Last updated on June 4th, 2021
Even though, as we always do when something is “freely” available, we take WiFi and the internet for granted, and without either society would inevitably collapse in a matter of days, it is difficult to imagine that world ticked by just fine before either of them existed.
And it’s even stranger to think that the internet only blinked into existence just over half a century ago and that Wi-Fi, despite being based on technology invented during the Second World War by the actress Hedy Lamarr, has only really been something that we’ve all latched onto since the beginning of the new millennium.
Because we’ve become so used to both, we’ve forgotten about the part that a router plays in making sure that we can stay connected and can, should we so wish when we grow tired of looking at funny cat pictures, access the entirety of human knowledge at the touch of a button. But without routers, we wouldn’t have any internet.
Without routers there wouldn’t be any streaming television, there’d be no Spotify and social media wouldn’t even be a blip on our collective radar. Without routers, we’d have to go back to the dark ages of the internet and hardwire everything into a landline socket to even receive an email. Routers made the twenty-first century possible, and without them, we’d be completely lost.
So that obviously means that in order to get an internet connection and hook everything that can be hooked up to the internet in your home all you need to do is buy a router, plug it into a phone socket and you can surf the internet for as long as you want to.
In a perfect world, that would be absolutely true and that’s exactly how the internet would work, but the world is far from perfect and the internet doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a router, plug it in and get all the bandwidth and high-speed internet that your heart desires. It’s a little more complicated than that.
The truth is, a router is nothing more than an incredibly advanced signal receiver that, as soon as it intercepts the signal that is being sent, then beams that signal out to any device in range that’s capable of acquiring and using it.
But in order to get that signal, which enables it establishes a secure connection to the internet it has to be sent it in the first place, and the only way to be sent that signal is by creating an account with an ISP (Internet Service Provider) company, who having established that you have paid them, and will continue to pay them for their services, will then send the signal to your router that allows it to beam the internet throughout your home.
But it doesn’t end there, as some routers aren’t compatible with the type of internet signal that some ISPs send out. If you want to buy your own router and use it, you’ll need to check whether or not your chosen ISP can actually connect to it.
Your ISP will be able to tell you whether or not your router will work with their service, and nine times out of ten it won’t, as almost every ISP company uses their own routers to hook your home up to the internet. Don’t ask us why, it’s a grey area question that no service provider is willing to provide a definitive answer to, and even if they did that answer would probably change on a daily basis.
We told you that it wasn’t as simple as just buying a router, didn’t we?
There is however a little light at the end of the internet pipeline, as you don’t actually need to buy a router. When you sign up with an ISP, they’ll send you a router, and all you need to do when it arrives is plug it in, keep paying your chosen company and they’ll do the rest.
Which means that even though you can buy a router, you can’t just plug it in and access the internet, because just like everything else in life, the only way to access the internet is by paying someone else to let you use it.
Which Is Better – Router Or WiFi Extender?
The question is actually a little pointless, as you can’t run or use a Wifi extender unless you already have a router. A WiFi extender is a device that is designed to plug into and become part of an already existing network, and in order to establish a network, you’ll need a functioning router and an ISP account.
The problem with a lot of routers is that they’re not powerful enough to send the signal that they receive from your chosen ISP to every room in your house. And things like furniture and doors and walls can get in the way of the signal that a router sends out and effectively block that WiFi from reaching all of the places that it needs to.
It’s an incredibly wearisome, first world problem to have to deal with and one that a lot of ISP companies are more than a little reluctant to help their customers with, as that might involve having to send out a more powerful router, which runs contrary to the core ethos that drives almost every service provider.
This is why WiFi extenders exist, as they’re an easy solution to the problem that ISP’s refuse to deal with. Once they’re plugged into an available socket, they acquire the most powerful and closest WiFi signal and then increase its strength and retransmit it, which allows the signal from a router to reach all of the places that it was previously incapable of reaching.
WiFi extenders are a relatively cheap and effective way of increasing the range of your router without having to pay your ISP an additional fee to do so or spending a couple of days on hold to their customer service department while you wait for them to run through a checklist of all of the things that you’ve already tried to do to extend the range of your router.