Yes, we do support wireless mesh networking! Our engineering team worked hard to build the best mesh for your devices. We focused on all the key aspects to offer you a product that will never disappoint.
The Plasma Cloud mesh technology uses the B.A.T.M.A.N. protocol under the hood. This protocol uses the actual Wi-Fi throughput for computing routes and thus optimizes the traffic flow aiming at high data-rates.
It works on both 2.4 and 5 GHz radio frequencies and Plasma Cloud single-band, dual-band and tri-band Access Points all mesh together seamlessly. Naturally, this feature extends to all migrated third party devices as well. On dual and tri-band devices, the protocol will choose the best radio to use based on a number of factors, thus exploiting the AP capabilities as much as possible.
Our mesh technology comes with built-in encryption based on the SAE authentication method. It forbids any unauthorized device from joining the mesh and, at the same time, it solves possible conflict issues that may arise when other mesh networks exist in the same area.
The mesh is self-forming and self-healing and as such automated recovery and fail-over are built in: when the uplink connection is lost, devices scan their neighborhood and try to find a working mesh network automatically. Learn more on our auto-recovery mechanism in this article.
Plasma Cloud allows disabling the mesh network to reduce your network overhead and increase overall performance in situations where all Access Points are wired. As we do not want to limit you with a network-wide mesh on-off switch, Plasma Cloud also allows single devices to individually override the network-wide mesh settings, thus granting extreme flexibility.
A practical example? This functionality allows you to have a completely wired network with a limited area connected via mesh, all of this while still having the best performance possible with no unnecessary overhead.
The WiFi AI consists of a set of mechanisms that automatically configure your WiFi settings in an optimal way. Among others, it automatically manages your wireless mesh, enabling or disabling it on your WiFi Access Points as needed. Its auto-channel selection logic also allows your mesh to always work on the best channels available, minimizing signal interference in your target location.
The Plasma Cloud Mesh Topology offers unmatched visibility into your network architecture, both wired and wireless. It allows you to:
Visualize routes from mesh device to gateway; and
Visualize information of each individual mesh link.
Learn more about the Mesh Topology in this article.
Where does a mesh network shine?
Mesh network is essential in all those areas where Ethernet cabling cannot exist or is too expensive and time-consuming to install.
Campgrounds and marinas are some of the most obvious use cases, as installing a wired network in those environments can be rather impossible. However, even hotels, private homes or large dwellings can greatly benefit from a mesh network, often used as a quick and easy Wi-Fi extension of the existing wired infrastructure.
How far can a mesh go?
Generally, every link or "hop" between two Access Points decreases the available bandwidth. This means that a long chain of meshing Access Points will eventually result in a very slow connection.
The number of hops that a Plasma Cloud mesh can achieve without completely stalling its throughput is, unfortunately, something that we cannot easily control as it depends on many factors, such as environment, noise, other WiFi networks, etc. This basically means that there are some physical constraints that we cannot work around.
We always recommend to perform onsite tests and accurate planning before deploying your network, but you may take into consideration that, in a nutshell:
- When using single band Access Points the WiFi throughput is probably going to degrade quite fast, not allowing more than 3 or 4 hops.
- On the other hand, when using dual- or tri-band Access Points the chances that your throughput will stay on a reasonable level after 4 or 5 hops is higher.