We’ve all been there. You phone or laptop is connected fine in one area of the house but in another the connection is horrible. There are different methods of improving the network in your home or office. A new and expensive option is a mesh network, but how do they work?
Mesh networking has been around for sometime, however the cost has made it prohibitive for commercial use until recently. Mesh networks that are available now offer lots of benefits. They are easy to use, self-configuring, and can coverage large area without slowdowns.
How Does It Work?
Mesh networks use a series of nodes that spreads the signal across a house or office. One of the nodes connects to the router and acts as the gateway. The rest of the nodes will then talk to one another expanding the signal with each node. One benefit to this setup is if one node powers down or malfunctions, the network will still operate. Most mesh networks can be set up in minutes with a smart phone, then its smooth sailing from there.
WiFi Range Extenders/ Repeaters vs. Mesh WiFi Setup
Now, you may be thinking, I can pick up a WiFi extender for way less than the mesh system. While this is true there are some key differences between the two systems. Firstly, repeaters/ boosters can degrade the WiFi signal as they retransmit it. These devices can make you connection up to 50% slower. This is due the device only have one antenna to transmit data back and forth.
Extender technology is improving, with some offering two antennas for receiving and sending information. These extenders will still have limitations. Extenders will create a whole new network. If the extender uses a different network name you may have to manually switch to the extended network. If they share the network name or SSID, you device will not be smart enough to switch from the router to the extender. This could cause slowdowns when transitioning from one to the another.
Nodes in a mesh network have separate antennas so they can talk to the main router and each other. This limits back haul which is all the other traffic on a network. Mesh networks can slow down when there are multiple nodes on it but overall, they are faster.
The mesh networks can also adjust to the addition or removal of nodes. The mesh interface also makes it easy to add smart devices to the network. Mesh networks can be expensive, so make sure it makes sense for your situation.
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