As you must have noticed while browsing the Internet, on your laptop in a Wi-Fi zone, the signal strength is not uniform everywhere. There is a gradient in signal strength with the strongest signal in the immediate vicinity of a Wi-Fi hotspot, with decreasing signal power, as you move away. Depending on the transmitting power of the router, the maximum Wi-Fi range distance is decided. Using a Wi-Fi signal repeater, this range can be substantially boosted to cover a larger distance. These devices are standard installations in most corporate office and residential estates, which need a wide coverage range.
Radio signals weaken with distance and repeaters are installed to amplify and retransmit the weakened signal over a greater distance. (To know more about it, refer to this article explaining how does a wireless repeater work). Data is transmitted by a wireless router over the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies and signal repeaters are designed to amplify these signals without modifying its contents.
Selecting a Wireless Signal Repeater
The first thing that one should check out while buying a wireless repeater is the hardware compatibility. Since the repeater works in tandem with your router, you need to ensure that its compatible with it. Also it needs to be compatible with the software platform (Windows/Mac) used on your network. The hardware compatibility is decided by the wireless networking standard on which, the wireless signal repeater is based. The recommended standard is 802.11n as it provides the greatest transmission speed.
Even if you have a 802.11g wireless networking standard based router, you can buy a 802.11n repeater, as it's backward compatible. Secondly, look for the data transmission rate of the repeater specified in megabytes per second. Go for repeaters with high data transmission rate values. See to it that the repeater offers support for latest encryption standards like WPA2. Some of the best brands to lookout for when purchasing wireless signal repeaters are Belkin, Netgear, Hawking and Cisco Linksys.
Cost of a Wireless Repeater
Also known as 'Wireless Range Extenders', prices of these devices are obviously dependent on features. There are repeaters which cost less than $30, while there are some which cost more than a $100. The price is a function of the transmission power provided by the device. Strong wireless signal repeaters or range extenders will cost substantially more. 802.11n based routers, being the fastest, also cost more.
Compared to that 802.11g routers of similar specifications will cost lesser. There is a wide range of repeaters to choose from and you must choose one which best suits your requirements. Here is a list of some of the best wireless repeaters currently available in the market, along with price specifications.
- Hawking HWREN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N Range Extender ($69.99)
- NETGEAR Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender WN2000RPT ($69.82)
- D-Link DAP-1360 Wireless N Range Extender ($65.98)
- Belkin F5D7132 Wireless-G Universal Range Extender ($399.99)
- Hawking Hi-Gain Wireless-N Dual Radio Smart Repeater ($139.98)
To conclude, know that a wireless repeater may cost anywhere between $30 to more than $100. Go for one that is based on the 802.11n wireless networking standard, as it provides the highest transmission speed. Instead of spending on a full scale router, buying a repeater is a comparatively cheaper proposition. You can shop for wireless signal repeaters online, through Amazon and online stores. Buy and get one installed today and say goodbye to Wi-Fi range problems!