Finally, the NBN has arrived! As someone who has been limping along on an ADSL connection that could barely crack 2Mbs, I have been waiting for this day for a long, long time (although, with an internet connection that bad, I was used to waiting for things…).
Once I had navigated through the minefield that is potential NBN providers, I signed up to a Tier 50 plan and waited for the glorious day that my home was filled with uninterrupted streaming of music and video to the devices that now litter my home, and endless, lag-free scrolling on Twitter.
Disclosure: Synology provided Blog of Dad with the Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router for the purpose of review. All thoughts expressed about the MR2200ac are my own, based on my experiences with the device.
NBN Wi-Fi – The Problem
Imagine my surprise when my glorious new NBN connection left me with endlessly buffering videos and stilted songs. Speed tests, one after another, spluttered to a halt or barely registered 1Mbs. Hell hath no fury like a 3 year old unable to access her pre-bath songs! Like one or two (or many, many) Australians before me, I uttered bad words about our country’s inability to deliver a usable National Broadband Network.
However, some quick investigations made me realise the problem wasn’t the NBN. Speed tests conducted within close proximity of the telco-provided router were through the roof! I was getting my promised speeds, just not at the places in the house that they were required. Then, a well-timed news article confirmed my suspicions – the router was the problem.
Unfortunately, replacing the device wasn’t an option. Like many of the major NBN providers, mine insists on using their hardware for the phone line connection and for trouble-shooting. Also, with a 4G backup built into the modem/router, to provide service during inevitable NBN outages, the device had to stay. So, what to do in order to achieve better NBN Wi-Fi?
Better NBN Wi-Fi – The Solution
Thankfully there is a solution for achieving better NBN Wi-Fi, and it’s remarkably simple! The solution is the Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router.
The Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router is an intelligent mesh Wi-Fi system that can easily expand to meet the needs of any sized home. Setup is simple, and adding additional MR2200ac access points is even easier. Put simply, the Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router has unlocked the full potential of the NBN in my house.
For my setup in a small, but concrete/double brick townhouse, I’m using two of the MR2200ac routers. While one device is capable of hitting just about every corner of my townhouse with a signal, two provides a much more robust coverage. This is especially important as more and more devices find their way onto my network and demand bandwidth. Even 12 months ago, that wasn’t such a problem, but now there are smart speakers, laptops, mobile phones and even vacuum cleaners all demanding a slice of the Wi-Fi-pie.
With this setup, devices connect reliably and roaming around the house is seamless. The beauty of the Synology mesh setup is that all the MR200ac devices work together to form a single Wi-Fi network. This setup covers both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (in fact, it utilises two 5GHz streams), which means there is no need to choose which signal to use. Basically, once the mesh network is up and running, all I need to do is connect my devices and never worry about it again. The MR2200ac automatically does all the hard work.
Imagine my delight with now being able to play full 1080p videos on multiple devices throughout the house without the dreaded buffering circle appearing. My Synology MR2200ac setup, combined with the Tier 50 NBN connection, make this my new reality. I tried streaming three 1080p videos on four different devices and I’m pretty sure I heard the MR2200ac perform an exaggerated yawn and say “is that all you got?”*
Even 4K video on one screen, with other devices streaming 1080p didn’t seem to bother the mesh setup. I finally managed to achieve a pause for buffering by playing two 4K streams and a 1080p stream. Even then it was momentary, and no-doubt the result of my internet connection maxing out, rather than a bandwidth issue with the MR2200ac. It’s worth mentioning that during this test, all the devices were connecting to the second access point, and it didn’t even break a sweat.
*Didn’t actually happen.
Synology MR2200ac – More than just excellent Wi-Fi
As if excellent Wi-Fi isn’t enough, the Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router packs a few other tricks that might be of interest to parents.
Synology lay claim to “best in class parental controls and automatic security protection.” After exploring the Synology Router Manager software, I’d say they make a pretty compelling point.
The Synology Router Manager is a user-friendly, browser-based interface that enables parents to monitor and control just about every aspect of network use. The more I have explored this, the more impressed I am with exactly what it has to offer. I highly recommend that parents with kids of any age look very carefully at what this Synology system has to offer.
Parents can create profiles for specific users and for entire networks. I’m just scratching the surface of this feature, but some things have jumped out at me straight away as being absolutely brilliant!
Firstly, individual profiles can be set for each person in the house, with specific devices assigned to that profile. I have assigned an old laptop to Hannah, and set some parameters that meet her preschool needs. As her entire internet use boils down to watching her favourite songs on YouTube, I have set daily time limits of 25 minutes, strict restrictions on YouTube searches, and a daily access window between 7am and 6.45pm. I have used the “child” web filter setting as an extra layer of protection.
As my children grow older, the features on offer with the Synology MR200ac become more and more important. Through the web portal and mobile apps, I can pause their internet access or reward them with more network time. Through the web portal, I can create detailed timetables that control when certain restrictions are in place. For example, I can block social websites during study times, or even set a strict list of websites that can be accessed during these times. These access times are programmable in 15 minute blocks over a weekly timetable, allowing for greater access on weekends, for example.
Every time access to a website is blocked, a push notification is sent to my phone (this can be disabled). This way I can see in real time when there is an issue. Children can make requests to access pages that they believe have been incorrectly blocked.
As well as individual profiles, you can set parameters for an entire network. This is particularly useful on the MR2200ac, as you can have a main and a guest network. If your child often has friends over who like to take advantage of your generous, fast and unlimited NBN connection, simply set them up on the guest network and modify the access parameters to give you peace of mind. Frankly, the same tactic can be just as useful on your freeloading mates.
According to Synology, “by 2020, the average home will have more than 35 connected devices“. More connected devices means greater potential for security issues. The MR2200ac offers multiple layers of protection to shield your home network from potential attacks. The MR2200ac was the world’s first WPA3-certified Wi-Fi router, making it a leader in cutting-edge security technology. The MR2200ac is continually updated, which means it is better prepared to deal with emerging security threats.
The MR2200ac also taps into the security juggernaut that is Google Safe Browsing. On top of that, the MR2200ac also utilises several threat intelligence databases, to block access to malicious domains and IPs.
Within the Synology Router Manager software, you can further customise security options, including: setting the security level for both your main and guest Wi-Fi networks, allowing or blocking devices with specific MAC addresses and using Security Advisor to assess the security of your Synology setup. The result is a feeling of confidence in the router as a core part of the network’s security.
The two Synology MR2200ac Mesh Routers installed in my townhouse have enabled me to realise the full potential of my fast NBN connection. This setup quickly and simply resolved the frustrations I had with slow-to-non-existent Wi-Fi in certain parts of my house and has enabled me to take full advantage of the NBN, no matter where in my house I may be. The system is more than capable of handling the multiple devices that are connected at any one time, and gives me faith that I will be able to throw a whole lot more connected devices at it as I add to my smart home.
The security features of the Synology MR2200ac give me peace of mind that my network is well protected, and the parental controls provided through Safe Access make me confident that I can keep my children safe online now and well into the future. I love the control that I have over time spent online, and the ability to easily reward extra time, or pause the connection when need be.
For my mind, the Synology MR2200ac mesh system is a brilliant way to achieve better NBN Wi-Fi.