Review: BT 11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200

Introduction and performance

The term ‘Wi-Fi notspot’ is fairly self-explanatory – it’s an area in a building where, for whatever reason, you just can’t get a decent wireless signal, something most of us have surely experienced at some point. There are numerous ways to solve this problem and one of these is by using a wireless bridge or range extender such as the BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 (which is priced at £50).

It can extend any existing wireless signal, regardless of the router model or wireless standards it supports. It outputs dual frequency bands, including 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n as well as much faster 5GHz 802.11ac.

BT 11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 back of box

The device plugs into a power socket and for optimal performance is best placed halfway between your router and the area where you’re trying to improve Wi-Fi connectivity. It has a single Ethernet port on the top and a WPS button with an LED ring on the front which indicates power status and signal strength.

By indicating ‘Too Close’, ‘Too Far’ and ‘Good Range’ right on the front, it provides visual feedback for how well you’ve positioned it, so it can be moved to a better location if needed.

BT 11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200


BT has made it as simple as possible to install, with a straightforward installation procedure and very clear instructions in the manual, with a well-described three-step process. It’s obvious that BT has made every effort to ensure installation can be performed by anyone with just a modicum of technical ability.

You can set it up by pressing the WPS button if you like, or log in to the extender’s on-board software, using the passwords on the back of the manual, and configure it manually. The on-screen connection wizard scans the area for nearby wireless networks, letting you pick the correct one for your router.

BT 11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 GUI

I ran into a small issue at this point, since after selecting the existing wireless network for a Virgin Media Superhub, the BT software wizard expected a 5-digit WEP passcode, when the network was using a 7-digit WPA2 passcode. It was easily solved by selecting the correct security type in the Advanced connection settings though.

With the extender connected to your wireless network, it then copies all the settings for it, and creates two new wireless networks, one with EXT2 appended to the name on the 2.4GHz frequency, and another with EXT5 for 5GHz 802.11ac wireless. The wireless key remains the same as for your main router and it uses the same DHCP server, so there are no issues with IP address resolution or seeing other devices on the network.

There’s a switch on the top of the device to adjust the frequency it uses to connect to the main router, either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. For optimal range, you’ll want to keep the connection between the extender and router at 2.4GHz, with your client connected at 2.4GHz, while in a smaller area, keeping both client and extender on 5GHz should give the best speed.

BT 11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 with box


With the main router upstairs, lying in a corner, I moved to the opposite end of the house, to my living room where bandwidth is sometimes limited. A quick test using the Mac software Wi-Fi perf showed a connection speed of around 35Mb/sec without using the extender.

I then plugged the extender into a spare power socket in the hallway, with the front LED indicating good range. I connected to it with my laptop and performance dropped to just 25Mb/sec. It seemed to make no difference with the switch on top set to 5GHz, or when connecting to the 5GHz network. Performance was consistently worse.

It’s obvious I wasn’t using it correctly. 35Mb/sec isn’t great, but it’s hardly a speed that would prevent using my devices, so in this case, it was better to just use the router’s main wireless network, even though I was hoping for better speeds when using the extender.

I then moved to around 15m away from the extender and tested speeds from there. Performance dropped to around 10Mb/sec, and maintained a solid connection. But even at this range, my router could still deliver roughly the same speeds, even though it was further away.


We liked

The BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 is generally quite easy to set up, with the instructions clearly explained.

It’s a low profile device that won’t get in the way when plugged into a wall socket, and the LEDs at the front are very useful when it comes to determining the best position to place it.

We disliked

The performance wasn’t particularly impressive. It certainly won’t offer an all-round improvement to wireless speeds wherever you are in your house. Also, despite the clear explanation in the manual, I still managed to run into minor hiccups during the setup process.

You might get better results by upgrading your router, or even moving it to a different room in your home, if that’s possible.

Final verdict

These results are disappointing, but perhaps I was expecting too much. The BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 is best used for improved wireless performance in a room where you really have no coverage at all. In that case, it’s fairly middling wireless signal is better than nothing.

But don’t expect to see great results from it if all you’re experiencing are speeds that are just verging on the slow side. It might not be any faster.

You’ll probably get better results in a larger house. It works reasonably well at a very long distance and it seems this is exactly how it is intended to be used. In smaller houses, or where you’re just looking for better speeds rather than improved coverage, you’re better off using a more powerful router or powerline Ethernet adaptors, such as the BT Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 kit.