The Difference Between Wi-Fi Roaming and Wi-Fi Meshing

Many times someone asks me if the Wi-Fi system will mesh. What they really mean is will my Wi-Fi devices automatically roam throughout my areas.

For Wi-Fi roaming to work you really only need to specify the same SSID and encryption for all your wired Access Points they can even be from different vendors. The client devices are responsible for the roaming if you notice your devices are connecting the a farther away Access Point you might want to turn down the power or move them.

Wi-Fi meshing is something all together different and not a feature you want to use often. Wi-Fi meshing will backhaul the network connection wirelessly between Access Points. This might first sound like a great idea you do not have to run ethernet and can located your Access Points wherever you want Wi-Fi. In reality meshing just does not work well. First you lose %50 of the available bandwidth for every wireless mesh hop. Second you have to place the Wi-Fi mesh repeaters in a area that has strong signal for them to work at all. Then if anything in your environment moves or you have a new source of interference the network will drop.

So there is the difference Wi-Fi roaming is something that is easy to setup and should be used. Just say no to Wi-Fi meshing if you wire your Access Points in the first place you will eliminate problems from the get go.

Wi-Fi 6E Massive Bandwidth With Clear New Channels

The FCC opened new channels in the 6 GHz spectrum back in April 2020 for new Wi-Fi standards. It is widely believed that the iPhone 13 will have a 6Ghz Wi-Fi 6E chipset immediately flooding the market with 6E capable client devices . We saw fast adoption of Wi-Fi 6 largely because of the iPhone 11.

Wi-Fi 6E offers the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6, including higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates, extended into the 6 GHz band. See the graphic above which depicts the huge increase in channels over 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. The additional spectrum will provide a lot more airspace beyond existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, resulting in increased bandwidth and less interference for devices that support Wi-Fi 6E.

If you are deploying new Wi-Fi networks today using Wi-Fi 6 AP’s like the EnGenius ECW230 or Ruckus R750 you will be able to supplement the network later when Wi-Fi 6E AP’s become available. They are running on different frequencies and can coexist alongside each other. Likewise all future Wi-Fi 6E devices will be able to connect to your current Wi-Fi 6 AP’s.  6GHz band will be best suited for close-range connections, ideally between devices that are in the same room as one another so you will want a mix of lower cost Wi-Fi 6 AP’s along with strategically located Wi-Fi 6E AP’s to start.

One thing is for sure you will need fast switches with plenty of PoE power budget to support all these new devices. The Wi-Fi 6E AP’s will for sure support multi gigabit and have higher power requirements so you would be smart to build out your wired network now with cloud managed switches like the EnGenius ECS2512FP.