Beginner’s Guide to Mesh Networks (and Why You Might Need Them)

The size, shape, and material of your home can drastically affect the range of your WiFi and create dead zones where signal strength is weak and Internet performance is poor. Thankfully, there’s a fix to this particular problem: mesh network setups.

If the WiFi signal is dropping out in certain areas of your home, or you’re experiencing buffering or stuttering when streaming content in specific rooms it might be time for this solution. We can help you get started.

Mesh Networks

Unlike WiFi extenders, mesh networks don’t simply boost the network, they are the network. A mesh network setup is like a hive mind of WiFi goodness.

How They Work

In a mesh network, the router and all subsequent wireless “nodes” act as one larger-than-average, intelligent, adaptive wireless network. Behind the scenes, the nodes are doing the same things as WiFi extenders, but they are doing them faster, smarter and more efficiently. That means that signal degradation is limited, and roaming is encouraged — as long as you’re in range of the router or any of the nodes you will stay connected to the same network. 

At GoNetspeed, we provide our customers with a Nokia Beacon WiFi 6 router. The Nokia Beacon is a mesh router that can be paired with multiple mesh nodes — what we call Mesh Extenders — to create a large WiFi footprint. 

Placing Your Device 

In any network, the placement of your router, your WiFi extenders, or your mesh nodes are vital to the success of the system.

  • Starting with your router, you want to make sure it is as centralized as possible — middle floor equidistant from your connected devices.
  • With WiFi extenders and mesh nodes, you want to make sure you are placing them halfway between the dead zone and the router, no more than two rooms away or about 30 feet.

When setting up the Nokia Beacon WiFi 6 router and the optional mesh nodes, the ring light on top of the devices will actually tell you if they are in optimal range or not — blue is in range, red is out of range. 

Other Options for Extending Your Coverage

There are a few other options besides mesh networks on the market, but none of them offer the same performance and value of mesh networks.

Be on the lookout for gimmicky language surrounding coverage extension and know the facts about these alternatives that you may see. 

  • WiFi Repeaters and Signal Boosters: A WiFi repeater is a first-generation WiFi extender that is slower and less efficient. You also might encounter a device called a “signal booster” — this is a misleading, catch-all term used to describe anything that is meant to extend coverage. Be sure you know what the signal booster is doing as the actual name of the product often doesn’t mean anything. 
  • Powerline Adapters: Powerline adapters and Powerline WiFi extenders use the electrical wiring in your house to deliver data from the router to any electrical outlet in your home — simply plug in an adapter to a wall outlet. While Powerline extenders can be ideal solutions in certain situations, they tend to be more expensive than WiFi extenders and will perform poorly with old or poorly maintained electrical wiring.
  • Running Ethernet: Installing ethernet throughout your home just like electrical wiring, phone lines, or coaxial cable is the most expensive and intrusive solution but will yield the best results. If your home is already wired with ethernet, however, WiFi extenders are a great option as most models have a built-in access point. An access point is an ethernet port that allows you to “hardwire” the extender and turn it into a miniature wireless router that performs almost as well as the real thing anywhere you have ethernet access. 

The bottom line? Getting the best connectivity for your device-packed home can be more complicated than just your Internet speed.

At GoNetspeed, we’ve done the hard work for you by selecting top-of-the-line technology to help you take full advantage of our fast fiber Internet. Check your address or get in touch with our super-friendly Customer Service team to get started today.