What is WLAN Mesh?

If you have WLAN problems at home, you should remember the term mesh network, because it should make connection drops a thing of the past. atechbook explains what WLAN mesh is and how the technology works.

Who doesn’t know it: Usually there is a room in every apartment or house where you have problems with WLAN reception – be it the kitchen, the bathroom or the basement. But there is a new and modern solution – WLAN Mesh.

For a long time, especially in large apartments and houses, people used so-called WLAN repeaters, which pick up the signal from the router, for example, one floor below and then spread it further. This sounds quite good in theory, but in practice the signal is not always forwarded optimally. This is because the data throughput decreases with each repeater. One reason for this is the way it works. The repeater only uses a single channel, that of the router. If many WLAN-capable devices are connected to the network in the household, the reduced data throughput will become noticeable at some point. The data highway in the household becomes clogged.

The so-called sticking effect is also particularly annoying. This means that although you are connected to the repeater, you still receive the weak and thus slow signal from the router. The connection is therefore not transferred loss-free and at the best moment to the receiving device.

Mesh always ensures the best WLAN reception

This is where a mesh WLAN wireless network comes in handy. Basically, it looks the same from the outside as a system with repeaters. Mesh WLAN also requires various nodes that distribute the wireless network throughout the apartment or house. The crucial difference is inside the distributors. The technology used for mesh WLAN is completely different from that used for repeaters.

While the repeater uses and distributes the router WLAN, a mesh WLAN system sets up its own radio network in which the nodes can communicate with each other and the software thus automatically switches between the 2.4 and 5 gigahertz frequencies, for example, depending on the load, so that there is always the best and fastest connection to the receiver. But why is this helpful for a fast connection?

What is the difference between WLAN and WiFi?

The following situation we all know: We move around the apartment with our laptop. With a repeater system, there are often problems at the handover points. Since each repeater is its own hotspot, each device has its own SSID identifier. So it can happen that the laptop is already much closer to the better placed repeater, but is still dialed into the network of the repeater that is two rooms away. Result: A lame connection, because the laptop does not automatically dial into the closer repeater.

This problem does not exist at all with mesh WLAN. Here, the first node of the mesh is connected to the router via network cable. This deactivates the router system. The mesh WLAN takes over and spans its network in the apartment. The other mesh distributors then serve as access points, as with the repeater, with the crucial difference that all mesh devices are cross-connected to each other and use only a single identifier.

This means it no longer matters in which room the laptop is located. It is always in just one Wi-Fi network and always at the node with the best connection. If the Internet is slow, it is actually the provider’s fault, because the mesh WLAN works in your household without data loss.

What technical requirements are needed?

A different technology also requires certain devices. To use mesh WLAN in your own four walls, the router should be mesh-capable. The widely known Fritzbox from AVM comes with mesh WLAN technology out of the box. In the meantime, there are also many other providers whose devices can handle mesh WLAN.

Depending on the size of the room to be covered, two or three additional mesh distributors are needed in addition to the router, the so-called master. By the way: Mesh WLAN not only works in your own four walls, but also wonderfully in your own garden.

At this point, we come to a significant disadvantage: mesh nodes cost significantly more than the usual repeaters. In most cases, however, the higher investment is worth it. Most households now have many devices connected to the WLAN network. Enjoying a smooth movie or a video meeting without picture loss quickly makes up for the higher purchase costs.