ADDING MESH

PETE SENT IN SOME GREAT QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS HOME NET­WORK LAST MONTH, AND ASKS HOW EASY IS IT ‘RE­ALLY’ TO ADD MESH WI-FI TO HIS EX­IST­ING HOME NET­WORK?

PC & Tech Authority - - TECHDESK ASK GRAEME -

From Pete’s email, he has Cat6 ca­bling through parts of his home, but has been forced (due to chang­ing ISP’s over the years) to change his main router from time to time too. He ex­pects to re­ceive an­other (Ca­ble) Router again soon with the NBN be­ing rolled out in his area.

His ques­tion is a com­mon one I hear from many cus­tomers, as of­ten these router changes in­volves a ton of ‘other’ changes across peo­ple’s home net­works in a cas­cad­ing ef­fect that ends in the customer of­ten hav­ing to vir­tu­ally re­set and re-build their en­tire net­work from scratch again. Peo­ple end up spend­ing many hours try­ing to re­mem­ber ev­ery de­vice on their net­work, the IP ad­dresses, the pass­words for each de­vice, and then hav­ing to re­con gure them all to work with the new Router. Even for those of us that keep lists of their de­vices and set static IP’s across their net­work, it can be a waste of an en­tire week­end mak­ing changes, so it’s no won­der peo­ple don’t up­grade as of­ten as they should to en­able all the great func­tion­al­ity avail­able in the lat­est net­work­ing gear. It’s the old ‘if its not bro­ken, don’t touch it’ sce­nario...

So why are what I call ‘Mesh in a Box’ prod­ucts, such as D-Link’s Covr so­lu­tions, any dif­fer­ent? First of all, and pos­si­bly most im­por­tantly from Pete’s per­spec­tive, is that they are de­signed to sim­ply con­nect to your ‘ex­ist­ing’ gate­way or Mo­dem sup­plied by your Ser­vice Provider. This means that it doesn’t mat­ter if you have a Ca­ble Mo­dem, a VDSL Mo­dem, or an Eth­er­net Based Gate­way such as when you have Fi­bre or Satel­lite com­ing into your home, the idea be­hind the lat­est Mesh so­lu­tions is that they sim­ply plug into an avail­able port on your ex­ist­ing mo­dem router, and ef­fec­tively pro­vide an en­tire ‘new’ Wi-Fi net­work across your whole home.

This means that you can even leave your ‘old’ Wi-Fi net­work run­ning (that might be switched on by de­fault in your ISP-sup­plied Mo­dem that you can’t even ac­cess), but ev­ery­thing can con­nect to the new Mesh Wi-Fi net­work, whilst ig­nor­ing the old, usu­ally slower Wi-Fi net­work pro­vided by the gate­way sup­plied by the ISP. Of course, if all your home de­vices are us­ing the older 2.4GHz chan­nels only, then you might in fact slow your net­work due to more in­ter­fer­ence, but these days, more and more de­vices are us­ing 5GHz chan­nels, and so that con­ges­tion is be­com­ing less of an is­sue as a re­sult.

Un­for­tu­nately, if you al­ready have de­vices set up on the old net­work, you will need to re­con gure those clients to go onto the shiny new Mesh Wi-Fi net­work. How­ever, if you plan ahead, due to an­other key bene t of a Mesh net­work is that you have a sin­gle Wi-Fi net­work name (or SSID) across all the bands avail­able on the de­vice, a tip would be to make this Wi-Fi name you se­lect some­thing generic, that is re­peat­able in the fu­ture when you do up­grade your net­work. That way, hope­fully, you will never need to change all your clients again each time you up­grade your Wi-Fi so­lu­tion in the fu­ture, sav­ing you any angst and frus­tra­tion mov­ing for­ward.

I do this a lot my­self at home. I have a sta­ble, hard-wired, Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net back­bone about my home which I can con­nect PCs and de­vices that don’t need Wi-Fi onto, as well as a Seam­less Wi-Fi net­work across the en­tire home us­ing the lat­est Mesh tech­nol­ogy, which I can switch out in the fu­ture if I need to, with­out ma­jor con gu­ra­tion changes to ev­ery­thing on the net­work when that hap­pens.

Hope this gives you some ideas Pete, and look for­ward to hear­ing more net­work­ing questions from our other read­ers for next month’s edi­tion.

YOU CAN ASK GRAEME

Ask Graeme about net­work­ing, the in­ter­net, get­ting the most from your gear and this won­der­ful dig­i­tal world we live in. Each month we’ll choose one for Graeme to an­swer here. askgraeme@pcau­thor­ity.com.au

GRAEME REARDON is the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of D-Link Aus­tralia and New Zealand and has had over 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with ma­jor net­work­ing brands in­clud­ing Cisco. Graeme has a bor­der­line ob­ses­sive pas­sion for all things IT-re­lated.

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