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Feature Articles

An introduction to Wi-Fi mesh networking with the Singtel Wi-Fi Mesh

By Kenny Yeo - 20 Aug 2017

The Singtel WiFi Mesh (AirTies Air 4920)

Singtel WiFi Mesh (AirTies Air 4920)

Singtel uses AirTies' Air 4920 mesh networking system to provide Wi-Fi mesh networking for its customers.

Since early last year, Singtel has been offering its own Wi-Fi mesh networking solution and it comes in the form of the AirTies Air 4920. Founded in 2004, AirTies is a Turkish networking based in Istanbul that specializes in wireless networking solutions.

The AirTies Air 4920 is advertised to work exactly like the Linksys Velop. The Air 4920 and its nodes will expand your Wi-Fi coverage at home and will do so by broadcasting a single SSID. Users only need to log onto the network and the Air 4920 will take care of everything else. It will automatically keep you logged onto the strongest signal even when you move between nodes so that there will be no perceptible drop in connection.

The individual nodes are incredibly compact. Here it is next to the Linksys Velop and an iPhone 7 Plus.

The AirTies Air 4920 is rated as an AC1600 device, which is lower than the Velop’s AC2200-class rating. The reason is because the Air 4920 is a dual-band device and it broadcasts only a single 2.4GHz network and a separate 5GHz network. That speed rating is derived from its 2.4GHz network that uses a 2x2 radio to support maximum speeds of up to 300Mbps and its 5GHz network that uses a 3x3 radio to support maximum speeds of up to 1300Mbps. Add them all up and you get 1,600Mbps.

The AirTies 4920 nodes are really compact and are a lot smaller than the Linksys Velop nodes. On the front of each node are three LED status indicators, one for each network and one for power. Underneath them is a button for WPS setup, this is primarily used to add additional nodes to the network, but more on that later.

Each node has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which can function as LAN or WAN ports. There are no USB ports.

Like the Velop, each AirTies 4920 node has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. These Ethernet ports can be used to connect to a wired client device like a NAS or media streamer, or if you already have a LAN network in place, it can also be used for backhaul data transmissions. Also, like the Velop, the AirTies 4920 does not have any USB ports.

The AirTies Air 4920 is dead easy to setup because the units are already paired at the factory. Simply plug one of the units to your existing router or Internet-ready Ethernet port and place the second unit within range and the two will begin the setup process.

Vents on the top panel help keep the unit cool.

The setup process is fairly quick and takes a few minutes. If the two units are well positioned and are setup correctly, the two status indicators for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks will turn solid green. If there is something wrong with the setup process or if the nodes are out of range, the indicators will turn red.

There are handy LED status indicators on the front panel of each node. Here, we can see that the nodes have problem reaching each other on the 5GHz network.

Based on my experience, I found the range of the 5GHz network of the AirTies 4920 to be quite poor. Even with the two units placed near a stairwell, one on a floor above the other, they couldn’t achieve a connection over the 5GHz network. Fortunately, they managed to achieve a connection over 2.4GHz, but that will surely impede performance. 

Based on our initial usage, the AirTies Air 4920 worked quite smoothly even if only over 2.4GHz network. However, it did feel slower as compared to the Linksys Velop. But to find out for sure, we will have to run detailed benchmarking tests of the two (work in progress).

Take note, the AirTies Air 4920 is woefully simple and lacks features like Guest Networks and Parental Controls.

For more savvy users, they can manage certain parameters of the Air 4920 by going into the web router management interface. Unfortunately, it is pretty bare and the Air 4920 doesn’t have as many features as the Linksys Velop. For example, basic commonplace features like Guest Networks, Parental Controls, and QoS are missing. Users can, however, manually configure the Air 4920 Wi-Fi channels and change the Wi-Fi password.