What is a range extender?
A range extender is a wireless networking device that allows for a WLAN (wireless local area network) coverage area to be expanded beyond its normal range. Also called a repeater these devices, usually a plug-in unit, takes a signal form an existing wireless router or AP (access point) and transmits that signal farther than the original device was capable of doing. With today’s device being more reliant of a wireless signal, these devices help ensure total cover throughout a user’s home.
So how do they work? Well they communicate with network devices over a backhaul. A backhaul is the way network devices communicate with each other. A Range extender will receive a signal from a router and then send that same signal to the devices that are connected to it. Range Extenders do not have a dedicated backhaul, so they can only communicate one way at a time, either receiving from the router then transmitting to the end user device or vice versa.
Why is this important to know? This one-way communication is the leading cause of the chief complaint about range extenders; “my connection is slow”. The networks speeds are affected because the connected device has to wait to receive or transmit with the network based on which way the Range extender is using its radios. When the connected device talks to the router or AP where it can transmit and receive simultaneously, thus providing full speeds. Customer should be aware a range extender is only designed to improve a coverage area for the WLAN. For customers who are looking at getting more dedicated speeds, they may want to look into Powerline or Mesh as an alternative to a range extender.