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ethernet backhaul

 If you are looking for a new wifi installation especially a network wifi array you may have seen the term "Ethernet backhaul" or "wired backhaul". 

If you are wondering what this means keep reading because I will try to explain what it is and why it is better.

What Is an Ethernet Backhaul?

Using wired Ethernet storage you connect the access points using Ethernet network cables. This opens up another channel for communication between the access points and thus takes some of the load of the wireless bandwidth. 

In my house, I can get a 1GB Ethernet connection over the cables which is a higher output than the wireless signal so it more than doubles the capacity.

What Is a Mesh Wifi Network?

Wi-Fi networks are great for larger homes, oddly designed homes, or homes that contain a lot of metal that can interfere with wifi signals. Network uses multiple wifi access points in different places in the home or office to cover the home with a wifi signal eliminating dead WiFi points. 

Out of the box these wifi access points communicate with each other via the wifi signal itself. If you think you can achieve the same thing with range extenders you should read my post about Wifi Networks vs. Extensions.

Mesh wifi networks have two types of router access points (ethernet backhaul):

- The main or main access point which connects to your cable / DSL modem and acts as a router.

- Secondary access points offer Wi-Fi to nearby devices and transmit traffic to the main router wirelessly.

In most wifi kits on the network, there is no physical difference between the two types of access points and you can choose one of the access points to be your main access point.

Below is an image that illustrates a network with one primary access point and one secondary access point. The main access point also functions as a router. The access points must be within range of each other for the installation to work.

So What’s the Problem?

Now imagine that your laptop is connected to a second access point and you are watching a video on YouTube. Your video stream comes from a Youtube server to your modem via a cable to your main access point which transmits it via wifi to the second access point which receives it and retransmits it via wifi to your laptop.

While the primary access point transmits the video to the second access point via wireless it cannot transmit anything else on the same strip. While the secondary access point receives the video it cannot receive anything else on the same wireless band

And finally, while the second access point transmits the video to your laptop it cannot transmit anything else on the same wireless band. I think it's clear that video streams can clog your wireless network.

Furthermore, wifi is notorious for something called signal degradation. This means that maximum output is achieved only in the most optimal circumstances. The farther away from the access point the signal weakens. 

To compensate, wifi equipment slows down output as slow signals are less susceptible to interference.

This is why locating wireless network access points is so important for ethernet backhaul. Imagine you have a pretty good connection to a secondary access point but the connection between the secondary and primary access point is bad. 

Your internet browsing speed will not be faster than the poor connection between the two access points can handle no matter how good the connection from your device to the second access point is.


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