Mesh networking has been all the rage in the WiFi router space over the last few years, with nearly every company that makes consumer networking gear offering a whole-home WiFi solution that lets you use multiple routers to boost your signal in spaces that would be tough to reach with a single router.

But there’s a catch: you can’t just grab any two routers and expect them to work together. Have a Google WiFi? You’ll need another Google WiFi if you want to create a mesh network. The same goes for routers from Eero, TP-Link, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, and others.

But the WiFi Alliance has created a new standard that could allow interoperability… if it’s widely adopted.

It’s called Wi-Fi EasyMesh, and it’s a platform that offers a “standards-based approach” to the problem.

In a nutshell, if your home networking gear supports the standard, it will let you use multiple routers and access points to flesh out a single wireless network, regardless of who makes those routers.

Wi-Fi EasyMesh also makes it easy to add new hardware to an existing network, and the technology can monitor network conditions and make adjustments automatically. Your phones, laptops, or other wireless devices should automatically connect to the appropriate access point as you move throughout your house.

Of course, this all depends on companies integrating the new technology into their routers. And it’s not at all clear that they’ll want to do that. After all, why make it easier for you to buy gear from their competitors?

The Wi-Fi Alliance suggests it’ll lead to improved customer satisfaction… and that’s probably true. But it’s telling that most of the testimonials accompanying the official press release come from chip makers, not the companies that actually make the routers you’d actually buy.

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5 replies on “Wi-Fi EasyMesh standard will let you build a mesh network using routers from different companies”

  1. I’ve never understood the difference between “mesh” vs. just using the built-in software that comes with any normal routers to set them up as wireless access points. Haven’t we always been able to have this same functionality that is now being branded as “mesh network”, or am I missing something?

    1. Meshed routers allow you to set up multiple wireless access points over a larger area without having to configure extenders or wireless bridges or some other configuration that needs setting up. In other words, as opposed to diving into the configuration screens of multiple routers which may or may not provide the functionality you need, you just plug in the mesh routers and (I assume) minimal setup, they all just work.

      It’s a convenience thing, which is especially important for people who are not technically minded.

    2. A huge difference is the true “mesh” routers actually have self helming and discovery, but more importantly, again, TRUE mesh routers have dedicated backhaul, be it wired or wireless. most current “mesh” systems and frankenmesh systems don’t have a dedicated backhaul and use the same radios halving your total bandwidth. That s a huge huge performance issue, not to mention most “mesh” systems wifi roaming doesn’t function properly at all and refuses to hand off from 1 node to another regardless of rssi level.

    3. I assume you’re comparing a Wi-Fi mesh network to repeaters/range extenders. One of the main differences is network topology and how data is routed across the network.

      A repeater is a much simpler scheme where a central router’s Wi-Fi signal is just rebroadcasted to extend range. If the central router fails, then your entire network goes down. If a repeater fails, then it and its downstream network goes down. It’s not very resilient. Also, only so many repeaters can be daisy chained until the signal becomes too degraded to be extended any further. For a house, this is usually sufficient.

      A mesh network is more complex and is relatively new to consumer routers. There are multiple “nodes” and, ideally, more than one has Internet access. Nodes can communicate with any other node within its range. This increases the reliability of the network where if a node goes down or is congested, a client’s (ie. your notebook) network traffic can be routed through another path. Also, the mesh’s range can be extended without the same limitations as a repeater system. As previously mentioned, Wi-Fi meshes can use different bands or channels for the node-to-node communication (backhaul) and the client-to-node connection to maximize bandwidth. This isn’t always the case so bandwidth can potentially be halved like with repeaters when using cheap Wi-Fi mesh routers. But half of what 802.11ac is capable of isn’t that bad.

      Is a mesh network useful for a house? I doubt it unless you have a mansion. Definitely useless for a small apartment. I’ve mostly seen Wi-Fi mesh networks being useful as an alternative to cellular networks or networking in a large corporate/military setting where Wi-Fi APs can’t be directly wired into the network for some reason. For consumers, Wi-Fi meshes would rarely be useful especially over just getting a repeater. I don’t really understand why companies are trying to push Wi-Fi mesh products to consumers. Not a lot of people have 3+ story houses with a lot of rooms and thick walls/floors…

    4. Without getting into the details, mesh networking is new to consumer routers and it’s not the same as existing Wi-Fi range extenders/repeaters. However, with that said, Wi-Fi mesh networks are probably useless to most people. Unless there was a housing market crash I wasn’t aware of and everyone’s buying huge houses, right now.

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