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What Is a Mesh Router and Why Do You Need One?

Written by: Jefferson / October 15, 2021

A wireless router is your gateway to the internet. It allows you and your family to connect to smart devices and access the apps, services, and content you need.
However, not all routers have the same capabilities, especially when it comes to safety and security. As technology advances, the next generation of mesh routers is outpacing standard routers by significant margins.
The internet is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. You want a home Wi-Fi router that will keep your family safe while still providing the best internet connection available. 
Maybe you’ve heard of mesh routers, but you aren’t sure what they are or how they work. We’re here to explain all the features of mesh routers, how they differ from the routers of the past, and why you might want to consider switching to a mesh Wi-Fi system for your home.

What Is a Mesh Router?

Mesh routers feature unique components that set them apart from standard routers. And trust us—that’s a good thing.
Let’s begin by exploring the foundations of mesh routers and what makes them different from the standard routers you’ve relied on in the past.

Multiple Signals

The key feature of mesh routers is multiple radio transmissions that transmit from a single piece of hardware. This is significant for a few reasons.
Wireless internet is made possible by radio communications between a router and your devices like laptops and smartphones, and mesh routers include more radios for better results in terms of both internet speed and coverage.
With multiple radios working simultaneously, mesh routers can broadcast a greater number of signals across a designated area without dead spots. This allows the hardware to communicate with more devices and other nodes, satellite units, or access points on the network. 
This technology gives us a wide-ranging mesh topology across a larger area, whether it’s a large home, an office building, or even a larger property with several structures and open spaces between them.

Many Nodes, One Network

With more radios working at once, mesh routers can connect with satellite units in the area, amplifying the signal and allowing for more connections than otherwise possible.
Additionally, these nodes talk to other nodes in the network. This ensures that the same level of service and connection is maintained throughout the entire space, regardless of square feet. Communications are constant between nodes, devices, and the central hub—all on the same network.
In other words, nodes do not function as their own networks but rather as the same, singular high-speed Wi-Fi network you set up originally.
Therefore, the strength and speed of the Wi-Fi signal are equally powerful the further you get from the central router, so long as the nodes are configured in a mesh topology.
Connected devices can also seamlessly attach to that same network and maintain Wi-Fi access as you move from one area of a larger home or office to the next, with no downtime or need to switch between networks. This is achieved by intelligent routing systems that identify when and where to switch points of access and traffic patterns for specific devices.

Mesh Systems vs. Standard Routers, Wi-Fi Extenders, and Access Points

While mesh Wi-Fi systems sound similar to how a traditional router uses extenders, boosters, and access points, there are a few significant differences.
When a pack of range extenders and boosters are added to a standard router, it only serves to rebroadcast the signal, resulting in a loss of performance and speed. Your wireless signals immediately suffer when you go beyond the range of your Wi-Fi router and into the extender or booster’s territory. Furthermore, extenders and boosters cannot talk to one another, meaning they create a linear arrangement of connectivity rather than a mesh topology.
Access points are slightly better in terms of performance, as the signal retains its strength to a better degree than range extenders. The problem is that traditional access points require a connection to the central unit via ethernet cable, which defeats the purpose of an authentic Wi-Fi network. Many homes don't have enough ethernet ports to support widespread Wi-Fi coverage throughout the home.
In summary, the only way to achieve a strong, stable, and consistent wireless network throughout a large space is to use a mesh router and satellite units or nodes from the same manufacturer.

Benefits of Mesh Wi-Fi Systems

You’ve probably recognized some of the benefits of mesh routers, but let’s highlight them in clear terms. From full performance potential to simple setup, mesh networks simply can’t be beaten.

Full Performance Potential

We pay steep monthly prices for high-speed wireless internet access, and mesh hardware allows you to get the most value for your money no matter where you are in your home. You don't need speed tests to tell you when your Wi-Fi access is suffering. 
As we become more plugged in throughout our homes, we need our smart home devices and smart speakers to hear us wherever we wander. 
If your internet service allows for 500Mbps speeds, that’s exactly what you can expect when you connect a device to your mesh network, whether you’re standing right next to the main router or within range of a node on the other side of the house. You can’t say the same for standard modems.
You didn't pick those 5GHz bands or that dual-band technology for nothing. Just be sure to choose a mesh router that meets the requirements of your internet service provider to get the Wi-Fi performance you ordered.

Superior Coverage

The most common issue with standard routers is a lack of coverage in certain areas of the network, even if there isn’t a ton of square footage to cover.
Mesh Wi-Fi systems solve this problem by boosting range and improving the signal in areas secluded or blocked by obstacles. Whether concrete pillars or household appliances, a well-placed satellite unit will broadcast a powerful signal past these hard-to-penetrate barriers.
This means no more dead zones in your home or office and a reliable connection on any device.

Easy Setup and Management

Anyone who has dealt with Wi-Fi extenders, boosters, and access points knows that their configuration is not always intuitive. These networks can be a serious pain to install and manage.
Mesh routers fix this problem with a simple, stress-free setup process, whether you need a single router for your studio apartment or a massive network for a 5,000 sq ft home.
A mesh router and its satellite units are engineered for plug-and-play functionality, communicating with one another right out of the box and requiring minimal input as you add more nodes to the network.
The best mesh Wi-Fi systems are also modular, allowing you to add more satellite units on the fly or move them around to get the best performance. The network configures itself automatically, and you don’t need to fiddle with confusing settings or IP addresses.
Best of all, managing these networks is a breeze once they’re up and running. You can monitor devices and performance, track throughput, and ensure every aspect of your network operates at peak capacity.
No more guesswork, no more frustration—just Wi-Fi performance as it’s meant to be experienced.

Why Mesh Is the Future of Wi-Fi

Mesh routers are relatively new on the scene, but all signs point to this technology as the future of Wi-Fi for everyone due to the Internet of Things, Wi-Fi 6, and essential safety features for you and your family.

The Smart Home and Internet of Things

The average US household has at least 12 devices connected to the internet at a time, and that number will only rise as smart homes and the internet of things (IoT) take hold.
Soon enough, your network will have to manage appliances, security systems, and other essentials seamlessly and simultaneously. Luckily, mesh networks are designed to handle the demands of a smart home like more traffic, broader coverage demands, and other performance metrics.

Stepping Up to Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi protocols are updated every few years to raise standards of connectivity, performance, and security.
The latest leap forward is Wi-Fi 6, which has several distinct features specific to mesh network systems. Standard routers may be suitable for Wi-Fi 6, but mesh networks are the best choice to get the full range of benefits from this innovation.

Extra Features for Your Family

Mesh networks benefit from proprietary software features thanks to unified hardware systems. The top mesh routers include parental controls like content filtering, access scheduling, and browsing history monitoring.
Before mesh networks, these features had to be obtained through third-party apps. Digital parenting tools are made stronger on a network level, ensuring visibility and control over every device.
The best mesh routers also include internet security features like malware filtering and intrusion detection, which are essential for privacy and protection in today’s world.

Make the Upgrade to Mesh Wi-Fi

Flashback to less than a decade ago when mesh Wi-Fi was reserved for the world’s most high-tech networks. Consumer options were few and far between, made inaccessible to most by steep costs and complex implementation.
Since then, mesh networks have gone mainstream and are more accessible and affordable than ever, with the same options for customization like MU-MiMO, a 6 GHz band, or top-tier parental controls and security features. 
It’s time to make the leap to mesh routers and experience the best Wi-Fi connectivity of your life. Begin your search, and use this guide to find the right hardware for your network needs.
Mesh Wi-Fi Pros and Cons | Windows Central
Mesh Topology Network | Vittana
What is a Wireless Mesh Network? | Tech Target