Unfortunately, the consumer market has been duped by manufacturers that tout simply adding a Wi-Fi extender to a network is going to expand the network and clear up your slow internet problems. Well, why wouldn’t you believe them…they are called extenders. If I didn’t know better, I’d believe them too based on the name alone.
The thing is…extenders are not always the solution to the problem. Home networks these days can be as complicated as business office networks. There are so many different devices used to create a network: routers, access points, switches, hubs and yes, cables. You can waste a lot of money buying the wrong thing or worse yet, multiple devices that don’t know how to talk to each other.
A network requires a combination of proper cabling, electronic devices and the proper configuration to run smoothly. When your communications carrier sets up your router, it may be all you need for your home. There are many reasons that the router is not enough but these are the two prominent ones: 1) the structure of your home getting in the way of the wireless signal and 2) how rigorous you are using your router, i.e. streaming, gaming, computers.
A Wi-Fi extender used to go by a different name…a Wi-Fi repeater. The name “Repeater” is a better representation of how the device operates. It listens for a transmission signal from the router or wireless device (like a smart phone or PC), captures the transmission signal, then resends it out again thus “repeating” the transmission signal. Without getting into too much geek speak, there are many possible problems with this setup. An example, the signal may get corrupted and require retransmission and/or the turnaround of the signal in the “repeater” adds time to the transmission between devices. This additional time is called Latency. Many of today’s programs, especially video and IP telephone calls, cannot function well with long Latency or excessive errors.
So the next time you are having network issues, resist the urge to get an extender. And, if you do, be sure to keep the receipt & ensure it can be returned if it does not solve your network problem.