Slow bandwidth and weak connectivity can often mean dropping out of an important zoom meeting or losing in an online video game. Overall, optimizing your home Wi-Fi is about staying connected and in control, so you and your family members can be as productive as possible. This article will guide you about the various ways through which you can increase bandwidth in your Wi-Fi Mesh Network.
What Is a Mesh Wi-Fi System?
Mesh networks share your network over several devices, they cover a larger area than most standard routers and provide seamless Wi-Fi service. As our workplaces and homes grow more dependent on reliable and efficient internet connections, technology is also evolving to meet our changing demands.
Therefore, it doesn’t get much simpler than mesh networks when it comes to large-scale networking solutions. They provide a variety of extra features and offer a considerably broader range of applications.
Mesh networks rely on a different unit known as the ‘node’ to relay information, as opposed to standard Wi-Fi networks that employ access points or gateways to send data through routers or Wi-Fi extenders. Each node is equipped with its own set of software and radio transmitters, allowing it to interact with other network nodes. Dynamic routing enables a node to determine the shortest path for transferring a packet of data from your computer to the router.
This configuration ensures that regardless of your location in the coverage area of a mesh network system (which ranges from 1500 square feet to 7000 square feet), you can still get full signal strength and bandwidth (often up to 3 Gigabit), completely wirelessly.
This makes sure that your network spans across your entire house and you aren’t losing bandwidth in dead zones. Since Wi-Fi Mesh networks have stronger signals, they tend to be better at passing through obstacles such as walls, not something that most Wi-Fi extenders can do.
How is Mesh Wi-Fi Different from Wi-Fi Extenders?
A Wi-Fi extender just extends the internet signal of your original router; however, a Wi-Fi mesh network systems enable you to construct your network. When utilizing extenders, your router and extender will have distinct networks with multiple SSIDs and passwords, such as ‘Wifi’ and ‘Wifi Extender.’ As a result, you’ll have to switch networks manually, and you’ll lose signal strength if you move out of the extender’s range.
On the other hand, the Wi-Fi Mesh network’s nodes don’t have to transmit data back to the router in a centralized order; instead, they may dynamically route traffic in whatever order that is quickest. This is because mesh networks have all the nodes linked to each other, while wireless extenders can’t interact with each other.
This connection also enables mesh systems to be easily maintained using a specially designed app, rather than having to navigate the intricate settings of your standard router and extender individually.
A Quick Word on Router Speeds
The rate at which data (in this case Wi-Fi data) is transferred is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). There are single-band, dual-band, and tri-band Wi-Fi routers available right now. A single band Wi-Fi router can deliver up to 750 Mbps, a dual-band Wi-Fi router can deliver up to 1625 Mbps, and a tri-band router can deliver up to 2166 Mbps on each band.
The purpose of testing your home Wi-Fi speed is to ensure that it is enough for your needs. So, you’ll want to ensure that you have the quickest Wi-Fi connectivity available at home so that you can swiftly upload and download data as well as make use of video conferencing.
How to Improve Your Mesh Wi-Fi Network Speeds
Measuring Your Speed
Before moving on to any specific ways to improve bandwidth in your network, the first thing you want to figure out is how much speed you are getting on your devices. Running a few basic speed test services should give you a ballpark of where your speed lies. You can do this on your browser as long as you are running it on your phone, without using cellular data (Airplane mode comes in handy for this).
There are two metrics at play here:
Download Speed: How quickly Internet content is transferred to your computer or network in Mbps (megabits per second). This is important if you often use the Internet to stream video or other media content.
Upload Speed: How quickly you are able to upload content to the Internet in Mbps. This is important if you often use the Internet to share videos, music, and images .
Ideally, you want to check your speed in different rooms to see how much it differs. You can also use specific apps instead of the browser variants, some common services include:
Buy Sufficient Bandwidth
Before any tips and tricks to improve bandwidth come into play, you want to ensure that you have enough bandwidth from your ISP for all of your data needs. Perhaps you finally got an upgraded Netflix subscription and are playing 4K HDR streams, or recently bought a PS5 where you need low pings on your online multiplayer matches and faster speeds for your 100GB+ downloads. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have enough bandwidth for all your applications.
If you find that none of the tips mentioned in this article are working for you, you are likely bottlenecked from your ISP. One can easily find packages above 100 Mbps these days, but that completely depends on your area. If your ISP still uses DSL service, it might be time to upgrade to a fiber optics-based connection depending on its availability in your area. You should also consider checking whether your ISP has data caps, although you are usually informed if you ever reach your internet data limit. With the advent of Covid-19, internet accessibility has become more important as we work and study online, which has led to internet service providers lowering their internet fees and removing data caps, in accordance with FCC requests.
Consider the Bands You Use
Most Wi-Fi routers and devices tend to operate on either 2.4 GHz bands or the recently available 5.0 GHz bands. In mesh networks, these radio-wave bands can have a variety of functions. The stronger 5.0 GHz provides better signals but tends to get weaker with range and thicker walls obstructing the way. Mesh routers now come with the ability to use dual-band signals, whereas the Wi-Fi network automatically switches the band based on the user.
Some mesh networks tend to prioritize 2.4 GHz bands for internet connections while using 5.0 GHz bands for connections between the nodes themselves. Because cross-communication among nodes and internet connection are separated, the network output is significantly more stable and faster. Hence, one way to increase bandwidth in a Wi-Fi Mesh Network is through finding a mesh network set that supports both of these bands.
Move Your Wireless Router and Nodes
If your bandwidth test from earlier showed weaker connectivity in some areas or dead zones in your deployed area of the network, it may be time to check the placements of your central router and your nodes.
One of the simplest ways to improve bandwidth would be to reposition your devices. The basic rule of thumb to follow here is to place a node at the halfway point between a router and a dead zone. To ensure optimal positioning of your nodes, some mobile apps and dashboards that come with mesh Wi-Fi networks tend to have helpful in-app guidance.
You should also be aware of the various walls and interferences in your home and place your devices accordingly. Ideally, you want to place your routers in a central position rather than hidden away in a closet somewhere outside your peripheral vision. It also helps to avoid corners and wall mounts simply because while they may be closer to where you receive radio signals, central locations provide better connectivity across your home.
You may need to use long and complicated lines of cables to place your router in a more ideal location, but the final result will be worth the effort. The idea is to bring your essential devices such as consoles and laptops, as near to your router as possible. Devices that don’t use as much bandwidth, such as smart bulbs, aren’t required to be nearby.
Remove Unused Devices
Mesh Wi-Fi routers, with the help of their intuitive dashboards and apps, provide an overview of everyone connected to the network across the space. Through this dashboard, you can disconnect devices that you no longer use as they would still be using internet connectivity and valuable bandwidth for their background processes. You will have access to the device name and MAC address of every single connected device, allowing you to remove devices that you do not use or find out if any pesky neighbors are freeloading on your network connection.
One additional answer to the question of ‘how to increase bandwidth in a mesh Wi-Fi network’ is that you can use the parental controls feature to set time limits on exactly when certain network devices can use internet connectivity and when they cannot.
This is handy for smart devices that operate in your home through Zigbee and other integrations in your Mesh Wi-Fi network, that do not need to operate after midnight, for example. You can also specify bandwidth limits for devices that do not need to use much data, such as the smart home hubs which require minimal internet connectivity and speeds. This allows you to use that bandwidth on other devices, making sure that all your internet tasks run smoothly.
Wires as an Alternative
In many use-cases, such as gaming, a cable connected to your device is preferable to a wireless connection due to the low latency it provides. It’s more reliable and quicker, and it’s unaffected by other gadgets or enormous fish tanks.
The disadvantage is that it restricts where you can place your gadgets and makes things less convenient in general. Even in Wi-Fi-based Mesh Network systems, it’s frequently advised to install a wire for applications such as a gaming console, desktop PC, or streaming box as they require a high internet speed.
All you’ll need is an Ethernet wire and a router with a few extra Ethernet ports. Most Wi-Fi Mesh system nodes give you the option to connect wirelessly or through a cable, since they come included with one or two Ethernet ports to connect all of your peripherals. This is one of the more economical ways to increase bandwidth in Wi-Fi Mesh Networks, as Ethernet cables can be rather cheap.
Check for Radio Interference
If there are several other Wi-Fi connections nearby, you could be encountering radio interference. It may be helpful to go to your network dashboard or mobile app and switch Wi-Fi channels into frequencies that are less populated. Some routers are intended to detect interference and automatically choose uncluttered frequencies, although not all of them are capable of locating clearer frequencies when circumstances change. One helpful way to increase bandwidth in Wi-Fi Mesh Networks is to go into your router’s settings and test different channels one at a time, to see if it helps.
Wi-Fi radio waves can also get interference from other devices in your homes such as microwaves, so make sure that your devices are placed appropriately. This issue is often due to a frequency overlap between your Wi-Fi modem and microwave oven. Both operate at a 2.4 GHz frequency but microwave ovens, unlike Wi-Fi modems, produce frequencies in the unrestricted 2.4 GHz ISM band (Industrial, Scientific and Medical band) as opposed to transferring data. A well-made microwave oven should prevent all microwave radiation created in the oven from leaking, but this does not happen in practice. If this is the case, your phone may not connect at all, but once you switch off the oven, the internet connection will return to normal.
Use a Faster DNS Service
If you want to improve your site-lookup times, consider changing your DNS server. A DNS is simply an internet map, consider it a road map containing all of the websites you visit often. A DNS, or domain name system, is sometimes also known as the internet’s phone book. It’s an important part of how the internet works, and it may affect how quickly and securely data is sent to you.
For example, Google.com may be transcribed to the IP address 126.96.36.199 so that you can access the website. Your internet service provider gives you access to its DNS server when you sign up for service. Using the default DNS is not advised since it may be congested, running on inefficient software, lacking privacy protections, or just having a lot of downtimes.
A slower DNS means that your device takes longer to fetch the IP addresses it needs to find your desired webpages, which can drastically slow down surfing. There are, fortunately,
alternative DNS servers you may utilize. Keep in mind that speed isn’t the only factor to consider while switching DNS servers. Filtering is built into many DNS systems to prevent unsuitable websites and other sites you don’t want to visit.
DNS servers can be configured in your operating system’s Wi-Fi settings or directly in your router dashboard. Here are some of the most popular ones that prioritize privacy and speed:
- Open DNS (188.8.131.52 or 184.108.40.206)
- Google (220.127.116.11 or 18.104.22.168)
- Cloudflare (22.214.171.124 or 126.96.36.199)
Prioritize Bandwidth on Your Most Common Devices
Other than limiting bandwidth on devices that you do not use; you can also set priority devices that can maximize bandwidth from your network. This can be your low latency requiring gaming consoles or your 4K TV that streams Netflix. This setting can be adjusted in the mobile app or dashboard that comes included with your Mesh Wi-Fi network. While this feature had always been a possibility, it becomes a lot easier with the intuitive interface of a mesh network router.
The Bottom Line
In the end, we hope that these tips to increase bandwidth in Wi-Fi Mesh networks help you improve your internet signal strength around the house and the connectivity bandwidth that you receive on your devices.
At Xunison, we provide home-based networking solutions including our all-in-one mesh router solution known as Britehub, complete with all the dual banding, network management, and Wi-Fi 6 features you would expect of a premium networking product.