Whole Home Wi-Fi: Utilizing Repeaters, Extenders or Mesh | T-Mobile 5G Home Internet (2024)

T-Mobile Home Internet utilizes Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, in tandem with a wireless 5G Gateway that's compatible with T-Mobile's nationwide 4G LTE and 5G networks. You can see if it's available in your area now.

If not, the good news is that you’ve got options for your current setup. Here's a closer look at repeaters, extenders and mesh, plus some additional tips and tricks for boosting your Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi repeater vs. extender: What’s the difference?

Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually a couple of differences between a Wi-Fi repeater and a Wi-Fi extender. Depending on what you actually need your device to do, there are a few different things to look for in a Wi-Fi repeater vs. extender.

Wi-Fi repeater

Also referred to as a network repeater, a Wi-Fi repeater connects to your home Wi-Fi network wirelessly and then rebroadcasts the signal throughout a larger area. Wi-Fi repeaters connect to your Wi-Fi network just like any other device, such as a mobile phone or laptop would. So, they’re an option if, say, a guest network on your Wi-Fi won’t quite reach a guest room and there is no way to move your router to get a better signal.

Though Wi-Fi repeaters are generally a cost-effective solution, one drawback is the fact that they will also reduce the overall bandwidth of your network, since they are also using data. This could mean that speeds for other devices are reduced, which could mean some lag on video games or buffering on streaming video.

Wi-Fi extender

A Wi-Fi extender works similarly to a Wi-Fi repeater. It picks up a signal from your router and re-broadcasts that signal across a larger area than a standard routercan cover. However, range extenders rebroadcast on a different channel than the channel used by your home Wi-Fi router. And while Wi-Fi extenders can rebroadcast wirelessly, many can also hardwire to your router using an ethernet or coaxial cable. While wired connections have their obvious drawbacks, this may be a solution if you have an area in your home where a wireless repeater can’t boost the signal enough to stream or game.

A few other drawbacks: wireless extenders sometimes cost more than Wi-Fi repeaters, plus they are a bit more difficult to set up and configure since you need to create a new network, whereas a repeater simply rebroadcasts the signal.

There are also long-range Wi-Fi extenders, which work in the same way the above devices do. However, a top-of-the-line long-range Wi-Fi extender will give your signal a much bigger boost than a standard one, as it can be mounted to a pole outside your home. It connects to your home router via ethernet cable and then rebroadcasts Wi-Fi signal over a much wider area—for areas like a separate workshop, guest house, pool house or any out-building that you’d like to connect to without buying a second plan and new hardware.

Mesh Wi-Fi

Like extenders and repeaters, a mesh system is another option for the “bad signal” problem, but it works and performs differently. Mesh Wi-Fi actually replaces the single-router setup and instead utilizes multiple “nodes” (access points) around your home to give you better coverage and eliminate dead zones and buffering. The nodes communicate with each other wirelessly, letting your devices connect to the access points with the strongest signals, delivering more consistent and reliable coverage. Plus, instead of just repeating or extending a signal, mesh automatically reroutes traffic to avoid congestion and boost performance. It’s particularly good for homes with multiple levels, as well as larger homes (3,000+ square feet) or homes that just have a lot of obstacles affecting their Wi-Fi signals. Mesh also offers a more flexible setup, as you can add or remove nodes as your coverage needs change. Another benefit: you no longer have to deal with multiple networks with different names and passwords.

Other ways to maximize your Wi-Fi signal

If you’re not sure whether you need a Wi-Fi repeater, extender or mesh, there are a few things you can do to boost signal to your home before purchasing a new device or system. Here are a few ideas:

Run a speed test

Make sure you’re getting the internet speeds you pay your provider for. If you think your internet is slower than it should be, there are plenty of free websites that can conduct quick, easy upload and download speed tests.

Use the correct frequency

When you look at your Wi-Fi network, you might see a 2.4 Ghz and a 5 Ghz option. These numbers actually have different purposes. While a 2.4 GHz connection travels farther at lower speeds, 5 GHz frequencies provide faster speeds at shorter ranges. So, if you need to use your laptop on the second or third story, choosing the 2.4 Ghz might make the most sense. However, if you need to stream movies from the same location, lower internet speeds might interfere with your streaming experience.

Move your router

Though it can be tempting to hide your router behind books or under a desk, doing so can actually interfere with the reach of your signal. A Wi-Fi signal is limited by distance but also by obstacles, like thick walls, floors, bookshelves, and other obstructions. If it is at all possible, experiment with different router locations until you find a better signal.

Update firmware

Just like browsers, apps, and operating systems have to be updated and restarted every now and then for new security features and upgrades to service, routers should also be manually updated every now and then. Since routers usually don’t update automatically, it’s very possible for some to be years out of date, which can affect performance and the strength of your signal. To update your firmware, log into the control panel or use your router’s mobile app (if it has one) to find details, then check regularly to keep your router up to date.

If all else fails, try an ethernet cable

Sure, the wires are messy, and you're severely limited to where you can put your setup, but if you’re having problems with slow internet on a specific device, like a gaming console, you may have to connect it directly to your router via ethernet cable.

Break up with your internet provider

If you've tried everything and you're still not getting the internet speed you need—it may just be time to shop around for a new internet service providerthat better fits your home's connectivity needs.

T-Mobile is America’s fastest growing Home Internet provider. Find out if it's available in your area and then try it out for 15 days to see if it works for you.

Sources:

Whole Home Wi-Fi: Utilizing Repeaters, Extenders or Mesh | T-Mobile 5G Home Internet (2024)
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