What is a Wi-Fi extender?

Learn more about Wi-Fi® extenders and how they work.

What is a Wi-Fi extender?

Your home wireless internet works by broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal from the gateway to your connected devices. Wi-Fi signal strength degrades over a large area or when the signal attempts to pass through different mediums. For example, a brick wall will reduce your Wi-Fi coverage more than drywall. Longer distance from the gateway will also reduce Wi-Fi connectivity and can cause speed issues.

Wi-Fi extenders are devices that may help solve this problem. They take the signal from your Wi-Fi gateway and reduce signal weak spots and dead zones while seamlessly creating a single network that covers the entire home. Some Wi-Fi extenders can extend the signal up to 1,000 sq. ft. This means you can take a device and move throughout your home while staying connected the whole time. 

If you are an AT&T Internet customer, you may be eligible to get AT&T Extended Wi-Fi coverage service for an additional fee, which includes a new smart Wi-Fi extender (or more than one if you qualify1), a free extender replacement if it’s defective (as long as you have the service) and tools via the Smart Home Manager app to help you get the most out of your extended Wi-Fi coverage. Learn more about how to get AT&T Extended Wi-Fi Coverage service.

How do I know if I need a Wi-Fi extender?

A Wi-Fi extender may benefit you if you find your home has poor Wi-Fi coverage, including low speeds or dead zones. Dead zones are areas where the Wi-Fi connection is bad or even non-existent. 

If you are an AT&T Internet customer, you can download the AT&T Smart Home Manager app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to help you identify weak Wi-Fi spots in your home and determine if extenders could improve your Wi-Fi coverage. 

When shopping for Internet equipment, you may find Wi-Fi extenders offered by vendors other than AT&T. If you decide to purchase an extender from a vendor other than AT&T, keep in mind that it will not integrate with the Smart Home Manager app, and AT&T does not guarantee it will be compatible with AT&T equipment. Additionally, AT&T does not support AT&T extenders purchased on the secondary market via sites like eBay or Amazon®. 

Do Wi-Fi extenders really work?

The effectiveness of a Wi-Fi extender at improving your home internet speed will likely depend on your set-up. To get the best results with your Wi-Fi extender, you should plug the extender into a power outlet midway between your router and the dead zone area. The extender can then pick up the Wi-Fi signal from your router and extend that signal deeper into your home. 

You may notice a drop in internet speed in your “extended” network, because the extender relies on the same frequency band as the router itself.

If you are an AT&T Internet customer with the Smart Home Manager app, you can use the app to help determine the best placement for your AT&T Smart Wi-Fi extenders.2

What is the difference between a Wi-Fi extender and a Wi-Fi repeater?

A Wi-Fi extender is an accessory that enables a single Wi-Fi network in your home. This device can help solve the problem of Wi-Fi dead zones by connecting to your Wi-Fi network and rebroadcasting the signal to provide wider coverage. This creates a seamless experience when moving a mobile device through the home. 

A Wi-Fi repeater is also an accessory that provides wider Wi-Fi coverage. However, it creates multiple Wi-Fi networks within your home. When moving around with your mobile device, you may notice the device disconnecting and reconnecting, leading to an inconsistent Wi-Fi experience.