The battle for bandwidth: mesh networks vs. sketchy WiFi

by | Jul 19, 2021

A WiFi mesh network can help bring the internet to every corner of your home.
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The battle for bandwidth: mesh networks vs. routers

Your tablet won’t connect because of that dead spot in the family room. Faces freeze during work video calls. Transactions stall when your customer is in a hurry. The kids groan because their games won’t load. When these things happen, you find yourself asking, “Why can’t the WiFi just work?”

Let’s face it. Even if we’re unsure how WiFi operates, we expect it to work when we need it. WiFi connects us in many ways—from working remotely  to shopping to gaming and other forms of entertainment. If we have spotty connection, it can significantly impact our daily lives.

If you want fast, reliable wireless coverage for your entire household, a mesh network is the ideal solution to unreliable WiFi, dead spots, and that ever-annoying “spinning wheel of death.”

Why is my WiFi so slow?

Suppose you have a fast, reliable fiber-optic internet service like Quantum Fiber, but you’re still experiencing lag. Even if your internet speed is up to 1 Gbps, up to 3 Gbps, or even up to 8 Gbps, there could be reasons for sluggish WiFi that have nothing to do with your internet service provider. Factors that could impact your speed include:

  • Distance: WiFi uses radio signals to communicate with your smart devices. The farther you are from your router, the weaker (and slower) the signal.
  • Obstructions: Thick walls and materials like metal, brick, or concrete can be tough for WiFi signals to penetrate.
  • Other devices: Smart home appliances, additional wireless devices, and even a neighbor’s WiFi can create interference.
  • Traffic: We’re not talking about the kind on the expressway. It could be that the internet of things (IoT) is competing with your WiFi. Lights, thermostats, fridges, and smart home security devices all battle for bandwidth with computers, phones, tablets, and TVs. That old router may not cut it anymore.

Learn more about what impacts your internet speeds.

Households that rely on many wireless devices will really benefit from a WiFi mesh network.

Is mesh WiFi better?

A mesh WiFi network, also called managed or whole-home WiFi, is a connected group of access points or “nodes” arranged around your home or small business that work together to distribute a WiFi signal evenly.

Imagine your WiFi network is the lighting in your home. When you turn on one lamp, you only light up the surrounding area. The farther you move away from the light, the dimmer things get. Now picture this scenario with the benefits of a mesh WiFi network. Multiple lamps make it easier to light up the entire house. That’s what a WiFi mesh network does—it powers your whole household.

Instead of just one router, a mesh WiFi network contains two or more nodes. A primary node is hardwired to the modem and acts as the gateway node for WiFi, sharing the WiFi network name and optimization settings to the other nodes . These nodes broadcast throughout the home and enable devices to connect to the one with best signal. A mesh network can completely blanket a house or business with WiFi coverage. Since more WiFi devices are transmitting the signal, and the distances between the access points and devices are shorter, the WiFi signal stays stronger. Traffic from the device then passes from the connected access point to the gateway node and out to the internet.

A mesh network is really smart

One of the advantages of a mesh network is that all its devices share the same network name and credentials. Unlike systems such as range extenders, you don’t have to keep logging in and entering a password every time you move around the house, switching from node to node. Everything’s on a single network.

The node system also uses artificial intelligence to learn how you use your network and understand which devices need more bandwidth. It automatically decides the quickest, most efficient way to route your devices. These systems are so intelligent, they can figure out how to optimize themselves to keep you connected to your WiFi no matter how much you move around.

Mesh WiFi offers convenience

A mesh system like Quantum Fiber® 360 WiFi lets you set up, manage, and control your network using a mobile app. With the 360 WiFi app, you can add and configure extra nodes (or Pods). The system even suggests where they’ll perform best in your house or business. You can also create a separate guest password, block ads or specific devices, and set content controls—with a few taps on your phone or tablet. And with a greater focus on a safe, secure WiFi connection, the app includes an AI-powered cybersecurity feature to help guard your network and all the devices connected to it.

A WiFi mesh network spreads the WiFi signal around your house.

Mesh Nodes Just Look Cool

An unexpected bonus is the node design itself, which looks anything but “techy.” Several models on the market look more like modern accent décor than WiFi gear—with sleek edges and no blinking lights, antennas, or tangled wires.

Mesh WiFi is affordable

Mesh WiFi networks and equipment are still evolving, so prices typically vary from $200 to $1,300. Your cost depends on factors like how sophisticated the gear is and how many nodes you need. You can lease the equipment for an extra monthly fee and have a professional technician install it.

Who needs a WiFi mesh network?

A WiFi mesh network is ideal for large, multi-level homes and business settings, but anyone can benefit from mesh WiFi. The beauty of mesh vs. a traditional router is that the system works with the design of your space, not against it. Each mesh network can be customized to fit any size location. An average home or small business can often get by with a few nodes, but larger spaces will benefit from additional ones.

Mesh WiFi vs. routers: the difference is crystal clear

We no longer “hop on the internet.” It’s where we work, shop, communicate, and play. A mesh network can give you fast, secure, and reliable connectivity if you have a household or small business that depends on many wireless devices. As more WiFi-capable devices become a regular part of our lives, there will be no such thing as having too much WiFi coverage.

Content Disclaimer - All content is for informational purposes only, may require user’s additional research, and is provided “as is” without any warranty, condition of any kind (express or implied), or guarantee of outcome or results. Use of this content is at user’s own risk. All third-party company and product or service names referenced in this article are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsement or affiliation with Quantum Fiber. If Quantum Fiber products and offerings are referenced in the content, they are accurate as of the date of issue. Quantum Fiber services are not available everywhere. Quantum Fiber service usually means 100% fiber-optic network to your location but, in limited circumstances, Quantum Fiber may need to deploy alternative technologies coupled with a non-fiber connection from a certain point (usually the curb) to your location in order to provide the advertised download speeds. ©2024 Q Fiber, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Quantum, Quantum Fiber and Quantum Fiber Internet are trademarks of Quantum Wireless LLC and used under license to Q Fiber, LLC.

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