What you need to know about a mesh WiFi network.

TP-Link Deco range all work together and interoperate with 3rd party Routers and Modems.

Mesh WiFi has been around for many years, but only in the reach of Enterprise Businesses or Military, where secure networks are crucial. The term Whole Home WiFi is derived from the evolution of mesh WiFi to the domestic, consumer market. As prices have come down, due to the technology becoming more widely used, consumers are now demanding the same speed, reliability and security that Enterprises use.

I will attempt to explain what Mesh WiFi is, who needs it, its main benefits and how it works. I will touch on the differences between Mesh WiFi and a traditional Range Extender and what are the Features of Mesh WiFi. Finally I will compare some of the main Mesh WiFi manufacturers and answer some of the Common Questions regarding Whole Home Mesh WiFi.

What is Whole Home Mesh WiFi?

Mesh WiFi is a system made up of multiple WiFi access points, that connect to each other independently, thus creating a WiFi mesh that eliminates dead zones, allows devices to connect at far greater speeds and provides a more reliable connection for all devices.

The main unit that connects to your router or modem, becomes the hub, additional access points become nodes. The nodes capture and rebroadcast the routers signal using the same Wireless SSID. The result is an efficient, significantly more stable network, stronger signal into every corner of your home.

Who needs Mesh WiFi?

Mesh WiFi is typically designed for people in homes where there are weak or unreliable WiFi signals, or those who have poor WiFi coverage. As well, people who are adding significantly more devices to their WiFi networks such as Smart Lights, Smart Control devices and Smart Security. Mesh WiFi is also a great option for those who need an uncomplicated, or easy to setup, WiFi system.

Traditional WiFi routers typically have a limited range and may have been expanded using a variety of Range Extenders; they are often times unable to cover fully very large, or multi-level homes. If you live in a home that more than 3000 sq. feet; has two or more floors; interior brick or stone walls; or an otherwise unusual layout, then you will certainly benefit from a Mesh WiFi system.

Mesh WiFi Benefits

  • One Network for your Entire Home
  • Easy Set, Configuration and Management
  • Smart Home Control
  • Reliable, Stable and Far-Reaching Connectivity
Mesh WiFi Floor Plan showing placement of Access Points and interlocking ranges

One Network for your Entire Home

A Mesh WiFi network means that you can forget about signing in to a different network when you head upstairs, or go in to the garden, home office etc. Remain connected to the same, sturdy network, regardless of where you are in the home. If one of the nodes fails, all other nodes connect to the Hub or Router, meaning you stay online and connected.

Configuration Setting of Access Point placement and signal strength on mobile App wizard.

Easy Setup, Config and Management

The majority of Mesh Network systems on the market today provide an easy setup wizard, graphical representation of signal strength and AP (Access Point) placement.

The App or Web Portal allows you to toggle or change network settings, check speeds or configure Security or Parental Control settings.

Smart Home Control

Certain Mesh WiFi systems, such as the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus, provide advanced functions such as acting as a combined Smart Hub and WiFi Router. This means that you can connect new or existing Zigbee and WiFi Smart devices directly, as well as through common Voice enabled services such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can control the devices through the Deco App or link with other Smart Home Control apps and services.

Side view representative graphic of a Smart Home, over multiple floors and connecting multiple devices.

Reliable, Stable and Far-Reaching Connectivity

With Mesh WiFi network you get a powerful and stable connection to your router no matter where you are in the home. Each node on the Mesh network connects to every other hub or node independently, re-broadcasting the WiFi network signal and SSID. This means that you get uninterrupted and powerful WiFi signal whether you are in the attic, halfway up the stairs or in the garden

How does Whole Home Mesh WiFi work?

Mesh WiFi relies on a minimum of two or more Mesh WiFi devices, known as Access Points, or nodes. One Mesh WiFi node is connected to an Internet Modem or Router, and takes on the role of the Hub. The other(s) can be placed around the home to create a powerful and reliable wireless network. Unlike traditional Routers, these nodes form part of the same network, sharing the same SSID and Password. This means setting up and scaling your mesh network as simple and easy as adding another node.

These nodes are crucial in efficient delivery of the WiFi network. Each node serves as a ‘Daisy Chain’ for the other nodes in the system. They re-broadcast the Wireless Signal, meaning that the node that is furthest from the hub delivers just as powerful a signal as the one closest. These nodes are Smart, constantly talking to each other to determine the best, fastest and least congested band for your devices, as well as when and how to re-route traffic in the event of a node outage.

What are the differences between a traditional Range Extender and a Mesh WiFi network?

Mesh WiFi and Range Extenders may seem to have very similar functionality, there are some subtle differences.

Range Extenders

Range Extenders require you to sign into a new network, manually once you move out of range of your router, in order to maintain a strong connection.

Most Range Extenders are setup with different Wireless SSID’s even as a variation of the original, e.g. SSID_MyWirelessNet and SSID_MyWirelessNet_Ext1, SSID_MyWirelessNet_Extended.

Mesh WiFi

Mesh WiFi nodes use roaming protocols (to keep you on the same network). Mesh Network technology provides features such as adaptive routing and self-healing to ensure a stable network at all times.

Each Mesh WiFi node basically functions as its own router, whereas Range Extenders are simply duplicating the routers own signal.

Mesh WiFi nodes re-broadcast the same SSID and Encryption Key meaning devices are simply handed off to the next node in the network, and you never need to worry about re-connecting.

Conclusion

Mesh WiFi is significantly faster and more efficient at delivery a reliable WiFi signal than a Range Extender.

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