Mesh Wireless Networks Help Deal With Office Wi-Fi Black SpotsPosted by
If your office Wi-Fi network is still plagued by dead spots after you’ve exhausted all the troubleshooting tips, it might be time to step up to a mesh wireless network.
Sorting out your office Wi-Fi woes can be tricky. There are so many factors at play. The best approach is to put your wireless router in a central location – up high and away from other wireless equipment. Also, ensure you use a different channel to other nearby networks.
If you’ve run out of troubleshooting options then it might be time to bite the bullet and invest in new Wi-Fi gear. Instead of simply opting for a more powerful base station, you might benefit from upgrading to a mesh wireless network.
Working as a team
A mesh wireless network consists of two or more wireless base stations working in unison to offer blanket coverage. To your devices they look like a single wireless network, so your smartphones, tablets and notebooks can seamlessly roam between base stations the same way your mobile phone jumps between mobile towers without dropping your call.
The first wireless base station is plugged into your broadband modem. After that, you place the other wireless base stations around your office. They need to be close enough to talk to each other, and there’s usually an option to test the signal strength during the set-up process. They don’t all need to be within range of the first base station, as they can relay traffic to each other.
Mesh networks are particularly useful in multi-storey buildings. You place one base station on each floor rather than expecting a single wireless router to do the job.
Apart from addressing the dead zones in your office Wi-Fi, another benefit of mesh wireless networks is that they tend to support both the 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. While 5GHz is faster and less prone to interference, 2.4GHz reaches further and does a better job of punching through solid objects like walls.
Some mesh systems give you the option to run separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, or to combine them into a single network. When combined, they use “bandsteering” to shift your devices between the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. This ensures your devices are always getting the strongest signal.
Some standard wireless routers also offer band steering, shifting your devices to the 2.4GHz band when you’re far from the router. The benefit of a mesh network is that there’s always a base station nearby, so your devices are less likely to fall back to the slower 2.4GHz band where they’re more vulnerable to interference.
You’ll find a range of business and consumer-grade mesh networks. However, it’s important to do your research before you take the plunge. For example, Google Wifi insists on living at the heart of your network. It plugs directly into your broadband modem, in place of your broadband gateway. This might present challenges if you rely on advanced networking features in your gateway.
Consider whether you’d be better off with a mesh network from the likes of Linksys or Netgear, particularly one that supports “bridge mode”. This lets you leave your broadband gateway in place at the centre of your network and then delegate the Wi-Fi features to your mesh wireless network.
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