We can connect to the Internet anywhere with a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. All what's needed is a good WiFi signal, without the need of connecting any cables. The most important aspect of a wireless network is a WiFi router that implements, manages and administers the network. What else can a router do, what features does it have and what specs should you pay attention to when choosing the right one?
If you don't spend much time on the Internet, send a few messages to your friends on social media, check your e-mails once a day, or browse the latest news, you won't have to spend a lot of time choosing a WiFi router. A basic model will be all that's necessary for regular web browsing. You don't have to think about speed, frequency, number of antennas and other parameters. However, a common basic model will only be sufficient for a smaller apartment.
Add Another Antenna
The easiest solution for improving the WiFi signal can be by adding another external antenna to the router. Some models, however, do not support an external antenna.
The easiest way to extend the WiFi network coverage is to insert an extender into the network by plugging it into an electrical outlet. A WiFi Extender works by accepting the WiFi signal and sending it on through the same channel, but usually at a lower speed.
Another way to extend the WiFi signal is by using a Wireless Distribution System (WDS), which extends the wireless network with multiple access points, but without the need for a wired network connection. Individual Access Points share the transmission rate equally.
Definitely yes. Some manufacturers can showcase their inexpensive routers with features that can lure customers based on the price, but using them can often be problematic. Certified WiFi router brands for regular consumers are TP-Link, D-Link, Asus, or Zyxel.
Why is it better to choose a well-known brand?
- Better sales support
- Higher stability and reliability of the device with long-term use or a greater load
- Easier to file a complaint in case something goes wrong
A badly secured wireless network can make it easy for a potential attacker to access your personal data, passwords, etc. This is why it's a good idea to secure the access to the wireless network with a password. Users can only then connect to the network after entering the correct passcode.
Another option is to leave the network accessible to anyone without having to enter a password. This solution is ideal for networks in public places, such as cafes, restaurants, hotels, etc.
No, a modem and a router are two different devices. The role of a modem is to make an Internet connection, for example through mobile LTE, xDSL and cable distribution. There are dual WAN modems, such as DSL modems that can function as routers. A modem, however, can have an integrated router, which allows you to connect to the Internet and create a computer network.
A router, on the other hand, needs an Internet source via a regular network cable. It is used to create a computer network. It can connect computers to each other, but without access to the Internet.
Transmission standards that function in two frequency bands - 2.4 and 5GHz. They determine the WiFi router speed. These standards are the same for routers and end devices, such as laptops or mobile phones.
2.4GHz band - More loaded because it only provides three non-overlapping channels. It is great for simple tasks such as sending e-mails or browsing the web.
5GHz band - There are 23 non-overlapping channels available at this frequency, sothere is much less interference. This band is good for activities that are more demanding on the data transfer speed and data volume, such as playing online games or streaming HD videos.
Routers and access points operating on both of these bands are referred to as two-way.
1st generation - 802.11
- Standard operating in the 2.4GHz band
- The 2.4GHz band is suitable for simple tasks such as handling e-mails or browsing the web
- Only permits 2Mbps
- It's sufficient for surfing the Internet
2nd Generation - 802.11b
- Operating in the 2.4GHz band
- Speeds up to 11Mbps
- Suitable for handling e-mails
3rd Generation - 802.11g/a
- Operating in the 2.4GHz (802.11g) and 5GHz (802.11g/a) bands
- The 5GHz band is perfect for transferring or dealing with high transmission rate and data volume, such as online games or HD video streaming
- Speeds of up to 54Mbps
- Good for viewing high-demanding websites
4th Generation - 802.11n
- Operating in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands
- Transfer rate up to 600Mbps, but usually only around 150Mbps
- Increased speed is achieved by using Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology
Most devices today are manufactured with the current support of 802.11a/b/g/n standards.
The latest standard that operates in two bands simultaneously - 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The advantage of the 5GHz band is that it offers a larger number of channels, and there are fewer devices using it. Data transfers are less likely to be disturbed than in the 2.4GHz band. The 5GHz band is great for online games or streaming videos in HD quality. The basic 802.11ac routers offer a combined speed of up to 1.2Gbps in the middle category. For top-class products, speeds can reach up to about 3Gbps.
The signal quality in a given space depends on the antenna. There are a few different types:
Omnidirectional - Appropriate if you want the WiFi signal to cover a large area.
Sectoral - Used to cover a larger shared space.
Directional - These antennas allow the WiFi signal to be transmitted over long distances, but only in a specific direction.
The routers are equipped with either an external or a built-in antenna. External antennas can be exchanged and additional routers can be added, if the router supports this. This is not possible with a built-in antenna. If you care about the compact size, this solution is perfect for you.
Omnidirectional antennas with high-power signal amplifiers and beamforming technology will provide a significantly better signal throughout a given space.
Classic routers are equipped with five ports for RJ-45 network cables. One of them is WAN and the other four are LANs. There is also usually at least one USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 port on the most current routers.
LAN (Local Area Network) - For connecting individual devices in a local area network.
WAN (Wide Area Network) - Connects the router to a modem or the Internet.
GLAN - These connectors can be found on high-speed models. They can reach a transmission speed of up to 1000Mbps, or 1Gbps.
Can be used for connecting other devices, such as a printer. Usually you can connect an external storage, where you can access your data remotely from all devices connected to the network. In terms of USB connectors, routers differ in whether they support only the older USB 2.0 standards or communicate with connected devices via a fast USB 3.0 port.
A poorly secured wireless network may offer a potential attacker easy access to your personal data and passwords. You should secure access to your wireless network with encryption (AES) and password authentication.
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) - is often easy to break into
WPA (WiFi Protected Access) - more efficient than WEP
WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access 2) - more efficient than WPA
TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) - an outdated protocol that attackers can easily overcome
AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) - more efficient encryption than TKIP
The strongest security is the combination of WPA2 and AES.
Other Protection Methods
WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) - Adding a device to the network without having to enter a password
Whitelist - Identify the devices that will have access to the network
Guest zone - guest network
A router is a device used to create a computer network. It interconnects computers without having to provide Internet access. A router can have an integrated modem, making a single device that allows you to connect to the Internet and create a computer network.
A repeater is a WiFi device that you plug into an electrical outlet. It is used to extend WiFi network coverage, which it does by receiving your existing WiFi signal, amplifying it, and then transmitting the boosted signal. It is sometimes called an extender and it works exactly as its name suggests.
A router is a device used to create a computer network. It interconnects computers without having to provide Internet access. The router can have an integrated modem, making it a device that allows you to connect to the Internet and create a computer network.Glossary