/ Left to right : a looming Netgear Orbi satellite, an upside-down Plume superpod, and an older Eero model.
Beyond that, the switch — which connects all the wired connections together and may be built into the router itself — manages all these connections intelligently. This allows the router to get input from each device in a timely fashion, as well as split its own time fairly to deliver requested data to each of those devices.
Simple streaming — watching Netflix or YouTube — is, oddly enough, one of the least demanding tasks you can give your Wi- Fi. The traffic is almost entirely download, and it’s not latency-sensitive — if Netflix wants to build up a ten-minute buffer, you’ll never know about it; a blip in service will get smoothed out without a single visibly dropped frame.
Unfortunately, while delivering a video stream isn’t all that challenging, living on the same network (with) a video stream can be. If the bandwidth consumed by the stream is close to the bandwidth limit of the Wi-Fi connection (not the internet connection!) There won’t be many “breaks” in the stream for your own device to get a word in edgewise. The key vocabulary word here is airtime. If the majority of the available airtime is already being consumed, a device that has a latency-sensitive communications need — like remote-controlling an office computer — is going to have a bad time.
The spotty airtime availability for your device to upload a request — whether it is a simple HTTPS request to fetch a webpage, or mouse or keyboard inputs delivered to a remote-controlled PC at the office — means things get laggy. You’re not having a throughput problem, you’re having a latency problem — you move your mouse and click on something, and it takes half a second (or more!) Before anything happens.
Congratulations, you’re an honorary gamer now — and you have the same complaints they do. You’ve got the dreaded “lag,” and it’s breaking your workflow. A single bad connection is everybody’s problem Let’s go back to our earlier example of a Netflix stream. If one roommate is watching a 4K show on Netflix, that show will eat up — on average — about 53 Mbps. In a house with a 500 Mbps cable internet connection, that doesn’t seem so bad. But the same situation can start looking a lot more grim inside the house or apartment itself, when looking at the Wi-Fi . If the router and the streaming device are in the same room, and they’re connected on 5GHz, that Mbps stream is probably only consuming percent of the airtime. But if they’re two rooms apart from one another, the same stream is likely consuming 90 – (percent of the airtime.) Although 2.4GHz connections can carry farther, they’re slower to begin with. They also have even worse congestion problems — that same higher range and penetration means you’re more likely to have your own devices competing with your neighbors’ for airtime on the same frequency. (No, it doesn’t matter if you have different passwords — airtime is airtime, period.) This is when you start having serious latency issues — with the majority of the Wi-Fi airtime already occupied, there are significant delays between when you tell your own phone or laptop you want to request data, and your phone or laptop can relay that request to the router. Decreasing airtime consumption with Wi-Fi mesh