Life’s Too Short To Tolerate Bad WIFI

I’m sure we agree that working from home with a weak WIFI signal is dreadful. If you’re like most people, you have a WIFI router in your study or the basement, and the further away from it you are, the weaker the signal gets. Add a little interference from the neighbor’s WIFI or large appliances, and suddenly you need a stress ball.

One solution is a “range extender,” a device separate from your WIFI router. These little devils are designed to extend your WIFI router’s signal to farther reaches of your home or small office, as long as you’ve got the patience of a Zen monk for initial setup and also to troubleshoot when it stops “extending” signal. I’ve heard stories from more than a few victims of this phenomenon, not to mention my own.

If some or all of what I’ve mentioned has caused you horror flashbacks, here’s some therapy, and the good news is it’s been out long enough to be mature. It’s called mesh WIFi, the concept of WIFI signal, not emitted from one central location in your home, but instead distributed evenly throughout. To imagine the idea, think of how cell towers manage phone reception throughout a city. There’s a tower every couple of miles. Your cell phone is smart enough to contact the closest tower without your intervention. In most cases, you can be on a call while driving miles across town because the towers hand your connection off to one another as you move. The cell tower scenario is only an analogy, but you get the idea.

With mesh WIFI, you place a “WIFI point,” which is a glorified antenna, in various places around your home or small office, and just like a cellular network, your laptop receives a signal from the nearest WIFI point without your having to disconnect and reconnect. If you set it up correctly, you’ll receive a strong WIFI signal all the time regardless of where you are in your home or small office. I’ve been using mesh WIFI for about four years. I haven’t had any issues that I didn’t cause. Note I said “home or small office” because you don’t want to set up store-bought mesh WIFI systems in a large corporate office. That’s not what it’s for, so you may get a lecture from your IT person.  

You don’t need to be nervous about the difficulty of setup, because home and small office mesh WIFI systems come coupled with a phone app that walks you through the entire process. Beware that in most cases, you will plug your mesh WIFI system directly into your broadband modem, not another WIFI router.

I know what you are thinking. How much does it cost? The best value I’ve seen recently is the TP-Link Deco Mesh, depicted in this image:

Life's Too Short To Tolerate Bad WIFI 1

The description states a coverage area of 5,500 square feet, but for that much space, I’d get at least four WIFI points, so the three-pack you see above plus another single. Remember, you may need one in the garage for that smart sprinkler controller. You can add WIFI points at any time, but it’s better to get it over with at the start. Here are two good review sites:

https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-wi-fi-mesh-network-systems
https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-mesh-router,review-5191.html

When setting up, you’ll connect one of the WIFI points directly to your broadband modem via an Ethernet cable that will likely come with the system. Then you follow the app’s instructions to set up the other ones in strategic places around your home or small office. There’s no need to worry about aesthetics. WIFI points look like chic knick-knacks, and some even double up as night lights. You’ll need an electrical wall outlet wherever you place one and remember to use a surge protector. Compact, wall-mounted surge protectors won’t diminish your home’s elegance.

Here is a link to the app for the system I mentioned above, which shows what you can expect.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tplink.tpm5&hl=en_US

Finally, keep security top of mind. Virus filtering, firewall capabilities, and parental controls are all highly critical features of any network product, mesh WIFI included. Remember we can meet online if you have questions, or you can shoot me an email. As always, I’m eager to hear your WIFI or any tech story if you’d like to share it. Until next time, happy WIFI meshing!

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