Everyone—and we mean everyone—is constantly connected to the web via smartphone, tablet, wearable technology, or a standard machine like a desktop or laptop. We’re also seeing smart home devices make their way to the mainstream, from the garage to the backyard to the kitchen to your entire home and everywhere in between. This is due to the easy setup and the large number of connected devices people have.
But as we push our networks to the limit with more devices and bandwidth-heavy applications (think streaming, gaming, and more), we need to consider the tech that works overtime to bring us the services we want and need.
This is where mesh WiFi technology comes into play, delivering a huge array of improvements on the standard wireless networks we’ve come to appreciate over the past couple of decades.
Mesh WiFi routers are a step forward for wireless in nearly every sense of the word, and when done right, can be set up in an affordable, hassle-free way. No more dead zones or WiFi that’s unavailable through concrete and brick.
If you’re brand new to the idea of mesh WiFi or you just need to brush up on your knowledge, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll hit all the key points and give you some advice for finding the best network tech for your needs. Let’s begin.
What Is Mesh WiFi?
To understand the true definition of a mesh WiFi system, we need to look back at how traditional WiFi networks operate.
The typical standard WiFi network is set up with a single hub—the router—to which all devices must connect with an SSID and password and communicate. This hub handles 100% of the traffic coming and going, which can lead to poor performance when many devices are in use at once. When too many devices are being used, your Wi-Fi signal may not be strong, which leads many people to call their internet service provider in frustration.
Mesh WiFi networks improve on this foundation by introducing new nodes to the network, each one acting as an individual hub that expands and accelerates internet access throughout a given area. These nodes are equal in terms of coverage and capability, supercharging your network without compromising on speed, access, or reliability.
In other words, a mesh Wi-Fi system is like having several equally high-powered routers spread throughout an area without having to deal with tangled ethernet cables, confusing plugs, or complicated administrative setups.
Sound too good to be true? Absolutely not! Mesh WiFi is officially here, and it’s changing the way we think about networking in the home, at the office, and beyond.
Now that everyone is buzzing about the wonders of mesh networks, you may wonder how this technology came about in the first place.
Like so many leaps in radio and network tech, it was the military that first pioneered the idea of the mesh network in the 1980s.
More than a decade later, mesh network hardware was made available in consumer markets, but at high prices and steep learning curves.
These were not systems that your typical mom or dad could set up in the home without an advanced degree in network engineering! Besides, prices were prohibitive due to the complexity and cost of hardware in early iterations. Sometimes there were even separate networks for different areas of the home.
It was around the mid-2000s that WiFi began to really take off, and the capabilities of traditional networks started to show their limitations.
For instance, a large family with many devices struggles to connect to a central hub when located at distant corners of the home, or a large multi-level office space could not ensure connectivity for colleagues wherever they happened to be.
Luckily, due to a high level of demand from everyday consumers and large organizations, mesh networks were fast-tracked and streamlined for widespread access in the following years.
By 2015, mesh networks were the norm, and even more innovations have been made since then.
Mesh Network vs. Extenders and Boosters
How does a mesh network differ from WiFi extenders and boosters, you may ask? These technologies have been around for a while, and they appear to accomplish a similar goal—expanding the range of connectivity in a home or office environment.
The difference is in the level of connectivity and the overall quality of that connection as the network expands its reach throughout an area.
Network extenders live up to their name in terms of increasing the range of coverage, but the strength of the signal suffers the further they get away from the source. That’s because network extenders merely rebroadcast the network signal instead of amplifying it.
On top of that, users must manually switch points of access on their devices to ensure they have the right connection; very annoying! It’s like having multiple networks to deal with rather than one, big network you can rely on. Add compatibility issues between extenders, routers, and devices, and you’re setting yourself up for confusion with extenders.
Besides, the typical WiFi extender will only deliver a fraction of the speed and reliability that you’d expect from your main access point—the router. The more extenders you add, the weaker the signal gets. With multiple extenders connected, you may only squeeze out 25% of your internet speed; is that even worth the effort? Wi-Fi routers should give you fast and reliable internet access.
With all that in mind, most extenders are no longer a relevant piece of technology, and there has been a major migration away from this hardware, towards mesh.
We know that a WiFi extender is better than nothing—you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, after all. But now that mesh WiFi is readily available and affordable, there’s no reason to turn back the clock and use inferior technology.
When mesh WiFi was first introduced to the public, it was far from perfect.
As we mentioned, prices were still high, and users had to have a certain level of knowledge to set up their networks effectively. Costly and complicated are two words you don’t want to describe your home network – that’s for sure.
However, innovation has led network technology out of the dark ages and into the light. Today’s mesh network hardware is improved in all the key areas you’d expect:
-Easier to set up
-Faster, more stable connections
-Better features and controls
-Ideal for multiple devices
By every metric, mesh WiFi networks are an upgrade from the old-fashioned network extenders you may have dealt with in the past. As we keep exploring the details and advantages of this technology, consider how you may benefit from a network overhaul for yourself!
Is Mesh WiFi Right for You?
We’ve got plenty of good things to say about mesh WiFi, but no two people are in the same situation when it comes to their specific network needs.
That’s why you’ve always got to take a tailored approach when navigating network options and weigh the pros and cons of each one before making major changes or investing money.
To make things easy, let’s break things down into three key “buckets” that you can use to ask the right questions, get the right answers, and come to a smart conclusion about whether mesh WiFi is your best bet moving forward.
These are the main, most important questions that you should be asking about your current network setup—how well does the network run, and is that level of performance upheld across the entire network?
Traditional networks may deliver high speeds on the same floor as the central hub, but when you switch floors, get out of range, or find yourself in a room with many other electronic devices, that signal may not be so strong.
This is the key advantage of a mesh network—boosting performance in every part of the home or workspace without ever having to worry about connection holding up.
The main elements of performance are speed and reliability, but you should also consider the number of devices that you will be connecting to the network, and how frequently they’re used.
If your home is filled with family members working online, doing homework on tablets, gaming on consoles, and chatting on phones, a mesh network will be up to the task.
The convenience factor cannot be understated when talking about the advantages of a mesh network.
For starters, setup is a total breeze, and there are zero technical skills required to get things up and running. In most cases, you can create a flawless network in less than 10 minutes.
Another huge advantage comes in terms of ongoing configuration and adjustment. Adding new nodes, moving around furniture, and changing the setup of your space in general— there’s no issue when dealing with the network.
The same goes for adding and removing new devices from the network. Whether it’s a phone, laptop, tablet, or anything else, you only have to deal with one unified network that automatically connects your device to the nearest, most convenient point of access.
Simply put, mesh networks make things astonishingly easy for your and your family, even as things evolve, expand, and become more connected in the future.
You may think that you trade off control for convenience with mesh networks, but this isn’t the case. The top mesh networks put 100% of the control in your hands, without the long instruction manuals and hard-to-follow online tutorials.
What do we mean by control? We mean the structure of the network, transparency into speed and stability, security and safety, plus the ability for parents to monitor and manage access for kids on the network.
You’ve got to think beyond performance and convenience if you want to navigate the next generation of the internet, especially if you’ve got young kids who are increasingly tech-savvy!
Best Mesh WiFi System Features
Not all mesh WiFi systems have the same features and capabilities. Let’s go through a five-point checklist you should keep on hand when browsing for your next upgrade.
1. Simple Setup
The goal is to get you and your family up and running online without wasting time or getting an IT-induced headache. Your mesh WiFi system should be easy to set up and require minimal maintenance— that means auto-updates for firmware and configuration changes.
2. Superior Connectivity
It’s worth repeating: speed and stability are the main metrics of success for a WiFi network, and that’s what you should expect from your system. If you’re getting choppy signals or deal with frequent crashes, that’s an issue that needs fixing.
3. Security and Protection
Cyber security is more important than ever before, and it must be addressed at a router level. You should be able to rely on your mesh WiFi system to keep all of your devices secure without having to waste money on endless extras.
4. Full Parental Controls
Want to know what your kids are browsing online? How about the ability to stop a Fortnite session when it’s time for bed? The best mesh WiFi systems put the power in the hands of the parent, where it belongs.
5. Ready for WiFi 6
WiFi 6 is here, and you should be ready! It’s not necessarily about getting the max amount of speed for a particular device, but rather handling more devices on a network at one time, without compromising performance. Make sure your next system is WiFi 6-compatible.
Get Started With Mesh WiFi Today
If mesh WiFi sounds like a worthy investment for you and your family, check out the full line of Gryphon Connect products and make the upgrade you’ve been waiting for.
This is affordable, reliable hardware with proprietary systems for managing and controlling your network better than ever. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about performance, security, or updates. Browse your options and enjoy a mesh network overhaul sooner than later.
What is Wi-Fi? | Digital Trends
Wireless Mesh Networks | PC World
Mesh Network Pros and Cons | GetInternet