What is Wireless Meshing?
And why it isn’t as almighty as you might think.
The idea of being able to connect up all of your Access Points (APs) wirelessly, without running any ethernet cables between them might sound like cable-management heaven. But if you aren’t careful, you can quite easily end up in wireless hell.
To understand why this is, we need to take a look at what wireless meshing is, and how it works.
Wireless meshing is a method that allows you to wirelessly connect multiple APs together in a mesh topology. Every AP in your network is connected to each other via a wireless connection.
This brings a few big benefits, such as not needing to run cables directly to all your APs. They can share the data connection over their wireless connection. The nature of a mesh network also means that if one AP or connection goes down, there are several other connections that hold everything together.
This sounds pretty awesome at first, but a lot of issues can spring up. First and foremost, the key detail that allows you to run wireless meshing is that all of your APs have to be running on the same channel.
The problem with this is that there is very limited wireless space on a single channel, so having several wireless devices broadcasting and transmitting on the same channel relatively close to each other will cause channel interference, which can lead to some pretty severe signal issues.
Can you imagine how congested it could get in a block of flats all running home meshing solutions such as Eero, AmpliFi & Luma?
On top of this, if you are connected to a meshed AP that is several hops away (the amount of APs your data has to go through before reaching the AP with the internet source) you might find that the connection is slow and unresponsive. Each of these hops will cause a delay.
In fact, each and every hop can halve your theoretical throughput. Have a 10Mbps line? By the time you’ve hopped through 3 or 4 APs you will be looking at a theoretical throughput of less than 1Mbps.
It’s not all doom and gloom however. Meshing undoubtedly has it’s benefits and uses. It’s great for extending WiFi coverage to that hard to reach area, especially with small environments. And can be handy as a backup if your AP’s physical connection drops.
If you only mesh in moderation, you might not run into these issues, so just keep them in mind.
If you can run a cable, always go wired.