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Wireless internet is one of the most convenient forms that people can use today. Without any cables or physical connections to deal with, it is relatively easy to get almost any device online and connected to the web quickly. In fact, a single wireless connection can get your computer, phone, tablet, and more on the internet at the same time.
Networks that are wireless can do this thanks to routers and modems working in concert with each other. The modem gets one signal, and the router will spread that signal out to any nearby devices that the network authorizes. However, this same network can only cover a specific area. If you are working in a space that is quite large, the regular network coverage may not reach your device. Should this be the case, you can use an extender to expand the coverage area.
Some computer users who need internet wonder if their extenders might be operating slowly. On a related note, they may be concerned that the use of the extenders themselves causes their overall network connections to be slower than the top speeds the provider gives them.
Why Is My Wi-Fi Extender Slow?
Before we get into why your extender might seem to operate slowly, we should distinguish between Wi-Fi speeds and overall internet speeds. While these two variables share a relationship, they are not necessarily interchangeable. Your internet speed is the maximum speed that your service provider gives your location.
This could be a home or business, and you choose the speed you would like to have based on the cost of the particular tier you want to buy from your provider. This speed rating is a measure of how fast your modem can communicate with various servers around the world. In short, this is what gives you internet access. When you need to go to a website, your modem finds a server in a particular location that can provide you with that data.
Conversely, your Wi-Fi speed is a measurement of how fast your device can talk to your router. The device could be a computer, phone, or tablet. In any case, it needs to get a signal from the router, and this is how you can connect several of your devices to the internet at once.
Things like your router, your device, the hardware inside both units, and various factors in your local wireless environment can all contribute to the specific Wi-Fi speeds that you get. Therefore, while your internet speed should remain relatively constant, your Wi-Fi speed can fluctuate.
The upper limits for the speeds on most routers tend to exceed the speeds at which most devices can handle Wi-Fi. This factor helps to ensure that you can connect several devices through your router, but speed issues can still occur regularly. If you find that your extender seems to operate slowly, there could be a couple of reasons for this.
Most importantly, the Wi-Fi extender is sharing the same data connection that the router is using. This means that both devices now have a limitation that connects to how much total bandwidth that you get. If you have different devices operating on the same frequency, they must yield to each other. This fact is true even for devices that don’t share the same network.
Further, Wi-Fi devices can’t both send and receive signals at the same time. The wireless network is one that your extender has to share with the router. As such, the extending device is probably going to give you a maximum of half the total speed that your router gets.
In many cases, the extender may cap its top speed at significantly less than half that of the router, too. When you combine all of these factors, it can seem like the extender is operating at a slower rate than it should.
This could be true, but there are only a few things that you might be able to do to increase this speed. As a rule, devices that can connect to your Wi-Fi thanks only to an extender are going to have slower speeds than those that connect through the router.
Do Wi-Fi Extenders Slow Down Your Wi-Fi?
Although it may seem like it to you at first, Wi-Fi extenders don’t slow down your original Wi-Fi connection. They don’t actually affect the speeds you get for your connection, so they cannot slow it down. They pick up the Wi-Fi signal that your router is broadcasting and send it out again.
What they are doing is taking packets of data and sending them further than they would travel otherwise. When they do so, they will send the data at much lower speeds than the router does. It may seem like this slows down your internet, but you’re actually getting more opportunities to connect some of the devices that are far away from the router’s physical location.
Even though they do not slow down your internet connection, extenders need strong signals from the router. The extenders are at their most effective when they are at a halfway point that allows them to give some speed to devices or rooms that are far away from the router.
If you place yours correctly, your extender can maintain a solid link to both the router and the furthest rooms in your home or office simultaneously. How effective your extender is depends on what you would like the distant devices to be able to do once they get a Wi-Fi signal that you have rebroadcast throughout the space.
What Can Slow Down a Wi-Fi Connection? 6 Potential Causes
Although range extenders cannot slow down your Wi-Fi, there are other things that can. If you know what to look for, you have a better chance of addressing and fixing slow Wi-Fi connection issues. Therefore, we will take you through some of the most common things that can impact your connection speeds negatively.
1. Your bandwidth is one of the main things that impacts your Wi-Fi speeds. If you are on a connection plan with data that has monthly limits, your ISP may need to throttle the bandwidth you get after you use up this limit.
When that happens, you get much slower speeds until the cycle renews. Even without limits on your data, all of your devices share the same bandwidth. Having many of them connected at once can make your internet connection operate slowly.
2. Similarly, if you are getting much slower speeds than what you pay for, your ISP may be experiencing a temporary problem with its hardware. If you suspect this, you can check your speed using internet applications. Should you find out that this is true, you can wait for the speed to return. If it does not, you can call your ISP to inquire about the issue.
3. If you have weak security settings for your Wi-Fi network, other people might piggyback on your connection to use your bandwidth. When this happens, you’ll experience a kind of bottleneck that slows the speeds for your own devices. Setting and securing your network with strong protocols and passwords can prevent this incursion from slowing you down.
4. The physical location of your internet hardware can have some impact on the kinds of speed ratings that you get. Your router and modem should be close to each other. Additionally, obstructions can interfere with the clarity or range of the signal. If possible, put your router in a place where it faces minimal obstructions. Preferably, it should be in a central location that is never too far away from where you use your devices.
5. Depending on where you are, the wiring itself may have a fault in it that is preventing you from getting the speeds you deserve. If you connect your router to a switch, check to see if there are any obvious issues with the wiring.
6. Wi-Fi operates on a series of channels. One channel might be more crowded than another. All active connections and devices serve to take up space on a channel. If you are having connectivity issues, search for and connect to a channel that isn’t as full as the one you are using.
Why Is My Internet Worse With an Extender?
In general, your internet should not be worse when you are using an extender to modify it. That said, there are factors that can make things seem slow if you set up or place your Wi-Fi devices incorrectly. All of the internet hardware you use, including the extender, needs a setup that allows things to work and flow correctly.
Although it should be simple to use web interface helpers or guides to adjust the settings of your equipment properly, there are occasions when you might select an improper option that seems to slow things down. You can check this for accuracy, but the problem might be with your router or modem instead. It is a good idea to check the settings on all of your hardware to look for any errors that you might need to resolve.
Where Should You Not Place a Wi-Fi Extender?
The placement of your extender can have a big impact on how far it carries the signal from your router to another part of the home. It can also alter the overall stability of said connection. For the best results, you should place the extender high up and away from barriers. The fewer barriers the rebroadcast signal must pass through, the stronger the connection your devices should be able to use.
Conversely, you should not place the extender too far from any rooms to which you would like to extend the connection. The extender needs to be somewhere that isn’t too close or far from the router.
If you place it incorrectly, the signal will not reach the distant parts of the Wi-Fi network, rendering the extender pointless. Additionally, the device will experience interference if you place it near surfaces that can reflect or block the signal. Some of these would include mirrors, metal panels, thick walls, closets, or large support beams.
Extenders may come with some limitations, but they are relatively easy for the average user to set up by themselves. They’re also an inexpensive way to get your Wi-Fi network to reach all the parts in a large area.
If you need a stable connection in such a space, consider an extender as a way to pick up and rebroadcast the signal you are using already. Should you still experience connectivity issues, you can try some of our advice above.