Ah, wireless networking. One can never get enough.
Or can one?
In fact, one can not.
Consider this: You have a large office (or home) and the router your provider gave you simply doesn't cut the proverbial mustard for coverage. When you finally grow tired of spotty wireless in your building, what do you do? You find a new router that'll fit the bill. Or, better yet, you find a mesh solution that includes multiple nodes that can easily cover up to 2,000 square feet with Tri-band connection capable of streaming 4k content with ease. That solution is the Linksys Velop. Although the mesh coverage of 2,000 square feet is a very attractive prospect, it's the ease of setup that should attract many a user. And even though the Velop is touted as a home solution, it could easily serve your small- to mid-sized business.
SEE: Network security policy (Tech Pro Research)
I was handed a three-pack Velop system for review and in 15 minutes time, I had a full mesh wireless network up and running. It's that simple.
Let's walk through the setup of the Velop system, so you can decide if this mesh network is the right one for you.
What you'll need
Obviously, you'll need a Linksys Velop package. You can purchase single nodes or packages of three. You can't connect more than three nodes to a Velop mesh, so if you buy more than three know that you'll be creating more than one network. You'll also need an available ethernet port in your modem, router, or switch. Finally, you'll need the Linksys app from either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
The first thing you must do is plug in one of your Velop nodes. Connect both power and network cables and the light on your node will turn blue. While the node is booting, install the Linksys app on your mobile device. After the app is installed, open it, tap the Launch setup button (Figure A), and the app will search for its first node. Once the node light is purple, the app should immediate locate the device.
Tap Next and you will be prompted to create an account to associate with your mesh network (Figure B).
In the next screen (Figure C), you get to name your wireless network and create a password. At this point, I highly recommend opening up your password manager app and have it generate a strong password for your network.
Now you need to give the node a name (Figure D). Base this name on the location of the node. If none of the default options fit, tap Name it something else and give it a unique name.
That's it. Your first node is set up. When prompted, tap the Next button and, in the next screen (Figure E), you can either add another node or be done.
If you opt to add another node, you simply have to place it, plug it into power (not network), tap Add Another Node, and walk through the wizard. This time around, Velop does all the heavy lifting. All you have to do is let it know when the node light is purple and then (when prompted) give the node a name. The primary Velop node will transfer the configuration to the second and third nodes. Within about 15 minutes, you'll have a three-node mesh network up and running.
SEE: 20 quick tips to make Linux networking easier (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
The performance of the Linksys Velop was pretty impressive. It had a larger range than my current solution (which is a basic AT&T UVERSE router/modem), but allowed me (via the Linksys app dashboard - Figure F) to prioritize nodes, grant guest access, configure parental controls, get notifications, and more.
As for speed? The difference between the AT&T wireless and the Velop mesh was negligible. But given the added coverage of the mesh, that was a trade-off I was fine with. Besides, my AT&T wireless speeds are quite good to begin with (so long as you're in-range of the wireless router). Connected to the Velop mesh, I was getting 100.94 Mbps download and 90.03 Mbps upload speeds with a much-improved range). Connected to my AT&T UVERSE wireless, those speeds were 114.17 Mbps download and 119.57 Mbps upload (with a shortened range).
If you're looking to cast a large net of coverage, and losing a bit of speed isn't a deal breaker, the Linksys Velop mesh is big win. With the ability to move nodes to perfectly suit the needs dictated by your building, you can almost be certain you'll have Wi-Fi anywhere you may roam. The Velop could also serve as a guest network, outside of your company Wi-Fi. By making use of the control features in the Linksys app, you could ensure guest users aren't taking advantage of your network. Either way you go, the Velop is an outstanding solution.
- Is Linksys Velop mesh network a smart buy for your small business? (TechRepublic)
- Linksys expands mesh Wi-Fi system with dual-band option, network monitoring, more (TechRepublic)
- Google Wifi wireless router: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Using a D-Link router? Watch out for hardcoded backdoors that give hackers admin access (TechRepublic)
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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.