Mesh network is a trending industry buzzword. You may be wondering what it is, if it is superior to your current network and whether an upgrade would actually be worthwhile for your residence.
What Is a Mesh Wi-Fi System?
Traditional Wi-Fi systems can have dead zones where the signal is either weak or simply not available. A mesh network is a different approach to a wireless network that aims to eliminate dead zones. A traditional router uses a single point of access to provide internet coverage throughout a home. Mesh also means web, and that is the sense it is used here. A mesh network involves two or more devices that work together to provide a web of access. If you have a problem area in a home, another device can be added to the mesh in order to provide adequate coverage in that zone.
How Mesh Wi-Fi Systems Work
At the center of a traditional home network is a router. This is the central device that broadcasts and receives wireless signals. The main issue with the router is that the reach of the signal can be limited, and this limitation can be exacerbated in large houses or homes with interior obstructions, such as brick walls. If you love to watch on your favorite streaming services on your room or play online video games, you may get a weaker signal if your router is far from your favorite spot on the house. Mesh systems have multiple access points. One is primary and speaks with the router, but the others, often called satellites, speak with each other and to any wireless devices within range.
Simple Connections and Network Management
With the development of mesh networks to enjoy the home internet, there has been a focus on ease of use. With most of the high-profile products on the market, network management is automated, and any customization can be performed through a smartphone app. Connections tend to be simpler too. Adding a new device is usually as simple as turning it on. This is in contrast to traditional Wi-Fi range extenders, which often require you setting up a secondary network and other configuration steps.
Potential Downsides of Mesh Wi-Fi Systems
The biggest issue with mesh Wi-Fi systems right now is that they are expensive. A router kit with one satellite will cost you between $200 and $300, and each additional satellite will cost between $100 and $200. The other issue to be aware of this mesh networks are simply overkill in many environments, and they can require more equipment to do the job than would otherwise be necessary.
Can You Create a Mesh Network From Your Existing Network?
Most of the current mesh implementations are sold in standalone kits that can be expanded. But the industry is evolving. We are now seeing traditional routers, repeaters and extenders that are designed to take advantage of mesh capabilities. Linksys and Netgear are two prominent companies that already have routers that are designed to support both the traditional and mesh approach. In the future, we are likely to see that the line between this different tech will blur to the point of being indistinguishable.
Do You Actually Need a Mesh Network?
In the future, mesh networks are also likely to be the standard and will be better optimized for smaller environments too. Due to current costs, mesh is not needed for the average American home, which is 2,687 square feet. Under 3,000 square feet, a repeater or extender is usually enough to tackle a dead zone. In larger homes, and particularly those with internal design obstructions, a mesh network can absolutely be worth the investment to get the coverage you desire.