III. Wireless LAN

What is a Mesh Wireless Network and When to Use Mesh

Products:
Vigor 2765
Vigor 2862
Vigor 2865
Vigor 2926
Show all

Keywords:
DrayTek Mesh
Mesh
Range Extender
VLAN

Introduction

Traditionally, wireless networks deployed in offices, schools, warehouses, shopping centres and many other places have relied on autonomous deployment of Access Points through the premises. The expertise of the installer accurately determined the number of Access Points required and their positions. Experience of the installer helped to make the wireless network operationally functional and performing to specifications required.

Now, with DrayTek’s wireless Mesh Networking available to everyone, the task of designing, deploying and commissioning a distributed wireless network has been made much easier. DrayTek’s Mesh wireless solution can create fast and reliable WIFI networks which can cover a large area.

With a Mesh wireless connectivity solution, a large area can be covered without the need to lay new cables to where wireless coverage is required. Simply add Mesh nodes where they are needed to cover previous dead zones where wireless coverage was difficult to achieve.

DrayTek Mesh Example Topology

Wireless Mesh enabled Access Points can be deployed either with a wire back to the Mesh Controller (Mesh Root), or connect wirelessly as in the above illustration.

DrayTek Mesh Wireless Basics

How It Works

  • Connect up to 8 Access Points in one Mesh Group
  • One Access Point is the 'Mesh Root' - which controls the group and provides Internet / Network access
  • Other Access Points are 'Mesh Nodes'
  • Mesh APs are managed as a group, with the Mesh Root controlling network & password settings
  • Settings for the Mesh network can be configured with the DrayTek Wireless App
  • There can be more than one Mesh Group on the same network or VLAN, potentially
  • DrayTek's Mesh can be used in combination with VigorConnect or VigorACS management
  • Multiple SSIDs (or VLANs) can be passed through a DrayTek Mesh network. Ideal for businesses or setting up Guest networks

Mesh Root Basics

  • The Mesh Root provides Internet & network access to all Mesh APs in the group.
  • This can be a Vigor router such as the Vigor 2862ac, or a VigorAP such as the VigorAP 903
  • Some VigorAPs such as the VigorAP 802 can only be used as Mesh Nodes, so a Mesh Root capable AP or router is needed.

Mesh Node Basics

  • Mesh Node settings such as SSID & password, are managed by the Mesh Root
  • Mesh Nodes automatically figure out the best path the Mesh Root, setting up a chain of APs as needed. i.e. AP1 > AP2 > AP3
  • If links between Mesh Nodes are lost, say AP2 drops out, the chain will resume if AP1 and AP3 can still communicate. i.e. AP1 > AP3
  • To be added into a Mesh network, that VigorAP must support Mesh

Mesh Performance Basics

  • Each extra access point in the chain is an extra 'hop'. Each chain can have up to 3 'hops'. i.e. AP1 > AP2 > AP 3
  • More 'hops' cover more distance, but reduce speed & wireless client capacity with each extra 'hop'
  • Mesh Nodes can be connected with a network cable to increase performance
  • Dual-band APs (i.e. VigorAP 802) share Mesh communication with providing wireless to clients on the 5GHz radio
  • Tri-band APs (i.e. VigorAP 1000C) can dedicate a 5GHz radio for Mesh communication, increasing overall performance

Frequency to Consider for Node to Node Mesh Communication

The area requiring wireless coverage must be surveyed to establish radio coverage patterns. The survey may include both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies. This will show which radio gives the best performance in terms of coverage and penetration of signal through walls and ceilings. Each radio band has a different characteristic and allows coverage depending on various factors, including other equipment operating at the same frequency, distance, and material used in the construction of walls and ceilings.

The illustration below shows wireless coverage pattern from an antenna for 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz.

Mesh 1 2.4 5GHZ Wireless coverage

Adv disAdv of 2.4 vs 5GHZ

If you require more distance through walls and ceilings, choose 2.4GHz.

If your requirement is speed, then 5Ghz may be a better option but consider the reduced distance.

Choosing a Mesh Enabled Access Point

Many of DrayTek’s Access Points support Mesh wireless function. The chart below shows specific models to choose when deploying Mesh Wireless. The AP1000 is Triband, so can support a dedicated 5HGz node to node wireless Mesh connection. To use 2.4GHz frequency which can have a greater range and wider coverage use an AP912C or AP1000C in your Mesh Network which support Mesh node to node frequency of 2.4GHz.

Mesh 2. AP Comparison

For more information on DrayTek Mesh, click this link

DrayTek VigorAP Mesh Wireless Access Points

How to Extend Wireless Coverage For Home or Office

 home extender

If you have a large house or indeed an office on several floors, a wireless router's own wireless coverage may not cover all the areas required. The router  may be located on ground floor or somewhere moving it more centrally would be difficult.  Depending on the construction of walls and ceilings the wireless signal may not reach every corner of the house where wireless is required.

Solutions

  1. Change the orientation of the antennas on the router. This may help with the propagation of the wireless signal in the direction required.
  2. Change the location of the router so that it sits more central to the coverage required in all directions. This may not be possible if the incoming broadband phone connection is not located where you like to centrally locate the router.
  3. Consider a range extender without using Mesh
    1. Models to consider Indoor -> AP802, AP903, AP912C (All support Mesh, but can be used as range extenders)
    2. VigorConnect Management software can be used to manage the Access Point(s)

Products to consider for Range Extenders

VigorAP 1000C, VigorAP 903, VigorAP 802, VigorAP 912C, VigorAP 810  (Indoor)

VigorAP 918 (Outdoor)

For Access Point Management setup tool, download and install VigorConnect from the link below.

DrayTek VigorConnect

(Free download)

In this environment one can extend the wireless network without the need to deploy a wireless Mesh solution. However, if deploying two or more wireless Access Points to widen wireless coverage, a Mesh may be suitable and indeed beneficial in terms of management and wireless redundancy.

To configure an Access Point as a range extender, follow this configuration guide.

Extend Wireless Coverage with DrayTek VigorAP Range Extender

Business Wireless Mesh Deployment

Requirements are for full wireless coverage in a large area, with management. Features of the wireless network to include redundancy and support high density of users. Central management of Access Points, and central deployment of configuration profiles to each Access Point deployed in the network.

 Mesh deployment

Suitable Access Points

  • VigorAP 1000C
  • VigorAP 912C
  • VigorAP 903
  • VigorAP 802
  • Central Firewall, VPN concentrator Vigor 3910

For configuration, click these configuration guides

Mesh Wireless - Initial Setup - DrayTek Wireless App

Mesh Wireless - Initial Setup - Quick Start Wizard

How to setup a wireless Mesh network with multi-subnets