What is a wi-fi extender? The plug-in fix for home wireless blackspots

Most homes have a wi-fi blackspot where the signal is at its weakest, but a wi-fi extender can solve the problem without having to install new wires or buy expensive gadgets.

Many of us have a corner of their home where the wi-fi just doesn’t reach, and sometimes that’s in your kitchen, a child’s bedroom or your garden shed hideaway. A plug-in wi-fi extender is an easy way to banish a wireless blackspot.

[Read more: 7 tips for improving your wi-fi signal]

How does a wi-fi extender work?

Wi-fi extenders amplify and repeat your home network, making it bigger and stronger around the extender. All of your laptops, phones and tablets stay connected and you can roam around the house without any interruptions.

These compact units only need a free power socket which is in range of your main wi-fi network. Most of them also have an Ethernet cable port for plugging in an older PC, smart TV or games console that doesn’t have wi-fi.

Will a wi-fi extender slow down my broadband connection?

Wi-fi extenders have a headline speed for perfect conditions, but that’s usually five to 10 times faster than the speed you will get in the real world.

A 300Mbit extender will give you speeds between 30Mbit and 60Mbit in your home, which is great for streaming and downloads on a single device, even with HD video.

If there are lots of people using your wireless network at the same time, you can get extenders rated for 610Mbit, 750Mbit or even 1200Mbit. This will support several people gaming, watching Ultra HD TV or making video calls at the same time. Just make sure your broadband connection is fast enough.

[Read more: The £30 gadget that can improve your wi-fi]

Can I get a wi-fi extender for my dual-band 11ac network?

Most of the faster wi-fi extenders also support dual-band 11ac networks provided by the BT Smart Hub. This means they’re better for homes with several users online at the same time.

Dual-band extenders have to be manually switched from 2.4GHz to the faster 5GHz mode, but this means swapping a small amount of the range for a boost in the top speed and number of users who can go online at the same time.

What if I have a big home that needs more than one wi-fi extender?

Some homes are too big to cover with a wi-fi extender, or you might have a garden office that is too far away. The good news is that you don’t have to install long Ethernet cables to stay connected.

The first option is a mini WiFi hotspot that uses the electrical power cables in your home, with a small device at each end of the connection which plugs into a power socket. This will extend your wi-fi and give you cable connections wherever you need them.

Get Complete Wi-Fi 

Complete Wi-Fi delivers wall-to-wall coverage around your home and is backed by a guarantee you won’t get from any other broadband provider – the guarantee of a strong wi-fi signal in every room.*

Clever new Wi-Fi Discs extend your Smart Hub’s signal to every corner of the home - whatever the size and shape it is. So getting online from has never been easier.

Unlike wi-fi extenders you can buy on the high street, Complete Wi-Fi technology creates a single, smart network in your home by connecting Wi-Fi Discs with your Smart Hub.  Your devices will automatically connect to the hub or disc with the strongest signal, guaranteeing a flawless wi-fi connection. 

You can manage your wi-fi network from the palm of your hand using the My BT app, it helps you manage your wi-fi network to make sure you’re getting the strongest signal around your home.  It’ll even work out where to put your Wi-Fi Disc, and check the strength of your wi-fi signal in every room.

If you’ve got BT Plus, you can get Complete Wi-Fi now for just £5 a month, just sign up via My BT. It’s also available for new Superfast and Ultrafast Fibre customers for £10 a month. Sign up and we’ll send you our new generation Smart Hub and one Wi-Fi Disc.

Find out more about Complete Wi-Fi 

*With Complete Wi-Fi we’ll automatically send you our new generation Smart Hub and one Wi-Fi Disc to extend your wi-fi signal around your home. This is enough for most homes to get a signal everywhere.  But if this doesn’t give you signal in every room, we’ll send up to two more Wi-Fi Discs free of charge. If you still don’t have signal in every room, you can get £20 back.

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