Mesh Wi-Fi Explained
The world of Wi-Fi is ever changing and it’s easy to get confused by all the new types of networking, security features, and Wi-Fi protocols. A term you might have seen around is mesh Wi-Fi or a mesh network. Since they are in the mesh Wi-Fi game with the Deco product series, TP-link thought it would be good to take a little time to help clarify what it is and if it is right for you.
What is Mesh Wi-Fi
Mesh Wi-Fi is a way of networking to extend your Wi-Fi coverage all over your home under one Wi-Fi name. One of the big benefits is that they are easy to set up and use and can cover your whole home—without leaving any dead zones. A mesh network consists of two or more nodes (router-like devices), and works similarly to a router with range extenders. However, due to being under a single network name, rather than each device being a separate network like range extenders, they are much easier to manage. Making things easier still, is that most mesh networks will automatically reconnect you to whichever unit is offering the strongest, fastest signal. Further, they can be controlled via an app and any changes you make to the settings of one node will be automatically applied to the entire network. A final useful feature is that if a node goes down for some reason, the remaining ones will automatically readjust the way they transmit to make sure there aren’t any holes in your Wi-Fi coverage.
How Does it Differ From an Access Point or a Range Extender?
The simple explanation would be that Access Points are connected with Ethernet cables, whereas a mesh network and Range Extenders are wireless. An Access Point has many benefits over a wireless extension, mainly that the data transmission is more stable and you don’t have to worry about loss in signal strength the further you get away from the Wi-Fi gateway, which is why TP-Link includes an AP Mode function on many of Range Extenders. However, unless your home is really huge or you have a large number of devices connecting to your network, the benefits of using an Access Point are negligible (besides which, it’s not generally convenient to run an Ethernet cable all over your home).
So then what’s the difference between a mesh network and Range Extenders? Well, we mentioned a few of the differences when we were introducing what Mesh Wi-Fi was—like that mesh Wi-Fi works with a single network name, is easier to set up and manage, automatically redirects you, and will fill in any coverage gaps. But there are still a few other things that set the two apart. While Range Extenders boost the signal of your router, a mesh network provides an entire networking ecosystem—separate from your current router’s Wi-Fi. Moreover, mesh network units can communicate with one another in any sequence. Typically, range extenders are only capable of communicating with the main router. If you set up multiple extenders, they aren’t really capable of negotiating with each other to provide coverage. In contrast, mesh Wi-Fi units can work together to deliver optimal coverage for your numerous devices.
Do You Need Mesh Wi-Fi?
Generally mesh systems are more expensive, so you may not want to invest in one unless it’s really gonna solve a lot of problems for you. Most traditional routers won’t provide enough coverage for large houses with multiple floors. Additionally, walls can block wireless signals. So, if you’re living in a big house and are having trouble with dropped signals then a mesh network is definitely worth considering. You might also want to take a look if you are interested in smart-home features, as mesh networks really shine when you’re connecting numerous devices in different locations. Furthermore, some units, like Deco M9 Plus, have smart hub functions that let you manage all of your connected smart devices from the same app—even if they’re made by different brands.
Mesh networks also tend to include some added features that make them further worth considering. For example, all of TP-Link Deco units include parental controls that allow you to create user profiles that you can use to limit time spent online and block content. Deco M5 and Deco M9 Plus also come equipped with HomeCareTM which includes antivirus updated by TrendMicroTM, so you don’t have to worry about network security, and a QoS (Quality of Service) function, which allows you to prioritise data to specific devices.
TP-Link Deco P7 AC1300+ AV600 Whole Home Hybrid Mesh Wi-Fi System
• TP-Link Mesh Technology
• Wi-Fi + Powerline Hybrid Bandwidth
• Works Through Walls
TP-Link DECO M4 AC1200 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System (3 Pack)
• No More Buffering
• TP-Link Mesh Technology
• Parental Controls
• Three Modes in One
TP-Link Deco M5 Whole-Home Wi-Fi (3-pack)
• Whole-Home Wi-Fi. Whole-Home security
• Run your devices at your speed
• Easy to set up with guided visuals from the Deco app;
* Prices correct at time of posting.