Solve Your Wi-Fi Woes With a Mesh Network or Ethernet Backhaul

Solve Your Wi-Fi Woes With a Mesh Network or Ethernet Backhaul
Image: iStock
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Without sounding dramatic, Wi-Fi is the best invention since bread. Not just sliced bread but the actual bread itself. Unfortunately, though, the forces of interfering signals, weirdly reinforced concrete and distance can make Wi-Fi a nightmare. If you’re paying for a fast NBN plan, the last thing you want is a connection that moves at a casual speed.

The good news, however, is that there are many potential ways around it that don’t involve you having to run dozens of metres of ethernet cable everywhere. Here are a few suggestions for solving your Wi-Fi woes.

A Mesh Wi-Fi Network

Image: TP-Link

Using something like TP-Link’s Deco Mesh system, Amazon’s eero 6 system or Google’s Nest Wi-Fi gives you a fairly even distribution of network around your place, as long as you’re able to space then evenly and there isn’t something too weird going on.

Instead of using Wi-Fi extenders to bring the signal from the router down the chain, using overlapping networks and reducing the speed pretty significantly, mesh is all part of the same internet network and reduces the amount of speed and signal that’s lost.

If you’re not where to start with mesh routers, you can check out Gizmodo Australia’s recommendations here.

Powerline Adapters

Image: TP-Link

As long as you have relatively uncomplicated power cabling at your place, and just need a wired connection, a powerline adapter is a great solution. You just plug it into the wall where your modem is, plug it into the modem and then plug the other powerline adapter into the wall where you need Wi-Fi and connect the thing and the adapter via an ethernet cable.

You can even get ones like the catchily-named TP-Link TL-WPA8631P that has three outputs and can work with your OneMesh router to create a mesh network, giving you a bit of everything.

You can have up to ten powerline adapters in one dwelling, but it’s best to make sure they’re all the same model to reduce the chances of encountering problems.

These don’t work as well in apartment buildings, because their wires are like a spider web of mystery and horror. In the room where my modem has to be, I get a download speed of 980Mbps.

Over a powerline adapter in the living room I get a download speed of around 230Mbps on a good day. That’s more than most connections but less than what I started out with.

However, it’s a lot more than the 54Mbps I get over straight Wi-Fi due to interference, so I’ll take it. Of course, this is in an apartment. In a regular house, you wouldn’t get anywhere near as much drop off.

Wired Ethernet Backhaul

Solve Your Wi-Fi Woes With a Mesh Network or Ethernet Backhaul
Image: iStock/bedo

This is truly the Voltron of solutions. The belt and braces approach. The everything bagel of fixes. Captain Planet. You get it.

A lot of mesh systems will actually allow you to plug the satellite nodes into the main node that’s plugged into the router.

You can do that by running an ethernet cable along the skirting boards, or just by using a powerline adapter and plugging it into the nest node. This keeps all your stuff connected and means you can avoid doing things like putting a node on a little table in a long hallway to keep the signal unbroken, or if you have a metal beam over a particular doorway that acts like something of a Faraday cage.

It’s this option that’s probably going to be the best one for people with big houses, or who have to have the modem in one faraway corner of your dwelling.