Wi-Fi Amplifier, Mesh Network and Access Points: What’s the Difference?

Want to increase the power of your current wireless connection? Which solution is best for you?

Mesh networking systems are a great way to eliminate dead spots in your home. But how are they different from Wi-Fi amplifiers and access points? Are they worth the extra investment?

Many people face slow internet or poor wireless network coverage. It is important to point out that there is no magic universal solution to a slow internet. A solution that works for your neighbor may not be appropriate for your situation. Even a mesh network, Wi-Fi amplifier and access points are not a universal solution for higher internet speed. If the cause lies in channel congestion, a poorly placed router, or a cheap low-speed Internet package, even a Mesh network won’t solve your problems.

These systems are primarily designed to solve problems with poor signal strength. Before deciding on any of the listed solutions, first check if your home has multiple dead spots. Use one of the many free tools to create a wireless map in your home and look out for places with an extremely weak signal. Any signal strength between -67 and -30 dBm is good, but lower than -80 dBm means you will have difficulty accessing the internet. If you do not have dead spots, the problem is in the Internet package or standard used by your home network. Internet speed can be limited by outdated ADSL and VDSL standards, where the only solution is to consult with your operator and change the package. Internet connection via coaxial and optical cables enables a faster and more reliable connection.

Wi-Fi amplifiers

These network devices are sold under different names, such as an expander, amplifier, or repeater. As the names suggest, the devices take your existing Wi-Fi signal from the router and repeat or extend it. The amplifiers are placed on the far edge of the existing Wi-Fi footprint, that is, where you notice a significant deterioration in the signal. They work by intercepting data packets going in and out of the router and then resending them at full signal strength.

Pros and cons

These devices are easy to set up and work well together with computers, printers and smart TVs that we don’t normally move around the apartment. On the other hand, the processing time required to repeat the signal damages the bandwidth and worsens the delay time. Connecting via a Wi-Fi extender can be up to twice as slow. If you rely on the full speed offered by your internet package or regularly play online games where any delay can be fatal, a Wi-Fi amplifier is not the right solution.

Wi-Fi amplifiers are often used as a separate network. Simply put, whether you are connected to an amplifier or to a main router. Some devices, such as smartphones, do not automatically switch to a more powerful network until they are completely out of range. Therefore, manual network switching is sometimes required.

Who do we suggest using amplifiers?

For users who want to extend Wi-Fi coverage in their home for general, non-demanding tasks (browsing the web, streaming videos, downloading software…). Amplifiers are not a suitable solution for medium and large companies. However, they can be used in smaller businesses, where they effectively cover an entire open-plan office with a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

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Mesh networks: part of a larger collective consciousness

The mesh network and the devices that make it up are part of a larger collective consciousness. Instead of a single primary router, a Mesh network consists of several identical router units. The latter communicate with each other and with the devices connected to them. The end result is one large, distributed router that automatically switches between the best internet points.

Larger companies have been using Mesh network technology for decades, but it has only recently become available to home users. Currently, this is the best, but at the same time the most expensive solution for solving wireless problems.

Pros and cons

When properly installed and configured, the Mesh network offers a seamless experience. You don’t have to manually switch between networks when you move around the room. Mesh routers have built-in specialized hardware with which they can communicate with other Mesh units and the devices connected to them. As a result, they work much better than Wi-Fi amplifiers when it comes to bandwidth and latency.

Mesh systems are more expensive than other solutions, which is not surprising, as it is a relatively new technology. With further development, we can expect a lower price and, above all, a richer offer. For a start, you can equip the Mesh network with only one or two units, and later, if necessary, further expand the network. They are also more complex to install and configure than other solutions. Some users may have to pay for professional installation in addition to the cost of the hardware, but of course this depends on the provider. However, most Mesh solutions are user-friendly as they automate most maintenance tasks.

Who do we recommend using Mesh networks for?

Mesh networks are the best and most practical solution for almost every user. Businesses of all sizes should consider using the Mesh network, as with the growth of the company, you can easily adapt the network to your requirements. Home users who want carefree use of wireless internet and automatic switching to the strongest points will definitely turn their attention to Mesh networks.

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Access points: the best of both worlds?

An access point is a device that offers its own local Wi-Fi network, separate from the main router. It is connected with an Ethernet cable, which means that, like a wired connection, it has access to full bandwidth and almost zero signal delay.

Pros and cons

Access points allow you to cover a specific area with your own isolated Wi-Fi network. As a result, they don’t face lower bandwidth issues than is common with Wi-Fi amplifiers. Devices connected to the access point cannot connect to devices on other Wi-Fi networks (depending on the network configuration), even if they have the same Internet connection. This is a desirable security feature in many cases.

The biggest drawback or inconvenience of access points is that you have to install Ethernet cables across the entire home. This can mean drilling holes and laying cable from the main router to the access points, which is too much for many users.

Who should use access points?

Access points are a great solution if you want to share your internet connection with multiple users, for example with guests in your home or Airbnb apartment. Place the access point in the guest room and connect it to the main router. Guests can then access the Internet and devices connected to the access point, yet your devices are isolated from the roaming network and safe from unauthorized access.

Access points are undoubtedly one of the best solutions to improve the speed and connectivity of the Internet. If a wired solution is not an option for you, then we recommend that you avoid Wifi amplifiers and opt for a Mesh wireless network instead.


Source: Računalništvo, telefonija – Računalniške novice by racunalniske-novice.com.

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