All Wi-Fi is pretty much the same, isn’t it? No, not by a longshot. There are some distinct differences between different types of Wi-Fi setups that can impact speeds, device handling, range, and more.
One type of router connected to the exact same modem and internet service plan can give significantly faster Wi-Fi connections and be less problematic than a different router attached to that modem.
Why is this?
Because all Wi-Fi routers are not created equal. Some setups are designed for “first come first serve” where all devices have to fight for bandwidth on a single streamed connection.
Others give devices options for multi-streams and are designed to automatically transfer devices to another stream to keep speeds fast if there is a bandwidth-heavy activity happening that would cause a slowdown. Your internet speed may also depend on the type of fiber optics you use in your network infrastructure.
When it comes both home and office Wi-Fi there are two main types of wireless network setups you can use:
- Standard router
- Mesh Wi-Fi system
There are also two different types of Wi-Fi protocols used by most routers:
- Wi-Fi 5
- Wi-Fi 6 (released in Sept. 2019)
We’ll explore the differences between each below.
Standard Router vs Mesh Wi-Fi
Most people are used to having a single router that streams a connection throughout their home or office. Until mesh Wi-Fi came out, this was pretty much the only option.
Problems with Standard One-Router Wi-Fi
Using a single router to power your wireless connection can cause several issues. These include:
- Blocked Signals: Solid walls and large furniture can often block Wi-Fi signals causing slowdowns and other problems.
- Signal Interference: Have you ever lost internet when the microwave was running? This is a typical problem when there is only one Wi-Fi stream to connect to.
- Dead Zones & Weak Spots: One of the problems with a single router Wi-Fi is that the farther you are away from it, the weaker your signal is. Multiple floors and large buildings can end up with areas that have no Wi-Fi signal at all.
- Problems Handling Multiple Devices: The number of devices connecting to a wireless network only seem to increase. Smart gadgets, wearables, wireless printers… all these can overwhelm a single router stream.
- Single Point of Failure: If you have just one router supplying your wireless network, if that router has an issue, your entire network is offline, with everyone being disconnected until the problem is fixed.
Advantages of a Mesh Wi-Fi System
Rather than using a single router, a mesh Wi-Fi system uses multiple “mini-routers” known as wireless access points. These access points can be placed strategically throughout a property to create a consistent net of strong wireless streams.
Because you have multiple Wi-Fi streams, not only can a mesh system provide more coverage, it offers a faster connection for all devices.
- Eliminates the Battle for Bandwidth: Devices on a mesh system can connect to the nearest access point rather than needing to battle for bandwidth on a single stream. Devices can move automatically to a stream with less traffic to improve connection speed.
- Strong Signal Everywhere: Mesh Wi-Fi is called that because it creates a web, or “mesh,” of wireless signals. Each access point can speak to the one connected to the modem as well as to each other. This net of signals means that your Wi-Fi can easily get around any barriers and avoid signal interference.
- Easily Expanded: Mesh is an easily expanded system. If you want to extend your signal to another area, even outside, all you need to do is add another access point onto the system.
- You’re Not Down If One Access Point Goes Out: If one of the wireless access points goes out, your entire internet isn’t cut off. Devices can simply connect to another access point while the issue is being addressed.
Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6
The other way that routers differ is that some routers can be on the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard, while newer ones will be on the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard.
Wi-Fi 6 came out at the end of 2019 and is a significant improvement in how routers handle wireless connections. Wi-Fi 6 routers offer speed improvements as well as better handling of multiple devices.
- Speed Difference: Testing by PC Magazine of Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6 routers found a speed improvement between 35% and 58% faster with Wi-Fi 6 routers.
- Better Multi-Device Handling: Wi-Fi 6 was designed to help routers accommodate all the new IoT devices being added to networks, so it has better capacity to handle the needs of multiple connections to a single router.
- More Efficient Use of Bandwidth: Routers using Wi-Fi 6 have more efficient bandwidth use, including the reduction of time between data transmissions. This increases overall bandwidth availability to all devices.
Is Your Wi-Fi Everything It Could Be?
Two River Computer can help your business choose the best wireless network solutions to give you fast, reliable, and expandable Wi-Fi to speed your connections and productivity.
Contact us today to learn more. Call 732-747-0020 or reach us online.