Why Boosting Your Wi-Fi Signal Is a Bad Idea

The internet is full of tips and tricks for fiddling with or extending router antennas to “boost” your Wi-Fi signal. Don’t take that advice. Here are three reasons why it’s a bad idea.

Fiddling with your wireless access point to increase transmitted signal strength may sabotage your own coverage, create unnecessary interference for your neighbors, and even break the law. More in the Wi-Fi Central article below.

1. You May Sabotage Yourself

For a wireless connection to work well, both sides of the connection need to be able to reach each other.

Even though you may succeed in making your router transmit a stronger signal that reaches further, there is no guarantee that the signals returned by your wireless clients—computers, smartphones, and so on—will be able to reach the router. In this case, all you have achieved through signal boosting is sabotaging yourself by making your coverage less predictable than it was in the first place.

2. You Will Sabotage Your Neighbors

By boosting the Wi-Fi signal, you can extend its reach, which sounds like a good thing. However, as the frequency band with the longest reaching signals (2.4 GHz) is also the band with the most interference/wireless “noise”, extending your signal further will contribute to even more interference for your neighbors.

3. It’s Quite Possibly Illegal

Actually amplifying your router or extender’s wireless signal to extend its reach runs the risk of being illegal in many countries.

Local laws in for example Norway clearly specify both what frequencies and which signal transmission strength are allowed for indoor and outdoor wireless networks.

Any wireless device sold in a country with such laws must be approved in accordance with the local legislation. This means that the equipment you can buy will usually already be using the maximum permitted transmission strength under the law. Fiddling with this yourself will then quickly take you over the legal limit. (You can also run into problems if importing equipment from abroad yourself, for similar reasons.)

Any solution causing the transmission strength limit to be exceeded, would then be illegal. Typical examples of hacks that may cause this are:

  • Extending the antenna using a soda can, Pringles tube, or similar.
  • Substituting a stronger antenna.

Note that while Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters are sometimes referred to as Wi-Fi “amplifiers”, there is no actual amplification of signal strength involved. The repeater/extender simply repeats the signal from the router to a new network to extend wireless coverage.

What To Do Instead of Wi-Fi Signal Boosting

So what can you do instead, when the signals are looking too weak?

Here at Wi-Fi Central you will find plenty of advice on mapping and improving your coverage in ways that are both fully legal and completely free.

We suggest starting here: Stop Clearing Away Your Wi-Fi Signal.

Article by Geir Arne Rimala and Jorunn D. Newth