[I received this product from Actiontec in order to facilitate this review.]
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a house that didn’t have WiFi dead spots. Our house is particularly difficult for WiFi because it’s tall and narrow. For reasons that are too complicated to go into, we have to have our modem in the basement, which basically meant that only our first floor used to get WiFi, and not even the whole first floor.
It turns out that there’s a super easy solution that uses your house’s existing cable wiring to extend your WiFi signal. I was able to hook the Actiontec Wireless Network Extender up in literally five minutes.
How It Works
Basically, you connect one of the Actiontec boxes to your cable or DSL modem and your internet source. Then, in the part of your house where you need better WiFi and also have a coaxial cable outlet (the one you would use for your cable TV), you connect the other Actiontec box (it comes with the necessary 2-way splitters, but you might have to pick up an extra cable or two, depending on how you’re connecting things).
And that’s it. No software to configure. Nothing complicated. The directions have very clear diagrams for what gets plugged into where with what cable. Even my husband could have hooked this up. ;-)
After you have everything connected you now have two WiFi signals coming from the second Actiontec box (5GHz, which has a shorter range but reduced interference, and 2.4GHz, which has a longer range; use whichever one is giving you a stronger signal). You can rename them and set passwords.
The signals are strong. We watch streaming video via our XBox. When the signal was coming from the basement the videos would stutter or drop out frequently. Now that the XBox is using the Actiontec’s signal, streaming has been fantastic!
The Actiontec extender gives us great internet on the bottom two floors, and decent internet on our third floor. So basically, 2.5 more floors of WiFi than we had before!
Plus, there are two Ethernet ports in the back, so that if you want to connect a TV or an XBox or a computer directly, instead of over WiFi, you have that option as well (we have our TiVo connected directly).
You can buy the Actiontec Wireless Network Extender at many electronics stores, and at Amazon (buying it on Amazon helps support this site and my ability to review things like this).
What If You Don’t Have Cable Outlets?
So, that’s all great if you have your house wired for cable. But what if you don’t? I just found out that there’s a brand new product coming from Actiontec that works the same way as the Wireless Network Extender I’m using, but instead of using cable wiring, it uses the electrical wires in your house! How cool is that?
I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll have more information about it next week.