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Riding the new Wi-Fi wave (part 1)

Keith Shaw | July 4, 2016
Luma's wireless mesh system changes the way you'll want to setup your home Wi-Fi network

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Luma wireless mesh network

Wireless mesh networking has been around for many years with business-level products and services, but it's been pretty scarce in the home network space. The most famous user of a wireless mesh network (in which Wi-Fi clients talk to access nodes that can talk to other nodes, instead of a single router) is the wireless audio provider Sonos.

But for the most part, improvements in Wi-Fi meant you still bought a singular router that you'd connect to a modem (or you have a combination modem/router given to you by your broadband provider). If you wanted to extend your network or improve coverage in parts of your house, you would need to buy a repeater/extender, which created an extra "hop" for network traffic (not optimal for services/apps that have a need for speed).

Two new wireless mesh companies have recently hit the market - Eero and Luma. Instead of a single router, these systems give you three smaller access nodes to create the mesh. One of the nodes is connected to the router, and then other nodes are placed in other areas of the house (similar to what you'd do with a repeater, but without the mesh).

 We received samples of the Luma system - it's a 3-pack that costs $399. Additional Luma nodes (if you have a really, really big house) cost $149 each. We also have an Eero three-pack, we'll review that in Part 2 of this article. The Luma system started shipping this week, and should soon be available at Best Buy stores and online retailers as well.

Setup via app

 Before you even connect the first Luma node to the modem/router, you download an app to your smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android supported). With the app, you create a Luma account, but then also provide information to the system - the name of the network (SSID), the password and the type of home you have. In our case, we set up for a three-floor house (two floors and a basement) - the app also lets you choose whether you live in an apartment or townhouse.

 Next, the system asks where the modem/router is located, and then has you set up the first luma node to the router, via a provided Ethernet cable. After a few minutes, the app tells you where to place the second Luma node (in our case, we headed to floor 2). Each node has two Ethernet ports (an Out port and an In port), as well as a power adapter. This means you need to place the Luma node near a power outlet.

 

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