Apple, AirPort Network Devices, and WiFi Mesh Networking

Wi-Fi mesh routers are the “new” hottest set of tech gadgets to have. Wi-Fi mesh networks allow for multiple access point in the same structure, e.g. your house, to provide proper Wi-Fi network coverage, eliminating low signal or dead zones. What really captured my attention was the Google Wi-Fi mesh routers. They are beautiful and I look forward to having a set of them in my home. Before them and for lack of interest, the term Wi-Fi Mesh Network was pretty vaguely defined in my mind. But as it happens, I have been utilizing the concept of Wi-Fi mesh networking in my house for years, just under a different name.

Apple has offered mesh networking for years on the AirPort Routers, but no one noticed! It just used technical terms like Wirelessly Extended Network and Wireless Distribution System. Not as easy to roll off the thong as “mesh network”. I guess no marketing staff were involved since it wasn’t also pushed as a selling feature.

Now that Apple is exiting the router market, whilst others are just starting to offer devices with similar features, does that mean that Apple is stale, disinterested, and behind others for lack of updating and discontinuing the AirPort device line? Or is it that once again it is years ahead of everyone else, who are just getting to the wires-optional multi-device networking party!

Over the years I have come across a number of articles, comments, and opinions expressing harshness toward Apple for pushing Wi-Fi on their devices and limiting wired connection options. Now what? Now that other are doing the same, and Apple is saying “been there, done that”, Apple is instead criticized for not joining in.

Join what? Like I said, Apple had their party, it’s just that no one else paid enough attention to joined in then.

You can read steps on how to setup a Wi-Fi mesh network between your Apple AirPort devices in the following Apple how-to articles – Wi-Fi base stations: Extending the range of your wireless network by adding additional Wi-Fi base stations.

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