A mesh approach to boost Wi-Fi coverage

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q. The Wi-Fi coverage throughout my home is spotty, which was not always the case. Can you explain why my Wi-Fi coverage might have declined in recent years, and are there any decent remedies?

A. Today's newer Wi-Fi technology uses different frequencies that transmit data at faster rates but over shorter distances. Therefore, as you've upgraded your routers to utilize those faster frequencies, your Wi-Fi coverage may have developed dead spots throughout your home. (I remember years ago that in my own home, my Wi-Fi router (named Go DAWGS!) was visible to 17 of my surrounding neighbors, but that was no longer the case after I upgraded from an "N" class router to a newer "AC" class router.)

To provide better Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, you might consider upgrading your router to mesh Wi-Fi technology, which positions multiple extenders throughout your home that talk to one another, resulting in better Wi-Fi coverage and connectivity. As an example, Comcast now offers mesh network pods from Plume called "xFi Pods" priced at three for $119 or six for $199 (pricing as of July 2019). To use these mesh pods, Comcast requires you to have one of its newer Xfinity Home Gateway routers (which most Comcast customers already have). Setting up the additional mesh pods is simple. You need only plug them in throughout your home, after which they will automatically detect and connect to your xFi Gateway router. As a result, these pods create a mesh Wi-Fi network that provides benefits not offered by ordinary Wi-Fi extenders, most notably for your smartphone, which will connect automatically to the best possible access point with the strongest signals as you move throughout your home. Additionally, you can use the free xFi mobile app to monitor and control all your Wi-Fi activity on your home network. You can learn more about Comcast mesh Wi-Fi networks at xfinity.ulvh.net. Similar Wi-Fi mesh network technology is also available from several other top vendors, such as Netgear's Orbi RBK50 device (netgear.com) and Amazon's eero Beacons (amazon.com).

About the author

J. Carlton Collins, CPA, (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a conference presenter, and a JofA contributing editor.

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