Those who live in large apartments or private homes often face a situation where one wireless router, however good it may be, cannot provide full and consistent Wi-Fi coverage around the entire home. As a result, in one room the speed is perfect, and in the other part of the house, there are so-called dead zones where the signal level is either too low to be useful, or disappears completely.
Until recently, this problem was ‘solved’ by installing a second router, and its most important feature was a repeater mode support. What does that mean? In short, more effort, and often more problems! You can configure the second router to expand the signal of the first one making a connection a bit more stable. But although the coverage area significantly increases and stabilizes, there is another problem: the connection speed on each new repeater drops noticeably.
Eero is a great example of the new breed of WiFi systems, as they developed the first home WiFi products created specifically to solve this issue, using a technology called ‘Mesh Networking’. Unfortunately, eero sales have previously been limited to the U.S., but you can now buy eero in Australia, so we thought it was time to help people understand the new way of doing things, and why Mesh Networking is the way to go!
The eero (or any Mesh Network) Wi-Fi system consists of several devices: at least one ‘base’ station, and several smaller, cheaper beacons, designed to fit in anywhere as needed and expand the network coverage. Most products have pre-configured packages intended for particular sized homes – eero has packages for for 1-2, 2-4, and 3-5+ bedroom homes which consist of 1 eero + 1 Beacon, 1 eero + 2 Beacons, and 3 eeros respectively.
To get set up, it is enough to connect one Eero device to the network and place other access points in remote rooms providing a stable Wi-Fi signal. Eero engineers implemented mesh networking model which means that all nodes are formally equal, and the system manages itself.
So, unlike the “router, to repeater 1, to repeater 2” scheme, where the major router is used to manage all the network and routing issues and the other devices are just trying to relay that information as dumb extenders, all three eero devices are full-fledged routers, creating, a Mesh Network where each node serves as a transition point for another node in the system, working together to give an evenly-distributed powerful signal throughout the whole mesh. This eliminates dead spots and weak points in your home WiFi – wherever you have WiFi within the Mesh, you have a strong signal.
Also part of these new breed of WiFi systems is the possibility for integration with a dedicated app on your phone to easily allow management of all aspects of the system, speed tests, and more. If you’ve ever had to log into a weird web address and use an ugly, confusing web interface to configure a router, you will know how big a deal this is. For example, as well as providing all the management functionality you would expect, the eero app can automatically connect to your wireless network, see how many devices are connected to the network, test your network’s speed, and see how much traffic is being consumed. These new systems are also smart enough to automatically install updates and improvements that make the system work much more stably – they keep secure and up to date, without the need to do any ‘fiddling’.
While we’d love to list all of the features that are made possible by these systems having a dedicated app, but they vary, and time is short! That said, we think being able to easily create a new network from your smartphone or quickly add a guest without having to share or remember your password – time savers made super simple with a few taps on your phone – rate a quick mention.
Finally, while routers in general can be ugly beasts, splattered with antennae and cables, some of this new breed of routers are pretty enough to take pride of place in any home. Given we all have WiFi in our homes, it’s amazing it has taken this long for design of these devices to be an important consideration (I guess Apple used to make nice looking routers, but they were the exception, and are now completely outdated with their WiFi router tech). Again, as an example, the eero design is extremely minimalistic and elegant – it looks like the sort of device Apple might release if they decided to become relevant in WiFi again…
We hope this helped you get your head around what Mesh Networking is, why it’s better than older WiFi systems, and how it manages to be so, and we hope you’re now interested in checking out the options available. Faster and better WiFi is possible! If you’re looking for more information, typing keywords like ‘Mesh Networking’ into Google should give you plenty.