What is a WiFi Extender?

If your home WiFi network is having trouble reaching every floor or every room in the house, you may have looked into different strategies to boost the signal and get rid of these dead zones.  A WiFi repeater or WiFi extender can be an easy way to get the wireless coverage you need, so you can finally use your tablet in the family room or set up a gaming station in the basement.

Here, we’ll look at the different types of WiFi extenders to help you determine what’s best for your home network:

WiFi Repeaters

The first type of wireless repeater that emerged on the scene was a basic WiFi repeater. This wireless device is installed somewhere in between the wireless router and the area of the home that needs a signal boost. WiFi repeaters basically catch a wireless signal and then rebroadcast it, giving you a stronger signal at the far end. However, there’s a big catch: using a wireless repeater cuts in half the potential speed of a device’s network connection. That’s because that one radio basically needs to flip-flop between transmitting and receiving the new signal. In some cases (like if you just need to check email), you won’t notice that your bandwidth has been halved, but if you need to use the network for video streaming, you’ll definitely notice the difference.

WiFi Extenders

A WiFi extender, sometimes called a wireless network extender or wired-wireless network extender, works a little differently. This type of device uses both wired and wireless technologies to bring a wireless signal to an area of the home where network coverage has been weak (or non-existent).

The WiFi extender first uses a wired connection, or wired backhaul, to travel throughout the home. That means you benefit from the reliability and high speed of cables, instead of relying solely on wireless signals. Don’t worry, you won’t have to add any more wires to your home; these WiFi extenders use your home’s existing wiring: MoCA-based solutions use your coax cabling and Powerline solutions use your electrical wiring.

You can add a WiFi extender near the area of your home that needs a wireless boost – you just need either a coax jack (MoCA) or power outlet (Powerline) nearby. This WiFi takes the wired network signal and converts it to a strong wireless signal in the new area.

Watch the video below to learn more about how a WiFi or Wireless Network Extender works.