A white WiFi range extender on a yellow background. The range extender has three antennas, a square, white body, and is pictured next to a power cord.

Expanding Your Reach: The Ultimate Guide to WiFi Extenders

As our world becomes more connected, a reliable WiFi signal has become less of a convenience and more of a necessity. From work commitments to entertainment and staying connected with loved ones, a solid and steady WiFi signal is crucial for our daily lives. But anyone who relies on WiFi regularly is probably familiar with the frustration of dead zones – those pesky areas where the WiFi signal seemingly evaporates into thin air. They can be frustrating and seemingly impossible to fix, but fortunately, there's a solution.

In this blog, we'll be diving deep into WiFi extenders. We'll talk about what they are, how they can help, and the key factors to consider if you're considering adding a WiFi extender to your home.


What is a WiFi Extender?

The farther your router is from your devices, the higher the likelihood those devices will experience a sluggish and unreliable signal. This is because WiFi signals use radio waves to transmit data between devices and the router. While routers can broadcast them well, these signals degrade as they travel and encounter obstacles such as walls, appliances, and furniture. WiFi extenders, also known as wireless range extenders or simply extenders, are a potential remedy for this. These devices are designed to amplify your existing WiFi signal and extend its reach to the areas of your home that previously received weak or no signal at all. Think of them as signal boosters that help to effectively eliminate dead zones and enhance your overall WiFi coverage.


How Do WiFi Extenders Work?

WiFi extenders work by connecting wirelessly to your existing WiFi network and then rebroadcasting the signal to those hard-to-reach spots throughout your home. In simpler terms: extenders are a second router of sorts.

Introducing a WiFi extender into your home network acts like an intermediary bridge between your router and your devices. When strategically placed, these devices can catch the existing WiFi signal, amplify it, and then rebroadcast it further, effectively expanding the WiFi coverage in your home and eliminating dead zones.


Do WiFi Extenders Really Work?

WiFi extenders can be a game-changer for many households struggling with spotty WiFi coverage, but it's important to note that they aren't always a perfect solution. Generally, WiFi extenders are effective in expanding the signal range of your router and eliminating dead zones, but their effectiveness can vary based on a handful of factors. The extender's quality and placement and the layout of your home can all affect your extender's performance. While they may significantly enhance the signal throughout your home, they might not work for everyone.


Do WiFi Extenders Increase Speed?

One common misconception about WiFi extenders is that they boost the overall speed of your Internet connection, which is not entirely true. While extenders improve the signal's strength and coverage, they do not directly increase the maximum speed delivered by your Internet service provider (ISP). The maximum speed remains unchanged. However, with a more reliable signal, improved performance in the extended areas can lead to faster, more dependable connectivity and, ultimately, more enjoyable Internet experiences.


Does a WiFi Extender Reduce Speed?

Depending on how your extender functions, it's possible you would see some overall reductions in signal speed. Extenders that frequently communicate with the router via WiFi can cause signal loss and slow down because they interact with your devices on the same band as they interact with the router. Powerline-based extenders, on the other hand, which differ by using the existing electrical circuitry in your home to create a link with your router, typically can avoid this issue.

Choosing the right extender, then, depends on your priorities. Powerline-based options preserve maximum speed, while wireless extenders provide flexibility, and while both can boost your signal and improve coverage, powerline-based extenders tend to suffer the least from slowdowns.


What's the Difference Between a WiFi Extender, Repeater, and Booster?

If you've been exploring WiFi extenders before, you might have also encountered a couple of other names that are designed to improve your WiFi: WiFi repeaters and WiFi boosters.

So, what's the difference?

In essence, these three devices may and can refer to the same thing. Depending on how a device is marketed, there may be little difference among any of these three. However, a couple of generally agreed-upon distinctions can help differentiate them in your mind.

WiFi Repeaters

WiFi repeaters typically refer to devices that wirelessly connect to the host router to extend WiFi signals. As mentioned earlier, these devices can hurt your speed and signal since they communicate on the same band as both your devices and the router. While they are functional, they are considered the predecessors to powerline-based options and the less effective choice between the two.

WiFi Extenders

WiFi extenders, on the other hand, are often distinguished as being the "better" option compared to repeaters. While they can also refer to the wireless option, they generally are used to indicate powerline-based devices with better performance metrics.

WiFi Boosters

The term "WiFi boosters" is simply a generic reference for both WiFi extenders and repeaters. Depending on the device's marketing, a "booster" could be more like an extender or a repeater, making the shopping experience confusing for consumers.


Are There Other Options Too?

Another option that can help boost your WiFi signal is a mesh WiFi system. These systems are similar to extenders in that they use secondary devices to boost WiFi signals but differ in how they do this. Mesh systems utilize strategically placed nodes throughout your home to create a "mesh" or net that works alongside the original signal and other nodes to blanket your entire home with strong WiFi coverage. This method is generally considered superior to extenders, but it may be more expensive and more complicated to set up than simply plugging in an extender. To learn more about the benefits of mesh networks and whether mesh networks are right for you, check out this informative article.


Get Better WiFi Coverage with Shentel

WiFi extenders can be a valuable tool for enhancing your home network and improving connectivity in hard-to-reach areas. By understanding how they work, your options, and optimizing their placement in your home, you can create a more seamless and reliable Internet experience.

Remember, while WiFi extenders are a practical solution for many situations, it's important to recognize that extenders aren't a one-size-fits-all solution and may only be able to address some of your network's unique challenges. For more complex cases, you may need to consult your ISP for help, and that's why partnering with Shentel comes in handy! We offer affordable, high-speed Internet, as well as TV package bundles and home phone services.

At Shentel, we make staying connected a breeze. With over 100 years of telecommunications experience and a dedicated team of experts, we are committed to providing top-notch Internet support whenever you need it. If you encounter any Internet connection troubles, don't hesitate to contact Shentel today and experience the unparalleled support you need to get connected better than ever.