What MESH is all about and what is used for?
We could say mesh networking is an intelligent grid of access points. They’re all connected together and aware of each other, “talking” to each other. If any of those access points for any of reason goes down, all the other access points still automatically re-connect into the grid on the fly and still route traffic.
The most common usage is when you need to cover a larger area and there’s only one location having a physical internet connection available. In this case, we utilize many of these access points which connects wirelessly with each other and create a wireless mesh network, covering all the area.
Of course, when they are wired (with an ethernet cable) into the network they are just regular access points. Good ones, though! 🙂
Ubiquiti Unifi Mesh Topology Example
Here’s an example of the Unifi Mesh Topology. Worth to mention that Unifi Mesh access points are NOT routers. You always need a router to do al the routing in your network. There’s no need to use Ubiquiti equipment for all other devices, although it’s recommended for the highest compatibility and scalability.
Recommended equipment as shown on the topology example:
- Access points: Unifi Mesh or Unifi Mesh PRO
- Router: Unifi Security Gateway or Unifi Security Gateway PRO. Of course, PRO version is much more powerful and has more functions (for instance multiple LAN and WAN ports as well as SFP ports for fiber modules)
- Switch (optional if needed): 8-Port UniFi Switch, Managed PoE+ Gigabit Switch with SFP
- Unifi Controller: In order to configure all the Unifi devices you need a computer or tablet with Unifi Controller installed on it. It is a free software solution to manage and configure all Unifi devices in your network. You can download it here (available for Windows, MacOS, Linux (Debian/Ubuntu), Android and iOS). The computer with software installed is only needed during configuration. You can shut it down and disconnect it later once everything is up and running. But in order to observe and log all the network statistics it needs to be running all the time. For this purpose, Ubiquiti sells a Unifi Cloud Key, which is nothing more than a small computer with a Unifi Controller installed on it. It is meant to be connected and running all the time.
My Real World Example
My job was to cover a whole camping area. I used 1x Unifi Security Gateway PRO, 4x Unifi Mesh PRO and a Unifi Cloud Key.
On the MAIN location, there’s one Mesh Pro physically connected to USG-PRO. All other (1, 2 and 3) are connected wirelessly to the main Mesh Pro device. On the picture above you can see all the distances and wireless uplink bandwidths.
I was quite impressed with the overall performance. Roaming between access points works flawlessly.
When I first tested the devices I noticed that even though it’s said the coverage is up to 180 meters, the reality is a bit different. Most users have mobile phones and tablets. The antennas of these small devices are not that powerful. They have no problem receiving the signal, but with the transmitting to the access point. For the best performance, I wouldn’t recommend the distance between two Mesh devices to be more than 100 meters.
Profession: System Administrator, Stage Crew – Technician
Hobbies: Everything IT, Blogging, Music, Caving
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