IoT

What is a mesh Wi-Fi network, and how does it work?


Authored by a Symantec employee

 

If you have dead zones in your home where computers or other devices can’t connect to your Wi-Fi network, a mesh Wi-Fi system may be the solution. So, what’s a mesh Wi-Fi system, and how does it differ from a typical setup?

How a mesh Wi-Fi network works

A typical home Wi-Fi network has a traditional router that connects to your modem, the device that brings your internet connection into your home. Your router then broadcasts a wireless signal as far as it can. Sometimes that’s not far enough.

A mesh Wi-Fi system takes this scenario a step further. It still has a router that connects to your modem, but it also has satellite devices — or nodes — that communicate with your router and each other. In doing so, these nodes expand your Wi-Fi coverage throughout a larger area, possibly eliminating dead zones.

Do I need a mesh Wi-Fi network?

If you have a small single-story home, and it doesn’t have thick walls made of concrete or stucco, for instance, a traditional Wi-Fi system may work just fine. But if Wi-Fi dead zones are a common occurrence, no matter how many times you reset your router, then consider a mesh network. Advances now make it possible to bring mesh technology home at a price that’s more expensive than traditional Wi-Fi, but still affordable.

3 benefits of a mesh Wi-Fi network

In addition to expanding your home Wi-Fi network to reach a larger area, mesh networks have other benefits that make them appealing to some consumers. This includes giving you more control.

1. You’re in control. With many mesh networks, you have a lot of power in the palm of your hand — an app on your smartphone. These apps can help you with the network setup process and also ensure that you’re creating a secure password.

Such apps also typically allow you to manage network issues, check data speeds, set parental controls, and much more. Some systems also allow you to see what devices are connected to your network at any given time.

2. Automatic updates. You’ve no doubt heard that it pays to keep your computer and smartphone software updated, in part, to help protect those devices against new security vulnerabilities. The same applies to routers. Mesh networks typically update themselves, leaving you one less thing to worry about.

3. Increased security. You may have to pay a subscription fee, but some mesh systems provide enhanced security features to help protect your router, Wi-Fi network, and devices connected to that network from security threats. These threats could include malware, viruses, hackers, and cybercriminals.    

If you have a smart home, filled with network-connected security cameras, thermostats, speakers, and other “smart” devices, a mesh wireless system may be a natural addition. The security features of some mesh systems can help protect vulnerable devices from cyberattacks.

A mesh Wi-Fi system will likely cost you more than a traditional Wi-Fi router, so if dead zones aren’t a problem in your home, you may want to think twice before investing in one. That said, the security features might be reason enough to offset the cost, or you might look for a traditional Wi-Fi router that also has such enhanced security for your home network.

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