Home Wifi – Wired Wifi vs Mesh Wifi
How to improve Wifi in a residential setting
In the modern home WiFi should be treated as a utility – everyone needs it and it should be fast, reliable and always available. Unfortunately the ISP provided routers are generally low quality and built to very tight budgets. This can result in a WiFi signal which is great in the room which houses the router but the WiFi signal can become weak and under powered as clients move around the home. Add in a few family members streaming to portable devices and the whole system can quickly become unusable!
What do the terms Wired Wifi and Mesh Wifi actually mean for Home WiFi?
There are two ways to improve WiFi around the home but both use the same principal to get a better signal – they place a Wireless Access Point closer to the client device. An incoming telephone line is often in to an area which is not ideal for a client to use the WiFi – customers don’t often stand in the hall or closet to surf. Both of these technologies move the WiFi emitter in to the main living space and in larger houses then multiple WAPs provide a WiFi signal to ensure great coverage throughout.
Mesh WiFi Networks – Mesh networks basically take a WiFi signal and repeat it so client devices get a good signal. The more the number of “hops” the slower the signal – for instance a repeater in the living room may boost the router WiFi nicely but a repeater further up the house might repeat the living room signal – meaning all traffic goes through the living room repeater before finally arriving at the router. These hops can seriously impact a clients experience. Newer mesh technologies such as Google Wifi use a dedicated wireless back haul to connect which means a faster connection and less hops to the internet – providing a better client experience.
Wired WiFi – In a wired WiFi system a client talks to a local WAP and their traffic travels down a network cable direct to the router and providing a fast internet experience. Multiple wired WAPs around the home ensure a great signal everywhere and a solid user experience.
How to handle Roaming Clients
With the above technologies it is easy to see how a Wired WiFi solution will outperform a Mesh network – even the newer Mesh technologies – as they have a dedicated connection and they share less infrastructure on the way to the internet. All these WAPs can cause an issue with client devices though, imagine an iPhone on the ground floor which is streaming from YouTube. The WiFi signal may only have to travel a couple of meters and the device will show 5 bars, full power. If that iPhone then moves up the house it may stay connected to the original WAP – it had a good signal and it will stay connected for as long as it can to make the most of the signal it had. The phone wont necessarily appreciate the fact that it has a closer WAP on the 3rd floor which will also provide that great signal. This approach makes perfect sense for the vast majority of people who only have one router. With our WiFi systems we install a Wireless controller which monitors the signal from all WAPs and auto optimises them to work together – providing the best possible WiFi signal throughout the house but also handling client devices – passing them from WAP to WAP as clients move around the property. The end result from a client device perspective is one huge network which doesn’t vary as clients move around the home – WiFi perfection!
Hybrid Wifi Systems
Most homes in the UK do not have network cable installed to key locations – although our full home systems do! – which means pulling cables can be difficult if not impossible. Our high end WiFi systems therefore allow us to mix and match technologies – wired WiFi to key areas with mesh backup for areas with weak or no signal. The disadvantage of the mesh network is minimised as the signal may only have one hop – a mesh WAP talking to a wired WAP – before the client reaches the internet. The same wireless controller handles the entire management ensuring clients get a fantastic user experience.
We are often asked to provide WiFi to garden rooms and offices without a wired network connection, we install long range, directional WiFi on the main house which provides a stunning signal in the garden room and the outdoor space. The modern WiFi technologies have seriously quick connection speeds which allow clients to work on servers in the main house and easily handling web surfing and email – even for multiple clients in an office environment.
Kids Wifi Networks and Guest Networks
Children nowadays are fully connected and expect an always on connection. This can be great but obviously has some issues with some of the content available. Our networks can restrict access to certain sites and – a firm client favourite – be set to a time schedule. Children’s WiFi can be switched off at a clients preferred time, ensuring devices aren’t used past bed time – bring around the end of family arguments! Guest networks can sit alongside client networks and provide guests to the home with all the benefits of the internet without allowing access to your local devices, so a visitor wont automatically try to connect to your Apple TV or have access to your family photos.
There has never been a better time to be wire free! The technology exists to make every home fully connected with a reliable and fast WiFi signal. Some clients will be happy to roll their sleeves up and install something like Google WiFi whereas others will engage someone like us to design and install something bespoke. Either approach is good but do not settle for a poor connection!