Wi-Fi mesh networks are a fast growing area in the home networking arena.
Traditional WI-Fi networks use a central access point to connect the wireless nodes together and to the Internet.
You can extend the traditional network using Wi-Fi extenders, cables or home plug adaptors. See extending a home network.
Wi-Fi mesh kits from Google, BT, Amazon make creating a large extended network very simple and don’t involve cables.
They aren’t really designed to extend an existing network, but to replace it.
They comprise 2 or more Wi-Fi nodes that work together to offer a single Wi-Fi network, and devices can hop seamlessly across it as they move within the network.
There seems to be two approaches to these systems.
The Google approach is to replace the existing WI-FI network and home router with the Google Wi-Fi discs or access nodes.
The other approach taken by BT, for example, is to keep the existing internet router and replace the Wi-Fi network.
How Wi-Fi Mesh Works
The access nodes need to be able to communicate with each other.
Again there are two main approaches.
One approach uses a dedicated Wi-Fi network used solely for the nodes to communicate with each other (BT approach).
The communications path is hidden from view and the approach is called tri-band as the node provides a 2.4GHz network and a 5Ghz network for the devices as per standard WI-Fi access points and another 5Ghz network for inter node communication.
The other approach used by Google is to use a dual band access point 2.4GHz network Plus a 5Ghz network.
The inter node messages use the same networks as the end devices.
Expanding A Wi-Fi Mesh
Expanding an existing Wi-Fi mesh network by adding additional nodes is easy ,but you must use equipment from the same manufacturer as the existing system.
In addition to providing Wi-Fi connectivity they also provide advanced features not available on standard home Wi-Fi networks; like:
- Scheduled Internet access
- Pause Internet
- Secure Guest networks
Popular systems are
- Google Wi-fi
- BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
- Orbi by Netgear
This Google WiFI review by Engadget will five you a good idea of what these systems do.
Related Tutorials and Resources:
- What are Mesh Networks
- Wi-Fi and Wireless Networking
- Extending a Home Network
- How to Setup A Secure Wireless Home Network
- How to find the best WiFi Channel for your Router.