Never connect old routers to extend your WiFi without knowing this

Cascading wired routers

Connecting one or more routers in cascade means connecting one router to another, and this other router connecting it to another, and so on. The best way to connect one router to another is to do it via an Ethernet network cable, so as not to lose bandwidth and have the best possible performance.

Let’s imagine that we have a total of three routers that we want to cascade, we will need to use a total of two network cables to connect them to each other, one cable to connect router R1 to R2, and another cable to connect router R2 to R3. In this scenario, if we connect a computer via cable or Wi-Fi to the R3 router, we will obtain the same performance as if we connect directly through R1, as long as we have all the Gigabit Ethernet ports, of course.

If you are going to use cable to connect the different equipment, we will be able to connect as many as we wantIn principle, there is no limit to the number of routers, so you will be able to do it without problems.

Connecting the routers in cascade by Wi-Fi

In the event that the connection you are going to make via Wi-Fi between the three routers From the previous example, we are going to find performance issues and also high latency, which could make placing the third router not a good idea. In the world of Wi-Fi, the shared medium access protocol is used. CSMA/CA, this means that, before being able to broadcast, it has to “see” if there is someone broadcasting in the middle. In case the medium is free then we emit, if the medium is busy we wait a random time and try again.

If router R1 is capable of providing a real bandwidth of about 600Mbps, and we connect a second router (with exactly the same wireless characteristics), the real speed that we are going to achieve if we connect via Wi-Fi to this router is of approximately 50%. While the direct connection via WiFi to the first router gives us a speed of 600Mbps, if we connect to the second it will give us a performance of approximately 300Mbps. Of course, the latency will also be somewhat higher in the second case.

If we proceed to connect a third router, connected via Wi-Fi to R2 (and which, in turn, is connected to R1 via Wi-Fi), then we will again have half the maximum bandwidth. That is, if we connect to this R3 router via WiFi, we will obtain a real performance of approximately 150Mbps. Namely, we will have half the bandwidth after each “hop”.

In this scenario where we connect the routers via Wi-Fi, our recommendation is that at most you connect the main router plus two other routers in cascade, because from here on, you will hardly notice an improvement in wireless speed, in fact, the speed will be very low and it would be recommended that you better place the routers to cover the entire house. Of course, if you can connect any of them via cable, much better, because there we will not lose half the bandwidth.

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