Wi-Fi Boosters – What’s the Difference?

Posted on January 4, 2019

With more connected devices and constant online activity in our homes, we all want to get the best Wi-Fi possible. Unfortunately, in some homes, certain spots can be hard to reach. When you try to connect in one of these dead zones, the connection is either too slow or you can’t get a signal at all. Does this sound familiar?

There are a few possible reasons for this. For example, the materials used in the construction of your walls—such as metal and concrete—can weaken your signal or even block it completely. Another reason may be the location of the router itself. When Craw-Kan installs your internet connection, our technicians try to place the router in the optimal spot. For a variety of reasons though, it is not always possible to do this. Fortunately, there are options for those who suffer from dead zones.

What Are My Options?

There are a variety of solutions, collectively known as as Wi-Fi boosters, that we can use to solve the dead zone problem. Let’s look at the three main types of devices used to boost your internet experience.

Wi-Fi Repeater

One option for boosting your signal is to install a repeater. A repeater is a small device that you position between your router and the area that’s not getting a strong signal. Once installed, the repeater detects the Wi-Fi signal coming from your router and rebroadcasts it.

While it does extend the signal, the repeater has some drawbacks. For example, some of these devices only operate on one Wi-Fi band. Because they communicate with your router and your device on this single band, the bandwidth available for your devices is reduced. This is because the repeater itself uses some of the bandwidth to communicate with the router. This won’t be a problem for browsing websites or receiving your email. However, you may have difficulty with more bandwidth-intensive activities like HD video streaming. Especially when multiple people in your household are doing it at the same time.

Repeaters can also be affected by interference from other wireless devices in your home, reducing your Wi-Fi speed and performance.

Wi-Fi Extender

An extender, or range extender as it’s sometimes called, is similar to a repeater. Like a repeater, it rebroadcasts the existing Wi-Fi signal from your router to the area where you’re not getting a signal. However, it’s different from a repeater in two key ways. First, the range extender is a dual-band device, which means it supports both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands. As a result, it can communicate with your device using one band and your router using the other. Meaning, little to no impact on your bandwidth. As well, unlike the repeater, the range extender typically requires that you assign it a separate network name (the SSID). Meaning, when you’re close to the Wi-Fi range extender you will need to connect to a different wireless network. This can be inconvenient.

Wi-Fi Mesh

Mesh is the third option you have to boost the signal and performance in your home. Mesh combines a router with a series of small devices—called satellites—which you place in different rooms in your home. These satellites communicate with the router and provide you with a strong signal everywhere in your home.

With Mesh you don’t have to sign in to a separate network just to use it, because your Wi-Fi password is applied automatically when you are within range of the satellite. Once you’re connected to your Mesh network, there’s nothing else you need to do. You can roam freely and securely in your home with any of your devices and not have to worry about losing your connection or dealing with poor performance.

Give Us A Call

If you’re having the dreaded dead zone problem give us a call at 620-724-8235. We’d be happy to help! Don’t have internet with us? Take a look at our internet packages and let us know if you have questions.