What is actually Wi-Fi mesh and the reason you might need it now
Wi-Fi mesh means you can have one or more Wi-Fi extenders placed around your house and they all extend the main network so it appears as one. Basically similar to what you might have come to expect from enterprise Wi-Fi solutions.
(To all the techies who reacted to this — yes, I know most mesh Wi-Fi solutions are actually more hub and spoke, or relay networks. But this distinction is lost on normal people so I’ll continue using mesh as that makes most sense to them).
So who needs mesh Wi-Fi? Basically anyone that has a home where the Wi-Fi signal is weak or outright missing in floors or corners of the home where you would normally want to access Wi-Fi. My data suggest this include close to 50% of the homes in Norway. So this is a big deal folks.
The important part about this is that all the extenders has to work seamlessly with the master (router) — basically meaning they are delivered from the same vendor and are sold as a set. And they need to be new enough so they support a technology called Wi-Fi “fast roaming” (or in Klingon called 802.11r to be geeky).
These new extenders might be more expensive, but the are worth it. In fact, any old or standalone extender will not help and might actually make your Wi-Fi network worse. So how is that possible? A standalone extender basically create a separate network, even if you give it the same name as the first one. The problem is that it’s your device that decide which of the networks to use. No offense to your devices, but they don’t always make the best choices in life… With the old extenders most of these devices will just stick to whoever it first connected to for as long as possible. Basically you can sit on top of the main router and the device will still use the extender. So traffic to device will be as slow as before, but on top of that the network gets more congested as we now also have the traffic going between the router and the extender! Wow, what a mess…
The optimal solution for this is to have extenders that have both “fast roaming” and smart Wi-Fi features enabled on the extender to optimize the connections. Put me in the mix as well and I can make sure they are all managed and optimized at all times. Let’s just say that those devices won’t be sticking to the wrong connection for long.