Anyone searching for a mesh network in the last few year would no doubt have come across Eero. The Eero router is a neat little white box that either replaces, or sits alongside your current WiFi solution, and effectively takes over. For larger houses, multiple Eero’s can be bought and placed around the house to increase the reach of the initial Eero, creating a WiFi mesh that is wider in range, and more stable than using a single router. While the first generation of the Eero allowed you to essentially buy multiples of the same router and spread them out, the ‘soon to be released’ second generation has reduced the size of the extra routers, and renamed them “Beacons”.
These Beacons are functionally similar to the main hub, although they now take up half the space, and lack an Ethernet port. While you may feel that this is a bad thing, be aware that the inclusion of the new beacon now means that you don’t need to spend quite as much money to kit out your entire house. If you would like to get the absolute best WiFi performance possible, it is still recommended to buy the Pro WiFi solution, which comes with three Eero’s that are all capable of being hardwired. For the average consumer though the Beacons should work perfectly well, extending the range and stability of your WiFi considerably.
The Tri-band arrives!
Another boon associated with the second gen Eero’s are that they now include a third band (one 2.4hz, and two 5hz) for your home network, which should eliminate congestion, and allow for a much more reliable connection. The fact that Eero deals with the channel selection without you knowing means that most consumers wont even be aware of this extra little perk, apart from the fact that they are having less dropped Skype calls than they were before. With the added performance boost and the reduction in price, is it enough for someone who was on the fence about mesh networks, to make the jump? While the performance boost is always a welcome one, the price still remains a stumbling block.
The original three-pack of full sized Eero routers is still retailing at a relatively high price, which is a hefty wedge to spend on a WiFi solution that essentially just improves what you get for free with from your ISP. While the new packages that include one full size Eero and Beacons have reduced the cost slightly, it still sounds expensive in a world full of $50 routers. The small home solution (one full size, one beacon) is far more than that, and the ‘most homes’ version (one full size. two beacons) weighs in at around $399, which will no doubt put a huge amount of people off. Convincing people to part with between $300 and $500 for a speed bump on their WiFi is a tough ask, but then again, Eero hasn’t ever really positioned themselves as a ‘bargain basement’ company, so perhaps their customers wont recoil to quite the level of the rest of us, when confronted with that sort of price tag. I still can’t help but think that a $100 drop in price on each of the packages would make all the difference, and could turn quite a niche device into a much more mainstream idea.
Now is the time for mesh networks to build the foundations
The thing is, any company looking to dominate the home network would do well to get themselves into the home right now. With the rise of IOT devices currently riding an exponential wave of interest, a robust WiFi network is going to become ever more important. While this is great news for any company trying to build a business around this need (even Google joined the Wi-Fi bandwagon), there are two problems that currently stand in their way. Firstly, most people are happy enough with the router that comes from their ISP (and until a problem arises, they aren’t paying for anything). Secondly, once a customer lays down $500 on a solution, they are not going to want to upgrade for a very long time. If ISP’s suddenly start supplying their own mesh systems (which isn’t inconceivable in the next 5 years) then the need for an Eero or two suddenly diminishes. Were Eero to get in to the home early (perhaps the company can do so by lowering the price and making a smaller profit than they currently are), it could lead to additional units being sold down the line when we all suddenly realize that there is a ‘dead spot’ in the far corner of the garden that simply cannot be allowed to continue.