Are WiFi repeaters a good idea?
In terms of a good idea... i see this more as a band aid on an underlying issue. Firstly, there needs to be an understanding for the reason to use a WiFi Repeater, followed by an understanding on how the technology actually works. With Wireless Repeaters, most commonly they are a single radio (mostly being 2.4 Ghz band), plugged into a wall power point, relaying the WiFi signal to increase distance and performance.
Why is this a bad idea you ask?
Because with a single radio in this case ( the 2.4 Ghz band ) , that means there is an extra hop between your Wireless Router and your PC/Phone, reducing speed (throughput) & bandwidth capabilities of your network sometimes by up to 50%. Also the fact that WiFi is a half duplex medium, meaning only one device can talk at the given time, create issues for other streaming users around you.
General Traffic Pattern
Wireless Access Point --> WiFi Extender --> Your PC
Wireless Access Point <-- WiFi Extender <-- Your Pc
Another issue generally faced issue in this scenario is channel interference. If both devices being your Wireless router and WiFi repeater are using the same channel for example channel 6, this creates strong amounts of interference which degrades the signal quality dramatically.
The fact that 2.4Ghz band only contains 3 usable channels being : 1, 6 and 11. These channels are all highly susceptible to neighboring interference including general devices around the house and other Wireless Networks in the area.
Fix for poor WiFi signal?
For domestic use depending on size of the building / obstacles*, i would recommend an alternative device such as Ubiquiti Networks AC Long Range(LR) Access point which is an industry grade, commercially used and easy to setup access point, providing the newest of 802.11ac stabdard at a significantly low cost.
Another option would be to use a Dual band 2.4/5 Ghz WiFi Extender. This allows the use of the 5ghz band as a backhaul to send traffic to the wireless router minimizing interference, while clients are streaming on the 2.4ghz band.
Defiantly in a commercial/business wireless network, WiFi repeaters/boosters will not work due to different security authentication methods commonly used such as dot1x.
The best recommendation in this situation is to stay clear from them. I would consider calling a professional for a wireless site survey providing exact locations for placement of Wireless Access Points or provide a Wireless Mesh solution with an indepth heat map of the signal dispersed with the coverage you should be expecting.
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