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December 13, 2023

How Does a WiFi Extender Work and Is There a Better Alternative?



Are you satisfied with the quality of your company's network? If not, you may be thinking about using a WiFi extender to improve the signal range and bring robust internet coverage to "problem areas" in your facility. But how do these devices work and what are your options? In this article, we discuss what an extender does, its benefits and limitations, and the different types to choose from.  

If you're looking to expand the reach of your WiFi connection and need a solution for your entire company, consider a flexible and robust WiFi mesh system for business.

What is a WiFi Extender?

An extender is a device that brings signals from your company's wireless router to places with less-than-optimal internet service. It works with your existing WiFi network, increasing the connectivity range and bringing the signal to dead zones.  

When Would You Use a WiFi Extender?

These devices are typically used by businesses that need wider connectivity and a stronger signal in areas of the facility that are a distance from the main hub. Your connection may be spotty or weaker in certain areas due to physical obstructions or your system's limitations. Some locations, such as a loading dock or storage room at the back of a building, may get no signal at all. An extender provides reliable, corner-to-corner WiFi service to employees and customers without any dead zones or lagging. 

Benefits of Using a WiFi Extender

There are several advantages of using an extender to enhance the range of your network connection.  

  • Simple to install and use – They don't require a new router or an upgraded

    business internet plan. 

  • Affordably priced – These devices tend to be inexpensive, with various models and brands.  

  • Compact and portable – They're typically easy to move around and are very compact, similar in size to a laptop charger. 

  • Compatible with WiFi networks – They'll work with most WiFi networks, with no need for additional equipment. 

  • Energy efficient – They don't use a lot of electricity or power. 

WiFi extenders can be used in smaller offices to compensate for obstructions or an inefficient system. 

WiFi Extender Limitations

While an extender may sound like a good solution for your company, be advised that there are certain issues and limitations. 

  • Coverage area – Most extenders can expand your wireless network range an additional 50 to 75 feet at the most. For a larger office building or commercial facility, this likely won't be enough.  

  • Limited bandwidth – Every extender has a maximum data transfer rate, which can result in slower speeds and less reliability, especially if there are many connected users and devices.   

  • Prone to signal Loss or degradation – Extenders are prone to signal degradation and signal loss since they're repeating the original signals from the main hub.  

  • Problems with compatibility – Although most devices are compatible with a company's existing network, there are various WiFi bands and standards.   

While these issues might be less serious for a smaller network, larger facilities with many users may need a more robust solution for continuous, seamless connectivity. Fortunately, there are alternatives to conventional extenders. 

Types of WiFi Extenders

There are different types of devices that can extend the signal of your WiFi network. They may be called network extenders, repeaters or WiFi boosters.  

Plug-in Range Extenders 

This device is plugged into your company's network, and it creates its own access point at the location of the extender. 

WiFi Repeater 

Sometimes confused with a range extender, a repeater also amplifies WiFi signals, but it does so through a wireless connection with your network hub, rebroadcasting the signal while amplifying it. 

External Antenna 

This easy-to-install device has an antenna that connects to a single wireless device so that it can send and receive signals to and from the WiFi network. 

Router/Extender Combos 

This type of extender is plugged into the modem using a satellite that receives WiFi signals, repeating and boosting the signal. It's an easy and seamless connection, as the device uses a single network ID.  

Wifi Mesh Systems 

A WiFi mesh system connects multiple access points throughout your company. The linking of WiFi access points expands overall coverage and eliminates any dead zones. WiFi mesh systems are often referred to as "whole-business WiFi," since this solution creates a WiFi connection across the entire facility. 

Introducing WOW! Internet Whole-Business WiFi

For the best WiFi signal, most complete coverage and most comprehensive management capability, choose WOW! Whole-Business WiFi. This complete mesh WiFi solution delivers a robust internet connection to every corner of your business, regardless of how many users and devices are accessing it. Powered by eero router technology, this easy-to-manage, low-cost system enables simultaneous data streaming and automatically supports dozens of connected devices. With this highly advanced system, your business can offer employees and customers high-quality video streaming and conferencing, an internal network, a customer portal, always-reliable cloud-based applications, and much more. 

How WOW! Whole-Business WiFi Works 

WOW! Internet Whole-Business WiFi uses WiFi extenders to provide seamless coverage throughout your organization but with an important difference. eero, with its proprietary TrueMesh™ technology, uses multiple low-profile devices strategically placed throughout your facility. The system automatically determines the best route for your company's network traffic and will switch paths whenever needed to avoid electrical interference and deliver strong, consistent wireless connectivity to your entire establishment.  

Key Features and Benefits of WOW! Whole-Business WiFi 

Our Whole-Business WiFi solution delivers: 

  • Reliability – Automatically supports dozens of connected devices without latency or reduced speed. Get fast, reliable internet regardless of the location or the device. 

  • Security – Best-in-class network security with automatic software updates protects your business from the latest cyber threats, keeping your devices and your data safe. Guest network devices are kept isolated from your network and from each other.  

  • Simplicity – Set-up and maintenance are easy through a mobile app. Automatic nightly updates improve performance and enable new features. There are no time-consuming manual updates. Visitors scan unique QR codes to access the guest network. 

eero Plus, an affordable add-on service, adds another layer of security to your network. Features of this service include content filtering, ad blocking, streamlined password management, VPN connectivity, malware and threat protection, and insight into how all the connected devices are using your network. 

Unlike other business WiFi services on the market, WOW! Whole-Business WiFi empowers your company with a state-of-the-art, highly secure mesh WiFi system that's automated and easy to manage using a mobile app, plus our 24/7 customer support and technical assistance—all at a low cost. We're here to assist you during setup and to keep your network running optimally, responding immediately to any network issues should they arise. 

WiFi Extender vs. WOW! Whole-Business WiFi Mesh System

Both a WiFi extender and WOW!'s WiFi mesh for business will expand the reach of your WiFi network hub. And both are easy to set up. However, there are important differences for businesses that need to be "always on everywhere" for employees and customers and those with many users and devices.  

The differences are as follows: 

Manual and Choppy vs. Automatic and Seamless 

Extenders must be manually switched (from the network hub to the extender), whereas our whole-business WiFi automatically switches to find the strongest signal, with no interruptions. This is extremely important for a business that relies on its network, whether it's for a back office, customer support center, video conferencing or cloud-based business applications.  

With an extender, you'll be momentarily disconnected when you manually switch between networks. This never happens with a WiFi mesh system. It is completely automatic and seamless. Even if one node fails, the rest of the system continues to be reliable. 

One Device vs. Multiple Nodes 

The WiFi extender is one device, whereas WOW!'s mesh-enabled system consists of multiple devices (nodes). This is a flexible solution for a growing business, as you can change nodes around or add more as needed for a larger space or new users. With an extender, multiple devices accessing at the same time can reduce the network speed; this doesn't happen with a mesh system. 

Difficult to Configure vs. Full Control Via Mobile App 

An extender can be difficult to configure, whereas the WOW! WiFi system is easy to set up and control through a mobile app so you can adjust network settings and more from wherever you are. You no longer have to rely on pricey IT support. The mobile app lets you manage network settings, security, connected devices and the guest network. 

As you can see, a WiFi mesh system is the only solution for a business environment where reliable network connectivity is essential for the success of your company. 

When choosing between a WiFi extender and a WiFi mesh system, consider the needs of your company in terms of facility size, number of users and devices, the need for robust reliability and security, and how easy it is to configure and manage. 

Choose WOW! Whole-Business WiFi for Your Organization

To keep team members and customers always securely connected while maintaining top performance and speed, choose WOW! whole-business WiFi. With the fastest, most reliable internet available that's flexible to the needs of any organization, you can focus on your business rather than your network performance. We have various packages available to fit your business and your budget, and all include our 24/7 personalized customer support. We also provide step-by-step instructions and built-in optimization tools for fast, easy setup and maintenance. 

Contact us today to get started!