What is mesh networking and how can it improve home Wi-Fi? “One of the benefits of mesh networking is that you can always add on. That kind of fiexibility from a hardware perspective is definitely something to think about as well.”
Justin Doucette, Senior Director, Product Management, Linksys Consumer
What is mesh networking?
Mesh networking is essentially a wireless distributed system. It gives you the ability to have multiple access points in your home, and each of these access points provides additional Wi-Fi coverage, but it feels like one network. You have one SSID, one password, and seamless roaming. You don’t have to add multiple network names for the 2.4GHz or 5GHz network.
How does mesh networking different from traditional range extenders?
There are a lot of challenges to range extension and the biggest one is performance. When you add a range extender to your network, you’re actually reducing your bandwidth by 50% because the range extender has to talk back to your network. Linksys Velop, our whole home Wi-Fi mesh networking system, is a tri-band solution so it has three radios, one of the radios is dedicated for backhaul and the other two radios are available for client communication.
The other challenge with range extension is that for most of them you have to setup a different network name. And then as you move to your router network to your range extender network, you have to switch manually from one to the other. With mesh networking, and particularly Velop, you have one network name with seamless roaming and band-steering so you move freely through your home without ever having to change network.
What’s the most exciting development in wireless networking right now?
After 802.11ac, the next major protocol is 802.11ax. That’s coming in 2018, so we are working very closely with our technology suppliers and we’re excited to see how the market will evolve. 802.11ax is an extremely robust platform and it provides great capacity management for dense environments, it provides faster speeds, which is great, and also by leveraging 10MHz and 5MHz channels, it provides better range than 802.11ac as well.
What advice will you give to readers that are looking to purchase a new router right now?
Think about the future. A lot of people think about what they have in their homes today or what they are doing today. If you’re planning on buying more devices in the future or if you have a couple of small kids at home, in a couple of years those kids are going to be consuming the Internet as well. There are some pretty good technologies out there to future-proof. One of the benefits of mesh networking is that you can always add on. That kind of flexibility from a hardware perspective is definitely something to think about as well.