If you’ve got a mesh Wi-Fi network set up in your home, you’ll already know how convenient they are. You can walk around your home and the device you’re using – be that a smartphone, tablet or laptop – will seamlessly log in to the nearest wireless access point without the need to do anything. There’s just one network name and one password no matter how many access points you use to blanket your home with a strong wireless internet signal.
However, there’s a little problem with mesh networks as far as I am concerned. One of the wireless mesh access points must be plugged into the wireless router you normally use which may also include a broadband modem for connecting to the internet. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to put a VDSL broadband modem into one of the wireless mesh access points and do away with the need for a separate wireless router modem?
I thought so and set about looking for something that would do this after I reviewed the excellent TP-Link Deco X20 wireless mesh networking kit. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find anything that could do that until I decided to go back to the TP-Link website. Unbeknown to me, TP-Link produces a Deco unit with a VDSL broadband modem built-in which will do exactly what I was suggesting. The strange thing is, TP-Link hardly promotes this amazing bit of kit and I only found it by accident. I was so excited, that I decided to get one and find out if it would do what I wanted.
The TP-Link AX1800 VDSL Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router is a dual-band wireless access point that uses the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands to provide 1.8Gbps wireless speeds by using 1,201 Mbps (5 GHz) and 574 Mbps (2.4 GHz) dual-band Wi-Fi 6 technology. The unit looks like a slightly taller version of the regular Deco X20 wireless access points and includes four Gigabit WAN/LAN Ethernet ports. It can handle up to 150 devices and covers an area of up to 200m2 with lovely Wi-Fi 6 data speeds.
On the broadband side of things, the TP-Link AX1800 VDSL supports Super VDSL2 speeds which means it can handle an internet connection of up to 350Mbps. That’s not as fast as the fastest optical fiber services but it’s way faster than most of us need. The network is easy to set up thanks to TP-Link’s Deco smartphone app which gets everything going and enables you to add extra Deco units at any time.
With coverage of up to 200m2, it’s possible to extend the coverage into a mesh network by plugging in more TP-Link Deco units like the superb Deco X20 units which I reviewed recently. The beauty of the TP-Link Deco system is that almost any Deco model will work with any other Deco device, so you can mix and match. I have some older Deco P9 PowerLine mesh networking units that I already own/ As well as working as a wireless mesh network, the Deco P9s also turn my domestic electrical wiring into an Ethernet network which is perfect for spreading internet access and Wi-Fi around my house with its thick stone walls.
There’s a small but important caveat here that you do need to be aware of. The TP-Link Deco ecosystem has a natural hierarchy which means you do need to use the newest generations of Deco units as the master router and then add on older Deco units. If you have Deco P9 as I have, you will also find that the PowerLine function is turned off and the units rely on wireless to transmit data. That’s not useful but you could get around that limitation by using separate PowerLine plug adapters instead.
Do remember, though, that if you add an older Wi-Fi device to the new Wi-Fi 6 wireless mesh network, then the overall speed might be impacted. My best advice is to get yourself a TP-Link AX1800 VDSL Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router and then add on some TP-Link Deco X20 wireless mesh access points until you have enough coverage around the home.
Like many of the newer models in the Deco system, the TP-Link AX1800 VDSL Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router supports TP-Link’s excellent HomeShield Security system which monitors threats at the point where the broadband signal enters the home and looks for threats and dangers in real-time, eliminating them before they can reach the individual computers, phones, tablets or other devices on the network. The system also offers robust parental controls, plus Quality-of-Service settings so that certain traffic types or users can be given priority. This is very useful and can be used to ensure that a person working from home has priority, so they don’t get knocked off a work Zoom call when someone else in the house decides to start streaming a 4K movie or playing a game.
Verdict: The TP-Link AX1800 VDSL Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router is a great little bit of kit and an ideal way of replacing your BT Home Hub or whatever other router modem your broadband provider offers. It’s not necessary for cable broadband but it’s ideal for ADSL or VDSL. The unit should be used as the master router on the home network and then extra Deco access points can be added on. If you’re fed up with plugging in access points to that rubbishy old broadband router modem, get yourself a TP-Link AX1800 VDSL Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router and have everything running at Wi-Fi 6 speeds. The TP-Link Deco app makes setting up a mesh network incredibly simple and fast. It’s well worth doing.
Pricing & Availability: The TP-Link AX1800 VDSL Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router is available now and costs £103.94 from Amazon UK. There’s also a pack available with the VDSL router and a couple of Deco X20 wireless mesh access points that could save you money.
More info: www.tp-link.com