Wireless router owners sometimes complain that they are not able to get a good wireless signal strength at certain locations of their home/office. These locations may be at a considerable distance from the wireless router or there may be too many obstructions between the router and wireless clients (like walls, partitions, etc). In such situations, the wireless network may have to be extended using additional devices.
The most common way to extend a wireless network is to buy a network switch, connect it to one of the wired ports of the router using a Cat 6 cable and place the switch somewhere near the area where signal is weak and connect a wireless access point to another port of the wired switch over there. But as you can make out, one needs to take a long cable from the wireless router to the target location and buy a network switch & access point.
This solution not only increases the cost, but in certain locations it may just not be feasible (or plain inconvenient) to take a cable across the house/office. In such situations, using a wireless range extender might be an option to consider.
What is a wireless range extender?
A wireless range extender is a physical equipment that can extend the range of a wireless network to places that do not receive enough signal strength from a wireless router (already present). A wireless range extender creates a wireless connection between itself and the wireless router (using one radio) and provides wireless connectivity to clients (like laptops, ipad, etc) using another radio. In technical terms, this is called a wireless mesh connection.
This eliminates the requirement of running any cables around the place and extends the wireless network coverage over the wireless medium. Some wireless range extenders even have a wired port to which you can connect a PC or a network switch and create a wired network locally.
How/where can a wireless range extender be used?
If you have a wireless router at one end of the house (maybe because your broadband modem is located there), and you want better wireless coverage at another end of the house, you can place the wireless extender somewhere in between the two places. Alternatively, if you have the wireless modem in the ground floor and want wireless signal coverage in the second floor, you can place the wireless extender in the first floor.
These are just suggestions and individual placement locations might differ based on individual user requirements and site conditions. Some vendors offer a software range verification program with which you can initially place the wireless extender at different places and verify the actual signal strength in the target location, before fixing the wireless range extender permanently somewhere.
Things to note:
1. If your wireless router supports high speed wireless N connectivity, check if the wireless extender also supports the same.
2. Using a wireless extender will reduce the bandwidth to a certain extent, even though it provides a better signal strength.
3. This is not a stand alone product and you need to have a wireless router with which you can pair it (establish a wireless connection between the two). The make of the wireless extender can be different from the make of the wireless router.
Wireless range extender product (example): Cisco Linksys RE1000 wireless N range extender.
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