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Does a Wi-Fi Repeater Slow Down Internet? The Harsh Truth

A Wi-Fi repeater is an easy way to enhance the coverage of your home network on a budget.

It is beneficial, but there are some drawbacks.

A Wi-Fi repeater with a single band does slow down the internet signal. The information must be received and then retransmitted using the same radio on the same channel with single-band models. This decreases their available bandwidth, resulting in a slower internet experience for connected users.

The purpose of this article is to explain why Wi-Fi repeaters give a slower signal and how to enhance it.

Additionally, I will compare Wi-Fi repeaters to related devices, such as extenders, and determine which is superior.

How a Wi-Fi Repeater Reduces Internet Bandwidth

Typically, a Wi-Fi repeater will not reduce the speed of your original home network. But all devices connected to the repeater will receive about half the rate of your home network.

A standard repeater is not a standalone access point. Therefore, the repeater itself must achieve the best possible signal from the router.

When compared to other network extenders, a repeater is best being closer to your router.

You might also like: Do router antennas make a difference? 

How Do Wi-Fi Repeaters Work?

A Wi-Fi Repeater has two wireless routers. 

The current Wi-Fi network is picked up by one of these wireless routers. The signal then goes to the other wireless router, which sends it to your home.

But you should note that wireless repeaters rebroadcast the received signal to a small area.

The Wi-Fi signal strength received by the wireless repeater should be the same as the Wi-Fi signal strength distributed. However, network response time is usually enhanced.

A wireless repeater is best for a house with fewer than five wireless devices and little streaming.

Do Wi-Fi Repeaters Really Work?

Wi-Fi repeaters work in certain circumstances, such as a household without live streaming where they can receive your router’s Wi-Fi signal and rebroadcast it to a distant location that your router does not reach. But they need a strong signal from the router to be effective.

And since Wi-Fi repeaters are cordless, your Wi-Fi signal will be degraded by thick walls and gadgets between your router and repeater.

Thus, Wi-Fi repeaters are ineffective at enhancing your internet signal over long distances or in large homes, particularly those with multiple floors.

An access point is an alternative to a repeater.

These devices use a wire to connect to your router. It does not need a robust signal from your router due to the wire, plus it will send a stronger signal throughout your home.

What Is the Difference Between a Wi-Fi Extender and a Wi-Fi Repeater?

Wi-Fi repeaters are not the same as Wi-Fi extenders. A Wi-Fi extender is a device that connects straight to your router and establishes a new wireless network. In comparison, a repeater connects wirelessly to your network and retransmits your current network signal.

Additionally, extenders are self-contained units, but repeaters are not.

Range extenders retransmit on a separate Wi-Fi channel than your router. As a result, extenders often give a more speedy and reliable wireless connection.

They duplicate a current connection without establishing a new network, which ensures that bandwidth is not compromised.

In summary, if you’re in an area where a Wi-Fi repeater cannot reach you, a Wi-Fi extender would be your best option.

Read also: Can Too Many Devices Crash a Router? 5 Easy Ways To Fix It

Can a Wi-Fi Extender Make Wi-Fi Worse?

A Wi-Fi extender does not make Wi-Fi worse. These gadgets do not affect the speed or performance of your original network. However, the extended network’s rate may be slower than the original.

A router extender uses the same radio band as the router.

As a result, data that would have traveled straight from the access point to your connected device now takes a detour.

This additional step significantly slows the speed of the extended signal.

To get the most outstanding results, connect the extender to a power outlet located about halfway between your router and the dead-zone region.

Which Is Better: A Wi-Fi Repeater or Extender

Wi-Fi repeaters are simple to set up and move, but they reduce the available bandwidth on the produced network.

Furthermore, the positioning of Wi-Fi repeaters has a significant impact on signal strength, and thick walls might hinder connection to the wireless router. 

But this is not a problem if you plan on having the repeater in a room near the router.

As mentioned with extenders, your bandwidth is unaffected, but they are the more costly option. 

If there is not much interference in the region where you want to put the repeater, you should probably invest in one.

Picking the Right Wi-Fi Repeater

Before choosing a repeater, take into consideration some of the previously mentioned points, such as:

  • Wi-Fi repeaters are best for smaller areas.
  • If there are no outlets accessible near your router, having a repeater might be an issue.
  • While single-band repeaters are inexpensive, they are the least powerful.

Consider the following fundamental factors when selecting the correct repeater for your home.

IEEE Standards Compatibility 

Your repeater’s IEEE standards must be compatible with your current router. The following are the available standards:

  • 802.11a
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11ac
  • 802.11d
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n

Most standards operate within a range of roughly 30 m. (98.42 ft.).

The simplest way to confirm compatibility is to review your router’s specs and determine which standards it supports. Following that, compare the repeater’s parameters against these.

When in doubt, go for a universal repeater that is compatible with all 802.11 routers.

Manufacturer and Frequency Band Compatibility

Purchasing a Wi-Fi repeater from the same manufacturer as the router is a wise choice. 

On their websites, most manufacturers will mention the benefits of pairing devices, such as increased functionality.

However, suppose you do not want to match brands. In that case, you can conduct a web search to determine whether the repeater is compatible with your current router.

Also, some manufacturers specify which routers the repeater is compatible with. Examine the device’s specifications to determine if this is listed.

Additionally, this is true for the frequency band.

If the router operates at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, a router that operates at those frequencies would be excellent.

Bandwidth Capabilities

The performance of a Wi-Fi repeater partially depends on its bandwidth. 

While this is also dependent on what your router provides, it offers an easy way to understand the maximum bandwidth the repeater can support. 

Companies will describe the bandwidth as one of the following:

  • N300: offering up to 300 Mbps
  • AC750: offering 300 Mbps on the 2.4GHz and 433 Mbps on the 5GHz frequency
  • AC1200: offering up to 1167 Mbps
  • AC1750: 450 Mbps on 2.4GHz band and 1300 Mbps on 5GHz signal
  • AC1900: offering up to 1900 Mbps
  • AC2200: offering up to 2200 Mbps

Reading recommendation: How Many Devices Can Connect to 5GHz WiFi? 3 Network Facts

Other Ways To Improve Your Internet Signal

If you’re considering a repeater, there are dead or weak spots in your home. 

While you wait on your repeater to arrive, you can use the following tips to help boost the signal on your devices:

  • Perform a software update. These updates sometimes contain ways to improve your device’s connectivity.
  • Power cycle your router and modem. If your internet seems slower than average, turn off your modem for a full minute before powering it up again. 
  • Clear your browser cache. 

Final Thoughts

Wi-Fi repeaters were the foundation for extenders. And while they have some restrictive internet capabilities, they are still a viable solution for users looking to improve weak points in their homes.

Some manufacturers label their products as a repeater and an extender combined. These tools offer about the same benefits as an extender and are another option.

For more information about repeaters, extenders, and other range boosting tools, Johnny Boi has a detailed video: