How Do WiFi Extenders Work: The Ultimate Guide

Management 15 minute read 5th October 2020

Are you a small business owner looking to add a Wi-Fi network to your establishment? Then you probably want the strongest, clearest wireless signal you can get in your budget. To accomplish that goal, you should look into a Wi-Fi extender. But how do WiFi extenders work?

Today, we’re going to answer that question. We’re covering everything you need to know so your staff and guests can connect wireless devices to your network bandwidth. We’ll even cover the differences between extenders, WiFi repeaters, and Wi-Fi boosters.

Take notes, and you’ll improve your customer experience and team morale.


How Do WiFi Range Extenders Work:WiFi Extenders Defined

If you’re asking yourself, “How do Wi-Fi range extenders work” then first you have to know what one is.

A Wi-Fi extender repeats a wireless internet connection signal around a building. It extends the coverage of a WiFi connection into areas where the source (usually a broadband router) can’t reach.

Folks sometimes confuse Wi-Fi extenders with WiFi boosters, but there’s a difference (we’ll get into that in a moment).

Wi-Fi extenders work as an internet signal bridge between a router and out-of-range devices. It connects to your wireless router and broadcasts the signal into areas where the original signal is too weak.

Place an extender in dead zones, and in just a few minutes, you’ll have internet access through your existing network.

A WiFi range extender is a cost-effective, intelligent way to ensure you provide a quality internet connection. Your workers and guests can connect to the same wireless network. You don’t have to buy additional routers or waste time setting up other connections. If these all sound like solutions to your customer experience issues, test out a Wi-Fi extender.

Coffee Shop WiFi Extenders

How Do WiFi Extenders Work Versus Boosters and Repeaters

As previously noted, a Wi-Fi extender isn’t the only way to boost your Wi-Fi signal or create an extended network. In fact, there are two other popular options: a Wi-Fi repeater and a WiFi booster. Learn about all three options and their key differences below.


How Do WiFi Extenders Work

One of the key differences between these three options comes back to the original question: how do WiFi extenders work?

A Wi-Fi extender works by extending, not strengthening, the signal. They don’t make your original signal stronger. In fact, they sometimes halve the strength of that Wi-Fi signal.

Wi-Fi extenders slow down internet speed unless you already have a high-quality connection. If you have that, this is the best connectivity solution for small business owners.

WiFi extenders offer the best bang for the buck when creating a consistent, fast connection throughout a large building. They do this by connecting wirelessly to the broadband router, essentially creating a second, boosted WiFi network.

Some Wi-Fi extenders work by plugging into a wall outlet and then into an ethernet port in the original router.

Another option is wireless range extenders. These are standalone pieces between the central location of your broadband router and the area where you need better WiFi.

They do this without a wire, instead grabbing the weak WiFi signal and re-broadcasting it. They’re imperfect because they rely on wireless channels. That means placement is crucial, but it is a slightly more cost-effective, non-disruptive solution for some scenarios.


WiFi Boosters

We’ve answered the question of, “How do Wi-Fi extenders work.” Now let’s talk boosters.

WiFi boosters is a catch-all phrase and refer to practically anything that can boost a WiFi signal. They eliminate dead zones and improve your Wi-Fi network signal strength and connectivity.

However, one of the most popular boosters is Mesh Wi-Fi (also known as Wi-Fi Mesh). This booster works by creating a system of multiple devices you can place throughout a large space. You have a Mesh router and nodes. The router is the hub, and the nodes are the spokes.

Unlike traditional Wi-Fi, where everything travels through one router, Mesh Wi-Fi allows information signals to travel through the system.

This booster type works best with a large establishment or building. You can use this to provide consistent internet throughout multiple floors or large floor plans.

However, if you have a one-level business with a simple layout, this setup is more tedious and costly than necessary. In those cases, we’d recommend sticking with your Wi-Fi range extenders.


Wireless Repeaters

How do WiFi extenders work? Check. How do WiFi Boosters work? Check. Last but not least— the other alternative to a Wi-Fi extender— how does a Wi-Fi repeater work.

WiFi repeaters rank among the first generation of WiFi signal extenders. As you can tell from the name, they re-broadcast your original Wi-Fi signal. Therefore, if your original network didn’t have a strong signal, neither will the signal coming out of your repeater. It doesn’t diminish it or improve it.

Latency also increases, which is the time it takes for data to get from one point to another. Latency consequently defines the browsing or file transfer speed you experience.

They work well in smaller buildings without too many thick walls or other interference objects. For example, if you have a one-room cafe or an open-layout wine-tasting room, this is a great way to bolster your WiFi network signal.

We’ve reviewed how to improve your Wi-Fi network and coverage area. Let’s zero in on why small business owners (especially in hospitality) need these tools in their kit.

Restaurant WiFi wiring

How Do WiFi Extenders Work and Why Does My Business Need One

You’re no longer pondering, “How do Wi-Fi extenders work?” But you might still be curious as to why businesses need them specifically?

One of the most obvious reasons you might need a WiFi extender is customer complaints about slow or non-existent WiFi. They might even question whether or not you offer internet at all.

If you do, offer internet and you have a wireless access point, then something’s wrong. Your Wi-Fi router either isn’t working, or it’s not working well enough to serve any connected device adequately. In that case, a Wi-Fi extender might answer your customers’ needs.

Here are other reasons you might need to invest in a WiFi extender.

  • You’re aware of areas in the building that don’t get a great WiFi signal. In fact, there might be spots where it’s completely non-existent even though you have wireless routers.
  • You’ve got a dead zone problem. The internet slows down and regularly becomes unresponsive in certain building areas. It’s easy to dismiss this as an issue with the provider (i.e., inconsistent service), but the lack of WiFi coverage is more likely to blame.
  • You (and your customers) want the fastest WiFi available. That’s not much to ask in an age where streaming content and remote file storage are so commonplace, is it?
  • The building is large. Big hotels and restaurants often have problems with WiFi coverage. Mainly if the buildings are old and feature thick walls and far-reaching spaces that a single WiFi signal can’t reach.
  • You want to extend WiFi coverage outside. Why should patrons who use your outside spaces miss out on great WiFi?
  • You want speed and wifi coverage without having to use ethernet ports. You don’t want to ask your customers to bring an ethernet cable to plug into your wifi router.


How Do WiFi Extenders Work for Businesses

If you know you need a strong source of WiFi boosting, then an extender is the way to go.

Whether your building is small enough to cope with a range extender or a full-blown extender network, they work brilliantly. How do WiFi extenders work via an extender network? The former works by plugging a device into an outlet, while the latter is hardwired into your existing broadband router.

That might sound like more trouble than it’s worth. But if you chat with an electrical contractor, they may reveal that the cabling work required isn’t too intense. What’s more, an investment in that infrastructure now will set you up for the future. Lastly, it’ll eradicate any common complaints you currently receive about the WiFi connectivity in your building.

Stairs, electrical appliances, thick walls and even corners in your building might be the root cause of the problem. Therefore, a site survey is worth it before you spend any money.


How Do WiFi Extenders Work: Conclusion

So, you’ve identified that you need better Wi-Fi, but where should you begin with extenders?

It starts with a site survey. So book a reputable company to look at your existing setup and makeup of the building. Their advice should steer your purchase.

Alternatively, if you’re a confident techie, buy a Wi-Fi extender and do the surveying yourself. Run range and speed tests and use the results to determine how many you will need.

Thankfully, many Wi-Fi extenders are available on the market. But before investing, double-check your current router placement. Sometimes, going back to basics can highlight the real cause of the problem.

If you want to more out of your Wi-Fi and get started with WiFi marketing, Beambox is a better option. Once plugged in, Beambox will launch a new high-range guest network with a branded Wi-Fi portal. Capture guest emails, grow your social media pages and increase return-rate with a perfect WiFi experience.

Our plug & play access points require no setup and they connect to your existing router or switch. You can also use one access point or multiple together for extended range and device support. No more wondering, “How do WiFi extenders work?” Just great internet and fantastic results. Start your Beambox free trial today!

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