (separate modem or gateway required); compatible with any Internet Service Provider up to 2Gbps including cable, satellite, fiber, DSL and more
- TRI BAND BACKHAUL: A dedicated band between your Orbi router and satellite frees up the other two bands for maximum speed to your devices
- EASY TO SET UP AND MANAGE: Connects to your existing cable modem and sets up and customizes in minutes with the Orbi app easily manage your WiFi settings at the device and network level, test your Internet speed, view speed history and monitor data usage.
- WIRED ETHERNET PORTS: Plugin computers, game consoles, streaming players and other nearby wired devices with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports in the router and 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports in the satellite.
- SAFE, SECURE AND LOADED WITH ENHANCED TECHNOLOGY: Designed with MU MIMO, Smart Connect for one WiFi name and beamforming technologies; supports WPA2 wireless security protocols; includes Guest WiFi access, DoS, Firewall, VPN and more
- UNLEASH FASTER SPEED, EVEN MORE POWER: Optimal for devices built to support WiFi 6: Playstation 5, iPhone 11 & 12, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13 & Mac Mini, Ultra Notebooks, Samsung S10 & S20
- WIFI 6 STREAM EVERYTHING AT FASTER SPEED: Simultaneously stream uninterrupted movies, games, video calls or download/transfer files at 6.6Gbps WiFi speed
- WORKS WITH ALL INTERNET PROVIDERS: Replace your existing WiFi Router (separate modem or gateway required). Compatible with any Internet Service Provider up to 2Gbps including cable, satellite, fiber, DSL and more
- EASY TO SET UP AND MANAGE: Connects to your existing cable modem and sets up and customizes in minutes with the Nighthawk app easily manage your WiFi settings at the device and network level, test your Internet speed, view speed history and monitor data usage
- USB CONNECTIONS: Share a storage drive with any connected device and create personal cloud storage to access from anywhere using the 2 x 3.0 USB ports.ADVANCED CYBER THREAT PROTECTION: NETGEAR Armor (powered by BitDefender) is network wide anti-virus, anti-malware, fraud/phishing/ransomware security on an unlimited # of devices and network/data protection for 69.99/year with a 30 day free trial. LOADED WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Designed with a 1.8GHz triple core processor, OFDMA, MU MIMO, Dynamic QoS, 1024 QAM, Smart Connect for one WiFi name, Beamforming technologies and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Voice Control. Supports WPA2/WPA3 wireless security protocols. Includes Guest WiFi access, DoS, Firewall, VPN and more.
When coupled with the NETGEAR Wifi Mesh Range Extender EX7700, you get the following benefits.
- EXTENDED WIRELESS COVERAGE: Adds WiFi range coverage up to 2000 sq ft, and connects up to 40 devices such as laptops, smartphones, speakers, IP cameras, tablets, IoT devices, and more.
- SEAMLESS SMART ROAMING: Uses your existing network SSID name, so you never get disconnected as you move around your home or office
- AC2200 WIFI SPEED: Provides up to 2200Mbps performance using tri-band and patented FastLane3 (TM) technology for heavy-duty 4K HD streaming and multi-player gaming.
- UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY: Works with any wireless router, gateway, or cable modem with WiFi.
- WIRED ETHERNET PORTS: Simply plug in game consoles, streaming players, or other wired devices into the 2 Gigabit ports for maximum speed.
- SAFE & SECURE: Supports WEP and WPA/WPA2 wireless security protocols.
One to watch
The Amazon Eero Pro 6, which is not only a tri-band mesh system. It also supports Wi-Fi 6 and even has a Zigbee smart home hub built into the core router. While currently awaiting certification, there is no availability date for this product in Australia as of yet. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on any announcements.
This is definitely one innovation to watch out for when considering upgrading your home automation setup.
Alternative Dual Band Choice
- Google Nest Wifi is Flexible, strong, reliable Wi-Fi coverage for your whole home.
- Easy setup, parental controls, device prioritisation and more – all in the Google Home app
- Get hands-free help from the Google Assistant.
- Automatic updates help your network stay safe and sound
- Use your voice to control connected devices, play your favourite music, broadcast messages around the house and more
So is a mesh router system right for you?
It all depends on the type of coverage you want. Wireless mesh networks are great for large spaces and homes where Wi-Fi can be unreliable or in offices that require internet access throughout the building. Mesh routers also work well for environments with lots of interference. No matter how many nodes there are, each node is responsible for only a small amount of area, which means they don’t interfere with one another. Wireless mesh networks are perfect for people who need internet access everywhere – even outside!
Wireless mesh routers also offer a lot of benefits over the traditional router, such as easy installation due to their versatility in placement, quick deployment time, greater coverage area (even when there’s lots of interference), and an ability to “self-heal” if a node is cut or disconnected. Mesh networks are the perfect wireless solution for any environment that needs internet access, from small apartments all the way up to large office buildings!
If you can afford to purchase a tri-band wireless mesh Wi-fi system, I would recommend doing so. Connecting your mesh access points with Ethernet, rather than WiFi only, is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the fastest possible speeds. Still, if you don’t have ethernet wiring in your home, it is definitely a level above dual-band Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi extenders.
We are here to help. No matter what your needs are, we can find a solution for you! Whether you would like more information or you would like us to spec and provide a system to suit your specific circumstances, reach out to us here. We are always happy to help.