Wi-Fi Mesh System
A mesh Wi-Fi system is when two or more Wi-Fi routers work together to provide a wider Wi-Fi coverage than a single router can; this gives users a single Wi-Fi network even though in the background every device automatically connects and disconnects from the individual routers to find the best coverage for the particular device.
If you’re wondering whether a mesh Wi-Fi system can replace an existing router’s Wi-Fi the answer is no. In fact, you’ll have to attach one of the devices from a mesh Wi-Fi unit to a spare network port on the router and it will create a new Wi-Fi network, to which your devices will then connect; covering a much larger distance than a standalone router would and effectively coating your building with a Wi-Fi blanket.
Wi-Fi systems are multi-band networking devices that operate on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands and use 802.11ac wireless technology. Some models offer support for Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology, which streams data to multiple compatible wireless clients simultaneously rather than sequentially. Most Wi-Fi systems use band steering to automatically select the least-crowded radio band for the best performance and offer easy-to-use parental controls, guest networking, and device prioritization options.
While designed for ease of use, they usually let you configure port forwarding and wireless security settings but lack the advanced networking management options such as individual band control, firewall settings, and wireless transmission rate settings that you get with a traditional router. Nor can you use third-party WRT firmware to customize the system for enhanced performance and network monitoring.
Wireless mesh networks advantages include:
- Using fewer wires means it costs less to set up a network, particularly for large areas of coverage.
- The more nodes you install, the bigger and faster your wireless network becomes.
- They rely on the same WiFi standards (802.11a, b and g) already in place for most wireless networks.
- They are convenient where Ethernet wall connections are lacking — for instance, in outdoor concert venues, warehouses or transportation settings.
- They are useful for Non-Line-of-Sight (NLoS) network configurations where wireless signals are intermittently blocked. For example, in an
- amusement park a Ferris wheel occasionally blocks the signal from a wireless access point. If there are dozens or hundreds of other nodes around, the mesh network will adjust to find a clear signal.
- Mesh networks are “self configuring;” the network automatically incorporates a new node into the existing structure without needing any adjustments by a network administrator.
- Mesh networks are “self healing,” since the network automatically finds the fastest and most reliable paths to send data, even if nodes are blocked or lose their signal.
- Wireless mesh configurations allow local networks to run faster, because local packets don’t have to travel back to a central server.
- Wireless mesh nodes are easy to install and uninstall, making the network extremely adaptable and expandable as more or less coverage is needed.