Depending on the layout of your home and the location of your wireless router, you may encounter difficulty keeping a strong Internet signal throughout the residence. This problem becomes obvious when you are trying to stream video or other rich media content a significant distance from your router. Expect copious buffering and poor resolution in this scenario.
We’ve talked about mesh networks as a way to extend the range of your wireless router, but this technology is new and still pretty expensive. During a TODAY show story on improving home network performance, reporter Jeff Rossen mentioned using a range extender to allow him to watch Netflix in the bedroom which is on a different floor than his router.
Let’s check out this technology to see if it makes sense in your home.
A Closer Look at Range Extenders
Range extenders offer a relatively inexpensive way to spread your wireless signal throughout your home. Expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $150 for a decent model. They typically plug directly into a wall socket, so you are able to place the unit closer to where you do your most bandwidth-intensive Internet activity.
Many models support dual band routers, so you’ll be able extend the signal of both networks at your home if your extender allows it. If both your router and the range extender support WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) technology — most do — a simple button push on both devices transfers the network password information to the extender.
Look for your network name on your streaming device, usually appended with an “EXT,” log on with your password, and commence viewing.
Additionally, be sure to perform a quick speed test to verify the Internet speed through the extender is good enough for high quality video. In most cases, the improved wireless signal strength makes a noticeable difference in Internet performance.
A Boost for Digital Smart Homes
If you fully embraced the Internet of Things at your residence and encounter difficulty controlling the devices residing the farthest from your router, purchasing a range extender or two needs to be considered. They can definitely help optimize the performance of your digital smart home.
Most of the major companies producing routers, like Linksys and Netgear, also manufacture range extenders. Research the various models online or at a brick and mortar store to determine which model offers the best performance for the price. Make sure the unit supports WPS — especially if your router does as well — as it makes the setup an easier process.
If you live in a large house and don’t want to wait for the mesh network market to mature, a range extender may be your best option to improve your home network performance.