The one thing that the latest smart devices have in common is their use of what’s called “mesh” networking. It’s a concept that’s been around for a while, but one that’s now gone mainstream with superb, easy-to-use products like Google’s Nest Wi-Fi system, the acclaimed eero mesh router, and Netgear’s Orbi system.
Mesh networking solves the problem of your Wi-Fi not covering your entire home – but in a smart way. Previously, anyone looking to expand Wi-Fi coverage in a large home would’ve needed to use Wi-Fi extender devices, which tend to be difficult to set up and noticeably slower than your main Wi-Fi.
With a mesh network, you have a main router connected directly to your NBN broadband, and then a set of “satellite” routers that you position around your home. These all work together as a whole-home wireless network to make sure you have fast, reliable internet that you can count on, no matter where you are in the house.
But why does it matter? Well, think about all the stuff you use the internet for – streaming video, online games, access to your voice assistant and, of course, home automation. With mesh networking, you’ll be able to turn smart lights on and off from anywhere in the house, easily connect TVs and devices to your network to stream without buffering, and never need to worry about choppy Zoom or Facetime calls, because the entire house becomes part of the same fast, interconnected Wi-Fi network.
Mesh routers and their satellite units automatically manage network traffic to make sure everyone in the home gets fast, responsive internet – and that makes them a great solution for families that have a lot of data demands, especially in the evenings when multiple 4K streams are being watched and games played.
The emphasis is on ease of setup and ease of use – you don’t need to be a networking guru to get a mesh network up and running in your home, because the heavy lifting is done by these very clever devices. Setup just requires you to place the satellite units in the best spots so they can talk to the other devices on the network, something made easy by companion apps like Google Home.
Google’s Nest Wi-Fi is especially great for smart home users, as each and every unit around the home has an integrated smart speaker with Google Assistant. That lets you send music anywhere in the house, control smart devices, even manage your Wi-Fi network just by speaking. The base pack comes with a router and two point units, but you can easily add more to expand coverage throughout your home – with no wires to worry about and no complicated setup.
If automatic handling of traffic across your network is important to you, eero’s mesh product is hugely popular and offers fast and easy setup. And Netgear’s Orbi system focuses on raw speed, with support for Wi-Fi at up to 6 Gbps – many times faster than wired networking.
Wireless internet used to be frustrating for anyone in a home of average size or above, and the available solutions weren’t ideal. Mesh networking changes all that – it’s easy to set up, expandable if required, and blazingly fast.