How to boost the Wi-Fi range, boosters extenders and routers

Have you recently purchased a Wi-Fi extender, hoping to boost the Wi-Fi range, only to find the Wi-Fi speed and reliability haven’t really improved? Here are a few reasons why:

All Wi-Fi extenders, Wi-Fi modems, and Wi-Fi routers have almost the same Wi-Fi range. That is because manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers stick with the internationally allowed maximum Wi-Fi power: 20dBm or 100mw. This complies with the international standard set to protect other devices using the same radiofrequency range from Wi-Fi interference. Because of this fixed power, no router is substantially better than any other when it comes to Wi-Fi range.

Wi-Fi extenders do not increase Wi-Fi power but they may help to cover more distance. Wi-Fi boosters must be located in a place where the Wi-Fi signal is strong enough, yet far enough from the Wi-Fi router to make the best use of this Wi-Fi extension. Typically, that is no more than 10 metres in open space, less if the signal must pass through walls. Often people install W-iFi extenders near the limits of their Wi-Fi reception, where the Wi-Fi speed is already low. This means the Wi-Fi extender will barely increase slow speeds even though Wi-Fi power appears to be boosted and available at twice the distance. A poor Wi-Fi signal in the area where the Wi-Fi booster is installed may cause regular drop outs of the extended Wi-Fi as well as slow speeds. It might look like you are still connected to the Wi-Fi but webpages will not be available.

It’s irrelevant whether you choose Optus or Telstra or another internet provider. It also doesn’t matter how much you pay for your internet service. And buying a new router will not necessarily solve the Wi-Fi range problem either. New routers may sometimes be better simply because the new routers operate on the default settings and have updated firmware. You can achieve the same result with the old router by resetting the router, changing passwords, or updating the firmware.

On the other hand, the latest Wi-Fi communication protocols provided by the latest routers might be more robust, more secure, and more compatible when connecting to your Wi-Fi devices, thus may cause fewer drop outs. Later models supporting the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard may provide a somewhat wider Wi-Fi range, but only if your device supports this standard and if both the computer/mobile and routers are configured to use this standard.

From my experience 802.11n and particularly 5G routers are rarely better and often even worse, as connectivity degrades with poor device compatibility and when passing through walls. The Wi-Fi signal simply does not penetrate through reinforced concrete regardless of the communication standard because all Wi-Fi uses the same high frequency range. The latest so-called 5G routers using 5 GHz frequency actually don’t penetrate through walls as well, due to less diffraction on the shorter wavelength. The connection through walls is more likely to be a reflected signal through the door or a window. Having said this, in open space and with close distances, 5G indeed is faster than 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.