Price (RRP): $288
The most often asked question is “How do I improve Wi-Fi black spot coverage in my home”? This review is about the Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2, and it is only for Telstra Customers with the Gen 1.1 or 2 NBN Gateway modem/router.
Now as much as I have a love/hate relationship with Telstra, I am a Telstra NBN FTTN customer, and I have a Gen 2 modem gateway. Our reviews are 100% independent and fair – you cannot buy coverage – so let’s put that baggage aside and give it a good test.
Read this before you read further
A reminder that you need to be a Telstra NBN customer with a Telstra Gen 1.1 Arcadian or Gen 2 Technicolour modem/gateway with 4G fail-over.
These modems are Wi-Fi 5 AC dual-band with four Ethernet ports and a phone port. The overall speed is AC2600 (2.4Ghz/300Mbps and 5Ghz/2300Mbps), so it is not for heavy-duty use or more than about ten connected devices. The Wi-Fi aerial signal strength is accordingly lower, and you are flat our getting a strong enough 2.4Ghz/5Ghz signal at 20/10 metres line of sight.
You have two options to get a better signal further away. Both options include leaving the Telstra gateway in situ and connecting 1) a more powerful router or 2) a range extender like the Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2.
But remember that the Gateway may also be a limitation in terms of processing power to share that valuable internet bandwidth. See our caveat later.
What is a Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2?
It is a Wi-Fi extender. It receives both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz signal from the Telstra Gateway and retransmits that signal. The extender then adopts the single Telstra SSID so you can roam around the home and not have to log into other hotspots.
As much as I had hoped that seeing one would reveal all, it has not. Reading the box, it states
- 802.11 /b/g/n 2.4Ghz-256QAM support and 4×4 802.11 ac 5Ghz-256QAM support. That means Dual-band AC2533 (800/1733Mbps) that has implications later. It has four transmit/receive antennas for 2.4 and 5GHz.
- Arcadyan makes it, Model M35H-MAP. But all roads lead back to Telstra – there is nothing on Arcadyan’s website.
- It pairs to the Telstra Technicolor Gen 1.1 LH1000 or Gen 2.0 DJA0231 gateway and takes the SSID/s from there – not its own. Hint – if you see separate SSIDs you are doing it wrong). It will not pair to ADSL or Cable gateways.
- You can have up to four boosters that will form a mesh (talk to each other) which could be handy to daisy-chain to extend coverage.
- It supports Wi-Fi EasyMesh (802.11k/v is an open mesh standard) but currently only works with the Telstra Gateway.
Booster – FAIL – I think not
I take issue with the term ‘Booster’. By law, you cannot amplify/boost any RF signal like 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz Wi-Fi. The Government sets Wi-Fi power limits so as not to annoy the neighbours!
At best it can transmit up to 100/30 meters unobstructed line-of-sight and about 30/10m inside a house. Every time it passes through a wall, door, cupboard or floor, the signal strength reduces by approx. 50%.
No, it is an ‘Extender” – PASS
It takes the available signal strength (bandwidth) from the main router and retransmits that signal over its Wi-Fi. Remember the term Garbage-in/Garbage out (GIGO).
It cannot boost the signal strength. If the main router signal is, say 50%, then the Extender retransmits that 50% over its Wi-Fi. But there is a catch. Wi-Fi is half-duplex. So that 50% is really only 25% and by the time you get it in a dead spot it may be far less.
But all the Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 needs to do is give you internet connectivity at ‘somewhere’ up to a maximum of your NBN plan speeds. I f correctly placed, it does that very well.
So, the Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 is a dual-band Wi-Fi extender that uses part of the signal from the Telstra Gateway.
- Website here
- Price: $12 per month for 24 months ($288)
- Older Telstra NBN routers get an upgrade to Gen 2 for free
- If self-install fails a technician will visit (subject to location)
- If one Extender does not do it for you Telstra may supply more – see Guarantee
Telstra Wi-Fi satisfaction Guarantee
Telstra is very cleverly marketing this with a Telstra Guarantee that will provide up to three extra boosters for wall-to-wall Wi-Fi coverage. Note that means coverage – not necessarily speeds and the ability to support more things.