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wifi mesh vs range extenders

Wifi Mesh Networks Vs. Range Extenders

Tech TuesdayIf getting WiFi coverage right across your home or small office is a constant battle, a top mesh system, powered by one of the best mesh WiFi wireless routers, could well be the answer to your connectivity woes. Bad WiFi coverage doesn’t have to be the nightmare it once was, thanks to the recent rise mesh networks.

Mesh systems and extenders are primarily designed to solve one problem: bad signal strength. Mesh network systems are a great way to fix dead spots in your home, but how are they different from range extenders, and are they worth the extra cost?

What is a Mesh WiFi network?
Mesh WiFi or Whole Home WiFi systems consists of a main router that connects directly to your modem, and a series of satellite modules, or nodes, placed around your house for full WiFi coverage. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, unlike traditional WiFi routersWIFI CONNECTION HELP FOR BUSINESS

A modular mesh system is flexible and scalable, giving you a customizable method of expanding your WiFi without the need to add range extenders, which have performance and ease-of-use issues. It’s just like installing lighting fixtures to illuminate your home; you can place your nodes anywhere in your home.

While it might not have been a big deal that you didn’t get a WiFi signal on your porch in the past, if you are trying to hook up a video doorbell or WiFi security cameras it will be an issue now. And then there is the fact your house is now awash with 4K HD streaming, high definition audio and the like – all of which require a fast, reliable WiFi connection.

The beauty of a mesh network is that it is modular, so you can keep adding nodes to the – there is no maximum node count. The idea of a mesh network is that, unlike repeaters and range extending devices that just relay your router’s WiFi signal with deterioration, the nodes all communicate with each other, so even the one furthest from the router has a great signal as it hops around the system from one node to another.

Before you decide whether to purchase a WiFi extender or mesh network system, you can try improving our WiFi signal on your own. For example, try moving your router to a more central location in your home, changing your router’s WiFi channel to a less congested channel, and if your router is dual-band, you can try switching the WiFi frequency bands to which your devices are connecting.

Like real estate, wireless networking is about three things: location, location, location. That is because wireless access points can only put out a network signal that is as strong as the incoming wireless signal from the router.  If you are using a phone, disable cellular while you run this test. You will want to move around in your home, running a few speed tests at a time in each room where your WiFi connection matters. Average those download speed results in each room to get a sense of where your connection is and is not up to snuff. The best bet is to look at your speed test data and find the room closest to your dead zone with a strong signal from the router.

If you have just got one or two rooms where the connection is not usable, then a simple WiFi range extender might be all you need.

On average, mesh networks can cost as much as $300, whereas a good WiFi extender can cost as little as $50. The reason for this discrepancy is the simple fact that WiFi extenders are simply an add-on to your existing network setup whereas mesh networks are an entirely new network setup that require multiple new devices to be placed around your home.

Other Resources To Learn More:
15 things you didn’t know about WiFi

8 Great WiFi Facts You Need To Know

Wi-Fi Range Extender vs. Mesh Network: What’s the Difference?

One last thing worth remembering: Wireless connectivity is all well and good, but a wired Ethernet connection will always give you speeds that are as fast as possible.  It is best practice to use a wired connection (when possible) for security, reliability, and overall speed.

Tech Tuesday is heard each Tuesday on Mix102.5 with Big Poppa and CCNY Tech Engineer Jake Sears. Since 1988, CCNY Tech has been an IT Hardware Sales and Services company. Ten years ago, CCNY Tech has added IT Asset Disposition to it’s offerings.

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