1. Home
  2. Broadband
  3. Broadband Guides
  4. How to Extend Your Signal: Wi-Fi Booster Explained

How to extend your internet signal: Wi-Fi boosters explained

Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi boosters, including how they work, why you need them and the differences between specific tech terms.

Person inserting Wi-Fi boosters into wall

A Wi-Fi booster, also known as a broadband booster or Wi-Fi extender, is a device that helps to expand the Wi-Fi coverage in your home or office.

If you struggle to get a strong Wi-Fi connection in some parts of your home, a Wi-Fi booster can help solve this problem. The booster takes the wireless signal from the main Wi-Fi router and transmits it to more areas of your home, giving everyone a faster Wi-Fi connection for work, gaming or streaming.

What are the best wireless routers?

It’s frustrating when you’re constantly having to deal with a poor Wi-Fi connection. You could take this as a sign that you need a Wi-Fi signal booster.

Here are some other reasons you may need a broadband booster:

  • You want a strong internet connection in every room of your home.
  • It’s an affordable solution for stable Wi-Fi.
  • It offers the same level of security as your Wi-Fi router.
  • You want to work from home or the garden without losing connection.

What broadband speed do I need?

External antenna booster Powerline adaptor Mesh booster
A booster with an external antenna that connects to wireless devices to send and receive Wi-Fi signals.
Your home's electrical wiring carries your broadband connection. This kind of booster typically comes with two plugs – one that goes into the router and the other on the device you wish to connect to the internet.
Wi-Fi boosters that use a tech called ‘mesh networking’ to stretch the wireless signal from your router across the rest of your home.
Table showing the features of three different types of wireless booster.

Wi-Fi booster:

  • A generic term used for Wi-Fi extenders and repeaters.
  • Any device that extends your wireless coverage.

Wi-Fi extender:

  • Extends your existing wireless connection to other areas via a wired connection.
  • A wired connection means optimal performance, speed and reliability.
  • Strong connectivity depends on location. If you have a big house, several extenders might be needed.

Wi-Fi repeater:

  • Expands Wi-Fi connectivity by wirelessly connecting to the main router. It then rebroadcasts and amplifies the signal.
  • Cuts your Wi-Fi network’s bandwidth in half, which means slow internet speed.

You can buy standard Wi-Fi signal boosters from many retailers including Argos and Amazon – they can cost as little as £12 or as much as £100. The cost will depend on the type of internet booster you buy.

A Wi-Fi guarantee is what broadband providers use to promise minimum download speeds or level of Wi-Fi coverage in every room of your home.

Broadband providers should always give you a minimum guaranteed speed for your broadband service. If they fail to achieve this speed, Ofcom’s Broadband Speeds Code of Practice means you could get some money back or be able to leave the contract early. Guarantees vary between providers.

Here’s a list of paid-for Wi-Fi guarantees from the UK’s biggest providers:

BT Complete Wi-Fi

BT guarantees that you can get up to three Wi-Fi discs (Wi-Fi boosters) for free. They also promise £100 back if one of their discs doesn’t give you Wi-Fi in every corner of your home.

Sky Wi-Fi Guarantee with Sky Broadband Boost

If you can't get 3Mbps (megabits per second) Wi-Fi in every room, you can get money back for one month’s Sky Broadband subscription.

Virgin Media Intelligent Wi-Fi

If you can’t get download speeds of at least 30Mbps in every room, you can get up to three Wi-Fi Pods (Virgin Media’s Wi-Fi boosters) or £100 credit on your next bill.

You’ll be pleased to know it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to set up a Wi-Fi booster, but the steps involved can differ for each type.

Wireless setup — WPS

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a feature of many recent Wi-Fi routers – it lets you wirelessly pair your Wi-Fi booster to your router.

To set up your booster using WPS:

  1. Plug the booster in near your wireless router and switch it on.
  2. Press the WPS button on your router.
  3. Press the WPS button on the Wi-Fi booster.
  4. Wait for your Wi-Fi booster to indicate that it’s connected.

Wireless setup — your computer or smartphone

  1. Plug the internet booster in near the main socket and switch it on.
  2. Go onto the Wi-Fi setting on your computer or smartphone and connect to the Wi-Fi booster.
  3. Enter the booster’s Wi-Fi password – this should be in the setup guide – and connect.
  4. Go to your preferred web browser and enter the IP address of the Wi-Fi booster.
  5. Enter your booster’s admin password – this should be in the setup guide – follow the instructions and you’re good to go.

Wired setup

  1. Plug the booster in near the main socket and switch it on.
  2. Plug your Wi-Fi booster into your device using the Ethernet cable – this automatically connects your device to the booster.
  3. Go to your web browser and enter the IP address of your Wi-Fi booster into the URL box.
  4. Enter the admin password and follow the instructions.

Place your Wi-Fi extender close enough to your Wi-Fi router so that you get a stable connection. Place it far enough away that it covers a larger area than the router.

If you put the extender too far away, the connection to the router will be too weak, and it won’t work properly. So, try out a few different plug sockets around the house to see where it works best. Try to avoid putting it too close to thick walls or any parts of the home that have a rolled steel joist.

The more boosters you have, the stronger the Wi-Fi connection. If you have a big house and connectivity isn’t strong in all rooms, two or three broadband boosters may be needed. Make sure to test that first.

If you’re still struggling to get a strong Wi-Fi connection, you might want to consider switching broadband providers.

Share this article