What is a Mesh Network?

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info please read our disclosure.

A mesh network relies on using mesh wi-fi.

Mesh wi-fi is worth looking into if you have ever experienced a weak wireless signal at home.

Maybe you’ve heard your tech-savvy coworker brag about their brand-spanking-new mesh wi-fi system but are too embarrassed to ask what it is. Or maybe you’ve never heard of it, and it just sounds like something AI would use to take over the world in a machine apocalypse. Either way, you’ve probably been asking yourself “what is mesh wi-fi?” Well, wonder no longer because we are here to explain and let you in on the secret too.

A Mesh Network

Mesh wi-fi is essentially a system that allows for more thorough and widespread wi-fi signal coverage. If your home has spotty coverage (that room where you don’t get signal or that random couch where the internet always cuts out), mesh wi-fi might be a solution to all of your problems.

With a normal, non-mesh setup, you have a router that is responsible for broadcasting your wi-fi throughout the house. But sometimes, as a result of walls that block wi-fi signal or a really large house that the signal isn’t strong to reach every corner of, the signal won’t reach all parts of your house equally. You might buy an extender or two, but you have to set up different networks for each extender, and when you move from one extender’s area to another, you have to make sure you switch networks. Furthermore, because the extenders only boost the router’s signal, they all need to be placed close enough to the router to pick up on its signal. All of this can be changed with mesh wi-fi.

What is Mesh Wi-Fi?

Ok, so what is mesh wi-fi? Well, instead of having a leader (the router) and the worker drones supporting the leader (extenders), mesh wi-fi is composed of multiple units, called “nodes,” on equal standing with each other. In mesh wi-fi, all of the nodes communicate with each other equally. Nodes don’t have to get their signal from a “main” unit, but rather can receive it from any other nearby node. These communicating nodes create a so-called “blanket signal” that reaches every last nook and cranny of your house. There are no separate networks or networks you have to switch to – signal coming off of any node all belongs to the same network. If you’re a fan of Google, you may want to check out their best selling mesh system.

In addition to providing a signal that blankets your entire home, each node comes with multiple radios that operate on different frequencies. This means that they could communicate with each other on one frequency while streaming video or online content on another. This prevents the lag that comes with a traditional router that only has one channel for information to pass through.

Related: Best Computer Networking Books

Best Wi-Fi to Buy

Although all of this seems complicated, mesh wi-fi makes it extremely simple to set up and manage. Compared to a traditional router (with or without extenders), setting up mesh wi-fi is a breeze. The nodes are already programmed to work together, meaning you don’t have to worry about configuration or linking. All you have to do is plug them all in and pull open the app on your smartphone. This lets you manage the mesh wi-fi system easily and painlessly without requiring any expertise. You can look at a few of Amazon’s best selling mesh wi-fi systems.

While all of this sounds great, it bears mentioning that the price tag on these systems can be pretty hefty ($300-$500 or so) and are best suited to very large houses or homes with materials that impede wi-fi signal transmission. It may not be worth saving up to get one of these systems if you live in an apartment.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this answers your question of “what is mesh wi-fi” and allows you to not only make an informed decision on whether it’s right for you but also show off your knowledge at the next office holiday party!