Mesh networking products are all the rage amongst manufacturers of wireless technologies, and there's a reason why: We have grown incredibly dependent on a steady stream of wireless connectivity and that dependency extends to phones, TVs, IoT devices, and more.
This doesn't just apply to consumers—businesses depend upon wireless as well. When you consider that larger buildings can suffer from the dreaded dead spots even more than homes, it makes sense that some businesses are looking into mesh networking. One product that might be particularly interesting to small businesses is Linksys Velop.
What you need to know about Velop
Linksys Velop is a Tri-Band, 2x2, 802.11ac, Wave 2, Multiuser Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) node that can serve as a router, a range extender, an access point, and a bridge. It's capable of a combined speed of 2,200 Mbps. Security on the device is limited to either WEP or WPA2, and each device includes 2 LAN ports on the base unit and 2 ports per node.
Velop is set up and controlled via iOS or Android app (guest networking, port forwarding, MAC filtering, internet connection type, and parental controls) and excels at putting an end to dead spots in your wireless network.
Velop costs $199.99 for one node (covers up to 2,000 square feet), $349.99 for two nodes (covers up to 4,000 square feet), and $499.99 for three nodes (covers up to 6,000 square feet). With a three pack of nodes, you can cover more space with mesh Wi-Fi than any other option currently on the market (with a Google Wifi three pack, you only get 4,500 square feet of range, and Netgear's Orbi mesh network will only extend to 4,000 square feet). So, if your wireless range is in the 6,000 square feet zone, Velop is your best commercial and affordable option. Since each node extends the range up to 2,000 square feet, if you need to extend beyond that magic 6,000 number, just buy more nodes. This is what's inside each node:
- Six antennas
- Tri-band 802.11ac circuits
- Quad-core ARM Cortext X-7 CPU
- 512MB of RAM
Velop can deliver max speeds of 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps, thanks to the two 5GHz bands.
An important feature of Velop is that it works on a peer-to-peer system, which means as long as at least one Velop node is connected to the primary router, all other Velop nodes will work.
Velop's most impressive feature
What's most impressive about Velop is the included MU-MIMO support. This transmits data to the clients simultaneously (as opposed to sequentially), which leads to significant increases in throughput. MU-MIMO doesn't just increase the relative speed of the network—it increases the capacity of the wireless network. This is crucial now that wireless networks are getting hit harder by more devices.
If your business includes smartphones, tablets, smart televisions, wireless printers, IoT devices, streaming music/video, MU-MIMO is a necessity. This is where you find problems with devices like Google Wifi, which can do MU-MIMO with a maximum of two devices.
Is a mesh network right for you?
Some people would argue that a mesh network is begging for trouble.
So, when you're considering whether these devices offer the security you need to secure your company data, remember that mesh networking devices will serve as your primary wireless network (plugging the base unit directly into your modem and bypassing your previous wireless solution). If your business requires a hardened wireless network, this solution might not be for you. However, you could always use Velop as a guest network that is isolated from your primary network, and then require the use of a VPN to tunnel from guest to primary network.
For a small business or a home office, Velop could be the ideal choice.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.