Everything you need to know about range extenders

Tuesday, 26 July, 2016

Most households now use wireless routers to ensure their internet access is compatible with mobile devices. But wireless routers have their limits, just like wired connections – and if you have a large property, a home with ‘dead spots’ or even a business premises that is trying to connect to a single wireless router, you might have trouble getting a strong signal, or even establishing a connection at all.

That’s where range extenders come in. Wireless range extenders (or boosters) are, as the name might suggest, useful for extending the reach of the wireless router within a building. They’re ideal for use if, for example, you wish to extend the reach of your wireless network beyond your home – into the garden, perhaps, or into an outbuilding. They’re also great if you have a loft or a basement, as they can help you secure a stronger connection in the areas that are furthest away from your router.

A few things to bear in mind about range extenders:

  • A range extender won’t increase the speeds provided by your ISP. If you’re not getting the speed you were promised when you signed up with a certain provider, the best option is to speak with the provider, rather than hoping a range extender will have any kind of effect.

  • You can use multiple range extenders within your home or business, as long as they’re all connected to the same main wireless source – you can’t ‘daisy chain’ them. Connecting an extender to another extender’s network will have no effect whatsoever.

  • Range extenders can’t boost the signal from a nearby public network – for example, if there was a business nearby which offered free WiFi, you wouldn’t benefit from hooking up your range extender to it.

Here are some of the best range extenders currently on the market:

Netgear EX3800

This range extender offers excellent speeds, and it also has a mains passthrough, which is ideal if you have a busy home or business that always requires plugs for charging devices or using electronics. It’s simple and easy to set up, it boasts an Ethernet port to ensure it can still connect to older devices with no Wi-Fi option, and the model is available on the market for about £50.00.

The Asus RP-N53

This extender is more like a home accessory than a technological must-have. The stylish design is subtle and clean, making it ideal if aesthetics are important to you. There’s even an LED which shines against the nearest surface and can act as a nightlight on a landing or in a hallway. The Asus model is a dual-band extender, and it has an Ethernet port and an audio jack, so that you can stream music straight from it. Setup is quick and easy, and testers suggest you can receive speeds of up to 5.6Mbps.