Mesh Networks

Wireless networking has many uses in today’s households. People are relying on wireless for TVs, phones, computers, and other wireless devices. As the demand for wireless grows, many folks are finding that their wireless networks are not up to the task necessitating a router upgrade or the installation of range extenders.

To work well, a wireless router needs to be centrally placed in a home. Often the router location is dictated by the location of the cable or phone line, so this is not always possible.

Stronger routers can help push the signal further, handle more traffic, and help with the problem. Range extenders pick up the wireless signal and re-transmit it to areas of the house where the original signal is too weak to work. The downside of extenders is they reduce connection speed (in general, every time a signal is re-transmitted, the bandwidth is cut in half). The more wireless devices you have, the more likely it is that a range extender won’t handle the traffic.

Enter mesh networking. This is a relatively new addition to home networking. Essentially, the mesh network consists of 3 or more wireless devices that work together and eliminate the need to have a router. The first one, or the root device, connects to your modem (whichever kind you have) and sets up the network. The others join the network and talk to each other—providing wireless coverage, or a mesh, over your entire house. If set up correctly, the wireless signal throughout your entire house will be consistent with no loss of strength or speed. It seems that there will always be a corner somewhere that doesn’t have coverage; therefore, it’s important to plan the network so it performs well for its intended purpose.

There are a number of companies that make these devices. The cost varies from “affordable” to “really expensive.” I have tried both EERO and TP-Link Deco M5. Both were fairly easy to set up and the performance is decent for my purposes.