What is Mesh and how does it work

Mesh – what is it and why the name often appears on the Russian Internet. The answer is simple: wireless networks have learned to penetrate brick walls and reinforced concrete floors. We will show you how to set it up and compare the internet speed before and after.

We used to choose: fast wired internet or slow Wi-Fi. The wired connection has one disadvantage – location binding. Otherwise, it is fast, stable and consistent. The wireless network is a capricious thing, the behavior of the Internet can change from weather conditions and the environment. For example, the signal rapidly loses power when passing through walls and concrete floors.

There are two ways to solve the problem with the quality of coverage: put a long-range router or connect an amplifier . In the first case, the signal will still deteriorate due to obstacles, and in the second, the Internet speed will decrease exactly twice – this is the principle of the bridge. And if this is a wireless bridge, which is not yet supported by all models of routers, then you can safely add the interference of channels with neighboring frequencies to communication problems. And this is the minimum that a user will face when he sets up such a system. But there is the magic word Mesh – it will fix everything.

What is Mesh
The owners of wide Internet channels know how rarely it is possible to get full speed at a tariff if instead of a twisted pair they connect via Wi-Fi. Modern routers have learned to accelerate to 5 GHz , but this does not negate the nuances with the quality of the coverage. Therefore, the theoretical 7 Gbit / s is almost always limited to 300-500 Mbit / s, and then the receiving devices should be in close proximity to the transmitting ones. It is better to keep silent about the high-speed maximums of the 2.4 GHz range .

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The already classic home network with a conventional Wi-Fi router.

In short, this is a classic wireless network: twisted pair is connected to a router, which picks up the connection and transmits it over the air. The further the user moves away from the transmitter, the less paid megabits remain in his laptop . To fix this, you need to change the structure of the network. For example, make sure that the Internet is not only in the room with the router, but also on another floor or in the back bedroom. To do this, you need to install several equivalent devices. These are not bridged routers, but special routers with a dedicated channel for communication with each other. For home, as a rule, two or three such devices are enough: one works as the main transmitter, the rest duplicate the signal. This is Mesh .

How it looks
Behind the complex theory and foreign names is an ergonomic and home-user-friendly system. The new generation of Mesh routers is easy to recognize by the futuristic design of the cases and the fact that the usual antenna horns are almost always absent on the rear panel:

As a rule, such kits contain at least two devices, but many more devices can be connected to the system. They can be purchased separately: plug in and use. Tune? Come on, they can communicate just fine without us. Well, just gold buns, nothing else. The standard “horned” one loses to them both in design and in ergonomics:

What is different from a router
Without going into details, a router in a conventional system and a router in Mesh are boxes with similar filling. The set of their capabilities depends on the “coolness” of the model and the power of the hardware. But this is only at first glance: even the most sophisticated and powerful router cannot become a “mesh”, and here’s why.

Creating a decentralized wireless network, where each device works independently, it is necessary to connect an additional channel for communication between them, so that, in addition to user Wi-Fi points, the router has an invisible connection in stock to communicate with its twin brothers. In the correct implementation, a separate module with its own amplifier and antenna is installed for this. Manufacturers call it Backhaul – transport link. That is, a channel that delivers some kind of service information without interfering with the affairs of customers.

This is how the antenna unit of the Zyxel Multy X Mesh system looks like: the antennas for Backhaul are red, the main ones for user bands are yellow, and Bluetooth is blue. Basically, this is how all Mesh routers are arranged.

It turns out that the “mesh” has two sides – the front-end and the back-end, that is, the backhole. A simple router has one – only client communication. These are the hardware differences between routers from different systems.

Why Mesh is better than a regular router
“Iron” improvements in new systems also change the behavior of routers in the software plan. This also distinguishes them from their predecessors in practical use.

For example, Mesh has a single access point with one name and password for all stations. This means that when moving from one zone to another, devices do not waste time for authorization. Therefore, an important Skype or FaceTime call will not be interrupted at a crucial moment.
Mesh creates seamless roaming so you can work anywhere in your home without signal loss. Moving from one coverage area to another does not interrupt packet transmission, so video streaming or streaming will continue without interruption.

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Standard repeaters limit the network bandwidth in half. This is a payment for half-duplex operation, when data is both transmitted and received simultaneously over one channel. Unlike repeaters and signal amplifiers, Mesh devices are connected using additional Backhaul modules and do not interfere with the main channels. Therefore, the speed of the Internet connection is always maximum.

In the Mesh network, the transmitting devices work in a decentralized manner, so if any of them fail, the neighboring router will quickly pick up the connection, and the Internet will not disappear anywhere.

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To create a similar network using conventional routers, you will have to use a bridged connection. To do this, you need to establish fixed channels – neighboring routers will not be happy about this and will begin to conflict with our network. Unstable signal, low speed and interference with neighboring internet are guaranteed. In a Mesh network, routers automatically select channels and settings in such a way as to give the maximum speed in the environment and not interfere with the operation of other devices.

Each router in a decentralized network can independently choose which devices it is best to give the Internet to. If the TV and the set-top box are closer to point A, then it will work only for these devices, and the smartphone will remain on the adjacent signal from point B. This is how adaptive routing works.

Mesh routers do not need to be configured. For work, it is enough to connect the Internet to the head unit. The rest will be configured automatically when you connect to your home network: plugged in, opened the proprietary application, made a couple of taps – and you’re done.
Advanced Mesh models have learned how to control smart homes. For this, there are special channels such as ZigBee or built-in Bluetooth.