Wifi Extender vs Mesh Networking vs Powerline Communication

The last meter of connectivity continues to be a barrier that is often hard to cross for many. Managing the wireless network of your commercial spaces and your home can be more complex than you anticipate. Meager factors like the thickness of the walls and your distance from the Wi-Fi router make an enormous impact on Wi-Fi connectivity and the speed of your network.

Even with new innovations in technology to improve speed and connectivity like the Wi-Fi 6 and 6e, there are three main technologies that continue to remain the go-to solution for connectivity issues. These are mesh networking, powerline communication, and Wi-Fi extender.

However, there is a significant difference in how the aforementioned technologies function. Let us talk about it in detail.

What is a Wi-Fi Extender?

As the name rightly suggests, a Wi-Fi extender extends the network further in your home or business environment. It is like a traditional router architecture that receives Wi-Fi signals and re-transmits them further. Wi-Fi extenders come in various versions that cover both Wi-Fi and LAN connectivity when communicating with the main router.

What is a Mesh Router?

Mesh technology is indeed on the complex side. A mesh router manages and allows the exchange of data going to or from your home or commercial space with a wider internet. Mesh routers that are in the same physical building, allow the data to be seamlessly exchanged between each mesh router point and also allow devices significantly further away from your main router to connect to the network and internet via these router checkpoints that are often referred to as nodes or satellites.

What is a Powerline Adapter?

Powerline Communication or Powerline Technology is a method in which power and data are transferred through an existing network of electrical wiring. This technology provides broadband data communications on the conductors that are already in use for transmitting electric power using a modular signal.

A powerline adapter helps you transmit Wi-Fi signals within a space through the electrical wiring and thus, the distance from the main router does not impact the speed of your connectivity.

Powerline technology vs. Mesh network vs WiFi extender

1. Value and Price

Wi-Fi extenders are the least expensive, however, they do not provide the required degree of network coverage and flexibility. They start from as low as 20 Euros in some cases. However, Wi-Fi extenders lack flexibility because the repeated amplification of signals tends to weaken them.

If your primary concern is cost, mesh routers will not be feasible for you because they are very expensive. This is because each mesh router satellite is actually a complete router itself. Hence, if you are not going to take advantage of the full range coverage and the security benefits, you will not see and return on investment in mesh networking.

Powerline adapters need to be purchased in two units and your investment is worth it in terms of network coverage, flexibility, and reliability. Powerline Communication is the most cost-effective technology. While it is priced slightly higher than Wi-Fi extenders, It is not as expensive as mesh routers. Moreover, it provides maximum coverage.

2. Bandwidth and Speed

Bandwidth management and speed is an important differentiating factor between these three technologies.

There is a significant difference when we talk about speed in terms of Wi-Fi connectivity. If speed is how fast water flows through a pipe, bandwidth actually refers to the size and total width of the pipe. In other words, bandwidth could also be referred to as the volume of water that comes out of the pipe per unit of time.

Wi-Fi extenders repeat the signal multiple times to extend it over a certain area but in the process, the potential bandwidth of the signal is lost. Hence, if speed and bandwidth is your primary concern, Wi-Fi extenders are not meant for you.

Mesh routers are likely to give you the best bandwidth if/when used in large collections of mesh routers in a tighter physical environment because a mesh router’s overall speed will still depend on its proximity to the primary router.

However, if your home or commercial space is on a single circuit and you have to cover multiple areas, powerline technology is your best option! This is because Wi-Fi signals are transmitted through the existing electrical wiring and thus, dead zones can be avoided completely. It is indeed the best option because along with wide coverage, it also provides good speed, thus battling the problem of the last meter of connectivity.

3. Coverage and Strength

Wi-Fi extenders will typically provide the lowest coverage and strength because they are just repeating the signals. Wi-Fi extenders do not catch the signal strength as emitted by the router. Hence, in the journey from the router to the extender, signal strength is lost and then is further weakened when the extender amplifies the signal.

Mesh technology is better in this case. Mesh routers help you navigate around tricky physical objects like thick walls, long corridors, etc. It all depends on how strategically well you have placed your satellites.

However, powerline technology provides the best coverage and strength without letting physical factors affect the speed and bandwidth of the Wi-Fi connectivity.

While walls could be a barrier for the range and coverage, the wires in the walls are a boon for powerline technology and thus, more range and coverage! Plus, you can also move the portable node to any place you need a Wi-Fi connection.

Conclusion

Wi-Fi extenders should indeed be your last option unless and until you are connecting them with a good ethernet cable or are using them in conjunction with powerline adapters. Mesh routers offer good security and control but the placement and communication of satellites can sometimes be a hurdle. Powerline communication on the other hand is the most reliable new technology to ensure excellent Wi-Fi connectivity and eliminate dead zones. All you need is good electrical wiring and all your connectivity issues are sorted!

For all those looking for a way to get rid of their Wi-Fi connectivity problems, Sif is your solution! Sif incorporates modern powerline technology to ensure high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity throughout your spaces. This means that dead zones and poor signals will never bother you again. Along with being affordable, Sif is also very convenient to use- just plug and work! Sign up now to join the Sif community.

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