Management Assistance Program

Consider Upgrading Your WiFi to a Mesh System (July 20, 2020)

Most law firm networks rely on hard-wired network connections for the office. But a few use WiFi because of building layout and construction issues. Home WiFi networks are more common and were often strained during the spring of 2020 as different family members tried to simultaneously work from home and attend school from home. Many larger homes have WiFi dead spots where the connection is weak.

Given the range of possibilities ahead this year, it is a good time to look at improving your WiFi network by installing a mesh system. If you are a home cable subscriber, you likely want to ignore the appealing commercials for the cable company to supply this service. Most mesh systems are very easy to install and there’s no reason to pay the cable company a monthly leasing fee or a high purchase price paid in installments. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a little more to have free installation and tech support from your provider. But mesh systems usually have a very simple setup process.

As we started working from home, the cheap $45 WiFi extender I had purchased to cover our major dead spot died. We didn’t work from that area, so there was no emergency. However, staying home every weekend soon meant I wanted WiFi coverage in the garage and the backyard. For one “first world problem,” I wanted to be able to use my Sonos speakers in those areas instead of Bluetooth speakers.

I purchased a mesh system. It was extremely easy to install. We now have four bars of WiFi signal in every room in the house, plus the garage and the back yard! Less buffering when streaming video is another improvement. It was definitely a, “Why did we wait so long to do this?”, moment.

So, what is a mesh WiFi system? Mesh WiFi systems are also called whole home WiFi systems. These are recommended for homes of more than 3000 square feet, but can also be useful in smaller homes with thick walls or other WiFi challenges. A main router connects to the modem. Several satellites are positioned around the house that link to it. The result is one single wireless network that uses the same SSID and password— no more logging into a different router if you change rooms. See What is a mesh Wi-Fi router, and do you need one? from TomsGuide.com for more information. This site also provides a handy review and shopping guide Best Mesh Wi-Fi systems for 2020. There are other similar review resources. Their top picks are Nest WiFi (which is a logical choice for Google Home users) and the Netgear Orbi.

I opted for a system that was not so highly rated by TomsGuide.com, but has been well-reviewed by others, the Eero Mesh Router. Standard pricing is the Eero three pack for $249. Sometimes a modest temporary discount can be located on some sites. As advertised, setup was an easy job, taking about ten minutes. It took much more time to set up all of our computers, smart TV’s and devices with the new SSID and password. Four bars of WiFi signal strength in all rooms is a nice payoff for the purchase price and setup time investment.