New mesh technologies ensure that every corner of your house is WiFi-connected

26th February 2018
New mesh technologies ensure that every corner of your house is WiFi-connected

Bangalore, February 26 2018: The average  Indian family today owns half a dozen devices that are connected to the Internet:  3 or 4 mobiles phones with different members; a PC, maybe  laptop,  a tablet or smart TV. It makes sense to  subscribe to a broadband service and  share  a single Internet connection across devices by creating a wireless (WiFi) home  network.
Problem is, the router supplied by  broadband providers is usually of the most basic kind with a single antenna. Of late,  they  leave it to you to  buy your own  router and chances are, you discover only after installing it, that  many corners of your home -- especially if it is a duplex or two storey construction -- are 'dark zones' -- Wi Fi-wise. A new technology solution is available for  larger homes -- those of  2000 square feet and more: Mesh WiFi.
A mesh is a wireless a wireless network that extends the transmission distance by relaying the signal from one node to  another.  In home WiFi networks, this is more like the hub and spokes of bicycle wheel:  Each spoke  connects to the hub, in this case the main router to which the incoming fibre optic cable of the service provider is terminated.  You could create your own mesh by buying a separate WiFi repeater  or range extender  to extend the range of the basic network, but this  eats into the bandwidth and   data speeds tend to go down sharply.  A better solution is to go in for a ready-made WiFi Home System which  comes with  the main router plus one or more satellite units that extend the range in different directions.
These new generation home systems that are just coming to India: I have been trying out one of early comers:  The Orbi WiFi home system ( AC 2200) is the smallest  of three  models from Netgear and promises to cover 300 sq m or 3000 sq. feet of space -- about the size of a  3-4 bedroom flat.  The main unit  has a cable that needs to be plugged into a wall socket and to the incoming broadband data cable of the service provider.  A second, a slightly smaller,  satellite unit plugs directly into a  2-pin  AC socket. The beauty of the Orbi design is  that the makers have set aside a  ( 5 GHz)  channel exclusively for the connection between the main router and the satellite. It provides two other  channels ( 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) for  connecting to all your devices.  This  ensures that there  is minimal  drop in connection speeds and you can enjoy  the broadband speed that you have subscribed for: today  you can get 1000 MBPS or 1 GBPS in major metros.  Ofcourse, the best speeds  require a wired connection to the router -- and the Orbi system provides 3 ethernet sockets for this.
New  home WiFi systems from companies like  Netgear, D-Link, Linksys, TP Link etc, are made for  dummies like us.  With the Orbi, setting up the main router or adding satellite units, is very simple, especially if you install the mobile app.  The main router  glows green when the set up is OK, red when there is error. The satellite  turns from magenta to blue as the signal strengthens.  The  AC 2200 model works well even if you flat is duplex,  as long as you position the satellite near the upstairs landing.   It is rated for  peak speeds  of  866 MBPS  which is about the best you can get in India today. Once you set up your phone with the app, you can  selectively  create parental controls on  some of your  devices  -- very useful when kids use some  things like the smart TV.  The Orbi AC 2200 costs Rs 24,999 in India, admittedly  pricier than many basic routers   but you are getting four antennas not one and  cutting edge technology like Multi User MIMO ( Multiple In, Multiple Out) which funnels bandwidth to devices who need it at the same time, instead of one at a time, a palpable difference!