A new open standard for mesh networking is coming soon, thanks to the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Called EasyMesh, it’s going to further enable the delivery of consistent Wi-Fi signal no matter where you are in your home or business, plus it’ll be easier to set up than mesh networks are today.
But first, some background.
We are more connected today as a species than we’ve ever been, thanks to the internet.
This constant barrage of information is borne to us on invisible waves, either via Wi-Fi signal from our closest routers, or via 3G/4G/5G signal from our closest cellular towers, and we consume it all with abandon.
It keeps us connected to friends and family, work, and strangers around the world in real-time, and without it modern life just wouldn’t be the same.
The internet is so ubiquitous that we expect it to be everywhere we are. But that dream is often shattered: the all-important wireless signal that brings it to us doesn’t always reach us due to what we’ve come to call “dead spots” – areas where Wi-Fi or cellular signal just can’t reach.
This is often because we are too far from a router/tower, or because there are objects in the way that interfere with Wi-Fi’s strength – walls, big metal objects, furniture, other electronic devices, and more.
This has long been the biggest challenge of Wi-Fi technology. Anyone with a large business or home knows that there are some areas where the signal just doesn’t reach, or where it’s too weak to be useful, especially when only one router is supplying that signal.
The answer up to now has been to extend the Wi-Fi range of that router by boosting its signal, using wireless signal repeaters or access points. These have had their own problems, however, mostly that they need to be wired in to the original router to provide the needed boost.
A more recent answer to the problem has been something called “mesh” networking, a system of wireless routers that act as “nodes” on the overall network and which talk to one another, boosting WiFi signal where it’s needed based on the location of the wireless devices accessing the network.
When placed smartly around a location like an office or a home, Wi-Fi signal remains strong no matter where the user is standing.
And, that strength will follow them around – the intelligence built into any mesh system means the access points are in constant communication with one another, they know where the user is located, and they can boost their signal strength accordingly to ensure consistent Wi-Fi signal strength.
We’ve seen mesh networking efforts among several router manufacturers this year. ASUS has put a firm stake in the ground with its AiMESH technology that’s been integrated into some of its top-tier routers, as have most other networking manufacturers.
The EasyMesh future
However, each manufacturer’s approach to mesh networking has been proprietary for the most part.
The real future of mesh networking is EasyMesh, an open, interoperable common standard that was introduced earlier this year by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an organisation responsible for updating and maintaining the technology standards around Wi-Fi.
Here’s a .gif from the Wi-Fi Alliance that illustrates EasyMesh in action:
Mix & Match
Says Emmanuelle Salon, Executive Head of WiFi at Internet Solutions, “With the new standard, users can mix and match mesh routers to extend the Wi-Fi in their homes or offices — provided they support EasyMesh.
“While new standards now exist, there are only a handful of manufacturers who have released EasyMesh routers and wide scale adoption will take some time,” she adds.
If you want more detailed information about it, you can read up on EasyMesh here.
Not here yet, but coming
So while EasyMesh routers aren’t here in quantity yet, it’s only a matter of time before they arrive in force. Expect to see EasyMesh routers hitting the local market en masse in 2019.