By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Welcome to Wi-Fi Pro Tips by Calix! Home Wi-Fi solution provider Calix serves thousands of ISP clients and they’re a great source of insider info on home Wi-Fi challenges and solutions. In this series we’ll be curating Wi-Fi knowledge from Calix’s Wi-Fi experts. Our first pro tip is about the performance improvements associated with Wi-Fi 6 that have resulted in a demonstrable decline in need for Wi-Fi mesh units (satellites) to extend home Wi-Fi coverage or fill coverage holes.
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Consumers and ISPs for the most part love the gadgetry of home Wi-Fi mesh systems. But how often do you really need one or more mesh APs, extenders, or pods to extend coverage or fill coverage holes? The truth may come as a surprise for many but the short answer is this: Not often. Calix says that a remarkable 93% of GigaSpire BLAST Wi-Fi 6 systems – Calix’s home gateway solution – currently deployed by North American home broadband service providers do not use mesh satellites.
Nor do they need to use mesh APs to deliver the home Wi-Fi quality that subscribers want. Calix can say that with a great deal of confidence because the company meticulously monitors home Wi-Fi quality to ensure carrier-grade whole-home coverage wherever GigaSpire BLAST systems are installed. The reason why single gateways are enough is rooted in the performance of the Wi-Fi 6 standard itself, says Shane Eleniak, Executive Vice President of Products at Calix.
“Wi-Fi 6 delivers 20-30% better coverage and range compared to Wi-Fi 5. In the past Wi-Fi data transfer rates would drop off very quickly as you approached the coverage edge, rendering the last few feet of coverage unusable. With Wi-Fi 6 this is no longer the case in part because of error vector magnitude (EVM) and beamforming capabilities in Wi-Fi 6 that direct stronger, higher bandwidth signals to specific clients. The end result is a much reduced need for mesh satellites, extenders, or pods,” says Shane Eleniak.
Add to this a raft of practical benefits for ISPs – and subscribers – when satellites are not needed and a single Wi-Fi 6 gateway for whole-home Wi-Fi is sufficient.
“In general a single AP is a simpler and better solution for consumers – most of whom are probably not interested in pods taking up power sockets around the house nor wanting to figure out which pod is working and which is not. For service providers a single AP solution makes for much easier troubleshooting and installation. Also remember that handovers between mesh units introduce latency and most likely reduce bandwidth due to extra over the air (OTA) hops,” says Shane Eleniak.
Here’s this month’s Pro Tip: