WiFi Range Repeater – The Biggest Bottleneck In Home Networks Is Wireless Range
WiFi range repeater – Let me explain – You can get an affordable router with plenty of useful features and more than enough bandwidth easily enough, but range is more problematic.
- – It’s about the broadcasting power. + It’s about the antenna; more than anything else, + it’s about the layout of your home.
- Walls and furniture can cripple a router that, in theory.
If you have a sufficiently large number of rooms in your home, or you simply have particularly well-insulated interior walls, then you’re more likely than not to encounter range issues.
This is where WiFi range repeaters come in.
First, let’s go over the technical basis of a repeater
It’s fairly simple, really – any WiFi device, a router included, has to function both as a transmitter and a receiver.
One-directional Internet connections simply wouldn’t work; a router may typically include a stronger radio than the other devices on the network, but there’s not a fundamental difference here.
It’s a matter of software; you could turn your laptop into a makeshift router with the right software, and you can use a router as a client on a WiFi network with the right software.
That’s what a WiFi range repeater is, from a technical standpoint
It’s a router which exists, as a client, on another network at the same time that it’s broadcasting its own; the repeater feeds input and output from the devices connected to it to the primary router.
Think of wireless range in terms of a bubble extending unidirectionally from the router at the center; you place the repeater near the edge of the usable range of your router…
…and then its own “bubble” acts to extend the range of the network.
When you factor in the effects of walls and other obstacles, this can become even more pronounced; a single well-placed repeater can make the difference between spotty and perfect whole-home coverage.
It’s a matter of angles… =∠
…the signal from your router will always be traveling along a straight line from the router to the device. If there’s something in the way, then it has to go through that.
A repeater provides you with a much greater number of workable angles; any given device really only needs a clear path to either the router or the repeater.
The pass-through here does, inevitably, result in some loss of speed – but assuming that both units are reasonably high-quality, this difference should be small.
You don’t even need to buy new hardware to set a repeater up if you have an old router lying around and some technical know-how; once you install a third-party firmware like DD-WRT…
…it’s a fairly simple process to configure the router’s settings so that it will function as a repeater.
Most manufacturers don’t provide this functionality in their stock firmware, since it would limit the market for dedicated repeaters,
but you can find a third-party firmware image for the vast majority of routers on the market.
Do keep in mind, though…
…that the WiFi standard has evolved over time.
You can use an old 802.11g router as a repeater for your new, top-of-the-line draft 802.11ac model, but the machines connecting through the repeater are going to be making an 802.11g connection and getting speeds to match.
This is still usable, and it’s certainly going to be better than the signal you’d be getting without the repeater
– but an out-of-date router isn’t going to get a sudden performance boost when you put it to use as a repeater.
If you don’t have a suitable router sitting around, or you just don’t like the idea of getting your hands dirty, there’s no shortage of standalone repeaters on the market covering much the same price and performance gamut as routers.
A WiFi range repeater
Is, in hardware, essentially a wireless router; the manufacturer might get a pass on the inclusion of Ethernet ports…
…but outside of that a repeater is doing a similar enough workload that it’ll wind up looking essentially identical under the case.
On a software level, you don’t need to worry about bells and whistles like file serving or a BitTorrent client but, you need to apply the same cautions about consistency and uptime that you would with a router.