Almost everyone has experienced that one spot in their house where the wireless signal just isn’t as strong as it should be. It might even show up when you’re trying to stream Netflix across the house, and you can’t figure out why the signal just isn’t up to par. The truth of the matter is that the signal has more to do with the structure of your house than the viability of the signal itself. Walls get in the way and cause signal degradation the more there are between your device and your router.
Ideally, you’re going to want a solid wireless signal everywhere because you’d love to have a strong signal in every room in the house, but up until more recently, that wasn’t entirely possible without extenders, and even then, it wasn’t always effective. That’s where the latest trend in routers, wireless mesh networking, comes into play, and it is fabulous.
What is Wireless Mesh?
Wireless mesh is the next big thing in networking, and it’s so much more than you would think. It’s not just a new wave of routers. It’s an entirely new technology that can improve wireless availability in your home. Think about the way a net covers a surface, and you’ve got a visual representation of how a mesh network functions. Not only does it cast a virtual net over your home, but it is also easy to configure because aside from initial setup, mesh network devices will take care of the rest by themselves. Mesh networks are effective at solving a major problem that has plagued wireless networks for years – covering a single large area when there are no network presences physically available. All those dead spots that happen in traditional wireless networks are no longer a thing thanks to wireless mesh networks.
How does Wireless Mesh Work?
Mesh networking uses several bases to extend the size of the network. Each node exchanges data on a consistent basis from node to node. Because of the way they communicate, each node is aware of the other nodes within the network. A key difference is that mesh networks do not actually transmit the data through the various base stations. Instead, the nodes work to adjust and decrease any potential virtual interference and extend the range of the signal. Their functionality leads to higher throughput than what most wireless routers provide. Some mesh routers are single band, and others have multiple bands. More bands lead to better functionality. As an example, the Eero has three different bands which allow for bands that are dedicated to reducing potential congestion on the same channel.
Do You Need Wireless Mesh?
Well, that depends on a few things. Wireless mesh uses different proprietary protocols when you compare them to your traditional wifi. It with the 802.11 suite of protocols, but what you see in most routers and other wireless network gear is the standard 802.11n protocol that is cross-compatible among all wireless platforms regardless of the manufacturer. In other words, a D-Link modem will not
have any issues communicating with a Linksys router connected to a Belkin switch.
Wireless mesh protocols have not yet been standardized, so while they are compatible with 802.11 equipment, they may only be compatible inside your own home, but not necessarily compatible with each other. In other words, you can’t put an Eero inside of a Google Wifi mesh network because they aren’t going to be compatible.
Once you’re in, you’re stuck unless you get a whole new setup. The problem with this is that because the technology is still so new for consumers if a company were to fold and disappear, you would be out of luck getting any support later on. No support would mean you couldn’t call someone if you needed something, no warranty coverage, inability to purchase new pieces, and access apps wouldn’t be updated anymore. Additionally, if there were ever any major security flaws that showed up later, you might never get that needed update. So when you ask whether or not you need to get a wireless mesh network setup, it’s not an easy yes or no kind of answer. Is the efficiency more important to you now than the long-term possibilities? Alternatively, are the long-term possibilities a deal-breaker for you right now? You’ll have to weigh the answers to those questions and be prepared in case the startups like Eero were to ever go south. If you decide to go forward with a mesh network, it’s a good idea to compare different mesh network specifications to see if there are any preferences between them.
- A new type of connected system for seamless WiFi coverage throughout your home, helping eliminate dead zones and buffering
- Replaces your current router, and works your modem and internet service. It's compatible with major internet service providers including Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon Fios
- A single WiFi point covers up to 1,500 square feet, a set of three covers homes up to 4,500 square feet Wifi points work together so you can add more if you need additional coverage
It’s no wonder that Google Wifi is at the forefront of this latest tech, especially since Google needs you to be online. If you weren’t online, chances are Google would eventually cease to exist because then not hardly anyone would be online searching the web. It would be like we went back to the early 1990s – the horror! With that said, Google knows how to make their equipment work with the web, and do so seamlessly. If you’ve ever used Google products, you’re going to be ahead of the curve because you’re going to intuitively know how it needs to be setup.
Setup is Easy
Setting up Google Wifi is as easy as most plug and play devices. You turn on the first unit and connect it directly to your modem. Make sure you download the app so you can monitor and finish setting up your nodes. After that, you’ll get real-time instructions on what you need to do next to set up the remaining additional nodes. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and then you’re done. When setup has been completed, with three nodes, you’ll be able to cover approximately 4500 square feet of house space, so even larger homes can take advantage of the coverage provided by a mesh network.
The Google Wifi App
As you explore the app, you’re going to see that there are some really cool features that you’ll especially love if you have kids that might play Fortnite for just a little too long these days. That’s right. You can set the amount of time allowed by the device from your app. Then when their internet connection goes down, and they cry out, “Mo-om” or “Da-ad, it stopped working,” you’ll know why and subsequently send them outside to play. Unless it’s 2 am, in which case they might just be tired enough to go to sleep.
One of the best things about the easy setup and reliable connectivity with Google Wifi is the way that it updates seamlessly. They keep updates going on a regular schedule, so you know that your network is always going to be secure so long as Google Wifi sticks around. You can find Google Wifi online directly from Google, or you can purchase them at places like Best Buy and Fry’s electronics. Currently, they run around $ for a set of three stations.
Business Insider compared a few mesh networks to include Google Wifi. When the speeds were tested at the main router, the performance was exceptional and delivered a consistent 100Mbps or more download speed, and an excellent 35Mbps upload. However, when they tested the various satellite nodes, the download speed lost a lot of strength, but the upload speed stayed consistent. This was not the case with others that were compared, and the Google Wifi performed the worst at the satellite points.
- Whole-home WiFi system - The eero Pro mesh WiFi system (1 eero Pro + 2 eero Beacon) replaces the traditional WiFi router, WiFi extender, and internet booster by covering a 2-4 bedroom home with fast and reliable internet powered by a mesh network.
- eero 2nd generation - With the most intelligent mesh WiFi technology and powerful hardware, the eero 2nd generation WiFi system is 2x as fast as the original eero WiFi. Backwards compatible with 1st generation eero products.
- WiFi extender - The eero Beacon is a full-fledged WiFi access point that simply plugs in to standard outlets and easily extends your WiFi connectivity to every device with more reliability than the standard WiFi booster.
Eero is a pioneer in consumer mesh tech, and their latest model is the second generation of their product. It is a tri-band mesh system complete. One of the bands is dedicated to intra-node communications, so as the nodes talk to each other, they don’t interfere with the overall bandwidth capacity. The beacons themselves are polished, small, and aesthetically pleasing to behold, especially if you’re into the whole minimalist look. You’ll get fantastic coverage without really obvious placements of individual units. Plus, you can add as many beacons as you want to and it won’t have an issue with connectivity. Eero also provides a fast and efficient network due to the way the bands are configured, even across larger distances. Even adding a new beacon is easy. Once you plug it in, you’ll get a notification on the app to do an update. After you update your newest addition, it will seamlessly integrate into your entire network.
Setup is about as easy as it is for the Google Wifi mesh. Before you plug anything in, though, you’ll need to download the app to get it taken care of. The app is very user-friendly and talks you through the entire process to get you connected in next to no time at all. Even if you’re not familiar with technology like this, you’ll still be able to follow the instructions relatively easily. You’ll also notice that there is a base unit as well in addition to the two other beacons. Only the base unit has an ethernet port, so keep that in mind when you’re going through your setup process.
The Eero App
The Eero app is easy to read and even easier to navigate. You can find everything you need to know by checking out your app to see what is going on inside your network. Information found in the app includes device usage, diagnostics, and the ability to shut down the internet as needed. In other words, when your kiddos have been watching too many Minecraft videos or playing too long on some other online game, you can temporarily disable their part of the network and get them to rejoin civilization for a bit. In all seriousness, though, the app has excellent functionality and usability. You’ll love what you can see.
Getting Eero Updates
Eero functions very similarly to Google Wifi. They have rolling software updates on a regular basis, and each update provides the newest security additions. You can also manually update the network via the app. As soon as you install your network, you’ll immediately get a notification on your app asking if you’d like to install updates. You tap the button, and then the updates just start. If you don’t get a notice, that’s okay, too, because it just means that your Eero is fully updated already. Just make sure you’ve got the latest app version, too, and it will be smooth sailing for you the entire time you’re getting updates.
The Eero was another one of the units that was tested over at Business Insider, and it had exceptional performance all the way around. The primary router reported a download speed of over 100Mbps and an upload speed of approximately 35Mbps. When they tested the connectivity over at one of the beacons, the reported download speed remained the same 100Mbps or more, and the upload speed consistently stayed at 35Mbps, too.
The Pros of Eero vs Google Wifi
Now that you’ve got some information on these two different mesh networks, here’s a quick breakdown into the pros and cons of each one so you can weigh them against each other.
Google Wifi Pros and Cons:
Eero Pros and Cons
Which One Should You Buy?
The one you should buy is going to depend on your personal preference as well as your overall budget. Both choices make it possible to improve your overall network performance, and each covers an impressive amount of square footage. Google Wifi will do what you need it to do very well and for a smaller price tag. Plus, you get three units with their set for $. The Eero is considerably more expensive for a two-pack that covers an equivalent square footage. It runs around $ for a three pack, and it will cost you $ for a two-pack.
That’s a huge difference in your wallet for a similar performance. The only thing that would push you to consider the Eero over Google Wifi would be if you’re a gamer type. Eero does have better download and upload performance, while Google Wifi is worse when you compare upload speeds. For basic streaming, they both function very well, so for the average person looking to improve their overall network connectivity, Google Wifi would be the way to go because it is so much cheaper and still offers excellent performance.