Mesh networks first appeared in the 1980s in military experiments, and became commercially available in the 1990s, according to PC World.
Name the one thing all your devices in the home have in common. If you answered “Wi-Fi,” you’d be correct. From your PC and printer to your smartphone and tablet to your video game console to smart home gadgets, wireless internet is what keeps them connected.
That’s why it can be incredibly frustrating if your wireless router can’t give you the range, speed and reliability you want. This is especially a pain for those in larger homes and older homes (perhaps with concrete walls that hamper the signal).
If you, too, want to get rid of Wi-Fi dead zones in your home, consider a mesh system.
These easy-to-install kits typically include a wireless router and one or more access points (or hubs) to place around the home, to deliver fast and consistent speeds in every room. The hubs wirelessly communicate with the router to blanket a broader space, with faster and more reliable Wi-Fi.
Another benefit: Unlike with a repeater or extender—an older way to broaden Wi-Fi—you don’t need to change the name of the network, as your Wi-Fi enabled devices will automatically join the closest and strongest signal.
A mesh system will contain a certain number of hubs, but you can always add more. Generally speaking, the bigger your home, the more hubs you’ll need for broader coverage.
Bonus: If you have a front porch or a backyard, a mesh system means outside, too.
In most cases, a companion app walks you through the optimal place to plug these hubs throughout the home. As a rule of thumb, hubs work best when they’re no more than two rooms away from each other.
Newer mesh systems might offer handy parental controls, which let you set some restrictions and control them all from an app. For example, you might be concerned about screen time, so you can set time limits, such as allowing the kids to be online for, say, two hours per weekday, between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. And you can pause the Wi-Fi for your kids’ devices during dinner and bedtime.
In some cases, you can also filter content for a device, such as preventing access to inappropriate websites.