What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mesh Networks and Wireless Routers?
It’s no wonder that your download and upload speeds have become abysmal, and that your Internet connection drops more often than ever before. The solution is seemingly obvious: you need a new WiFi router.
But before you go to Amazon and order a top-selling model, pause for a second and let us explain what options you really have to strengthen your home wireless network. Namely, we want to talk about the difference between mesh networks and traditional hub and spoke networks.
Most home users rely on the star topology. This topology is characterized by a central router connected to the Internet and peripheral devices, called nodes, that connect to the Internet through the central router.
The main advantage of this network topology is how easy it is to set it up. In most cases, all you have to do is plug two cables into the central router and select a WiFi password. The main disadvantage, on the other hand, is the inherent lack of scalability.
Because all devices that want to connect to the Internet have to go through a single central router, it’s very easy to reach the point when the router simply can’t process more information in real-time, which results in slowdowns and lags.
You could, of course, get a better router, but that would just buy you some time without really solving the underlying problem. Mesh networks represent a much more future-proof solution.
A mesh network is comprised of multiple access points that all connect directly to one another. For a mesh network to function, only one access point has to be connected to the Internet, but it’s also possible to connect more than one access point to the Internet for performance reasons.
Instead of going directly to a single central router, data on mesh networks hops from node to node until it reaches an access point connected to the Internet. If one node on a mesh network goes down, the network can automatically heal itself and reroute the data. A new node can connect to a mesh network automatically, simultaneously strengthening the network while taking advantage of the network’s bandwidth.
The main disadvantage of mesh networks lies in their complexity. Until relatively recently, there weren’t that many consumer-grade home mesh network systems that could be deployed without much configuration right out of the box. The situation has changed, however, with companies like Google entering the market with affordable home mesh WiFi solutions ready for mass adoption.