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After some Googling I still couldn't verify if WiFi range extenders can extend WiFi connections without the use of LAN cables.

How do they usually receive the signal (that they are suppose to extend), is it received through wireless means (i.e., wireless to wireless) or is it through cabled means (wired to wireless)?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, they work without cables. What is confusing you is the fact that there are a number of partially overlapping definitions.

A range extender is something that works without cable. It picks up the base station's wifi signal, and re-transmits it suitably amplified.

Sometimes, a genuine range-extender will also have an ethernet dock. This is an extra feature that allows you to connect to your LAN a component without wireless capabilities. In this case, the range extender is moonlighting as a "wireless bridge". This is one of the confusions mentioned above. Manufacturers occasionally sell products which are capable simultaneously of both functions, at a premium of course.

You should also add to this the fact that having cable access to the range-extender makes configuration somewhat easier and more secure (no need to leave those open wifi networks around, while waiting for a configuration). So there is some incentive in providing an ethernet dock even for the pure "range-extenders", even though by no means all extenders have one such dock.

Keep in mind that whenever the connection with the base station occurs through a cable, the correct definition is "AP", or "wireless Access Point". Also, components which offer both wifi and ethernet connections, and connect to the base station via ethernet cable are generally routers, capable of providing more sophisticated services than an AP/wireless bridge/range extender. For instance, only a router can provide DHCP/dnsmasq/routing. Range extenders etc. have no routing capabilities, except perhaps for the purpose of configuration. On the other hand, I am aware of no component that provides both ethernet and wireless access, and does not provide router services.

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A wireless range extender works as a relay or network repeater, picking up and reflecting WiFi signals from a network's base router or access point. The network performance of devices connected through a range extender will generally be lower than if they were connected directly to the primary base station.

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A wireless range extender connects via Wi-Fi to a router or access point. However, due to the nature of this technology, most wireless range extenders work only with a limited set of other equipment. Check the manufacturer's specifications carefully for compatibility information.

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