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What is a Mesh Network?

A mesh network could be the solution if you’re experiencing internet dead spots in your home or business.

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, updated on February 13th, 2024       

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You might’ve heard the term “mesh network” when it comes to optimising the Wi-Fi connection at your home or office, but what are they and how do they work? In Savvy’s comprehensive guide, we explain the inner workings and benefits of mesh networks and how they differ from traditional Wi-Fi setups. Discover how mesh networks can transform your connectivity experience and explore their applications in various settings with us today!

What is a mesh network and how does it work?

A mesh network is a sophisticated Wi-Fi system designed to enhance wireless coverage and internet plan reliability within a home, office or other spaces. Unlike traditional single-router setups, mesh networks consist of multiple interconnected devices, known as satellites, which communicate with each other to create a seamless, wider-ranging wireless network.

In a mesh network, you have a primary router and one or more satellites. The primary router connects to your modem and serves as the network's core, while the satellites are placed throughout the home or office to extend coverage. These networks use intelligent routing algorithms to determine the most efficient path for data transmission, communicating with each other to relay data and optimise performance.

Another benefit of mesh networks is that they’re scalable, allowing you to add more satellites as needed to expand coverage and cover any dead zones. This flexibility is especially beneficial for larger homes or offices.

When might I need a mesh network?

You might consider a mesh network in the following situations:

  1. Large homes or offices: mesh networks are ideal for spaces where a single router may struggle to provide consistent coverage across multiple rooms or floors. By placing more satellites strategically around the space, your connection can be boosted.
  2. Dead zones: if you have areas with poor or no Wi-Fi signal, a mesh network can eliminate these dead zones and provide reliable connectivity.
  3. Many devices: if you have numerous devices connected to your network, such as smart home gadgets, computers and smartphones, a mesh network may be able to handle the increased traffic more effectively than a single router.
  4. Future-proofing: investing in a mesh network ensures your network can adapt to your growing connectivity needs. This is especially important if you run a business, as setting up a mesh network early on may make it easier to upsize as it expands, simply requiring you to add further satellites.
  5. Large backyards: should you wish to boost your Wi-Fi further into your backyard, a mesh network can help you achieve this if it’s a particularly large one.

However, it’s also important to appreciate instances where a mesh network may not be necessary for you. These may include:

  1. Ethernet connections: in the event most of your devices are connected to the internet via ethernet cables, you may decide a complex mesh network isn’t necessary.
  2. Small homes or offices: if you live in a small unit, apartment or house, a single router may be sufficient to carry a Wi-Fi signal wherever you need it.
  3. Devices close to the router: in situations where you’re likely to be close to the router, such as if your computer or bedroom is nearby, a mesh network might not be required.

What are the differences between a mesh network and a Wi-Fi range extender?

While both mesh networks and Wi-Fi extenders aim to improve wireless coverage, there are obvious and key differences between them, including:

  1. Coverage: mesh networks provide broader coverage than Wi-Fi extenders. Mesh satellites communicate with each other to create a unified network, while extenders simply boost the existing Wi-Fi signal further into your home or office. This means the overall coverage isn’t likely to be as strong via an extender.
  2. Self-healing: mesh networks can automatically reroute data if a satellite fails, boosting its overall reliability. Extenders lack this self-healing capability, meaning you’ll lose all its extending capabilities should it fail.
  3. Simplicity: extenders are typically easier to set up, making them a straightforward solution for basic coverage expansion. Mesh networks may involve a more complex initial setup but offer superior performance and flexibility in the long run.
  4. Scalability: mesh networks are easily expandable by adding more nodes. Extenders, on the other hand, have limitations on how many can be added, often resulting in reduced performance with each additional extender.

What’s the difference between a partially and fully connected mesh network?

When it comes to mesh networks, these can either be set up to be partially or fully connected. A fully connected network means all the satellites communicate with each other and the router, routing data via the most optimal connection.

On the other hand, a partially connected network means the satellites aren’t all interconnected, instead only communicating with some of the other satellites or solely the router. This can still provide suitable speeds and data transmission, but the connection may not be as optimised.

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Savvy is partnered with Econnex Comparison (CIMET Sales Pty Ltd, ABN 72 620 395 726) to provide readers with a variety of internet plans to compare. We do not compare all retailers in the market, or all plans offered by all retailers. Savvy earns a commission from Econnex each time a customer buys an internet plan via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased directly, as all purchases are conducted via Econnex.

Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an internet plan. For further information on the variety of internet plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.

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