What is a Wi-Fi extender and why would you need it?
A Wi-Fi Extender is a very handy device to have if you want to extend the Wi-Fi network to those places in your home/office where the Wi-Fi signals from your Wireless Router is weak. Wi-Fi extender is basically a device that forms a direct high-speed connection between itself and the wireless router (wireless backbone) and then amplifies the wireless signals and extends the Wi-Fi range.
Netgear WN2500RP is a popular universal Wi-Fi range extender that also has 4 wired ports. Hence, this could be used both as a Wi-Fi extender and as a wired network extender. Sometimes, you may want to connect wired network devices to the network, in places where there is Wi-Fi network (only). For example, if you have a Wi-Fi router at your living room and need to connect a wired IP TV (with a Cat 6/network cable) to your network, you could buy a Wi-Fi extender with wired ports, connect it wirelessly with your Wi-Fi router and connect wired network appliances to the wired ports of the Wi-Fi extender, and hence to your home network. This connectivity is shown in the above diagram.
Explanation for the Wi-Fi architecture diagram:
A generic architecture diagram for Wi-Fi extender is shown above. While the smart phone and laptop (in the upper half) can directly connect to the wireless router, as they are closer to it, the laptop and tablet (in the bottom half) may not be able to connect to the wireless router properly as the speed/bandwidth will be very low. That’s why we introduce a Wi-Fi extender, about halfway between these devices and the Wi-Fi router. The extender forms a high-speed (backbone) wireless connection with the Wi-Fi router and amplifies/retransmits the wireless signals. This enables the laptop/tablet to connect to the network through the Wi-Fi extender.
You can also see wired network appliances like IP Camera and IP TV connecting to the wired ports of the Wi-Fi extender. Without the Wi-Fi extender, the cables will have to be laid all the way from the Wi-Fi router to these appliances. Now, it’s sufficient that they connect to the Wi-Fi extender (using network cables), as this device connects to the Wi-Fi router over a wireless backbone connection.
Main features of Netgear WN2500RP Wireless Extender:
- It’s a universal Wi-Fi extender that can be used to work with standards-based Wi-Fi routers/access points of any make, but using it along with Netgear routers may give it some advantages like push ‘n’ connect (simpler) installation.
- Dual-band radio (2.4 Ghz, 5 Ghz), 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible. This extender can work on both the bands simultaneously and that helps it connect with dual-band Wi-Fi router over higher speeds. Also, wireless devices can connect on both 2.4 Ghz & 5 Ghz bands to the extender, improving the overall Wi-Fi performance.
- Network devices can connect to the Wi-Fi extender either through Wi-Fi or through the four built-in wired network ports (RJ-45).
- It is possible to determine the best location for placing the extender unit, as the connection strength for both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands can be seen visually on the LED indicators present in this unit.
- Physical On/Off button.
- WEP/WPA/WPA2 compliance for security.
- Fast lane option for high-speed Wi-Fi connection on a single band (both backbone connection and connection to the device) for better performance of high-bandwidth/demanding applications like HD movies, 3D gaming, etc.
- Radio performance/specs similar to Netgear N600 router. Works best when paired with this router model.
- You can use it to connect any Wi-Fi appliance like PS3, DirectTV, laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc. to the network (over the wireless or wired network interfaces).
Further information/Manufacturer’s website: Netgear WN2500RP Wi-Fi Range Extender.
- This device is an extender. When wireless signals are repeated, there will be some losses. For best performance, try to get the device within the wireless range of the router and connect with it directly (or) connect a switch to the router and bring a cable (from the switch) to connect to the wired port of the network device. When you are not able to do this, the next best option is to buy a wireless extender.
- As far as possible, try to connect the router and extender over 2.4 Ghz band, and connect the wireless devices over 5 Ghz band. This is because 2.4 Ghz has a better range and 5 Ghz has lower interference.
- This device can be used to boost signal strength and connectivity speeds at areas where the Wi-Fi signal from the Wi-Fi router is weak. It cannot work in an area where Wi-Fi signal (from the router) is not available.
- You can place the router and extender in different floors, as long as signals from the router reach the area where you will be locating the extender. Extender will improve the signal strength, increase the bandwidth. But, you cannot expect a sea of change with the connectivity speeds.
- Set up your laptop/tablet/phone to connect to the wireless extender by default. Otherwise, they may connect to the wireless router (located far away) and your performance will not improve.
- Try placing the wireless extender at different places and test the signal strength at each place, before permanently fixing it. The extender can be placed half-way between the router and wireless devices (or) it can also be placed closer to the wireless devices.
- If the Wi-Fi extender does not connect once you set it up, do check if it has obtained the same IP address as any other device in the network (wireless router, for example). If their addresses are same, you need to change one of them. A network cannot have two devices with the same IP address.
Price(USD)/Buy from (US): Amazon page for,
Netgear Universal Dual Band WiFi Range Extender (WN2500RP)
Alternative model to consider: Wi-Fi Extender only (without wired ports) at lower price,
Netgear Universal WN3000RP Wi-Fi Range Extender (Amazon)
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