Contrary to popular opinion, replacing your router is not the only way to upgrade your wi-fi network. Here’s our take on routers and the various wi-fi extender products available on the market.

The Good

For the best results extend your wi-fi network with access points. A well planned and installed network of wi-fi access points will ensure your wi-fi is smooth and flawless wherever you are in the house or yard. You will need to have CAT6 network cable run from the router to connect to the outlying access points. This task is usually easier to accomplish when renovating or building, although older villas and bungalows with open crawlspaces and accessible ceiling cavities are also good candidates for retrofitting CAT6 network cable.

The Bad

Extending your wi-fi network with wireless repeaters may help solve your connectivity issues but a wireless repeater will only ever send half the wi-fi signal strength that it’s able to receive. If you are on fibre, this may get you a workable wi-fi network, but having to manually connect between wi-fi zones can be frustrating.

The Compromises

You could upgrade your router. There are some very powerful routers out there that will blast wi-fi throughout your house. Sometimes this works, at other times the router will still be too far from users to receive the wi-fi signals from their devices. The wi-fi in your house may remain a frustrating experience. Routers like this are designed to appeal to gamers and heavy users in a more localised setting. These kinds of products are like the hotrods of the computing world and may find pride of place in a household with their bristling antennae, but will never beat a well-planned network of access points. Your neighbours will not love you too when you have a persistent wi-fi presence on their devices.

Extend your wi-fi network with powerline extenders if you cannot run CAT6 network cables to the required locations in the house. Powerline extenders use the power outlets to connect internet to the remote areas of your house. This method is not always guaranteed as the power outlets need to be on the same circuit to work, and often the transmission rate is reduced because of noise and interference over the power line.

The Future

Wireless mesh solutions are a new way to distribute of wi-fi throughout a house. They represent a cross between access points and wireless extenders. The new generation of mesh-based routers and access points use a dedicated radio channel to relay the wi-fi signal, and one unified network name, or SSID. These solutions are comparatively expensive.

Conclusion

We prefer balanced solutions that work seamlessly with your household. Depending on the kind of building and its size, a new router may be appropriate, but not always. Cabled access points offer the best method to distribute wi-fi evenly throughout the house, but other methods may produce a satisfactory result if retrofitting cables is not possible.