APR 20, 2024

How to Extend WiFi Range

If you’re struggling to get a Wi-Fi signal to the back bedroom, or wondering if it’s possible to surf the net while you’re out in the garden, these tips will help you get your home broadband to travel as far as possible.

Your home broadband connection inevitably comes with a Wi-Fi router; that’s the small box with the flickering lights that your laptop, games console, smart home appliances and anything else with Wi-Fi capability connects to.

Which is great, right up until the point that you try to use it a few rooms across in the house. Suddenly your speed drops, or you lose connectivity altogether. It’s all too common for homes to have Wi-Fi “dead spots” where the signal just drops out entirely.

You don’t just have to sigh and try to shift all your tech gear closer to the router, however. With these simple tips, you can get the Wi-Fi signal in your home equally, no matter what size home you have.

Before you start, however, it’s smart to check your actual internet speed, because your issues with Internet speeds might lie with your ISP, not your Wi-Fi signal.

Tip One: Try moving the router

Tip One: Try moving the router

The single easiest way to change the range of your home’s Wi-Fi signal is to shuffle the router itself around. There are some obvious limitations in terms of where your broadband connection comes into the house, unless you fancy running some very long ethernet cables, but that’s not what I’m suggesting here.

Wi-Fi routers work as radio transmitters with integrated antennas. On some models those antennae are rather obvious pointy bits, but on many you’ve just got a little rectangular box to use. Try shifting its relative position (or even orientation – some router’s internal antennas will stretch range just a little further on their side, for example) or where it sits in your home. If you’ve placed the router out of the way because it’s pretty ugly technology in most cases, put it more out in the open and test speeds again. You may just find that this is all you need.

Tip Two: Try updating your router’s firmware

Your Wi-Fi router is hardware, but it relies on software to keep it running. It’s worth checking if your router has up-to-date software – typically referred to as “firmware” for hardware devices – to ensure optimal performance. In some cases for ISP-supplied routers you may need to check with your provider as they sometimes use custom firmware. For more regular retail models, checking with the manufacturer for updates is the way to go.

If all of this sounds too bewildering, Geeks2U technicians can easily and affordably check your router firmware and update it for you.

Tip Three: Use a Wi-Fi Range Extender

Wi-Fi Range Extenders work as radio repeaters, picking up your Wi-Fi signal like they were just another internet-connected gadget and then sending it further outwards.

Wi-Fi extenders are relatively affordable, and most of them are pretty simple devices that just plug into a wall socket, typically about halfway between where your router is and where you need the signal to go.

Wi-Fi Range Extenders are limited by the way that they relay that Wi-Fi signal, because by their nature they’ll introduce a layer of delay in signal transmission. What this means is that they’ll always be a little slower than your “actual” Wi-Fi signal. But some signal with reliability beats no signal any day of the week.

Tip Four: Replace your router

Chances are good that you rely on the router that your ISP supplied to give you home broadband. ISP devices are generally low-end units even when they’re brand new. If you’re still using a router that was supplied to you years ago, you may be struggling with older technology and Wi-Fi standards that simply can’t stretch as far as you want it to go.

You might think that you’re stuck with the router that your ISP supplied to you, but this typically isn’t the case. Buying an up-to-date router, whether you use it to entirely replace your existing router, or with the ISP model in bridge mode (basically acting as a simple gateway) can allow you access to up-to-date Wi-Fi standards, data speeds and extended range. Your ISP may ask you to flip back to your existing router if something goes wrong as they can’t support every possible model out there, however, so if you do change routers, keep the old one around in case it’s needed down the track to sort out broadband issues.

One caveat here; if your broadband connection comes via the national broadband network and the installation included any “NBN” branded box, that’s not a router. You can’t replace that bit, and indeed should just leave it alone.

Tip Five: Invest in mesh networking

If it’s range you need, then the gold standard way to get it is to use a mesh networking system. Rather than a single router, or even a router and extender platform, a mesh network uses a series of devices (“nodes”) that all intelligently talk to each other to share Wi-Fi signal around.

Mesh networks intelligently balance the load based on current need and connected devices, making it easier to bypass obstructions such as walls or electrical interference that can often be the death of Wi-Fi signals. If you need more coverage, you can add additional nodes to build out a mesh network, making them suitable for even the largest of Australian homes.

The one catch with mesh networks is that as the gold standard, they do cost a little more than a replacement router or range extender. You can read more about Mesh networks and how to pick the best one for your needs here.

No internet issue is too big or too small for our technicians to tackle. Enquire today for help with Wi-Fi setup, troubleshooting or network security.

Photo of Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more.