Supercharge Your Wi-Fi

Homes and businesses used to be able to get away with reasonably simple Wi-Fi solutions. Nowadays, we have a lot more devices using Wi-Fi more often and with increasingly data-hungry services. With higher demands on Wi-Fi, homes and businesses require more sophisticated Wi-Fi solutions.

Early Wi-Fi Solutions

When we had fewer devices in our homes and businesses and used smaller amounts of data, a single wireless access point was usually sufficient. Most people managed when there were dead spots or patches of unreliable service around their home or workplace because they weren’t as reliant on internet access as we are now.

Early Wi-Fi network with a single router as a wireless access point

As homes and businesses started to add more and more devices to their Wi-Fi, it became necessary to cover a wider area. The dead spots and patches of unreliable service also became a nuisance because we wanted to use our devices everywhere. To increase coverage, many people started to use Wi-Fi extenders. The performance of the Wi-Fi extender was only ever as good as its connection to the original network. The further away the Wi-Fi extender was from the main router, the slower its network would be. Wi-Fi extenders provided satisfactory performance when devices didn’t need to use a lot of data. However, their low performance started to become apparent when multiple devices started to use data-hungry services. Wi-Fi extenders provided good coverage but not necessarily good performance.

Wi-Fi network with a Wi-Fi extender to extend coverage


Modern Mesh Wi-Fi Solutions

The wireless access points in modern mesh Wi-Fi solutions talk to each other to create a network that covers your home or business. Modern mesh Wi-Fi solutions create one unified wireless network that is easy to configure from your mobile phone and which gives you control over who has access to your network and when. Some solutions come with parental controls and anti-malware software build in. Modern solutions are also intelligent enough to work out which wireless access point will provide the best performance and steer your devices to connect to it.

The connection between the wireless access points is called "backhaul". In an ideal world, wireless access points have dedicated backhaul, separate to the network that client devices connect to. This is where Wi-Fi extenders fall down and why their performance is often poor. With dedicated backhaul, client devices don’t have to share bandwidth with data being sent between wireless access points. While dual-band wireless access points don’t have dedicated backhaul, they can usually be setup to use a wired ethernet network to communicate with each other. If your home or business does not have wired ethernet available, tri-band wireless access points are the best option. Tri-band solutions provide excellent performance because they use their third wireless band to talk to each other and share data; leaving the other two bands for client devices to use.

In the diagram below, the green lines between the Mesh WAPs is the dedicated backhaul. This illustrates how the backhaul traffic is separated from the bandwidth used by clients.

Modern mesh Wi-Fi solutions with multiple wireless access points connected with dedicated backhaul

Conclusion

For many situations, a single access point or a Wi-Fi extender may still provide adequate coverage and performance. However, if you find that you experience poor performance when you start to get a number of users trying to access the internet at once, a modern mesh Wi-Fi solution is likely to provide you with a more consistent experience and remove the frustrations that can occur from poor network performance.

Header image by photogrammer7 from Pixabay.


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