When one router is not enough: how to improve home Wi-Fi using a mesh network

The emergence of Wi-Fi in each apartment has added not only the “Internet to every home”, but also problems. Number of networks

Wi-Fi grows: we watch television via the Internet, we have a lot of Wi-Fi-consuming devices in our home: laptops and tablets, TVs and smart speakers - vacuum cleaners and washing machines with air-conditioners, and those have already reached Wi-Fi. All this increases the load on the network, and, consequently, the requirements for the quality of coverage. This is especially critical in three cases: in panel houses (a lot of networks from all sides), large apartments (a router at one point, no longer “finishes” everywhere), and in private houses (two floors is already a problem for Wi-Fi). Tupit, freezes, lags, breaks - all these are signs of "bad Internet". Switching to Wi-Fi Mesh is a solution to the problem of slow internet with little blood. To switch or not to switch is no longer a question. Revision gg knows “what to do to make the Internet work well”: we have studied the pros and cons of Wi-Fi Mesh and conventional Wi-Fi, and are ready to relieve you of any doubts about this technology.

What is a mesh network

Let's talk in a few words about mesh networks in general (they are also called “mesh networks”, meshnet), what it is - and then let's move on to the actual Wi-Fi mesh.

Simply put, meshnet is such a waybuilding a network when data packets between network nodes (mesh nodes) are propagated in any available way until they reach the destination. Nodes in such a network are equal, connected to each other directly, or through a “neighbor”, from node to node. Mesh networks are self-organizing and self-tuning. With this method of connection, even if one of the network nodes stops working for some reason, the information reaches the addressee, because there is more than one path for its passage. Imagine a sieve - strands intertwined in space. This is the mesh network.

This network topology first started usingmilitary. And in the early 90s of the last century, there were already the first tentative attempts to create wireless mesh networks for “civilian” purposes. Mesh network topology is used in power engineering, satellite communications, to establish communications in the corporate sector and at public events. But now we are interested specifically in Wi-Fi Mesh. What is it?

What is Wi-Fi Mesh

Wi-Fi Mesh is a kind of wireless mesh network.(also a form of wireless ad hoc network) built on the 802.11 standard. One Wi-Fi Mesh router works just like a regular Wi-Fi router you are used to. Technological "magic" begins when at least one more mesh node appears on the network.

The scheme of work Wi-Fi Mesh of three nodes in the house in several floors. TP-Link illustration

For your smartphone, tablet, laptop suchWi-Fi looks like one "monolithic" network. Switching between nodes of a single Wi-Fi Mesh system “seamlessly”, almost instantly, without interrupting data transfer - at this moment video chat on skype or vibeer is not interrupted, unlike the “router + repeater” setup. It looks like a modern mobile connection - you do not think about whether your smartphone switched to another cell when you are talking on the go or watching a video from Youtube sitting on a train.

Deco Mesh Wi-Fi and regular Wi-Fi. TP-Link illustration, annotations gg

The number of nodes in the home mesh network can beincrease to dozens, in contrast to the bundle of a conventional router and repeater. In the mesh systems, there is no problem of dropping the data transfer rate by half with each subsequent connection. Each mesh node is a router, they are equivalent, and you can increase the number of nodes without affecting the speed of access to the network. Do you need Wi-Fi Mesh, is it better than “normal” Wi-Fi without “Mesh” - let's see.

What affects the quality of Wi-Fi and what are the advantages of using Wi-Fi Mesh at home

You are familiar with the situation when the connection to your home wifi is unstable, intermittent. There are several reasons for this, consider them briefly:

  1. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled devicesthe same frequency range in the range of your router or access point - for example, in the 2.4 GHz band, a large number of wireless devices work: from routers, radio, Bluettoth mice and keyboards, Bluetooth headsets and speakers, to smart home appliances (for example, TVs or refrigerators with Wi-Fi).
  2. Barriers between the signal source and the client and the distance between them. The radio signal weakens when passing through walls, furniture, mirrors, people, even air.
  3. Signal strength no longer means better. For example, in an apartment building, the powerful radiation of a router will lead to interference with reflected signals and interfere with the signal of a neighbor's router. And each neighbor has its own powerful router. As a result, there is a lot of interference, which affects the stability of the signal and the speed of data transmission.
  4. The quality of the equipment and its setting. In some cases, only one smartphone, working under the old protocol, can reduce the speed of data transmission throughout the network.

Modern Wi-Fi Mesh to varying degrees solve all these problems.

Common reasons for slow Wi-Fi and solving these problems

Source of the problem
Wi-Fi Solution
Wi-Fi Mesh Solution

Impact of other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices
Selection of a free channel in the settings of the router, the transition to the mesh “noisy” range

In addition to choosing the least noisy channel, Wi-FiMesh-system allows the client device to connect to the nearest mesh-node with a more powerful signal. If the problem is not solved, you can add another node, or change the placement of existing

Barriers and distance between signal source and client

Choosing the optimal location for the router, installing repeaters at the cost of reducing access speed, moving closer to the router

Adding a node to a mesh network, or optimal placement of existing ones

Signal strength too high

Reducing the transmission power of the radio signal in the settings of the router, or physically (increase the distance, unscrew the antenna, etc.)

Self-tuning system. The client device automatically connects to the nearest mesh node, with the best signal level.

As you can see, Wi-Fi Mesh has all the advantages.conventional Wi-Fi, but almost spared its disadvantages: both physical limitations and configuration problems. The disadvantage of any mesh-system is one: it costs more than a regular router (after all, you immediately get several regular routers in one box). But there are exceptions here: TP-Link Deco M4, which is reviewed on gg, and TP-Link Deco M5 (review), sold in a setfrom two routers, and separately. For example, one Deco M4R functions as a normal router, or an access point. But you only need to connect one more (if you buy it later), as your usual WiFi turns into Wi-Fi Mesh.

In addition, Wi-Fi Mesh varietymanufacturers look very stylish. This is not a fad, and it is important not only for aesthetic reasons. Placing the router at the power line, in the corner, or against the wall itself, in the far corner of the apartment and other attempts to hide an ugly “horned” device, affects the quality of signal transmission. Beautiful node Wi-Fi Mesh does not spoil, but complements the interior. It can be not hidden and placed in a more advantageous place, from the point of view of the network design, to safely show off.

This material was created with the support of TP-Link, a network equipment manufacturer.

TP-Link Deco P7: mesh-system with Powerline support for large houses and apartments (read the review).

TP-Link Deco P7

AC1300 + AV600 Home Hybrid Mesh Wi-Fi System

TP-Link Deco P7 - mesh-enabled systemPowerline technology. Thanks to Powerline and wireless connectivity, the Deco modules work as one unit, providing high-speed Wi-Fi and seamless roaming. Sold in a set of two or three modules from which you can build a new one, or expand an existing mesh network.

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TP-Link Deco M5: compact scalable mesh system (read the review).

TP-Link Deco M5

AC1300 Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

Wi-Fi Mesh Deco M5 modules provide stablenetwork operation and seamless roaming for client devices. The system is sold in a set of one, two, or three modules, any of which will become part of the existing one, or the basis for a new mesh network. From Deco P7 differs lack of support for technology Powerline.

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TP-Link Deco M4: entry-level mesh system (read review).

TP-Link Deco M4

AC1200 Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

Wi-Fi Mesh Deco M4 can work asrouter, access point or Wi-Fi signal amplifier. Sold in a set of one, two or three modules, from which you can build a new one, or expand an existing mesh network.

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Your first Wi-Fi Mesh