A question arrives from reader Steve:
I’ve just moved house and brought my BT router and two BT Whole Home WiFi Discs with me. (These Discs are BT’s wireless signal boosters.) In the old house, the phone line came straight into the study, so my three computers plus printer plugged conveniently into the four Ethernet ports on the back of the router. In the new place, however, the line comes into the lounge on the ground floor and the study is located upstairs, so I’m thinking I can use one of the Discs to get the signal upstairs, but the Disc has just one Ethernet port. Can I plug a four-port Gigabit switch into the Disc and solve my problem in that way?
It’s a great question, but let’s first deal with a couple of the technical terms here, in case people aren’t familiar with the kit.
The BT Whole Home WiFi Discs are, as Steve points out, Wi-Fi extenders. You have one Disc or router connected to the master telephone socket, and put one or more Discs around the house to ensure you’ve got a strong Wi-Fi connection around the home. They work very well, according to my colleagues at PC Pro.
However, as Steve again points out, each Disc only has one Ethernet socket in the back. That might leave you short of ports if you need to connect multiple devices. So, Steve is asking whether he can connect a device called a switch, which basically acts as a multi-plug adapter for Ethernet sockets, turning one socket into four or more sockets. Click here to find out more about switches.
I’ve never connected a switch to a BT Whole Home Wi-Fi Disc, but as I replied to Steve, I saw no reason why it wouldn’t work. My co-editor Tim also assures me that he has been using this five-port switch (£11 from Amazon) in just this way for five years.
The only thing that Steve would have to bear in mind is that his internet speeds would already be a little slower from the Disc than they would be from the main router, because some speed is lost in the wireless connection between router and Disc. The more devices he added to his switch, the further that connection speed would be shared and reduced.
Emboldened by my advice, Steve went out and bought a switch and I’m happy to report he’s had no problems when connecting it to the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi Disc.
So, if you’re looking to connect several devices on a Disc and don’t want to rely on a wireless connection, a switch could be the answer.