What is Mesh Wi-Fi?

Trouble With Coverage?

Let me start off by saying my mom has the worst Wi-Fi. I’m not going to call out her provider, but it’s awful. There are dead spots and it’s incredibly slow. Even after paying for higher bandwidth, she barely gets coverage. Her Wi-Fi devices (like the Fire Stick and Alexa) have to be placed strategically around the house to work.

The technician who came to set up my Wi-Fi told me that the standard equipment the companies send is usually pretty cheap. He mentioned I should get a mesh system for my place. For the most part, the router I have in my home works just fine. But my mom lives in a big house in a small town. She’s the perfect candidate for a mesh system.

What About Wi-Fi Extenders

You may have heard of Wi-Fi extenders. They’re little units that communicate with your router to extend your signal across your house. These aren’t perfect though.

A Wi-Fi extender boosts your signal from your modem. While it works, it has downsides. First, it only communicates with your router. Because it uses your signal to connect with the device AND the router, it slows down speeds. Second, it’s creating multiple networks that you have to manually navigate through.

Another downside is the management. You’ll have to dig into your router’s admin center to configure settings. That can be frustrating for the less tech savvy.

Talk To Me About Mesh Wi-Fi

Gladly. In my opinion, mesh Wi-Fi seems to be a cleaner solution. While the network extenders are boosting your signal, the mesh systems are actually creating new ones. Unlike the extenders, mesh communicates both with each mesh device and your internet connected devices. This means faster Wi-Fi speeds. It also means your devices can seamlessly move between the networks created by the mesh system without you having to manually change them.

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Mesh systems are fairly easy to set up as well. So if you aren’t tech savvy, you should still be able to follow the instructions to do setup without a technician. And management is done through an app rather than your router’s network settings.

In fact, mesh systems replace your router entirely. You can still plug them in via ethernet if you absolutely must (or have a management aspect you like through your router.) But they make your router unnecessary.

The Downside

They aren’t perfect (what is?) Most mesh systems have less control, like guest login and parental controls. If you’re the kind of person who likes to customize your network, this may not be for you. Additionally, they’re fairly expensive.

A new mesh system could cost you upwards of $500 while additional devices for the system could be around $200 a piece. So if you’re wondering why the mesh revolution hasn’t started, this is probably why.

Should I Do It

Overall though, if you struggle with dead spots in your home like my mom does, this could be the answer for you. The benefits outweigh the downsides. Maybe a mesh system is your present to yourself this year. After all, in a year we’ve all mostly spent inside our houses, don’t we deserve strong and reliable Wi-Fi?

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13 thoughts on “What is Mesh Wi-Fi?

  1. I HAVE ONE TV AND A NEW WIFI, LINKSYS MAX. I GET INTERNET FRON SPECTRAM. THEIR HIGHEST PRICE. I HAVE TROUBLE GETING ESPN. IT JUMPS AND FREEZES SOMTIMES. THE WIFI IS 40 FT FROM THE TV NO WALLS. MOST OTHER STREEMING IS OK, WHAT CAN I DO YO GET BETTER RECEPTION O?

  2. The most blatant concern about extenders and mesh is that they expand your blanket of coverage out to more people who may try to hack into it.

  3. Jim…. You will get your internet from your cable modem… here is what I had mentioned to someone else… hope this helps… You would turn off your “Wi-Fi capability from your existing cable modem. Then you would go from your cable modem directly to the primary eero unit, then from the primary eero, you would go to a network switch… I use a Netgear switch… then from the Network switch, you would run a CAT 5 to the other eero’s. This way, each is its own ‘router’ which will give you coverage for a specific area of your home.

  4. Mark: There are some good mesh units available in the market. Two of the top mesh systems available are eero and Nest mesh units. I have used eero since they began and could NOT be happier. Their units are easy to install and seldom, if ever, require anything from you once installed. They take care of updating themselves, they offer wonderful security features, etc. eero’s security features are great, and they have an add-on plan you can purchase for $99 per year that offers additional security, add blocking, password protection, etc.

    One thing you should know is both of these companies also offer “extenders”… and as PC Matic has stated, there are downsides of these. Personally, I have 4 eero main units, all connected to the primary eero with CAT5 cabling. (Actually here is how it is wired… you would go from your cable modem directly to the primary eero unit, then from the primary eero, you would go to a network switch… I use a Netgear switch… then from the Network switch, you would run a CAT 5 to the other eero’s. This way, each is its own ‘router’ which will give you coverage for a specific area of your home.) Most houses will only need 1-2 eeros… a bigger home, say multi level, may need additional eeros for coverage of those areas. If you CANT run CAT5 to the eeros, you can use them wirelessly to communicate back to the main eero… but that sort of defeats the overall idea. Hope this helps… and either of these ‘brands’ will do you proud…. I have had my eeros for around 5+ years and they have been flawless.

  5. It does not specify if the mesh is only 5G. If you have any iot devices be aware that most of these are ONLY 2.4G compatible

  6. Not sure what you mean that they make the router unnecessary. Where does the mesh get the internet connection if not from the router? The router can still provide wifi in its own area and the mesh elsewhere in the house.

  7. I have the Orbi mesh system. It does have a guest login. However, my house has interior brick walls and I have trouble getting a good signal to my satellite.

  8. Good tip. Mesh WiFi is an excellent solution to improve your WiFi signal in larger homes. I’ve been using it for over a year now with two ASUS AC-68R routers. These routers are relatively inexpensive. They have a great utility to set up and control the mesh network and have great features like scheduled reboot. In order to “temporarily” save me from running an Ethernet cable, I set my system up to use one of the 5GHz channels between the routers. I probably sacrificed a little speed but it allowed me to get it up and running quickly. Switching from one router to another is completely transparent to the user and extends reliable coverage into my garages, patio and driveway which were once totally dead zones.

  9. Agreed. Same scenario in our home. Large house, lots of walls, small town. Replaced multiple router setup with Google mesh (gift two years ago) and it is better. Cable modem service increased to 100 mbs – still occasional slow spots. Even had to buy a 5th puck for the garage to get coverage for an alarm system camera (Ethernet connected camera plugs into wall power and the fifth puck. We are on the fringe of T-mobile service area so without mesh, phones would not work in our home. Mesh is definitely the answer

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