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6 key notes: Mesh networking considerations

Mesh is now the mainstream wireless networking solution. But did you know that mesh is not just a matter of buying two or three routers, installing them and setting them up perfectly according to the setup wizard? 6 tips for mesh networking!

Don’t buy the wrong set, choose a dedicated backhaul function router

When consumer mesh routers were introduced, there were only a few brands to choose from in the market, but today there are numerous brands of individual mesh routers, and complete mesh systems available for purchase. So, how do you know which one to buy?

First, be cautious of the kit solution’s advertising claims about the area to be used. A kit claiming signal coverage of four hundred square meters may give you signal coverage throughout your house, but it may not necessarily run to the full speed of incoming broadband. In general, it’s best to buy more access access points in kit solution situations, and sometimes you need two or three more access points than in the kit to achieve truly perfect signal coverage.

The advantages of the kit Mesh solution: each node device is relatively small, easy access to set up.

Dedicated backhaul is a must for larger houses. there are many aspects to look for in a router or AP access point for a mesh system, but if you can, try not to choose based on looks and price alone. Some ultra-compact APs that look pretty often have performance issues due to size and power limitations.

Instead, it’s more important to have a kit solution with dedicated backhaul (either wired or wireless) for communication between access points, especially if you have a larger household situation.

For example, for some large townhomes or villas, if the main router is in the basement, the signal may have to go to the access point on the main floor, then up to the access point on the second floor, and then to the device on the third floor. In this case, all those jump connections will result in degraded system performance without a dedicated backhaul channel.

While the advantages of wired backhaul have been raised many times, it is not to say that wireless backhaul is useless. The advantage of wireless backhaul is that it can be achieved without much setup and by connecting each node according to the default wizard (even one-click code matching is implemented in the suite of products). It is also basically available in cases where there is not a lot of bandwidth and where there is little interoperability between devices with large data volumes (such as a home set up AV NAS server). If you buy a router with dedicated backhaul (usually a tri-band WiFi6 router using one of the 5G bands for backhaul), the difference between downlink bandwidth and wired backhaul is small and can even be slightly exceeded near the nodes when the 5G band is turned on (but the uplink speed is still stronger for wired backhaul).

Some kit-type products support both wired backhaul and dedicated 5G backhaul bands, which can be given priority.

The selection priority is: no dedicated backhaul (default wireless hybrid backhaul) < support for wireless dedicated backhaul < support for wired dedicated backhaul < support for wireless + wired dedicated backhaul.

Turn off the ONU WiFi

The operator gives you WiFi ONU, wifi performance is not very good, just enough. Own Mesh networking is recommended to turn off the WiFi of the ONU to improve the performance of your Mesh system, because the ONU and the main router are very close to each other, the interference between the two powerful signal sources will be stronger, especially on the 2.4GHz band with stronger penetration and longer transmission distance, which may cancel each other’s signals and reduce wireless performance.

BT-PON’s WiFi6 ONU will be released soon with WiFi stability, high speed and wider coverage.

Avoid improper installation

Several principles are available for your reference.

Start from a central location

For the location of your mesh main route, the ideal location should be the center of your house – although people are used to putting the main route and the optical cat together in the weak box. If you start in the weak box in the corner of the entry, the wireless signal may take several hops to get from the main router to the end-user device. Ideally, your network topology will resemble a star layout, with each access point connected directly to the main router/AP, which is the most efficient.

The placement of the subroutes in the network plan in the diagram is relatively scientific, but it makes less sense (but common) for the main route to be placed at the corner of the line into the home. This situation requires the use of wired backhaul to compensate, and network latency is increased in the case of wireless hybrid backhaul.

Therefore, when renovating a house, it is very forward-looking to try to place a gigabit and above level network access point as close to the geometric center of the house as possible, while the placement of the router can be combined with the furniture setup in the house.

Place sub-routes where there is a good signal

Each sub-route should be no more than 10 meters in a straight line from the main router. Place the access point where you have a good signal and hopefully a good signal, not where you want a weak signal.

Place the access point in a higher place

Get better performance by elevating your AP and placing it in an unobstructed space. Putting your access point out in the open, as high as possible, will lead to the best results. If you insist on hiding your access point, make up for it with a stronger signal and a greater number of access points. Putting APs in cabinets can lead to poor signal coverage utilization.

according to the signal strength and attenuation rate to determine the placement distance

Wi-Fi uses 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz (WiFi6E and the future WiFi7) frequencies, all incredibly high. As a result, they have a much shorter effective range compared to broadcast radio signals. That’s not to mention the limited power of a home Wi-Fi router, and countries are limited to the maximum transmitting power.

The 2.4GHz band has the best coverage range of up to about 60 meters. However, it is also used by Bluetooth devices, RF RF wireless headphones, microwave ovens and other non-WiFi devices. Its actual speed is heavily affected by interference. 5GHz band is around 50 meters. 6GHz band is around 40 meters.

Signal blocking strength of indoor obstacles

Walls are the biggest problem in obstacles because they are everywhere. Different types of walls block WiFi signals to different degrees. Other large objects, such as large appliances (refrigerators and washing machines) are also bad.

Here are the maximum rough values for how much walls block WiFi signals. If you use WiFi6E in the 6GHz band, add a 10%-15% attenuation rate to the 5GHz.

Thin decorative porous walls (wood, gypsum board, drywall, hollow block walls, etc.) It will block 10% (2.4GHz) to 30% (5GHz) of the Wi-Fi signal.

Thick porous walls: 20% (2.4GHz) to 40% (5GHz).

Thin non-porous walls (non-shear cement walls, tiles, bricks with mortar, etc.): 30% (2.4GHz) to 50% (5GHz)

Thick non-porous walls (reinforced concrete shear walls, beam and column walls, etc.) 50% to 90%.

Obstacle material obstruction WiFi signal ranking

  • Metal (including metal sheets, metal shutters, ceiling, doors, furniture, metal reinforcement in walls)
  • Concrete
  • Gypsum and metal framing slats
  • Tile and tile cement/seam
  • windows and tinted glass
  • Mirrors
  • dry wall panels
  • Other 2.4GHz appliances
  • Neighbor’s same channel router
  • Water bodies
  • Appliances
  • Furniture

Recommended maximum coverage distance for a single router

Therefore, if there is no wall between the main router to the sub router, you can place the sub router between 12 meters and 20 meters away from the main router. If there is a wall, 10m to 12m is the best distance.

Intermediate switching devices

If the room is large, or access to the device is wired, wireless mixed and numerous, such as a NAS that requires 2G ~ 2.5G connection, a wireless network printer, but also the traditional wired access to desktop, sometimes wired and sometimes wireless access to the laptop, and the decoration has a pre-buried network cable, you may wish to consider using an intermediate device, such as a switch.

Say goodbye to WiFi5

WiFi 6 is now widely available, skipping the outdated WiFi 5 system (model specification AC xxxx is generally WiFi 5, while WiFi 6 is AX xxxx).

With WiFi 6 supporting more device access and higher speeds, as well as better support for some roaming features than WiFi 5, it’s time to say goodbye to WiFi 5.