Mesh technology explained

Bruce Leith

Blog by: Bruce Leith - 6 / Mar / 2019

Home WiFi networks are under greater pressure than ever before. This time last year, the government estimatedthat every household in the UK owned at least 10 connected devices, and it has predicted that that figure will rise to 15 by 2020, thanks to the ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT). Meanwhile, high-resolution gaming and video streaming mean that even established connected devices – computers, tablets, connected TVs and smartphones – require more bandwidth than in the past.

In this increasingly demanding home WiFi landscape, WiFi extenders are growing in popularity as means of avoiding dead spots and ensuring quality WiFi performance in all corners of the home, particularly in larger buildings. However, such extenders merely augment the existing WiFi router. Mesh technology offers a complete replacement – and one that is easier to set up and manage.

What is mesh technology?

Mesh technology is based on a series of multiple wireless nodes, essentially tiny radio transmitters. These ‘talk’ to each other and in so doing spread the WiFi network over an entire building or area. 

Whilst traditional WiFi extenders essentially create multiple separate networks within the home, all connected back to the main router, mesh nodes can connect with each other dynamically in whatever sequence is quickest, safest and provides the best coverage to all devices. This is called dynamic routing.

What are the benefits?

First of all, as outlined above, the structure of a mesh network is truly unified. The WiFi connection is consolidated into a single network name (known as an SSID). No matter where a device is situated throughout the building or area, you will only see one network name, which brings clarity, convenience and ease of management. Typically, all that is required to set up a mesh network is plugging in the units and following some intuitive steps in an accompanying smartphone app. There is no complicated router admin page to deal with – changing settings and getting a clear picture of the overall network is quick and easy.

On a related point, the system automatically chooses the best signal for each device to connect to, and dynamically reassigns this as the device moves around. There is no need to change the WiFi login from zone to zone. Local data packets don’t have to travel back to a central server, meaning that they run faster, and if the network needs scaling or performance improving, then all that is needed is the installation of more nodes. Mesh networks are self-configuring and efficient, automatically incorporating new nodes into their structures without any manual adjustment by the network administrator.

Setting up a mesh network is cost-effective as well as quick and convenient. Using fewer wires means that they generally cost less than networks based on WiFi extenders, particularly over large areas of coverage. They rely on the same WiFi standards (802.11a, b and g) which are already in place for more wireless networks.

In settings where traditional WIFi networks can fall short – for example, in outdoor areas without adequate Ethernet wall connections, or Non-Line-of-Sight (NLoS) network configurations where signals are intermittently blocked by a moving piece of equipment, wireless mesh networks can ensure reliable, clear and high-performance connectivity. Even if individual nodes are blocked or lose their signal, the system automatically reconfigures itself and finds a workaround without manual intervention.

In short, wireless mesh networks offer cost-effective, easy-to-manage, scalable and above all high-performance connectivity, even in complex settings. And as the demands placed on WiFi networks by multiple devices and high-bandwidth applications continue to increase, the role of mesh technology will only get more important.

Find out more about Mesh with lead Mesh technology company, Wyld Networks.

 

Topics: IoT, data, IIoT

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