Mesh Wi-Fi

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Mesh Wi-Fi

by Michael Gariffo

Docid: 00021075

Publication Date: 2106

Report Type: TUTORIAL


Since the creation of Wi-Fi networking, users and manufacturers have been struggling
to improve and enhance signal quality, range, and throughput speeds. This has traditionally
meant creating ever-more powerful routers and access points, as well as devices
with more and more sensitive antennae. However, there is a limit to how much range
and coverage any single router or access point can offer, no matter its strength.
This is where "mesh" Wi-Fi comes in. Rather than relying on a single, powerful access
point to blanket a wide area with signal coverage, mesh Wi-Fi relies on a distributed
network of smaller, less powerful access points. These work in concert to provide
accessibility to a broad area with fewer dead zones and more flexible and customizable
coverage options for the wide variety of wireless devices in most homes today. This
report will examine the basics of mesh Wi-Fi, how it differs from traditional Wi-Fi
networks, what its benefits and drawbacks are, and what options consumers currently
have for purchasing their own mesh Wi-Fi network.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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Mesh Wi-Fi is a wireless LAN (local access network) technology based on the concept
of distributing access points among multiple devices rather than having a solitary
access point. It is based on the 802.11s standard, a variant of Wi-Fi standards
like 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11n, and so forth.1 The variant is particularly
geared towards supporting multiple access points arranged in a "mesh" network, meaning
that all points serve as both access points for end user devices as well as communications
nodes and relays that are in constant connection with each other and with the user's
Internet access point (typically a modem or Ethernet connection terminal). Although
all of these mesh Wi-Fi components provide their own wireless signal, they still
appear as a singular network to connected devices, broadcasting a unified SSID (service
set identifier) through which Wi-Fi-enabled devices can connect.


The benefits of being able to connect to multiple mesh Wi-Fi routers rather than
a single access point are numerous and varied. First, signal strength is boosted
by the ability to place a single node within the network close to areas of heavy
mobile device use. For example, a private home could place a mesh Wi-Fi node in
the family room, another in the master bedroom, one in the office, and one in the
rec room situated in the basement. Where a single wireless router might struggle
to cover all of these areas, a mesh Wi-Fi network can do so comfortably by relaying
all signals throughout the home to provide strong, consistent connectivity to all
users, no matter their location.

Another primary benefit is scalability. Where a network dependent on a single
Wi-Fi router would have to replace the router with a more powerful (and likely more
expensive) model if its range needed to be increased, a mesh Wi-Fi network could
accomplish the same feat by simply adding additional plug-and-play nodes. For example,
a home with a recently-built addition could still be equipped with strong Wi-Fi
coverage by placing a node within one of the new rooms. Similarly, a multi-family
dwelling that provides residential Wi-Fi services could place a new node in the
apartment of a new renter, giving them a strong access point through which to utilize
the building's wireless infrastructure.

While mesh Wi-Fi is still relatively new to the consumer market, the concept
of a mesh network is a tried and true one that is used to power most modern communications
infrastructures. Indeed, most cellular carrier networks are, in fact, mesh networks.
Where a mesh Wi-Fi network has its in-home nodes, a cellular network has its cell
towers. Like the nodes, these towers work collaboratively to blanket a given area
with signal strength, providing a necessary handoff when the user moves from one
area to another, to give the best possible chance of maintaining a strong signal
and good throughput. Both networks also rely on their own forms of "backhaul," or
the data transmission that allows them to communicate with each other and with a
larger, public network, like the Internet or a given country's telecom infrastructure.
Although this level of sophistication was once reserved for networks as complex
and far-flung as cellular carrier infrastructure, it is now being applied to installations
as small as a single office or residential dwelling. This is because the number
of wireless devices in a given home has exploded over the past two decades, with
the "Internet of Things" (IoT) expected to contribute even more devices to the number
within an average home. The job that could once be handled by a single Wi-Fi router
may now be best suited to a whole fleet of routers working in concert to offer connectivity
without the signal degradation, interference, or dead zones often associated with
a lone access point.


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Figure 1. A Diagram of Three Google Mesh Wi-Fi Nodes Blanketing
a Home with Coverage

Figure 1. A Diagram of Three Google Mesh Wi-Fi Nodes Blanketing a Home with Coverage

Source: Google

As stated above, mesh Wi-Fi is a networking technology that uses multiple, distributed
nodes to provide a stronger, more diverse, and more flexible Wi-Fi signal than a
single-router setup. It does this by allowing the nodes to communicate with each
other as well as with the user's connected devices, creating an intelligent system
whereby a device is automatically connected to the in-home or in-office Wi-Fi network
via whichever node is able to provide it with the strongest signal and fastest throughput.
This functions in much the same way as a cellular telephone (modern cellular carrier
infrastructure also forms a type of mesh network) automatically being connected
to the cell tower that can provide the best connection, fastest throughput, and
most reliable signal. However, unlike a cellular network, mesh Wi-Fi is doing this
for distances that can be measured in feet, not miles. Despite the relatively smaller
size of the area being managed, in-home obstacles can make the operation of a mesh
Wi-Fi network just as technically demanding as any carrier installation. This is
why mesh Wi-Fi is designed to allow users to physically move and expand the nodes
to combat negative factors impacting performance. These can include things like
a brick or stone wall that is particularly hard on signal strength, localized interference
caused by other wireless devices, and even simple distance from the initial point
where the user's Internet access enters their home or office. Where a single-router
network would almost always be designed around catering to the vagaries of dead
zones and that aforementioned entry point, mesh Wi-Fi can be much more easily customized
to work around these factors and provide better speed, superior signal strength,
and an overall improved user experience.

Mesh Wi-Fi Vs Wi-Fi Repeaters

Some particularly tech savvy readers may be wondering how the concept of mesh
Wi-Fi differs from the use of a Wi-Fi repeater. A Wi-Fi repeater is a device designed
to extend the range of a given wireless network by serving, as its name suggests,
as a constant repeater of the signals transiting across that network. This is accomplished
by picking up the signal being sent from the wireless router to mobile devices and
vice-versa, capturing it, boosting it, and sending it along its way. The result,
much like a mesh Wi-Fi installation, is that users who are closer to the repeater
than the router can still receive a strong signal with good throughput.

Although Wi-Fi repeaters do indeed share some similarities with mesh Wi-Fi and
could even be called a precursor to it, there are some definite drawbacks. The primary
one is that a Wi-Fi repeater is designed primarily to serve as a sort of "dumb pipe"
for the user's signal. A modern mesh Wi-Fi network can detect and analyze the user's
signal strength, moving that user between nodes to improve their experience as conditions
on the network or the user's position changes. Wi-Fi repeaters do not have this
capacity. If, for example, a user with a Wi-Fi repeater were to move to a section
of their home with their laptop where the network's primary wireless router is able
to provide the best signal strength, the Wi-Fi repeater would not be able to automatically
hand the user off to the router without human intervention. Given the prevalence
of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and their in-home and in-office
use, automatic network forming and editing is one of the strongest points in mesh
Wi-Fi's favor.

In a similar vein, where multiple Wi-Fi repeaters can, potentially, be supported,
mesh Wi-Fi was designed from the ground up to support the installation and usage
of multiple nodes, typically no less than three. This gives users the increased
flexibility of having additional access points to their networks at the start, as
well as the option to add more nodes at a later date to continue to expand their
in-home or in-office infrastructure.

While all of this may sound very attractive, mesh Wi-F is by no means a perfect
technology, nor is it ideal for everyone. Like every new offering in the tech world,
it has its drawbacks and caveats that should be examined carefully before determining
if it is the best fit for a given situation.

Pros and Cons of Mesh Wi-Fi

Mesh Wi-Fi is a promising technology, and it could very well be the best fit
for a given user, but it is not necessarily going to suit all situations at all
times. There are, in fact, many users that could receive a better overall experience
from more traditional networking technologies, such as a single-router Wi-Fi network
or even a wired network. The decision should based on the needs, budget, and future
plans of a given user and their home, office, or business. To help users make this
decision, this section will examine the pros and cons of mesh Wi-Fi with references
to how it exceeds the capabilities of more traditional networking technologies in
some areas, while how it may fall short when compared to them in certain other areas.


  • Range – This, along with the point immediately below, is
    the primary reason many network owners opt for mesh Wi-Fi. Although it is possible
    to achieve some impressive ranges with very powerful single-router installations
    or with extensive Ethernet cabling runs, mesh Wi-Fi promises to meet and exceed
    these potentials by allowing the network owner to grow the network to meet their
    needs. This is accomplished by continually adding mesh Wi-Fi nodes where needed.
    Mesh Wi-Fi networks do have an upward limit on the number of nodes that can
    function on a single network, so there is a maximum range that even these types
    of networks can achieve. However, given the fact that some manufacturers support
    up to 25 nodes on a single installation, that range is far, far beyond what
    could be accomplished by a single router and beyond even what can be covered
    by all but the most extensive Ethernet cabling installations. To put the coverage
    which can be achieved with 25 nodes into perspective, Google has stated that
    even very large homes need no more than six of its mesh Wi-Fi nodes.2
    This means that, at least theoretically, a single Google mesh Wi-Fi network
    could power between four and eight homes, depending on their size. That is impressive
    when compared to the fact that many single-family homes struggle to cover even
    one domicile with adequate signal from a single wireless router.
  • Flexibility – The ability of mesh Wi-Fi networks to expand
    highlights their intrinsically flexible nature. The expansion of a single-router
    Wi-Fi network (via an extended range router) would result in a circular range
    increase, equal in all directions from the central point of the router. However,
    the expansion of a mesh Wi-Fi network can be aimed in any direction, as well
    as in multiple directions. This is because the distributed nodes can be placed
    according to the network owner's needs. Long, narrow homes can place nodes in
    a single-file line, reaching from the front to the back, while irregularly shaped
    homes and offices can place routers in rooms and areas that are off in odd directions
    from the center of the network. This is impossible with single-router networks
    and impractical for many situations where Ethernet cabling is being used, particularly
    where no in-conduit or in-wall routing is possible.
  • Reliability – One of the primary goals of a mesh Wi-Fi
    installation is to provide the most reliable connection possible for all users.
    Placement of nodes, redundant access points, and the ability to avoid the pitfalls
    that commonly kill Wi-Fi signal strength are all factors in why a mesh Wi-Fi
    network is generally more reliable than a single-router option. Have a dead
    spot in your home? Place a node adjacent to the location, providing a boosted
    signal to a portion of the house where connectivity would otherwise be impossible.
    Always lose signal due to the router's proximity to a powerful appliance? Move
    all nodes to locations far enough away to avoid interference.
  • Scalability – This final point is likely to appeal primarily
    to business network owners, particularly those with growing offices or employee
    rosters. Where many companies have to deploy multiple networks at a single facility
    to accommodate an influx of new personnel, or multiple installations to address
    a newly enlarged office, a mesh Wi-Fi network owner could handle these transitions
    by simply adding more nodes to the existing network, instantly growing both
    user capacity and range.


  • Cost – This is the sticking point most likely to cause
    users to discount mesh Wi-Fi as an option. Like most newer technologies, its
    benefits come at a premium when compared to more well-established alternatives.
    Although prices have dropped since the introduction of the first consumer-focused
    mesh Wi-Fi units, cost is still far higher than all but the most powerful and
    fully-featured wireless routers for an installation covering a similar area.
    One of the most well-known options among current mesh Wi-Fi hardware is Google's
    Nest Wi-Fi, the company's most recent entry into this product category. At the
    time of writing, a single node, which Google claims can cover up to 2,200 square
    feet, costs $169. Meanwhile, a three-pack, which is what Google recommends for
    a single-family home (5,400 square feet of coverage), will cost consumers $349.3
    Given the fact that wireless routers covering the 2,200 square feet offered
    by a single unit can be had for less than half the price of a single node, that
    means that the three-pack pricing is essentially the entry point cost. After
    all, there's no point in having a mesh Wi-Fi network with only a single node.
    Like all technologies, this pricing will likely continue to decline with age,
    but should not be expected to drop below a similarly-equipped single router
    due to the extra hardware and the advanced capabilities that make mesh Wi-Fi
  • Complexity – Although mesh Wi-Fi can actually simplify
    the end-user experience via the relatively simple app-based configuration and
    automatic network shaping of most retail units, it can actually be somewhat
    more of a headache for the network technician who must maintain it. For example,
    if a single node within a network that includes 15 units were to fail, that
    node would need to be tracked down, diagnosed, and possibly replaced. A single-router
    network would have only a single point of failure (disregarding any connected
    modem), making diagnosis and replacement much easier. A case can be made for
    the modular nature of the nodes actually easing the replacement process. However,
    the reality of pricing, mentioned above, means that the cost of replacing any
    single node would meet or exceed the cost of replacing a mid-range router. Replacing
    multiple nodes would quickly outpace the costs of repairing a single-router
  • Reliance on Wireless – At the end of the day, mesh Wi-Fi
    still relies on a wireless signal. This means that, despite its superiority
    to single-router solutions in areas like signal penetration and mobility, it
    is still unable to solve all of the issues inherent to wireless networking.
    Take, for example, a basement office built below the ground and in an area with
    reinforced concrete walls. Although a mesh Wi-Fi node might be able to get a
    signal close to the office, it is unlikely that even multiple nodes would be
    able to penetrate the Faraday Cage-esque interior. In situations such as these,
    network operators must still rely on wired networking methods such as Ethernet.
    Mesh Wi-Fi can do much to alleviate the headaches normally associated with wireless
    networking, but it is not yet able to fully replace a wired connection in all

The pros and cons above should give a good starting point from which to determine
if mesh Wi-Fi is a viable option. Still, other considerations must be taken into
account. Small offices and smaller homes may simply not need to even entertain the
notion of adopting the increased range of mesh Wi-Fi. Similarly, operators in facilities
that are extremely hostile to wireless signals in general may want to calculate
if the costs and benefits of installing a massive number of nodes would actually
outstrip the benefits that could be provided by simply relying on traditional wired
networking. Each potential installation must be taken on a case-by-case basis, with
strong effort put into analyzing what good a mesh Wi-Fi option would do for the
network's owners and users. For some, this may reveal a great deal of potential
savings in cost, time, or aggravation. For others, this new networking technology
may simply be unfeasible.

Current View

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Google is generally seen as the current leader in the mesh Wi-Fi space, at least
from the standpoint of popularity and accessibility. That is largely because it
was among the first companies to launch a consumer-oriented mesh Wi-Fi solution,
and because its product has proven to be one of the most successful on the market.
However, it is by no means the only manufacturer in this space. Well-known networking
hardware companies like TP-Link, Linksys, Asus, and lesser-known companies like
Ubiquiti have joined Google's push into consumer and business mesh Wi-Fi solutions.
Although this does not yet comprise anything like a booming market, the interest
is expanding and the benefits are plentiful enough that competition will likely
spur increased adoption via standard price drops. This section will examine the
top, and sometimes only, offerings from the aforementioned manufacturers. While
there may be some companies and models not listed here, the youth of the market
means that a vast majority of the important considerations will be included in the
following list.

Google's Nest WiFi

Figure 2. Google's Nest WiFi Nodes in Three Colors

Figure 2. Google's Nest WiFi Nodes in Three Colors

Source: Google

One of the first offerings on the market in the consumer space, Google WiFi came
to be something of the de facto face for the technology category as a whole.
It was the prototypical mesh Wi-Fi network, offering expandability, flexibility,
and user-defined configurations. Like many competing products, Google WiFi used
software to enhance its distributed hardware by automatically connecting each user
device to the least congested channel on the best node within the mesh.

After over a year leading the market, the company's original product was replaced
by a Nest-branded successor, seen above. This unit provided increased range, a larger
number of supported devices, and a new aesthetic. It also integrated with Google's
growing list of Nest-branded smart home devices, providing access to Google's Assistant
digital AI via any connected extender node.

As with the original Google WiFi, the company once again tried to strike a balance
between a strong level of customer control and customizability with a plug-and-play
style setup process for those that simply want the network to "just work." To this
end, Google retained Google WiFi's three-step setup process that revolves around
its companion mobile app (available for iOS and Android). Once the app is installed,
setup is just a matter of connecting the first node to the network's modem and a
power outlet and following on-screen instructions. Placement of Wi-Fi nodes can
then begin, with Google providing a setup guide for how best to distribute the units.

  • Price – As mentioned above, the Nest WiFi triple starter
    pack was priced at $349 at the time of writing. Single nodes were priced at
    $169. Once an initial node or three-pack is purchased, single nodes or subsequent
    three-packs can be added to expand the range of the network and reduce device
  • Range – Google claims a single unit can cover approximately
    2,200 square feet, while it's three pack of units, placed correctly, can reach
    up to 5,400 square feet. This figure will rise by about 2,200 square feet for
    each additional unit added to the mesh, depending on placement and other factors
    such as interference and structural variations.
  • Security Features– A built-in firewall
    with UPnP support; WPA2 encryption; automatic over-the-air security updates
    provided on a regular basis by Google; and Transport Layer Security (TLS) for
    secure server connections.

TP-Link Deco S4

Figure 3. TP-Link Deco S4 Three-Pack

Figure 3. TP-Link Deco S4 Three-Pack

Source: TP-Link

Marketed as "the most secure whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system," the TP-Link Deco
S4 mirrors Google's Nest WiFi in many ways.4 These include the use of
a mobile app as the primary tool for setting up, controlling, and maintaining the
units, as well as automatic security updates provided by the company itself, with
no user intervention needed to apply them. TP-Link also claims that its nodes will
automatically find the fastest connection point and route possible for each device
by applying Adaptive Routing Technology (ART), self-healing network routing, and
adaptive path selection.

Additional features of the Deco S4 include parental controls, the ability to
prioritize bandwidth to certain devices above others, and compatibility with Amazon's
Alexa ecosystem and the IFTTT automation platform. This last feature allows the
Deco S4 to perform several tasks via voice command to a connected Alexa-enabled
device. These commands include the ability to activate WPA to add a new device to
the network, the option to request a guest password for temporary network access,
triggering a certain IFTTT action when a given device connects to the network, and
automating the prioritization of a certain device under specific conditions or at
a particular time of day.

  • Price – TP-Link markets the Deco S4 in either single nodes
    or three-packs. At the time of writing, single node SKU was priced at $59.99,
    while three-packs came in at $119.99 As with most of the units here, additional
    nodes and multi-packs can be used to build a new mesh Wi-Fi network, or to expand
  • Range – The DecoS4's purported range is slightly larger
    than the Nest WiFi: 5,500 square feet for a trio of nodes. However, additional nodes add a slightly reduced 2,000 square feet to its range.
  • Security Features– A built-in firewall
    with UPnP support; WPA2 encryption; automatic security updates provided by TP-Link's
    HomeCare service; and parental controls.

Linksys MX5 Velop

Figure 4. A Single Linksys MX5 Velop Node

Figure 4. A Single Linksys MX5 Velop Node


Source: Linksys

As one of the best-known names in consumer and business networking, Linksys gave
the category of mesh Wi-Fi its stamp of approval with the release of the Velop mesh
Wi-Fi platform and devices. The company's first crack at the product category was
designed from the ground up to be visually appealing and compact, with claims from
Linksys that the Velop takes up 88 percent less space than competing products.5
In addition to the unit's aesthetic choices, it also sports design decisions created
to aid its operation as well. These include multiple Ethernet ports on each node
and an antenna mounted near the top of the unit for the best possible reception.

Since this initial launch, Linksys had made a point to continue offering updates
with the latest Wi-Fi technology built in. This has included being among the first
to market with tri-band Wi-Fi support and, more recently, offering some of the first
mesh Wi-Fi products to support the newest Wi-Fi revision, Wi-Fi 6. While this philosophy
consistently keeps Linksys at the forefront of what's possible for consumer Wi-Fi,
it also gives it some of the most costly units currently available, as can be seen

  • Price – The MX5 Velop comes in at a hefty $399.99 MSRP
    for a three pack. For this increased price, consumers get access to some of
    the fastest speeds at a claimed throughput of 5.3Gbps. However, the price is
    likely to scare away all but the most technologically obsessed with the deepest
  • Range – Unlike previous units, the MX5 includes no specific
    numerical range figures for its single-node packs. Instead, Linksys has released
    only a rather vague range of "large homes" for single units, with multiple units
    presumably expanding that to a wider, though very poorly defined area. Previous
    Linksys Velop nodes offered around 1,500 square feet of coverage each, which
    the MX5 should exceed.
  • Security Features– A built-in firewall
    with UPnP support; WPA2 encryption and parental controls.

Asus ZenWiFi

Figure 5. A Two-Pack of Asus Zen WiFi Nodes

Figure 5. A Two-Pack of Asus Zen WiFi Nodes

Source: Asus

The Asus ZenWiFi is one of the first devices on this list to support
the latest in-home networking protocol, Wi-Fi 6.6 This new protocol,
like most past Wi-Fi revisions, provides increased speeds, additional network resilience,
and lower latencies. However, as with most new technologies, adding Wi-Fi 6 to the
already pricy mesh Wi-Fi category results in a price that one would expect from
the bleeding edge portion of a product category.

Setup and control of the ZenWiFi is essentially identical to the other offerings,
with the Asus Router app handling both. Asus is also one of the most security-focused
vendors on the list. This time around, that focus comes in the form of a new AiProtection
feature. This provides intrusion protection, infection detection and blocking, automatic
blocking of known malicious Web sites, and more.7 Not only is this security
software capable of protecting the nodes, but it also extends its protection to
all connected devices, including smart home and IoT units connected to the network.

The ZenWiFi platform is somewhat unique in that it can also integrate with any
Asus router supporting the company's AiMesh technology. This means that disparate
devices can be added to the mesh network as long as this protocol is present, allowing
users to introduce other Asus routers and access points into certain areas if they
provide particular features users in that area may need.

  • Price – Oddly, the Asus ZenWiFi is only sold in a two-pack
    at the time of writing. This is priced at an MSRP of $449.99. Asus does note
    that the network can be expanded beyond its initial duo of nodes. However, short
    of purchasing a second two-pack, consumers seem to be out of luck when wishing
    to grow their mesh Wi-Fi setup, at least until Asus begins selling single nodes.
  • Range – The ZenWiFi's reliance on Wi-Fi 6 allows it to
    provide 5,500 square feet per two-pack at speeds of up to 6,600Mbps.
  • Security Features– A built-in firewall
    with UPnP support; WPA2 encryption, parental controls, and access to the aforementioned
    AiProtection platform.

Ubiquiti Amplifi HD

Figure 6. a Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Router with Two Mesh Points

Figure 6. a Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Router with Two Mesh Points

Source: Ubiquiti

Ubiquiti took perhaps the most unique approach of any company in this report
when designing its mesh Wi-Fi network. Rather than relying on interchangeable nodes,
any of which can be used as either a central router or mesh hub, Ubiquiti created
a single router that controls an entire network of "MeshPoints."8 These
nodes are designed to be extremely compact, with a swiveling antenna paddle on top
and a wall plug built directly into the back of each unit. Rather than sitting on
top of a table, each MeshPoint is designed to be plugged directly into a wall, mounting
to the outlet itself.

Other unusual design decisions include the presence of a touch-enabled LCD screen
on the front of the router. This screen can be used to display networking statistics
as well as allowing the user to control and alter the settings of the mesh network.
Around back, the router sports a four-port Ethernet switch, giving it the ability
to serve as a wired network router in addition to its duties as a central hub for
the mesh network.

Since its initial launch, the Amplifi line has also been expanded to include
a "Gamer Edition" model, which provides features that are designed to prioritize
game-based traffic for the best possible performance and lowest latency while playing.

  • Price – Due to the presence of two different units within
    the Ubiquiti mesh Wi-Fi network, pricing is a bit more complex. At the time
    of writing, the Amplifi HD Home Wi-Fi router is priced at $149.99; single MeshPoints
    are priced at $119.99; and a starter pack with a Home Wi-Fi router and two MeshPoints
    is priced at $340.00. The Gamer Edition, currently sold exclusively as a starter
    pack, retails for $379.99.
  • Range – Ubiquiti claims an impressive 20,000 square feet
    of coverage for its starter kit (a Home Wi-Fi router and two MeshPoints ).
  • Security Features– A built-in firewall
    with UPnP support; WPA2 encryption, parental controls, and reporting of any
    network intrusion attempts via the companion Amplifi app.


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As of right now, the mesh Wi-Fi market is still in its infancy. Although the
concept of a mesh network is nothing particularly new, its application to the in-home
and in-office wireless networks that most individuals in the developed world use
on a day-to-day basis is still developing. However, one thing is already certain:
the need for increased Wi-Fi range and capacity is becoming just as important as
the increasing range and capacity of cellular networks. Where carrier networks are
now dealing with the strain of multiple devices per user and more users than ever
before, in-home and in-office Wi-Fi networks are undergoing similar changes. This
is because nearly all of those mobile devices putting a strain on carrier networks
when out in the world are doing the same to Wi-Fi networks when their users reach
their home or office. Granted, no single home or office Wi-Fi network has to service
anywhere near the number of devices that even a small carrier network handles. But,
the growth in their relative scale remains the same. Where an in-home Wi-Fi network
might have once been lauded for handling four laptops at once, that same network
would now be called out for not being able to handle four laptops, four smartphones,
two tablets, a gaming system, a smart-home hub, and probably a few streaming media
devices thrown in for good measure.

The fact is that new technologies must be developed and released that can handle
the massive influx of devices that has already occurred, to say nothing of the oncoming
wave of IoT (Internet of Things) devices that will balloon the number of Wi-Fi enabled
electronics even further. Although it has yet to prove itself to the wider world,
mesh Wi-Fi has already shown promise as one of the best available solutions to network
growth and congestion. What remains to be seen is if consumer adoption of this fledgling
technological category will sustain itself and grow, allowing for the inevitable
price drop that must always occur before a new area of devices truly begins to take
root among a wider audience.


About the Author

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Michael Gariffo is an editor for Faulkner Information Services.
He tracks and writes about enterprise software, the Web, and the IT services sector,
as well as telecommunications and data networking.

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