This is whether your Wi-Fi extender slows down your internet.
In short: Wi-Fi extenders won’t slow down or speed up your internet speed.
So if you want to know all the details about why Wi-Fi extenders won’t slow down or speed up your internet, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
- Wi-Fi Extenders and Your Internet Speed
- How Does Wi-Fi Work?
- How Does a Wi-Fi Extender Work?
- Mesh Network vs. Wireless Range Extender
- Wi-Fi Mesh Network System
- Slow Wi-Fi Speed
- Wi-Fi Bands
- Bandwidth Overload
- Wi-Fi Channel
- Router Position
- Outdated Router
- Outdated Drivers
- Will Wi-Fi Extender Improve Speed?
Wi-Fi Extenders and Your Internet Speed
On average, we experience connection problems at least once in our daily routine while surfing the internet or working.
We all know the feeling when we need to do something—make a call over the internet, upload that important document, save 30 pages worth of writing. Suddenly we see the “Oops, something went wrong” message.
We all know those annoying errors 404, 500, and the glitches when we have full Wi-Fi signal bars but no Internet connection. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
Luckily, there’s a ton of hardware that promises a boost in our connection one way or another. But Wi-Fi is frequently unreliable, and sometimes even the best Wi-Fi extenders can’t help.
Even though they can’t help with the speed of our connection, they don’t make it worse either. However, some things can make our connection worse than it actually is.
How Does Wi-Fi Work?
Nowadays, work is mostly done from home. Even if it’s not working from home, we need our laptops or other devices to do our jobs.
So, we can safely assume that work is where the laptop is. The same goes for the internet.
One of the most convenient ways to stay connected to the internet and do all sorts of online things is Wi-Fi. We all wish that it could work seamlessly, but we can often experience problems with Wi-Fi.
There’s a reason for this. We need to understand how it works to understand why these pesky glitches and errors occur.
Wi-Fi sends signals between devices through radio frequencies. However, there’s a wide range of frequencies out there. Our car radios use frequencies measured in MHz (Megahertz), and the Wi-Fi frequencies are measured in GHz (Gigahertz).
There are two frequencies that Wi-Fi uses at the moment, 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. 2.4 GHz is similar to a microwave oven.
Unfortunately, many devices, objects, and other concrete things can affect our Wi-Fi signal. Because of this, you may actually need a new Wi-Fi repeater or range extender or other connection boosting equipment.
How Does a Wi-Fi Extender Work?
The Wi-Fi range extender simply extends the Wi-Fi signal. After all, it’s in the name, and like any other piece of hardware that has a somewhat complex task, it has different specs.
The specs include the Wi-Fi technology it uses, the performance, the Wi-Fi band, ports, etc.
One of the key features of newer wireless range extenders is the dual-band support. This means that they can support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies.
So, the way it works is by grabbing the signal of our wireless router, the Wi-Fi signal, and broadcasting it from its position.
Suppose you have a blind spot in the house where the Wi-Fi signal is quite low (you’re speaking about fewer bars and a questionable connection). In that case, you need to either reposition your wireless router or get a wireless range extender.
Mesh Network vs. Wireless Range Extender
Another way to improve the Wi-Fi signal is by setting up a mesh network.
The difference between a mesh Wi-Fi system and a wireless range extender is that range extenders just repeat the Wi-Fi signal. They rebroadcast it from their position.
There are usually two network names when you install a range extender. One is from the wireless router, and the other one is from the extender.
The point is that a range extender repeats everything from the Wi-Fi router in the house. It doesn’t necessarily make the connection better, and it’s certainly a pain to disconnect from one network and connect to another one manually.
This happens because you can get a great connection from your Wi-Fi router in the living room. Still, when you go upstairs, the signal from that router is weak, and you need to connect to the range extender network.
A variety of issues can occur based on software incompatibility between the extender and the router.
So, if you opt for a range extender, make sure that it’s the same brand as your Wi-Fi router.
A mesh network is quite different. It replaces the complete Wi-Fi system you may have in your home or adds it to the existing router.
You need to add it to the existing router only when your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) nag you about it.
Mesh systems use mesh access points that can communicate with each other seamlessly. These access points broadcast the same network name, and our devices can stay connected to the same network no matter if you’re in the living room or upstairs.
Wi-Fi Mesh Network System
So, a mesh is a whole-home Wi-Fi system. It has two or three components. If you have a larger home, it’s good to opt for three-component hardware.
The first and most important part of the mesh network is the main router. The main router connects to the modem, to the main internet access point.
The other two components are known as nodes. These nodes need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
The best thing is that all three components run the same software. This enables all the access points to communicate with each other intelligently. So, they provide a great signal across the whole home.
When it comes to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, the mesh network can transfer data to users using both of them. If our devices (laptops or smartphones) only support the 2.4 GHz band, the nodes and the main router broadcast this frequency.
However, the nodes and the main router communicate with one another using the 5 GHz band.
Slow Wi-Fi Speed
The Wi-Fi speed depends on many things. Our ISP might be capping our data.
The cables can be faulty, the routers might be outdated or glitchy, or something might be wrong with the device you use to browse the internet.
There are numerous reasons. The worst situation is when you talk to your friends about it, hoping to get a solution or a piece of advice that might help. Still, their reaction is, yes, your internet is very, very slow.
So, instead of asking for advice or speaking to somebody about our slow Wi-Fi, let’s see the reasons why it might be slow.
It can be slow if you’re using the wrong frequency band.
Wi-Fi uses 2.4 GHz (Gigahertz) and 5 GHz frequencies. A lot depends on which one you’re using, like how far or how fast data can travel.
5 GHz gives us a faster speed but a shorter range, and 2.4 GHz gets us longer ranges but slower speeds.
By the way, the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz are different bands. So if you have a dual-band router, it’s quite easy to switch to different frequencies.
So, if you want a faster connection, you should use the 5 GHz frequency.
Even so, with a dual-band router, you don’t need to worry about this possibility.
So, it’s best to log into your router’s settings to see if both bands are turned on. If not, you can easily turn them both on and fix the overall issue.
Bandwidth is the maximum rate of data that can go through a network. The capacity our ISPs provide us can limit our speed online.
The fact is if there are multiple devices connected to one Wi-Fi network, the speed can be very slow. Dividing the amount of bandwidth among several users can be quite unfair.
Also, suppose there are multiple apps such as Netflix, messaging apps, torrent clients, etc., running on the device. In that case, they significantly consume the bandwidth and limit the speed of the Wi-Fi.
In this case, you would need to open Task Manager and end the most bandwidth processes.
Channels are the roads that data takes through the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands on our wireless network. Let’s compare them to staircases.
Each staircase has a number of people trying to go up and down. The problem is when there are too many people on the staircase, and the staircase is blocked.
Fortunately, multiple staircases (channels) are available, and you can pick one that is not so frequently climbed.
The default channel on every wireless router that uses the 2.4 GHz band is channel 6, but you can switch the channel at any point.
The same goes for the 5 GHz band. It’s important to choose a channel that is less traveled.
An expensive router is not going to solve the position problem. You can buy the most expensive one on the market, and there will still be blind spots for the Wi-Fi signal if you don’t position the router well.
The signals travel at different frequencies, and they can’t reach every spot in the house. That much is certain.
So, rather than placing the wireless router in the corner of our TV shelf, or the corner of the room, you should pick a more central position.
The central position of the router allows signals to travel through the house efficiently. Fewer walls and concrete objects are blocking them, and the signal and the speed are better.
Replacing an old router to fix our slow Wi-Fi is definitely one of the easiest ways. It’s very simple, so simple that you can compare it with our phones.
If you want to play that new amazingly addictive game on your smartphone, you have to have a newer smartphone because your old one might not support it.
The same goes for wireless routers. Old routers seldom support new Wi-Fi standards. So, it’s best to replace an old router with a newer one.
Wi-Fi connection problems can often occur due to software issues. You can’t solve a software issue by buying a new router.
Granted, the new router comes with newer software, but you’re speaking about the software on our devices.
Our laptops, computers, phones, etc., all come with drivers. Device drivers are software designed to make some piece of hardware run.
So, your wireless receiver is a piece of our laptop’s hardware, a physical component. The wireless driver is the virtual component that gets the physical one to work.
If the wireless driver is outdated, it’s almost certain that you’ll have some connection issues. Therefore, you’ll need to update the driver. There’s a very simple way to update a driver on Windows 10.
All you need to do is go to the search box next to the start menu, type Device Manager, and open it. Next, you need to right-click on the network adapter you want to update and select Update Driver.
Will Wi-Fi Extender Improve Speed?
The Wi-Fi range extender should not affect the wireless speed in any case as it serves as a different point of Wi-Fi signal broadcast.
However, the main problem is that Wi-Fi extenders usually create another network name, and connecting manually to it is just a hassle.
Also, the speed can decrease because the Wi-Fi extender cuts the bandwidth in half.
So, the speed is definitely not going to be improved. Still, the signal strength under another network name will be stronger the closer you get to the extender.
All the problems that occur with any kind of internet connection usually start with the ISP.
It is recommended to talk with your ISP to see if a Wi-Fi extender will work properly. They might even give you recommendations for appropriate brands, or they can offer you their Wi-Fi extenders.
There are a lot of extenders on the market, both wired and wireless. Usually, wireless is the preferred one because of its convenient setup. It’s simply easier to install.
Either way, it won’t slow down or speed up the internet connection because it’s designed to boost the Wi-Fi signal throughout the house.
The only disadvantage is that the range extender listens to all data packets and broadcasts them again and again.
This can heavily impact the functionality of the wireless connection.
Unlike the mesh network, the range extenders don’t have an intelligent way of cooperating with the main router.