Routers Buying Guide

Routers are arguably the most underrated device in the everyday home/ business. See some of the most important points you need to consider.

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A good router will provide you with a strong, reliable wireless internet connection by connecting to a modem, which in turn connects to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Whilst many routers that you receive from your ISP will have a built in modem and will be perfectly sufficient on a smaller scale, there are times when these low quality units are not adequate for your wireless demands or size. So what are some of the main things should you consider when getting a new router? Take a look at the list below to find out.

Ethernet Port Count

Broadband Routers

Broadband routers usually have integrated modems and are designed to work on a wired broadband connection, for example ADSL and cable. If you have multiple users using your Internet service at the same time, Broadband routers are the ideal choice as it allows everyone to enjoy high-end Internet functions like streaming video and audio.

Sharing files, printers and other peripherals, most broadband routers also provide a much safer internet connection with built-in firewall security preventing unauthorised access of your network from the Internet.

Ethernet routers are designed to be used with any broadband connection which is presented to you as an Ethernet port; in these cases, your ISP usually provides a separate pre-configured modem to convert the broadband connection into an ethernet connection the router accepts. Ethernet routers can work with other ISP connection types, for example Satellite, and WiFi. If you have broadband delivered via a phone line, you will typically use ADSL/VDSL Wireless Routers instead.

Cellular (3G / 4G / LTE-A)

3G/4G Routers – These routers differ from normal broadband routers, in that rather than taking a standard broadband ADSL or fiber/cable connection (similar to a BT Homehub or virgin home router), they utilise the cellular / 3G / 4G connectivity to establish an uplink to the internet.

Cellular connectivity (such as 3G, 4G or LTE-A) enables an uplink to the internet in areas which may have limited or no broadband connectivity.

The development of the popular 3rd and 4th generation (3G/4G) mobile broadband Internet greatly improved speed and usability, making these routers perfect for streaming videos, audio, and even potentially gaming.

There are other key reasons for considering a 3G/4G router:

  • Perfect as an emergency broadband backup solution since the router can failover to 3G/4G if connection is lost.
  • Just moved house/office? Get connected to the Internet before your phone line is installed.
  • Looking for on-site temporary broadband internet access? This option is ideal for building sites, portacabins, exhibitions, and you don’t have to compromise on quality.
  • Perfect for users unable to get conventional ADSL or cable broadband.
  • Share peripherals such as printers to create a complete mobile office.

Bonding Routers

Bonding Routers combine multiple connections / lines together to provide your network with a single outgoing connection. For example, if you have two ADSL Broadband connections each running at 10Mbps downstream, 1Mbps upstream, then the bonded performance will be up to 20Mbps downstream, 2Mbps upstream (give or take a minor overhead loss).

Bonding is becoming increasingly popular since a single ADSL connection is often not fast or reliable enough for many businesses, who have traditionally used expensive leased line connections. However, by bonding multiple ADSL connections, you may achieve your required bandwidth and reliability for a fraction of the cost of a leased line.

Bonding is a service, and typically requires a server (either self-hosted, or purchased as a service) to re-aggregate the broken down data.

Load Balance Routers

Load balancing is where two or more connections (including, but not limited to: ADSL, ADSL2+, FTTC, satellite, cellular) are connected to a dedicated load-balancing router, provided they are either directly connected or embedded (Internal SIM slot / USB / WAN).

A load-balancing router will route Internet traffic optimally across two or more internet connections to deliver a better experience to broadband users simultaneously accessing Internet applications. Within higher spec routers, you can specify routing algorithms, to favour certain applications, such as: streaming, guest hotspot, specific MAC address as well as VOIP traffic + more.

Load balancing reduces the risk of having no Internet connection, by utilising one or more of the connections as a failover. Therefore, where Internet connectivity is an important requirement (S/M businesses), the benefit of resilience from load balancing is very high.

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