Wi-Fi® Wireless Range Extenders – Expanding the Wireless Coverage Area

Wireless Router - Range ExtenderA Wi-Fi® Wireless Range Extender expands the coverage area of a wireless network by repeating the signal from another Wireless Router or Access Point.

Wi-Fi® – Is a certification mark developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to indicate that wireless local area network (WLAN) products are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 standards.

Using a Wireless Access Point with a hard wired connection is the preferred and more reliable method of adding additional Wi-Fi® coverage.  If data network cabling is not available and Powerline Ethernet adapters do not work due to electrical interference, the Wireless Range Extender is the answer.  (For more information on Powerline Ethernet, see my article, “Powerline Ethernet – The Infrastructure in your Walls” and for Wireless Access Points, my article, “Wi-Fi® – Wireless Router vs. Wireless Access Point.”)

Configuring a Wireless Range Extender is exceptionally easy:

  • Use the Ethernet Cable provided (or any available Ethernet cable) and plug one end in to your computer and the other end directly in to the Ethernet Jack on the Wireless Range Extender;
  • Use any web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, or Chrome) to visit the special web page address in the instructions;
  • Select the EXISTING Wireless Network Name you want to EXTEND;
  • Enter in the security key/password for your EXISTING wireless network;
  • Name the Wireless Range Extender.  (This needs to be a DIFFERENT name from your existing wireless network and is the name you will see in your “available wireless networks” name list when looking to connect from your wireless device, (i.e. iPad, Smartphone, Internet enabled TV.)
  • Enter in either the same or a new security key/password for the NEW Wireless Range Extender Network that you just created.
  • After the Wireless Range Extender resets, unplug the Ethernet cable, and move the Wireless Range Extender to a distance of about half to three-quarters of the coverage area from your EXISTING Wireless Router or Access Point.

When the Wireless Range Extender powers up in its’ new location, use any wireless enabled device to look for the NEW network name in the list of “available wireless networks.”  Select the NEW network name from the list and enter in the security key/password and you should now be connected to the Internet.

Wireless Router with Wireless Network ExtenderExact placement of the Wireless Range Extender is a matter of trial and error as many factors affect the quality and range of the Wi-Fi® signal from your primary Wireless Router or Access Point.  If you find that the Wireless Range Extender network “appears then disappears” from your list of available wireless networks in its’ initial location, then the Wireless Range Extender must be moved closer to the primary Wireless Router or Access Point until the coverage/signal is solid and reliable.  Usually the Wireless Range Extender has a series of colored lights that indicate the quality of the Wi-Fi® signal being received from the primary Wireless Router or Access Point which will help in determining the best placement location.

Wireless Range Extenders are available in single (2.4Ghz) and dual band (2.4Ghz/5Ghz) models.  Purchase a Wireless Range Extender that matches the bands available on your Wireless Router or Access Point.  The Wireless Range Extender can only extend the range of an existing signal.  If your Wireless Router or Access Point does not provide a 5Ghz signal, then there is nothing available for the Wireless Range Extender to repeat and extend.  There is no harm in purchasing a dual band Wireless Range Extender and leaving the 5Ghz repeater function turned off.  The advantage of a dual band unit is that when and if you upgrade the Primary Wireless Router or Access Point to dual band (2.4Ghz/5Ghz),  the Range Extender will already be in place to support the 5Ghz band.  (For an explanation of 802.11 standards and the 2.4Ghz/5Ghz bands, see my article, “Understanding the WiFi 802.11 Network Standard.”

 

Here are links to Popular Wireless Range Extenders:

Belkin Range Extenders

D-Link Range Extenders

Linksys by Cisco Range Extenders

Netgear Range Extenders

 

 

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