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Does a WiFi Extender Slow Down Internet Speed?


Suppose you have a large home or many physical obstacles between some rooms and your router. In that case, you may want to consider purchasing a Wi-Fi extender to fill in those weak-signal areas throughout your home. However, there is an understandable level of confusion between extenders, repeaters, and boosters.

Quick Answer

A genuine Wi-Fi extender, used in a wired capacity, will not lose signal because extenders are supposed to connect to your router or gateway via wired connections. The wired connection makes all the difference. 

Unfortunately, there is great confusion over what constitutes a Wi-Fi extender. Is it the same thing as a Wi-Fi repeater? Why is it also called a booster? Is there a difference in the way these devices operate?

The Difference Between a Wi-Fi Extender, Repeater, and Booster

We should go right ahead and eliminate the term “booster” because it does not reference a specific type of Wi-Fi-capable device. Many people embrace the term “booster” to define any Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi repeaters, but it’s a generic term and not a specific device. 

The reality is that there are only Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi repeaters. Since your purpose is to discover whether or not a Wi-Fi extender loses signal, it’s essential to separate it from the term “booster” or “repeater”.

Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi repeaters do the same thing for your Wi-Fi signal. They push the Wi-Fi signal that you get through your router farther out through your home, overcoming distance and physical interference barriers that weaken the lone signal from the router. 

However, they accomplish this task in different ways, and the way they do it makes the extender the better option. 

Wi-Fi Repeater

A Wi-Fi repeater does what its moniker implies: it repeats your Wi-Fi signal from a stronger position rather than allowing it to decay in its typical passage throughout your home. The problem is that a Wi-Fi repeater has no means to boost or strengthen that signal.

When your Wi-Fi signal travels out from the router and reaches the repeater, it has lost around 10% of its efficacy at the point where the repeater captures the signal. 

The repeater picks it up using the same signal, and although it sends out a “repeat” of this signal at full strength, full strength only equates to about 50%. In other words, you’re getting a full signal from your Wi-Fi network, but only at half of the bandwidth if you receive it from the repeater. 

A Wi-Fi repeater is wireless. As a wireless device, it is also susceptible to signal interference and degradation.

To get the absolute best out of a repeater, you want to set it up as far away from the router as possible but still within line of sight. 

Wi-Fi Extender

The Wi-Fi extender doesn’t have this problem for one reason only: it is connected to the router via a wired connection. There is no lag, drop in speed, or interference when the signal is sent out. 

The only drawback of the Wi-Fi extender is how far away from your router you can stretch it without the cord becoming a problem. If you need to extend it a long way, you will need to get creative with your cord hiding abilities. 

Perhaps you can run the ethernet cable up and behind the cron molding or through a wall. Maybe all you have to do is place the extender on the second floor, directly above the router, and run the cord down through the walls or the floor. 

The point is that you will have to find a way to run the ethernet cable. Older model routers may require you to connect your extender to the network simply by clicking on the same line. For instance, you can use a splitter to connect your cable internet to both the router and your extender elsewhere. 

However, no matter how you slice it, you will need cords for both the router and the extender. If you have to use a splitter, do yourself a favor and never accept your ISP’s splitter. Please go out and find a premium, highly rated splitter and install it yourself, and it will save you a lot of inconvenience. 

Other Advantages of Wi-Fi Extenders

One of the more overlooked advantages of a Wi-Fi extender is that you don’t need to create a new network to use it. A Wi-Fi repeater is like having the next-door neighbor’s Wi-Fi router in your home, complete with its User ID and access password. 

With a repeater, you have an entirely new network that you have to sign in to, or your devices will have to “jump” connections. That will create gaps in your incoming data. 

Let’s say that you are walking back to the bedroom and listening to music through your Bluetooth earbuds. When you are out of range of your router and nearer to your repeater, your smartphone may jump from one to the other, with no internet access in between. 

If your phone is like most smartphones, it may struggle with this jump, allowing the original router to become as weak as possible before dropping the link, giving you garbage internet service. 

Lastly, extenders are relatively cheap. If you own a TP-Link router, you can purchase a TP-Link AC750 Extender for $30. 

Final Thoughts

A Wi-Fi extender doesn’t slow down your internet speed because it is designed to exist on the same network as your router via a wired connection. It’s the best choice for two-story homes and homes where a long cord run isn’t going to be in your way.

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