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what is mesh wifi

What is Mesh WiFi and How Does it Work?

Anna-Marie Brittain
Reading time: 8 minutes
Attempting to download, stream, or play a game can be difficult when dealing with a weakened WiFi signal. Spotty internet can also make it harder to get work done.
The whole point of a wireless network is to keep your digital devices connected no matter what part of the house you’re in. After all, no one likes walking around the house holding their tablets or laptops out just to find the strongest internet signal.
Ever heard of a seamless WiFi network? Want more overall coverage? If you notice your wireless internet is spotty or non-existent in some parts of your home or business, it might be time to consider a whole-home mesh WiFi system.

What is mesh WiFi?

Have you ever experienced dropped WiFi signals, lagging, or complete dead zones in certain areas of your home or business? Even when you think you have the strongest WiFi service in the area, the larger the space, the more likely you will experience dead zones. What is the best way to extend broadband services? Using a mesh WiFi system will extend the internet range, keeping you connected whether you are gardening in the backyard or busy in your workshop.
What is a mesh WiFi system? A mesh WiFi system can connect multiple WiFi access points in your home. Once linked, the network coverage expands. It is the answer to eliminating dead zones in your home or workspace.
What is a mesh WiFi network? Where the mesh WiFi system includes multiple routers, a mesh WiFi network refers to your internet network, specifically the singular network that gets extended.

How does mesh WiFi work?

hand plugging in ethernet cord
The average WiFi coverage for a traditional router ranges between 150 to 300 feet. The range decreases when indoors. The signal weakens when there are barriers between the digital devices and the network source, i.e. the router. If the router is installed outdoors, the range extends because there aren’t any signal barriers. However, even an outdoor WiFi router has a limited range. That is where a mesh router comes in. But, what is a mesh router?
A mesh router is one of several internet routers that work to rebroadcast your main internet network. With a mesh WiFi router, the internet coverage expands. Stay connected even when you’re in your basement, garage, attic, backyard, or driveway.
A mesh network will help boost your internet signal by linking multiple access points, or ''nodes,'' together. One access point acts as your internet router, otherwise known as the base station or base node. The base node connects to your internet modem. The remaining nodes act as satellites. They receive internet access from the base mesh WiFi router and rebroadcast that signal to other nodes, thus extending the range of your wireless internet network.

Mesh WiFi vs a router

A standard WiFi router provides a single access point for wireless internet. This traditional WiFi router is used in most homes. Although there is nothing wrong with these routers, that centralized broadcasting point can only reach so far. The signal is somewhat limited depending on the size of the space. Living in a multi-level home or working in a large building creates limitations for the internet signal.
The farther you are from the network access point, the harder it will be to stay connected. The multiple barriers between you and the regular WiFi router weaken the signal strength as well. WiFi range extenders are often recommended for users experiencing signal strength issues. Also referred to as WiFi boosters, WiFi repeaters, or internet signal boosters, these extenders can stretch your wireless network to ranges of 75 to 100 feet or more. However, some of the best WiFi range extenders may require that you create a separate network. That means you would have to manually connect to this separate network each time you are within range of the extender.
A mesh WiFi router works to expand your internet range without requiring you to create a separate network. There’s no need for manual reconnections with a mesh system, even if you move from one end of the house to the other or from the bottom floor to the top. You will remain linked to your home network no matter what room, closet, or hallway you’re in.
Don’t want to swap out your standalone router? Don’t worry, they can be set up as the base station for a mesh networked system. As long as it’s compatible you will not have to replace your current internet equipment. In the long run, the most convenient and money-saving option to tackle and prevent internet dead zones is investing in a mesh WiFi internet setup.

Pros and cons of mesh WiFi

family on internet devices
As with any new piece of equipment or new network setup, exploring all the factors of it is necessary before making your final decision. For example, do the benefits outweigh the cost? How bad are the drawbacks? Can your wireless printer connect to your mesh WiFi network? Is the internet speed from a mesh router system sufficient for your hours of runtime on your high-end gaming laptop?

What are the benefits of mesh WiFi?

One of the primary benefits of a mesh WiFi system is eliminating dead zones. Even when multiple devices are joined to the same network, you can count on a reliable connection with a strong signal. No more standing in a certain part of the room just to get the most WiFi bars on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Simply set up the mesh router system and boost your WiFi signal.
The streamlined WiFi connection means you won’t have to deal with lag times, whether you’re stationary or on the move. Go from the living room to the opposite end of the house or from the attic to the cellar without experiencing a signal delay or unstable network connection. Jumping from one networked node to the next won’t cause interruption either thanks to the mesh routers broadcasting the same network signal.
If you have a reliable internet service provider, you can keep their service and any modem or router they installed. If that WiFi equipment is compatible with the mesh router system you save money by avoiding new equipment costs. Keeping your current networked equipment can also make ordering future mesh WiFi nodes easier because you already know which router manufacturer to use.
Finally, the most beneficial thing about having a mesh WiFi setup is user-friendly network management. Most mesh networks have easy access by using the mobile app. Use the app to check on internet speeds, add guest networks, test connection quality between nodes, and more.

Is there a downside to mesh WiFi?

The only pitfall of a mesh WiFi system is the cost. When it comes to internet coverage tools, like range extenders, price usually isn’t a concern. A mesh router system, on the other hand, can cost much more than the plug-in extender options. The argument can be made, however, that the long-term utility investment goals make this type of mesh installation worth it.
In many cases, you may be able to keep the internet equipment you have, but, even a dual-router mesh system might be unnecessary for your home. Expanding your WiFi signal to all parts of your home or building will likely result in adding more equipment. The days of using discreet router placement might be over.
If you’re worried about your network security, a mesh WiFi system should ease those fears. Most mesh WiFi routers are designed to automatically update firmware, protecting your data, usage, and connectivity.

Where to get mesh WiFi from HP

If you aren’t sure where to look for mesh WiFi, here are the best mesh router systems to get you started. These wireless routers and access points will help expand your internet range.

Aruba Instant On AP 22

Aruba Instant On AP22
Aruba Instant On AP22 is the first WiFi 6 access point developed to deliver faster WiFi speeds with greater performance and capacity. It includes access to a convenient Aruba Instant On App. The app allows the user to remote device management to control bandwidth usage, prevent unknown device connections, check internet speeds, and so much more.

Aruba Instant On AP 11D

Aruba Instant On AP11D
A whole-home mesh router system that is perfect for small offices is the Aruba Instant On AP11D. It’s easy to install and provides reliable, secure connectivity throughout your boutique, business spaces, or home. It features a wireless transmission speed of 1.14 Gbit/s. Keep your desktop clutter free by using the convenient wall mount design.

Aruba Instant On AP 15

Aruba Instant On AP15
For another user-friendly wireless access point, check out the Aruba Instant On AP15. It’s a simple-to-manage mesh WiFi system that helps maintain a strong wireless network signal. Staying connected, especially while working can play a crucial part in productivity. If you feel it’s time to upgrade your devices so your broadband network connection remains strong, the Aruba Instant On AP15 can help. It features a wireless transmission speed of 1.99 Gbit/s and includes a wall and ceiling mount.

Do I need a mesh router?

Factors that contribute to a weakened internet signal include large homes or buildings with multiple floors, spaces that have a unique or non-traditional layout, and homes with interior brick walls or partitions.
There are many reasons why your WiFi is slow. Experiencing lag, lost signals, or dropped video calls could be due to the building materials, bandwidth hoggers (i.e. phone apps), malware, older equipment, or having a congested internet network.
When these issues arise, it might indicate that you need a whole-home network upgrade. The best way to rid yourself of these frustrating internet problems is by investing in a mesh WiFi home network system. Any of the Aruba mesh-router systems detailed above will help keep the whole home connected to your central WiFi network.

About the Author

Anna-Marie Brittain is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Her experience includes writing for small businesses and non-profit organizations. The various niches she creates content for include emerging technologies, law, health, and nutrition.

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