What Is The Difference Between Traditional WiFi and Mesh WiFi Network?

Traditional WiFi Vs Mesh WiFi

If you’re not an IT professional, navigating IT products or services can be mind boggling.  We’re always happy to answer questions and help clients better understand the options available to them.

Recently, a new client asked a great question.  He wanted to better understand the difference between a traditional WiFi and a mesh WiFi network for his business.  We figure others out there may want more information too, so we’re sharing this great question and our answer, shown below.

Mesh networking, when boiled down to its essence is about eliminating single points of failure.

Traditional WiFi

traditional wifi

In a traditional wireless network, you have a wireless hub (router, access point), that operates like the hub of a wheel. It provides a central point that facilitates and authenticates wireless communication.

In a small environment like a house or a single room office, where there are only a few connected devices, and uptime is not critical, these configurations are fine.  They are secure and manageable. They usually do what they are intended to do; provide network access to WiFi devices.

Their main weakness is that the WiFi router is a single point of failure. If that router has a problem, everyone gets kicked off the network.

They also are not very scalable. If you are in a large space and the signal is weak, you may be able to rectify it with a range extender, but the router is still a single point of failure. There is also a logical limit to the number of range extenders you can put in place, because each time the range is extended, the available bandwidth is cut in half. Also, if any range extender goes offline it breaks everything else further down the chain of communication. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, as the saying goes.
wifi extender

Mesh Wi-Fi

mesh wifi like a chainlink fence

The problems of traditional Wi-Fi have been negated with the advent of mesh wireless networks. To keep with the analogy of a chain, a mesh network operates more like chain mail. All of the links (access points) work together to form a large area of coverage. If a single link in the chainmail were to break, its structural integrity is left largely intact.  Instead of one access point and one point of failure, mesh network access points all link together. If an access point goes offline, connected devices simply switch to another access point and the mesh self-heals.

They are ideal for large coverage areas where you need to push a Wi-Fi signal further and where failures of individual access points will not affect the uptime of the network as a whole.

Suitable environments include large office spaces, hotels and conference centers. It can scale as large as whole towns and cities, or as small as single family homes.
mesh wifi network access points
The mesh networks that TUCU install, include additional features for guest access like paywalls, where guests can enter credit card information in order to get secure access to the network. And voucher based access for spaces like coffee shops.

These enterprise grade mesh networks are scalable, and using indoor and outdoor access points, TUCU can spread your internet connection anywhere you need it.

TUCU is a tech support company serving Toronto, Markham and the GTA.   For a free quote call us at 416-292-3300.

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