I just purchased a WiFi Range Extender, set it up with the same SSID as the WiFi Router, and thought I'd be able to walk around the house with my laptop, and it would automatically reconnect to the AP with stronger signal. What actually happened is the laptop sticks to the AP it originally connected to, and stays on it even when the signal from the other AP is much stronger, while the signal from the original AP is so weak that network speed deteriorates significantly.

After some googling around I found two things:

  1. This behaviour is by design. If I want to, I can tweak how aggressively my laptop looks for stronger AP's, in the network card settings. But such setting is not available in e.g. iPads or iPhones.
  2. There's something called "mesh" WiFi, where access points smartly route traffic between each other, provide auto-healing if one AP goes offline, etc. Also mesh WiFi apparently provides seamless device handoff from one AP to another as I walk around the house.

Now my question. If I did go ahead and spent money on a mesh network (like Deco or OneMesh advertised on the TP-Link website), would I achieve what I want? Somehow common sense is telling me that switching from one AP to another will still be decided by each device individually, rather than controlled by the access points.

  • "WiFi mesh" - is fancy marketing (IMO) for selling multiple access points and "smart" software to switch between those adapters. My single router has 3 access points (2 5 GHz one 2.4 GHz) and can combine those. Basically, the newer revisions of 802.11 itself support "WiFi mesh". Don't get me wrong though, it actually works pretty well, but you can get that with an extender and an access point (not exactly since the extender will be slower than the primary router if connected wirelessly).
    – Ramhound
    Nov 13, 2019 at 3:34
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    It isn't just marketing; the underlying protocols do actually provide "mesh" L2 routing between the APs (e.g. using 802.11s) instead of simply putting all those APs on a single uplink connection... And although seamless device handoff isn't actually part of mesh (you can get automatic roaming with literally any Wi-Fi AP), the 'mesh' APs usually support extensions such as 802.11r which make the actual handoff process a bit more instant and less likely to interrupt active data streams than what's possible with baseline 802.11, and so the clients might be less reluctant to roam. Nov 13, 2019 at 5:25

1 Answer 1


Now my question. If I did go ahead and spent money on a mesh network (like Deco or OneMesh advertised on the TP-Link website), would I achieve what I want?

When it comes to Wi-Fi, ultimately the roaming decision is always determined by the client. The wireless network can try to encourage clients to roam by various means, but in the end the client has the power.

The only way the network can take over any control of client roaming is to use some sort of virtualization, generally referred to as single channel architectures. In these cases, the wireless network will typically use some sort of "virtual access point" that all the physical access points (on the same channel) provide means to transmit/receive. There are very few vendors that provide this type of configuration of which I am aware (3-4 to my knowledge).

  • @YLeam can you please give some examples. Maybe provide links to product sites? Thank you.
    – Andrew
    Nov 13, 2019 at 6:17
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    @Andrew, product recommendations are off topic here, but can be asked at Hardware Recommendations. Just to get you started, the three I can remember off the top of my head are Ubiquiti, Fortinet, and Allied Telesis.
    – YLearn
    Nov 13, 2019 at 7:51

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