How to make the Wi-Fi gateway a part of your mesh network
by Magnus Broden
Wi–Fi mesh is a great way of solving the problem of Wi–Fi dead zones. But when installing the mesh nodes, what happens to the gateway? Will it just be an extra piece of equipment taking up space in the end-user’s home? What if there was a way to make the gateway a part of the mesh network…
Gateway and mesh – two separate solutions
Operators have provided gateways as a part of their offering for a long time. These days, however, added equipment to improve quality of experience (QoE) for the customer is something that more and more operators are looking into. One such type of equipment is mesh.
A mesh solution connects to the gateway, and a series of satellite modules, nodes, are placed around the house for full Wi–Fi coverage. All nodes are part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, unlike extender solutions, for example.
When the end-customer purchases a mesh solution they’re adding devices to existing equipment since they probably already have a gateway. The gateway and the mesh solution won’t, however, communicate wirelessly. The first mesh node needs to be connected with an ethernet cable. To avoid competing signals, the gateway’s bridge mode also needs to be enabled so that Wi-Fi signals only emanate from the mesh nodes.
Customer and operator challenges
This separation between gateway and mesh nodes as two separate solutions creates challenges for many end users. Far from all customers feel confident installing new devices to begin with. A corded setup between gateway and mesh node, as well as enabling bridge mode on the gateway adds to the complexity of the installation. On the operator’s end, such complexity usually means more and longer calls to the customer service department.
Also, most customers want to avoid wired solutions as much as possible, as it takes up space and usually isn’t very visually appealing. Along with the gateway, which is often also hidden from view, the first node of the mesh solution will therefore also likely be stowed away in a closet, where signal range isn’t optimal.
The reason for adding mesh to the Wi-Fi network is to eliminate dead zones caused by lack of signal. Therefore, just adding one mesh node will not be enough since one node must be connected via cable to the gateway. At least one more node needs to be placed, wirelessly, at another place within the house. Since the gateways isn’t integrated in the mesh solution, there will always be a need for at least one additional mesh node, which drives cost. To lower cost, the equipment itself must therefore cost less, which usually has a negative effect on performance.
For the CSP it is harder to gain insights into the mesh network through the device management platform when the gateway isn’t part of the mesh network. This also affects the possibility to provision updates, new functionalities and services to the mesh devices.
How to make an existing gateway mesh ready
Some gateway types are built mesh-ready so that the gateway itself is part of the mesh network and functions as a node of its own. But investing in brand new equipment obviously means higher costs for the operator.
There is, however, another option. Seliro offers a gateway software which upgrades legacy gateways to full mesh capability. This means no cords are needed to connect to additional nodes, just plug-and-play provisioning. The mesh solution thereby becomes completely scalable – from one node and up – and installation for end user is much easier.
As the gateway shares the same device software platform as the mesh solution, it is also easier to monitor network functionality and run diagnostic tools on the entire Wi-Fi network – not just on the gateway itself. In addition, this means easy provisioning of new functionalities and services. This also applies to whole home cyber security solutions.
The scalability lowers cost as well as the threshold for customers to reap the benefits of a new technology that will ultimately lead to better quality of experience.
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