November 28, 2021
What is Mesh WiFi & Why is it used by MSPs for Networking as a Service?
What is mesh WiFi?
Mesh WiFi is a type of wireless technology that can transmit a wireless internet connection to multiple access points (APs) via a wireless connection. Mesh WiFi allows coverage to be extended where cabling is not an option, while still enabling roaming (within an ESSID - Extended Service Set Identification) for client notes. APs manage path selection from clients through repeaters to gateways and prevent loops from forming in the mesh fabric to the distribution system.
Mesh networks are created with the intention that there will be no single point of failure: If one part goes down, then the rest will keep on functioning. This is accomplished by having every device in the mesh network talk to every other device that connects it to the internet.
Mesh WiFi makes it possible to extend and repeat signals across access points that cannot connect to a data path over cables. This enables IT service providers to mount access points anywhere in the building which provides more flexibility in network coverage.
Why do Managed Service Providers (MSPs) deploy mesh networks in managed network services?
Mesh Networks are highly reliable by design, so they are preferred over traditional WiFi when it comes to delivering networking as a service (NaaS) for clients. IT services providers or MSPs can manage 100’s of business networks for clients, so having a network that is able to interconnect and provide constant connectivity is essential in the same office building.
Some mesh WiFi systems such as Datto Networking are also cloud manageable. This enables MSPs to manage the network remotely, configure devices via saved templates, and even monitor the network with an integration with Datto RMM.
Does Datto Networking support meshed networking?
Yes, Datto’s cloud-managed access points are designed for MSPs to ensure powerful and reliable wireless performance. Combined with the benefits of WiFi-6, MSPs can deliver efficient and secure wireless networks, with expanded coverage for always connected WiFi.
How is mesh WiFi different from a traditional WiFi network?
In contrast, traditional wireless networks generally rely on a hub, which is responsible for handling all data packets from every device in the network. In this type of setup, any data packet needs to be sent through this central node before it can be transmitted to its final destination, so only one connection at a time can be made with any given device.
Does mesh WiFi support roaming across a network in an office?
One of the major benefits of deploying a mesh WiFi network is the ability to roam around an office without dropping connection. A traditional network that relies on a WiFi bridge or repeats the BSSID is not the same across the network so moving around an office environment can be a painful experience for clients which can lead to the perception of a poor network service provided by an IT MSP.
Mesh WiFi uses standards (such as 802.11s) where the mesh topology is more complex and the repeaters or access points are all part of the same ESSID (Extended Service Set Identification) which provides a seamless connection.
What are the benefits of a mesh network for businesses?
- Flexible coverage
- Consistent coverage over distance
- Self Healing / AP Failover
- Reliable network roaming
- Direct Path
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Why are all managed networks not meshed?
When it comes to networking, it's always better to connect via cable to a Main or Independent distribution frame (MDF/IDF). However, when it comes to large spaces or complex environments, this is not always possible. This is where WiFi connections come into play. By deploying a meshed WiFi network you have a reliable connection that can withstand a failure on a single access point.
Can mesh networks bridge together different business locations or office buildings?
Although this is theoretically possible, it's not advised.
When operating across large spaces or across buildings, networking performance can drop massively from channel availability or interference to maxing out network hops. It’s also a matter of having to carry all of the building to building traffic load across a half duplex and double duty radio, a dedicated point-to-point or p2multipoint bridge solution is highly recommended for that.
It’s generally advised to run cable networks across different business locations or office buildings and then mesh at each individual location, rather than meshing across the entire environment.
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What’s the difference between mesh WiFi and a range extender?
Mesh WiFi is a network system that creates high-performance coverage throughout your business environment. It does this by distributing the signal between different points in the house to limit interference and optimise speeds.
A range extender, on the other hand, boosts your current WiFi signal in order to extend its reach. Unlike a mesh network, range extenders can't provide you with coverage throughout your entire office. Mesh WiFi provides better performance than a range extender and is more versatile because it can cover large areas and even go outside.