Mesh Wi-Fi, issues revealed
Initially, Mesh systems are quick and easy to set up, and in some instances the issues described below are never encountered, especially in a Wi-Fi only realm. The way most of these mesh systems work is finding the shortest link in their chain from your device to the router. Speeds drop quickly the more Mesh Devices (Nodes) are added between your device and the router. The best solution would be to limit the network to 1-2 node connections, but this isn’t necessarily possible in a long house or a larger home.
To achieve connectivity of all devices, the Mesh Systems load share to all devices connected and split the connections between Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi (2.4GHz, 5Ghz, Wi-Fi 6 + Wi-Fi 7). This floods the location with unnecessary connections and formats that can also interrupt other products and their functionality, for example shrinking the range or connectivity of a Bluetooth Speaker playing from your phone or tablet.
These combinations often double up on routing, causing issues between cabled and wireless networks, or at best creating issues for app control or streaming as well as file sharing and printing over the ‘local’ network. For example, a Vodafone ISP router, operates a 192.168.1.0/24 network. Connect in a TP-Link Deco which runs the Wi-Fi on 192.168.68.0/24 network and issues can arise.
The issue here is anything in the home that is cabled or hardwired is on the IP range of the Vodafone router, and anything utilizing the Wi-Fi network is on the IP range of the TP-Link units. Having two IP ranges, the two networks in the house cannot talk to each other. In a practical application this could result in a cable printer not printing anything from a laptop on Wi-Fi, or a cabled Audio streamer not receiving audio from a Phone.
Both control solutions (Like Elan or RTi), APP control (Like MusicCast or BluOs) and streamers in general require stable routing and Wi-Fi. With combinations like the examples below, we typically find they introduce issues.
- Isp provided routers
- Apple Airports/Airport Express
- Apple Time capsules
- Google home
- Nest wifi
- Netgear orbi
- TP-Link Deco
For us to be able to improve your Wi-Fi coverage and general Internet Speeds we sell and install Grandstream or Ubiquiti components. These have Mesh capabilities, but are typically not implemented in the ways listed above, rather they tie all networks back to a single router. They are enterprise level electronics and handle the higher bandwidth usage of a modern home with streaming and multiple users/devices. The free routers supplied by ISP’s can be the main limiting factor to good speed, often not being able to handle or keep up with the amount of data moving around the home.
We have also found that changing to a Router and Wi-Fi Access points that are enterprise grade make your network much more stable and reliable. Typically we notice a significant speed increase as the devices tend to create better links to the ISP equipment, and with better routing capabilities the individual connected speeds increase as traffic management locally is vastly improved. ISP provided routers are often remotely managed devices, I have proven nothing, but I suspect they manage speeds by adjusting settings in your local free router as every home we install a good quality router to, sees a noticeable increase in speed.