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How do wifi extenders work?

It happens all too often: your kids are streaming movies in the living room and you’re trying to work in your home office when your internet starts buffering. If you’re constantly experiencing internet issues in different parts of your home, you may need a wifi extender. This tiny device can help you extend the reach of your wifi signal, so you and your family can work, play and surf the internet as you please. Find out how wifi extenders work to save you from slowing down.

What is a wifi extender?

A wifi extender is a device that connects with your router to help extend your internet signal into wifi dead zones, or areas in your home where the signal is weak. It typically sits somewhere between your wireless router and the space where you want stronger wifi coverage. It’s a cost-effective solution for improving your internet connection throughout the house.

Wifi extender vs. booster vs. repeater: What’s the difference?

A wifi repeater and wifi booster are other options for increasing the range of your wifi, however, they work in slightly different ways:

  • Wifi extender: This accessory works by taking the existing wireless signal, then rebroadcasting it on a different channel. You can connect your wifi extender with an ethernet cord for a lower chance of interference and latency.

  • Wifi repeater: This was the first version of an extender and it also works by grabbing the existing signal and rebroadcasting. However, it connects to your router wirelessly on the same frequency, meaning you’ll have less bandwidth and may experience higher latency.

  • Wifi booster: Both wifi extenders and repeaters are often referred to as wifi boosters.

If you are already a Cox customer or considering becoming one, Cox offers wifi extenders called Panoramic Wifi Pods.

Do wifi extenders really work?

How well your wifi extender works will depend on the placement of your device and your internet connection. With the right placement, they can absolutely improve the connection throughout your home. Wifi extenders are a convenient and affordable option that can help you get wifi where you need it the most, including upstairs, the backyard and the front porch.

Should you buy a wifi range extender?

If you’re wondering whether a wifi extender is right for your home, here are some scenarios where it may come in handy:

  • Multi-floor household: The larger your home is, the more area your router has to cover. Even if you’ve placed your router in a central location downstairs, the signal may still not be strong on the second floor. Placing a wifi extender in the room directly above the router can easily help extend the range upstairs.

  • Multiple users: If several people are working from your home or attending school online, a wifi extender can help ensure everyone is experiencing consistent internet—no matter where in the house they’re connecting.

  • Outdoor coverage: With a wifi extender you can conveniently expand your connection outside to the porch or backyard, so you can enjoy some outdoor entertainment.

How to set up wifi extenders?

A wifi extender is easy to set up and install by following these steps:

  • Connect your device to your wireless network using the corresponding website or app on your phone or computer.

  • Next, you’ll have to find the right location for your wifi extender. Typically, the best spot is midway between the router and the dead zone. Try moving it around until you notice an improvement in your connection.

Cox wifi extenders – called Panoramic Wifi Pods – are very easy to set up. Watch this video on how to install Panoramic Wifi Pods.

Five ways to boost your wifi signal without an extender

Before purchasing a wifi extender you may want to try these tips to help improve your wifi network:

  1. Update software. A quick fix is checking if your browser settings have all been updated. Make sure you have the latest software updates installed on your computer’s browser and operating systems to avoid any interruptions in your connection.

  2. Move your router. The further away you are from your router, the weaker the signal. Try moving your router to a more centralized location, away from walls and in an open space.

  3. Upgrade your hardware. Older routers and devices sometimes cap out at low bandwidths in comparison to what your internet plan is providing. Check your device’s limits. If it’s been a few years since you’ve upgraded your router or computer, you may want to update your hardware to support faster standards.

  4. Change the channel. Most routers operate across different channels and in most cases they’re automatically chosen for you. However, in densely populated areas where all your neighbors are using the same channel, internet traffic can interfere with your signal. Using your computer, you can see what channel neighboring networks are using and find the best route for your connection.

  5. Change your privacy settings. If your wireless network is public or has a weak password, outside intruders may be accessing it and slowing down your connection. Make sure to switch your privacy settings and update your password to keep unwanted guests from using your wifi.

For a more comprehensive guide to improving wifi, read the Improving WIfi Guide from Cox.

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