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What is Mesh Wifi? Everything you need to know about Mesh Wifi
Internet & Mobile Security Blog | MATE | 15 January 2024
The internet is an integral part of our lives. Your home internet keeps you connected to your favourite streaming services, online gaming, social media and more. It has opened up a whole new way for people to work remotely, providing many of us with a better work-life balance. For all these reasons, a reliable home internet network is critical. However, setting up your internet network can have some challenges.
Mesh wifi is one home networking solution that can help you manage your internet at home, ensuring your network reaches every corner of the house for optimal performance.
If you’d like to learn more about mesh wifi, what it is, how it works, and how it can help you, then read on. Let’s take a deep dive into mesh wifi and answer some common questions you may have about it.
What is mesh wifi?
Mesh wifi involves multiple devices working together to create a single, seamless wireless network. Unlike a traditional router, which acts as a solitary point of connectivity, mesh networks utilise multiple mesh routers or mesh nodes. These nodes are strategically placed around your home, ensuring that every corner gets a strong wifi signal.
If your home office is positioned at the back of the house and only receives a weak signal, a mesh wifi network can help fix this issue by boosting your home internet signal. This allows the signal to reach all corners of the house, effectively eliminating ‘dead zones’—that is, areas in your home where the wifi signal is weak or non-existent.
How does mesh wifi work?
Understanding how mesh wifi works is key to appreciating its benefits. Think of a mesh network as a team of relay runners, each passing the baton (in this case, the wifi signal) to the next, ensuring seamless coverage across your home. Each node communicates not only with the main router but also with each other, creating a strong and reliable internet connection throughout your home.
What is included in a mesh wifi setup?
At the heart of a mesh wifi system is the primary mesh router, which connects directly to your modem. This router then communicates with additional satellite nodes or extenders, forming a comprehensive mesh network. These nodes are smart devices; they constantly communicate with each other to determine the best pathway to route your internet traffic. This intelligent routing is a significant advancement over traditional routers, which lack the capability to dynamically choose the best path for data.
This network design is particularly effective in eliminating dead zones. In a mesh wifi network, each node serves as a new source of the wifi signal, significantly extending the range and improving the overall strength of your wireless networks connectivity. This is crucial for homes with multiple floors or numerous walls, where traditional routers struggle to maintain a strong signal.
Benefits of mesh wifi
Mesh wifi networks bring a host of advantages, especially when compared to traditional wifi setups.
Seamless connectivity across multiple devices
One of the most significant strengths of mesh networks is their ability to handle multiple devices simultaneously. In today’s homes, where the average family owns several internet-enabled devices, maintaining a steady connection on each device can be a challenge. Mesh wifi networks can help solve any connectivity issues.
Each node in a mesh network works together to create a unified network. Unlike traditional setups, where devices may struggle to stay connected when moving from one area to another, mesh networks ensure that your devices seamlessly switch to the strongest signal. So whether you’re streaming a movie on your tablet, working on a laptop, or browsing on your smartphone, your experience remains uninterrupted, with no need to manually connect to different extenders or networks.
Mesh wifi is also beneficial for smart homes that make the most of the Internet of Things, with connected devices located in different parts of the home. A mesh wifi system makes sure that all connected devices—from smart lights and wifi-enabled air conditioners to personal devices and smart speakers—have access to a strong internet signal to perform at their best.
Enhanced wifi signal and coverage
The big problem for traditional routers is that they often struggle with dead zones. Mesh wifi networks address this issue by having multiple nodes that communicate with each other, creating a net-like structure. Each node acts as a relay point, so even the furthest corners of your house receive a strong signal.
A mesh system is able to provide a strong signal throughout your house because each node acts like a mini-router, extending the wifi signal evenly across your home. This setup is particularly beneficial for larger homes or buildings with complex layouts, where walls and distances can obstruct signals. With mesh wifi networks, you’re likely to experience a stronger, more consistent signal in every room and even outdoor spaces, which is something traditional routers struggle to provide.
Scale and enhance your network as needed
With traditional setups, extending your wifi signal often requires additional hardware like wifi extenders, which can be inefficient. In contrast, expanding a mesh wifi system is as simple as adding more nodes. This flexibility makes mesh systems particularly suitable for larger homes or spaces with unique layouts. And if you move house, your mesh wifi system can easily be configured to suit your new home’s layout.
Mesh wifi vs. traditional wifi routers
When it comes to choosing between mesh wifi systems and traditional routers, several factors set the former apart. Let’s delve into how mesh wifi compares with traditional routers in terms of performance, range, and ease of use.
Mesh systems are designed to handle high-bandwidth activities across multiple devices with greater efficiency. Traditional routers can get overwhelmed by the simultaneous demands of multiple streaming services, games, and smart home devices. However, mesh networks distribute the load across various nodes, ensuring smoother performance even under heavy usage.
This is where mesh wifi truly shines. Traditional routers have a limited range, and their signal strength diminishes with distance and obstructions like walls. Mesh networks, on the other hand, provide expansive coverage, with nodes placed strategically to cover every nook and cranny of your home. This means fewer dead zones and a consistent wifi signal throughout your living space.
Ease of use
What is the difference between mesh wifi and a wifi extender?
Mesh wifi and wifi extenders serve similar purposes. The big differences between them lie in their functionality and efficiency.
A wifi extender connects to your router and amplifies the signal. The amplified signal is then rebroadcasted to areas of your home where the wifi coverage is weak. Your devices connect to the extender’s network, ideally receiving a stronger signal than they would directly from the router. Some extenders also create a new network SSID as a way to extend the signal, which means devices might need manual switching between networks for the strongest connection.
Installing a wifi extender can be an easy solution for homes that have a limited dead zone area, but there may be better choices for large homes with extensive dead zones. The reason for this is that the wifi extender is simply amplifying the original signal, whereas a mesh wifi network uses multiple wifi nodes to manage and maintain a strong signal.
Choosing the right mesh system for your home
Selecting the best mesh wifi system for your home involves considering several factors:
- Home size: Larger homes will require more nodes to ensure complete coverage. Consider the square footage of your home and the number of floors when choosing a mesh system.
- Number of devices: The more connected devices you have, the more robust your mesh network needs to be. A system that can handle multiple simultaneous connections is crucial for homes with many users and devices.
- Usage patterns: If your household frequently streams videos, plays online games, or uses smart home devices, you’ll need a mesh wifi network that can handle high bandwidth demand.
- Home layout: Homes with complex layouts, multiple floors, or thick walls may require additional nodes to ensure a strong wifi signal throughout.
If you’ve identified a few factors that could be contributing to your slow home internet speed, then you may want to consider investing in mesh wifi for an improved connection. But there is one last step you can take if you’re still wondering if mesh wifi is the right choice for you, and that is to conduct a home internet speed test.
How to conduct an internet speed test
If you’ve noticed that there are certain areas of your home where the wifi signal is weak or patchy, then you can conduct an internet speed test to check your internet’s signal strength.
Conducting an internet speed test is simple. You can run a speed test on your laptop, phone or tablet by following these simple steps:
- Connect to your wifi network: First, ensure that your device is connected to the wifi network you want to test.
- Choose a speed test service: Open your web browser and go to a reputable internet speed test website. Popular options include fast.com (by Netflix), or the Google Speed Test.
- Begin the test: On the speed test website, look for a button or link to start the test.
- Wait for the test to complete: The test will measure your download and upload speeds and may also check your ping (response time). It usually takes a few seconds to a minute to complete.
- Review your results: After the test is complete, it will display your download and upload speeds, usually in Mbps (megabits per second). A lower ping (measured in milliseconds) indicates a more responsive connection.
- Repeat if necessary: For accuracy, consider running the test multiple times at different times of the day. Internet speeds can fluctuate based on network congestion and other factors.
- Compare with your plan: Check the speeds against what your internet service provider promises in your plan. If there’s a significant discrepancy, it might be worth troubleshooting or contacting your provider. For example, MATE’s Fair Dinkum nbn plan offers you lightning-fast download speeds of up to 250Mbps. If your plan entitles you to these speeds, but your speed test results show a much lower number, then a mesh wifi system could help increase the signal and therefore the speed.
Setting up your mesh wifi system
Installing a mesh wifi system in your home is simpler than you might think. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you’re up and running in no time, enjoying seamless internet connectivity.
How to set up a mesh wifi system in 7 steps
- Choose the right location for your primary router: Start by placing your primary mesh router near your modem. Mesh router systems act as the gateway to your mesh network, so it’s essential to position it in a central location.
- Connect to the modem: Use an Ethernet cable to connect the mesh router to your modem. Power up the router and wait for it to boot up. This initial step establishes the foundation of your mesh wifi network.
- Install the mesh network app: Most mesh systems come with a dedicated app that guides you through the setup process. Download and install this app on your smartphone or tablet.
- Configure the network: Follow the app’s instructions to create your network. This will typically involve setting up a network name (SSID) and a secure password. The app will guide you through these steps, ensuring you have a secure, personalised wifi network.
- Add additional nodes: Once the primary mesh wifi router is set up, it’s time to distribute additional nodes around your home. The app will often suggest optimal locations for these nodes, ensuring your entire house gets strong wifi signal coverage.
- Sync the nodes: Power up the nodes and use the app to sync them with the primary router. This step extends your mesh wifi network, creating a seamless wireless network throughout your home.
- Test the network: Finally, walk around your home with a connected device to ensure there are no dead zones. The app may provide a signal strength indicator to help you identify and resolve any coverage issues.
Your questions about mesh wifi answered
While mesh wifi systems have been rapidly increasing in popularity over the years, you might still have a few questions or concerns you’d like answered. MATE is here to help.
Is mesh wifi complicated to set up?
Contrary to this belief, setting up a mesh wifi system is typically user-friendly. Most systems come with an intuitive app that guides you through the process, making it accessible even for those who are not tech-savvy.
Are mesh systems expensive?
While mesh wifi systems can be pricier than traditional routers, the value they offer in terms of coverage, speed, and reliability often justifies the cost. They can also be more cost-effective in the long run by eliminating the need for extenders and additional equipment. If you’re considering buying a mesh wifi system, shop around first to get an idea of prices and what kind of setup suits your lifestyle and budget.
Is mesh wifi only needed for larger homes?
While mesh networks are beneficial for large homes, they’re also effective in smaller spaces. For example, even if you have a small apartment or house, you might find that the placement of the router in relation to your home’s walls means that there are dead zones. A mesh wifi system can get rid of dead zones and provide consistent wifi signal strength, which is an advantage in any household.
Will a mesh network reduce my home internet speed?
Some believe that mesh systems slow down internet speed. In reality, these systems are designed to optimise connectivity, which often results in faster, more reliable internet access across your home.
Choose MATE for your home internet needs
MATE offers a range of nbn home internet plans, tailored to meet the diverse needs of Australian households. Our plans offer great value for money, whether you’re looking for a plan to suit a small household or need something that can easily handle multiple users at once.
MATE’s nbn home internet plans
Check out MATE’s wide range of nbn home internet plans and find the right one to suit your lifestyle.
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