As the pandemic and its aftermath have laid out a new workplace settings, home and offices have been redesigned to redistribute users across spaces.
Homes have been adjusted with more furniture and computer equipment to make more comfortable working from home; offices, on the other hand, are now prioritizing gatherings and meetings.
The typical scenario of the Westchester’s workforce is a hybrid: many users work from home and a couple of times a week still report to their office in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, where they participate in meetings and events.
Needless to say that in both settings having a good Internet connection is paramount. The pandemic has already tested Internet companies like Optimum and Verizon to upgrade their infrastructure to meet the needs of residential users forced by the disease to work from home.
PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS FOR HOME USERS DEALING WITH WIFI SIGNAL STRENGTH
PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUSINESS USERS DEALING WITH WIFI SIGNAL STRENGTH
But what about after having increased the Internet speed and replaced the router with a WIFI 6 router, your office or home still needs good wireless signal in other rooms where other users are working?
THE CASE FOR USING ACCESS POINTS VS EXTENDERS TO BOOST THE WIRELESS SIGNAL
But first, what is the difference between an access point and a wireless extender?
1- Repeating wifi waves is not the same as repeating a signal that comes out of a wire instead.
2- Routers’ wireless speed is slower than the ethernet speed; therefore extenders have the tendency to broadcast signals that are already weak at the source.
What are the worst wifi networks?
The following image shows that the switch from type N to type AC a few years ago brought to almost 3 times more power to the WIFI signal.
AC type routers are still widely used in offices and homes and they perform pretty well, especially in environments where users are not far from the router and I would say in places that are not larger than 2,000 square feet. The higher throughput is due to the increased numbers of the antennas that can broadcast faster signals to the devices connected to the network.
Now, let’s check the evolution of the WIFI protocols from 1999 to 2019. The table below shows that in 20 years the power of WIFI specifications has increased exponentially:
Here is the problem: if you use extenders instead of access points, once you have upgraded your network to higher wifi speeds, you will have your Internet speed curtailed because of the loss you will experience while waves propagate before reaching your device. As a matter of fact, if for example your router speed is 500 Mbps, the access point will provide your device with a speed much lower than that and I would say in the range of 150/200 Mbps.
If instead you use an access point, the access point is hardwired to the router and will give you almost the same speed of the main router, which is an optimal situation and is what we all desire.
Therefore, access points don’t bring a lot to the table and may not reflect the real speed at the source, even if you configure them optimally by changing channels and surveying the areas with wifi speed apps that you can download on your phone.
One more point is worth mentioning: if you have just upgraded your router and its speed to the new WIFI 6 specifications, you may avoid using extenders even if they are of the same specs. In some cases, the least, the better. Try to measure first the speed of the main router in every corner of the house and if the bandwidth is enough, you may just stay with the main router. In a nutshell, you may just let the router reach as far as possible most of the rooms of the house and then you can decide. And even if you came to the conclusion that the extension of the network is necessary, call an electrician or a contractor and run Cat 6 Ethernet wires from the routers to the places where you need stronger signal. That way, when you put an access point in the room that has been hardwired, the speed of the main router will be replicated with no issue because the wire will carry the integrity of the signal from the router straight to the access point.
You may finally have realized that, if you hardwire your house, your network will mimic an office network, which is a great leap towards a more reliable and steady connection.