Until this past week, I wasn't able to get a steady Wi-Fi connection in most rooms of my house.
Then I tried a new solution called "mesh networking" and fixed everything in minutes.
Here's some background: If I sat downstairs in my 1920s colonial, I might be lucky enough to get a fast enough connection to browse the web from my living room or dining room. Anything further, like the Amazon Echo in my kitchen, just couldn't connect to the Wi-Fi router in my den. Streaming movies upstairs was out of the question.
Fighting plaster and lathe walls
It wasn't necessarily my router's fault. My house is loaded with plaster and lathe walls that destroy Wi-Fi signals. Knowing this was going to be a problem no matter what router I had in my home office, I set out to try mesh networking.
Mesh networking, which has become popular in the last two years or so, uses multiple hotspots around your house to blanket it in Wi-Fi, instead of using one single spot to broadcast as far and possible. It's great for folks in situations like mine.
I chose Google Wifi because friends had told me how easy it is to use. A three-pack retails for about $260 (or $299 when it isn't on sale). There are plenty of other options out there from brands such as Eero, Linksys and Amplifi that others swear by, too.
It was a cinch to set up
First, I connected one of the small pucks to my primary router downstairs in the home office.Then I walked upstairs and placed one almost directly above it, in a bedroom. Google recommends you try to keep them within a room from one another so that the signal stays strong.
Finally, I set a third unit up on the third floor, again as close to the two others as possible. An iPhone app (there's an Android one, too) guided me through the process and watched as Google tested the signal as I placed the spots around the house.
It took me less than 10 minutes. Each unit has an Ethernet jack if you want to connect devices such as a home computer or network printer directly, but I found the Wi-Fi was fast enough that I didn't need a direct connection.
On my third floor, for example, where speeds were so slow I couldn't stream music on my Apple TV, suddenly I was able to stream HD videos, play online PC games and download movies, all at once.
Why did I wait?
I wasn't sure that mesh networking was actually what I needed. I had my reservations about it actually working properly, especially knowing my walls are so dense, and I was a little scared of the expensive price tags. After all, you can get a new router for a lot less.
I'm glad I spent the money. After weeks of complaining about deadspots in nearly every room of the house, I had full Wi-Fi coverage again.
I wish I had done this sooner.