Advantages of Mesh Wi-Fi

Every day it seems more aspects of our lives need to be connected. At a typical business, every employee has a cell phone and many are used constantly for vital business functions. With business assets becoming increasingly mobile, a constant, lossless Wi-Fi signal is needed now more than ever. A mesh wireless network seeks to solve this issue by using a series of connected wireless access points (WAPs) throughout a workspace to keep the connection unbroken from end to end.

Most small businesses have an incoming broadband connection from their ISP, a router or firewall, and a single wireless access point. Those that are a little larger may have multiple WAPs for different areas that have different wireless network names and passwords. The first scenario can be challenging mainly because of dead spots in coverage area. Scenario two can be problematic if users need to walk from one area of the office to another. Having to re-join a Wi-Fi network every time wastes valuable time and productivity.

A typical mesh setup involves a single controller or software installation that can be managed from anywhere on your network. Any number of WAPs can be spread out over the space to maximize coverage while using a single network ID and password. Many include features like easy guest network setup for security separation, real time statistics for tracking, and cloud management and control.

Mesh networking does have several limitations. Most use only power over ethernet (POE) to power the individual units. This requires either a POE switch to be in place or the use of POE power injectors for each unit. Some mesh networks require software to be installed on an always-on computer or server for management purposes.

Recently many mesh setups have been targeted for home use. Products like the Eero home Wi-Fi system, Netgear Orbi, and Plume Pods usually come in packs of 3 and are great for home users who want a simple setup and do not require advanced features of a business. Businesses have usually had the choice of going with an enterprise grade solution like Aruba by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or a compartmentalized approach with several unconnected WAPs as described earlier.

For our small and medium sized business customers, we have recently been recommending wireless setups by the Ubiquiti networks. Ubiquiti is a completely flexible and modular system that strikes the balance between enterprise grade features and flexibility with a price that is more in line with consumer mesh networks. With Ubiquiti, we have implemented wireless networks as small as one WAP in a small office, to dozens of interconnected WAPs in a multi-floor hotel. Through their cloud controller, we can monitor connection speeds and coverage, make changes to network ids and passwords, and change most features on the fly. We have received incredibly positive feedback so far on Ubiquiti installations from clients. Most have been very impressed with their reliability and the strength of the signal from the units.

If you would like to review your business’ current wireless setup or think a mesh setup could be right for your team, please contact us at info@onlinects.com to setup an appointment.

Written by Kevin Price

 

 

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