Velop Provides First-Rate but Expensive Wi-Fi Mesh Networking


(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #1

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/07/09/velop-provides-first-rate-but-expensive-wi-fi-mesh-networking/

With Apple’s AirPort line of base stations gone to that Wi-Fi network in the sky, the Velop wireless system from Linksys is a solid alternative. Unlike Apple’s base stations, Velop is “mesh” hardware, with multiple units working in unison to bathe a residence in bandwidth. Velop works well but is costly. Luckily, there are less expensive options.


(James R Cutler) #2

I presently manage several Airport Extreme base stations at distances from my desk varying between 36 inches and 640 miles. Since the default factory configuration of the AE works with every cable provider I have encountered, even bootstrapping a new machine with very little local help is possible.

What other vendor provides secure in-band remote management in this market?


(Simon) #3

Three things remain unclear to me after reading the article.

  1. How are the extra nodes joined? Wired (Gigabit, Powerline?) or wireless? If the latter, are there fewer performance penalties compared to regular 802.11 wifi extension?

  2. Also, if it’s the latter, why would the extra nodes need Ethernet? Is that merely for bridging to wired clients? I’m curious because the author claims the extra cost of Velop is warranted by the extra hardware features, but this sounds like such an “extra” that would be rather useless to me.

  3. Does the setup app exist only for iOS and Android? If there’s no Mac app, does this mean config from a Mac would require using the web interface the author advises not to use?


(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #4

Simon

Three things remain unclear to me after reading the article.

  1. How are the extra nodes joined? Wired (Gigabit, Powerline?) or
    wireless? If the latter, are there fewer performance penalties compared to
    regular 802.11 wifi extension​?​

Per my story, one node is hardwired to my cable modem, the others are
added to the network in a wireless capacity. I’ve used Wi-Fi extenders and
I’m having better luck with newfangled mesh options.​

Also, if it’s the latter, why would the extra nodes need Ethernet? Is that
merely for bridging to wired clients? I’m curious because the author claims
the extra cost of Velop is warranted by the extra hardware features, but
this sounds like such an “extra” that would be rather useless to me.

​Per my article, the Ethernet ports are for hooking up printers and gaming
consoles, among other things. Some might find this useful, others not.

Does the setup app exist only for iOS and Android? If there’s no Mac app,
does this mean config from a Mac would require using the web interface the
author advises not to use?

​The app exists for both iOS and Android yes (Most TidBITS users aren’t on
Android phones). Linksys appears to be assuming that this option will work
for the vast majority of its customers.​


(Conrad Hirano) #5

From what I’ve read, the ethernet ports on the Velop units can be used to connect the nodes to the main unit, and it may result in better performance than relying on wireless.

A mesh network will give you much better performance than using a traditional network extender. I used an AirPort Express to extend the network at one end of my house, and connecting through it resulted in about half the maximum speed of the internet connection, which is what you would expect with a traditional extender. With a second-generation, three-unit Eero system, I get full speed everywhere in the house, regardless of which node my computer connects to.


(Simon) #6

Is that through wired or wireless extension?


(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #7

You are correct, daisy-chaining (not sure that’s the right term) the nodes physically is definitely an option.


(scott smith) #8

Nicely detailed article. But what about people wanting to continue using a Wi-Fi router for Time Machine backups with attached and encrypted USB drives? For example, Linksys routers don’t seem to make this a very user-friendly option, if at all, ASUS routers seem to have Time Machine and firmware update issues, and for some reason NETGEAR put their USB 2.0 port on the front.


(Conrad Hirano) #9

Wireless. I have an Eero system, not Velop. Eero got rid of ethernet ports in the second generation except on the main unit.


(Al Varnell) #10

It’s important to note that for average household use, multiple units are NOT required and you will get better and cheaper results by only purchasing the main base station. If you later find that to be inadequate, then add one or more satellite units.

-Al-


(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #11

Many can get by with one unit. I need four to properly blanket my property.


(Flawn Williams) #12

Our local Verizon behemoth is pushing the Netgear Orbi mesh system. Any thoughts about those compared to the Eero, Velop, and others mentioned? Also, count me as someone who finds Ethernet jacks for clients useful throughout the house, for solar panel monitoring devices and other uses. So that’s a plus for Velop in my case. But I’m sorry to see they’re using separate wall wart power supplies.


(Allen Gainsford) #13

I’m using an Orbi mesh right now; I got it because it was a Wirecutter recommendation.

The initial setup was tricky, but that’s mostly my ISP’s fault; some setting they use (I forget what; it’s been nearly a year since I installed the things) required me to get into some non-obvious setup. But since then, they’ve worked very well…as wifi routers.

However, you’re supposed to be able to plug in a printer for wifi sharing, and I found that very problematic. In the end I gave up and bought a wifi-capable printer.


(Tommy Weir) #14

We use a combination of the ISP supplied router and two hardwired AE base stations to supply our WiFi. Anything that’s speed critical is wired into an Ethernet port. My Mac and the AppleTV for example. The speed differential between them and the iPhones is not that bad. The phones still reporting 36Mb down. Good enough. At some point we will swap out to a mesh network but I will always want Ethernet available. I’ll miss the ease and reliability of Airport utility though. Could always talk a client through a setup or fix.


(Alan Forkosh) #15

I have installed a mesh system to replace my former system that consisted of two Airport Extremes connected with an Ethernet Cable.

I live in a a modified railroad-style apartment (I.e., the apartment consists is slightly wider than one room wide with a living room in the front, a kitchen behind it, the bathroom behind it and then my office and bedroom. There is a hallway that runs outside these rooms running from front to back… A concentration of utility piping for my apartment and the one above me runs through the wall between the kitchen and bathroom and causes deterioration of the wifi signal between the front and back of the apartment.

So, the WiFi access points are in the living room and office, connected with an Ethernet cable running along the hallway and under cable protectors at doorways. I replaced the Airport Extremes with components from an Amplifi Mesh System, specifically 2 Amplify HD routers. The routers are compact cubes which look like clocks, but can also provide useful performance information about the system. Both routers have 1 WAN port and several additional LAN ports, allowing hard-wired connections when available from other devices. The system supports Ethernet backhaul, so I have Gigabit connectivity between the routers. Amplifi routers can function as mesh points with the additional benefit of supporting wired Ethernet.

The negative aspects of Amplifi system reviews concern the mesh points supplied in complete systems. The usual complaints are that they are essentially cumbersome oddly shaped components sprouting out of electrical outlets. and that they have no capacity for connecting wired components… However, it is possible to buy all components separately, so assembling the 2 router system is actually cheaper than buying the the standard 1 router-2 mesh point system and has none of defects associated with the mesh points.


(Graham Samuel) #16

I’m using a number Airport Expresses and Ethernet in combination to provide wifi in a large rambling house in France. The walls are mostly 60cm thick, which is where the Ethernet comes in (I’m using Netgear devices that piggy-back on the mains current to provide virtual Ethernet cabling from one side of the house to another). There are still some bad spots, and I would like to upgrade to a mesh system: Velops seems to be available in Europe.

I’m concerned about two things:

  1. On my Airport Express devices, there’s an output that allows me to attach an audio amplifier to the system and then play music in a particular room with a good hifi system, sourced across the network from my Apple devices (Airplay) - will this still be possible, and if not, have Apple simply abandoned users of this feature apart from folks with Apple TV?

  2. I would really like the wifi to be available in the garden, say up to 100 metres from the house - would the Velops hardware help with this? I’m immediately thinking of issues with power supplies and waterproofing if actual hardware had to be installed outside the building - but perhaps that wouldn’t be necessary.


(Conrad Hirano) #17

You can have the AirPort Express connect to the wireless network as a client and use AirPlay. You just won’t be using it to create or extend the wireless network anymore.


(Josh Centers) #18

Long story short, yes. Their solution is to buy a HomePod. The closest to the AirPort Express these days is the Chromecast Audio.


(Graham Samuel) #19

Thanks for the reply. Good news in a way, until of course the Airport Express falls apart or somehow its firmware becomes obsolete… still good short-to-medium term solution.


(Graham Samuel) #20

Thanks. Had a quick look at Chromecast Audio. Looks good value. Can’t work out from the Google ad whether it comes up as Airplay on my iPhone etc (says it works with iOS devices, but doesn’t say how). Obviously worth more investigation.