If you have a large house and you have only a Starlink router, you could very well experience dead WiFi zones in your house.
Starlink's own mesh nodes are the solution recommended by Starlink to solve this issue.
Starlink Mesh Nodes increase the signal strength of the Starlink Router and extends coverage. The compatibility of the official Starlink mesh node is limited only to the newer Rectangular Dishes. Round Dishes lack support for Mesh Nodes. Starlink Mesh Nodes also lack quite a few features compared to third-party alternatives.
This article is an in-depth analysis of everything good and bad about Starlink mesh nodes and instructions on how to set it up.
Starlink Mesh Nodes: Why Buy One
Launched officially to the public in June 2022, the Starlink Mesh Node works similarly to any other Mesh device on the market right now.
Pair the Mesh Node wirelessly to the Router, and that's it, you're good to go. You now have expanded the range of your home WiFi network!
The Mesh Node boasts a price tag of $130/unit and is available to order from the Starlink shop.
Starlink stock routers boast a range of about 2000 sq.ft., and it is safe to say that, with the addition of a Mesh Node, you essentially get to double the range (4,000 sq.ft.)
If you live in a large house and experience slow speeds on Starlink in some areas of your house, a mesh node could help you.
While there are many Starlink accessories that can make life easier for you, mesh nodes are probably the most helpful.
In terms of specs, the Starlink mesh node is a dual-band Mesh Point (Access Point) compatible with an existing Starlink Terminal.
A word of caution - the Starlink Mesh Node works only with the newer Rectangular Dishes and not the original Round Dishes.
You can connect up to 128 devices to the Mesh Node without compromising the speed or latency of the network.
Starlink Mesh Node works on WiFi-5, which is the precursor to the current WiFi version, WiFi-6.
The device does feature an Ethernet Adapter port so that you can connect the Adapter from the Rectangular Dish directly to the Mesh Node to facilitate a wired connection.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Mesh Node is the ease with which the device pairs with the Starlink Network.
Unlike most other Mesh Networking gadgets, you won't have to configure the Router/Modem settings to sustain the device.
All you have to do is to power up the Mesh Node and pair it through the Starlink app; no need to bypass the network or tweak the AP configs!
Let's take a closer look at the pairing procedure, shall we?
How to Set Up Starlink Mesh Node
Setting up the Mesh Node with the Starlink Network couldn't get more effortless.
But if you prefer to make the most out of your Mesh Node, better look into these requirements.
First of which is the compatibility aspect of the Mesh Node.
As mentioned earlier, the Mesh Node is compatible solely with the Rectangular Dish. Try to pair it with the Circular Terminal, and you shall fail.
Then comes the proximity factor.
Starlink recommends that you leave ample distance between the Router and the Mesh Node for the best results. Place them about 1 - 2 rooms apart.
Exceeding this limit could affect the signal strength. Place them too close, and you could compromise the effective area covered by the Access Points.
Also, ensure to keep the Mesh Node upright and away from obstructions like walls and other opaque objects.
Best to position the device away from other wirelessly transmitting devices like a Smart refrigerator or a gaming console to avoid interference issues.
Lastly, before pairing the Mesh Node, make sure to connect the Starlink app to the primary network, ergo, to the Starlink Router.
Connecting the Starlink app to a subsidiary network (an existing Mesh Node network) could lead to issues with pairing.
With that said and done, here's how to pair a Mesh Node with the Starlink Network:
1. Connect the Mesh Node to power.
2. Open the app and wait till the app recognizes the Mesh Node.
3. Upon recognizing the Mesh Node, the 'Pair New Mesh Node' notification will pop up on the app.
4. Click on Pair to initiate the setup.
5. Wait for about 30 seconds or until the device is set up.
6. You can now view the Mesh Node from the Network tab. You also get to know about the signal strength of the Mesh Node.
Repeat these steps to pair all subsequent Mesh Nodes.
More detailed guide - How to Use a Third-party router with Starlink
Starlink Mesh Node vs Other Mesh Nodes (Third-Party)
Now that you know a lot more about the Starlink Mesh Node (and how to set it up), it's only fair to compare it against its compeers.
The Mesh Node may appeal positively to Starlink customers, no doubt about that! But that may not be the case elsewhere.
For starters, the Mesh Node may be considered inferior solely based on the features on offer.
Starlink Mesh Node doesn't have Triband support. It is a dual-band device and supports only 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. With Triband support, users can connect to three frequency bands allowing faster network speeds and efficient load management.
The Mesh Node adopts WiFi 5. While this hosts no fundamental issues per se, the very existence of WiFi 6 makes it a precursor, ergo, old. Most manufacturers have started providing WiFi 6 on their products. The Mesh Node may seem a bit outdated as a result.
Starlink Mesh Node lacks Bandwidth forwarding and other priority features. A glaring con compared to its competitors since Bandwidth beaming and priority network hosting have become a norm in the industry nowadays.
You can't even fetch the usage statistics of the device. Seemingly a common yet essential aspect of networking devices, with Starlink Mesh Node, however, you can't even access the basic network consumption data!
Best Alternatives to Starlink Mesh Node
Though Starlink Mesh Nodes are the best pairing for Starlink Routers, several other Mesh networking devices can do a bit better in terms of features and performance.
Mesh Routers and APs from third-party manufacturers like TP-Link, Asus, Orbi, etc., are known to excel in this regard quite well.
Here are some of the better Mesh networking gadgets to go for:
TP-Link AX6600 Deco Tri-Band WiFi 6 Mesh System- Best Choice for Starlink Users
With an impressive effective range exceeding the 6000 ft mark, the AX6600 outvies the Mesh Node in almost all regards.
And as the name suggests, the AX6600 is a WiFi 6-enabled device with Tri-band support for better bandwidth distribution and latency.
You also get 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports per device for even faster and more stable wired connections for your devices.
Also, the AX6600 comes with most of the industry-standard features like beam-forwarding and guest networking options.
Featuring the AiMesh technology, which Asus claims to be the fastest Mesh technology to date, the AX6100 is yet another WiFi 6 device with a much more bearable price tag.
Apart from the usual features of a Mesh Router featured here, the AX6100 flaunts a pretty good assortment of ports, including 4 Ethernet ports and a plethora of USB ports.
The AX6100, in addition to Mu-MIMO, has support for OFDMA that makes bandwidth allocation and data transfer much more efficient.
Orbi may be considered the best of the best when it comes to Mesh networking. And its reputation can certainly be reflected in the price tag.
Regardless of the exorbitant price tag, the RBK852 houses everything you would desire on a Mesh system.
It supports Triband and comes with WiFi6. The standard range, which exceeds 5000 ft, can be furthered with each successive AP by an additional 2500 ft.
One could also add up to 100 devices to the network without compromising the networking characteristics.
On top of all, the RBK852 also features 4 Ethernet ports for wired connections.
Troubleshooting Steps for Starlink Mesh Node
Coming to the final stop of this meaningful adventure, let's look at some of the basic troubleshooting steps that could aid you when met with issues on the Mesh Node.
Now, pairing the Mesh Node couldn't get any simpler if you were wise enough to follow the perquisites.
But if you did end up with an issue, you needn't panic.
With the help of these troubleshooting steps, you'll be back on your feet in no time. Let's check them out, shall we?
Perform a Power Cycle Test: Essentially a system refresh, a power cycle test helps to restart the Mesh Node pairing procedure. Unplug the power cable and plug it back in after a few seconds. And that's it.
Check the Network: For the setup to work, you'll have to connect the Starlink app to the primary Starlink Router. If you come across a hindrance, check and change the network accordingly.
Update the Starlink App: Outdated firmware versions can be the root cause of most issues on networking gadgets. In our case, the Starlink app may be at fault. Check and update the Starlink app from the appropriate app store before setting up the Mesh Node.
You could also uninstall and reinstall the Starlink App as a remedy.
At times, a firmware update or a mere refresh may not do the trick.
In that case, you may profit better from removing and re-adding the app altogether. In doing so, you get to remove any unwanted stale files and bugs from the device.
While Starlink Mesh Node is not a bad device it lacks a lot of features many users need.
If you don't need those, it can be a fairly good choice for you.
If you need more than that, any of the other alternatives presented could be a much better choice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you use mesh with Starlink?
Yes, you can connect Starlink service with a Mesh network. Although, with the newer Rectangular Dishes, you would have to use an Ethernet Adapter to do so.
Can you get a second router for Starlink?
Starlink offers Mesh nodes, or Satellites, to supplement the existing Router and extend the effective range of the network.
Is Starlink 2.4 or 5 Ghz?
Starlink Routers are dual-band devices that can host both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands simultaneously.