The Rise of Mesh and Whole-Home Wi-Fi

The arrival of mesh routers marks a significant evolution in WLAN technology, and could provide enormous revenue opportunities for the Channel. Here, Lino Notaro, Retail Sales Director at TP-Link UK explains why.

For the uninitiated, mesh routers use tri-node technology, which involves connecting one node, usually a disc, into your ISP and mains, with two further nodes strategically placed around the building or home, to eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots. The result is a seamless connected experience.
What marks mesh routers apart is their ability to create a whole home wi-fi experience: one network unified under one SSID, which is particularly useful for dwellings with unusual layouts or thick walls.

Security is a key feature to appear on mesh routers. As cyber criminals move away from zero day attacks to a more organic, living off the land approach, they take advantage of the opportunities at hand like operating system features and network administration software as we saw to devastating effect with the Mirai botnet. With security applied to the router, all devices within the network are protected from desktops and laptops to smart home devices and tablets. And any mesh router worth its salt will include easy to use parental controls too.

Lino Notaro, Retail Sales Director at TP-Link UK

Lino Notaro, Retail Sales Director at TP-Link UK

The channel, which should get to grips with this technology now to understand the revenue-generating benefits that are sure to follow.
Firstly, mesh routers remove the need for range extenders, powerlines or similar devices that currently plug the gaps in hundreds of thousands of home Wi-Fi networks in the UK. This is especially important now the average UK home has on average eight mobile devices, which causes problems for thousands of users unable to access a network simultaneously.

Secondly, the global market for wireless mesh networks is predicted to increase from a modest 13.3 million units in 2015 to 37.2 million by 2024, with revenues expected to jump from £2.9 billion in 2015 to £6.7 billion during the same period.
Demand for mesh technology is currently coming from the SOHO market, however, analysts are already talking about its potential to be integrated into DSL, fibre and cable, which means it’s only a matter of time before utility companies start offering businesses the chance to have seamless, connected Wi-Fi too. According to Transparency Market Research this technology will benefit all industry sectors in particular hospitality, healthcare, government and education.

Thirdly, mesh technology can cover up to 4,500 square feet with AC dual band Wi-Fi, plenty of capacity the most demanding situations. Combined with an attractive price point, mesh routers are one of the fastest-growing electronics categories in the UK retail space. The technology is so new that figures are hard to come by, with just a handful of vendors currently offering a limited number of models.

Because so few brands in the market currently offer it, resellers who do provide mesh technology will be part of a small, select club. Resellers and distributors have the chance now to demonstrate mesh technology as a compelling technology alternative to ISP provided routers and wi-fi expanding devices like range extenders.

Many offices are now open-plan, without fixed desks or working spaces. Mesh routers provide the flexibility and the sleek appearance increasing numbers of start-up businesses look for, and will continue to perform tasks in the background while discreetly blending into the office decor.
Because mesh devices are at the premium end of the product scale, resellers who offer them can be assured of locked-in margin, especially those able to offer increased value such as built-in sophisticated anti-virus technology. Companies that rely heavily on internet connectivity for their day-to-day operations and profits, will always be prepared to invest in a network technology that offers the best protection possible.

Announced in January this year at CES, the technology is relatively new but the resellers I speak with report high levels of consumer interest, fuelled by the rise in smart home technology. It’s only a matter of time before savvy businesses start shouting for it, too.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine