Buying Guide: Networking

We all are connected through network isn’t it? Whether you want to shoot an email, send pictures, do video chats or learn new things, a reliable Wi-Fi is all you need to get your work done. There are few things that often go unnoticed by many buyers due to the lack of product knowledge. This guide will broaden up the concept of networking to help you purchase the right type of modem.

Networking Buying Guide

What is a network?

Network is nothing but series of points interconnected by communication paths. The two very common types of networks are Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN). The other types of networks that you would come across are Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN), Wireless LAN (WLAN), and Wireless WAN (WWAN).
LAN is connected to a small area and is limited to a geographic area like school, building, etc.
WAN on the other hand is connected to large geographic location. Satellite uplinks are used in order to connect this type of global network.

What are the key components of Wireless Network?

If you already have Wi-Fi at home then you would have some idea about modem and routers. These are the major components of wireless network. Alternatively, a gateway can be used that comprises of router and modem together in a single piece.

Knowing the terminologies:

Modem- Your home network gets connected to the internet through the modem. It usually connected with the phone jack or cable jack.

Router- It is the hub of your network. It is the main point for all your connected devices.

Gateway- Consider a device that has both modem and router installed. It provides an all-in-one solution.

What are the types of routers?

Every router model will have its own power, features and speed. There are three basic types of routers.

Basic

Recommended for up to 6 Wi-Fi devices. It supports email, web surfing, music streaming and file downloads.

Models that fall in N300-N600 range are the basic ones.

Premium

Premium is an upgraded version of basic routers. It is recommended for 8 or more Wi-Fi devices. Of course, it would support all the functions of basic router plus additional functions like video streaming. Models that fall in N750-AC1200 range are the premium routers.

High-performance

This is recommended for more than 10 Wi-Fi devices. These are high performance routers and are next generation Wi-Fi standards. It has all the functions of basic and premium routers and has additional features like multi-device streaming, gaming and offering you more bandwidth for 4K streaming video and lag-free gaming!

Security features

You definitely don’t want your network to be used by public unless you have a brave heart! It is your network and you should be the sole person to decide who gets to use it. Security features play a vital role in keeping your network safe and maintaining the speed. Most of the routers these days come with security features.

Password settings

This limits the users and maintains the speed of the internet. It is pretty easy to set passwords of your choice. There are additional features like guest access. This means that your guests can access your internet for some time without knowing the password. Always set passwords to secure your Internet.

Prioritizing devices

Your router will offer you QoS (Quality of Service) feature. With this feature you can prioritize your applications that require more bandwidth. For example, if you want to watch a movie you may prioritize your router for this particular task leaving the rest of the devices with less priority (less speed). Hence, your bandwidth goes where it is most needed.

Parental controls

If you have children at home and want to control the websites they can access, then you may do so with the help of the router settings. It is important to deter your children from viewing inappropriate content.

Port forwarding

You would definitely not entertain people who would want to access your internet. In that case your internet should be one-way street. Most of the routers come with built-in security and firewall features. However, there are times when you would want other computers to access yours (ex- playing game online).

Other features that may interest you

Remote access

Many routers come with features of remote access. With this feature you may control them with a supported mobile device. You can set parental control features, passwords, and also keep a track on the number of devices that are connected to your network.

USB ports

Many routers come with built-in USB ports. This allows you to do several useful things. For example if your printer is not wireless then you may connect it to your network via USB and print using wired connection.

MU-MIMO

MU-MIMO means multi-user, multi-input/multi-output. This is a new technology that handles multiple high bandwidth devices. This prioritizes every device and offers greater bandwidth without any compromise!

Beamforming

What is exactly beamforming? You must have seen routers that offer wide signals to help you connect in variety of locations across your home. Coverage does not mean that you will have an excellent signal. Remember that more the coverage, weaker will be the signal. Beamforming is a new technology that has come into existence. When it connects to a device, it sends a focused signal to the device. If you are moving a lot with your phone, the signal will follow your mobile to offer you the best internet experience.

Dual-band/tri-band

Dual band routers will send two signals at the same time. These signals operate in different frequencies. What is the advantage? The advantage is that you can use the slower devices in one channel whereas the faster device can take the benefits of the greater frequency!

Tri-band routers will send three signals simultaneously. Three signals would mean that you don’t have to fight over with the bandwidth for speed.

Network range extenders

Network range extenders will extend the coverage of your network in your house, basement, garage or any place where you think that the coverage is not sufficient. An extender will pick up the signal from your wireless router and extend it for a greater coverage.

Powerline adapters

This costs less as compared to the extenders. The powerline adapters will do the same thing as network range extenders but it does its job with the help of electric wires that exists inside your home. It helps in extending strong network with electrical outlet.

Wired VS wireless

Yes, it is convenient to connect network wirelessly but there might be exceptions to your demand. Let’s take an example of online game. It is noticed that playing online games with the help of wired connections performs better than the wireless one.
Also, people who own laptops would want a wireless connection whereas the ones with the computers would want the wired connection.
The good news is that most of the routers come with 4 Ethernet ports. You may take the advantage of both wireless and wired connection simultaneously.

Know about the levels of cable

Wireless speed

While shopping it is important to know about wireless speed as it gives you a clear view about the router you would be installing in your home. If you see a router labeled AC1200, the letters would mean the type of wireless connection (ex- Wireless-N, Wireless-G or Wireless-AC). The number represents the maximum speed of the router. If a router is named as N600 then this would mean that it has a maximum bandwidth of 600 Mbps.

Connections for every device in every room

People often get confused about the type of connection they should have in their home. Here is a simple and an effective guide to help you understand about the right connections.

Bedroom

If your bedroom consists of a TV (here you would need a smart TV) or a PC or any other cabled device, then a powerline kit can offer a stable connection.You may also install a range extender to boost your Wi-Fi signal.

Living room

If you don’t have a smart TV or a PC in your living room then there is no point buying a powerline kit. A router or a range extender will suffice if you want good connection in your living room.

Office

So, this is an official place and you would be engaged sending and receiving mails. You may install network hard drives to the router that can be accessed anywhere from your home. Also, if you have saved any work in your office, it can be automatically updated to your drive. This helps in easy backup.

Garden

So you want to spend the leisure hours in the garden but also want to surf the net. It often happens that the Wi-Fi signal becomes poor in the garden area. For such case you may use a range extender to strengthen the signal.

Simple home wireless network choices

Router- It is best to buy a router that has an in-built modem to connect with the internet.

Security- You should set passwords to ensure high security of your Wi-Fi network.

Standards- Wi-Fi is available in a range of standards. It refers to the operating frequency and data transfer rates. Hence go for 802.11n.

Top Brands
  • Asus Networking Devices

Frequently Asked Questions:

1- Is it beneficial to upgrade your router?

Of course it is! Often you would see that your router is cropping with problems like too much of buffering while streaming videos. This happens because of weak signal. At this point of time it is best to replace your router with a newer that would offer effective solution. What beneits will you get?

• The range is increased.
• Faster speed.
• New features.
• More devices get connected without slowing down the speed.

In case you are not sure whether to upgrade your router, the following factors help you-

• The age of your router?

It is best to replace your router after few years of use (3 years would be maximum). Upgrading your router will do no harm to you as it will only offer benefits. Your work will be done in a faster way.

• How did you buy the router? Did you buy it on your own or from the service provider?

When you first signed up for your internet service plan, it is likely that a technician helped you installing both the router and the modem. It is possible that your router has become outdated and it is time to buy a new one! Go and shop for the best router trending the market.

• The type of usage?

How are the connected devices used? It is important to know that some type of activities would require more bandwidth. For streaming HD quality videos, you would need more bandwidth. If one person from your family is streaming ultra HD quality videos whereas the other is playing online games then a high speed internet is what you need. Who would like things to be buffering? Hence, upgrading your router works here.

• How many devices your network support?

No, it is not just the computer that uses the internet. On an average it is seen that 7 or more devices are connected to the same network. So, what are these connected devices? These devices are the smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, streaming media players, TV, etc.

2- Why do I need 1000 Mbps or faster when I am only paying for 10 or 50 Mbps Internet from the provider?

There are certain reasons your router’s wireless speed should be much faster than your internet speed.

• Your network does more than just connecting to the internet?

It is a wrong conception that your network is only in charge of connecting to the internet. Your network can be used for several other things too. It can be used for file sharing and wireless printing. If you are planning to share a 15GB video, it will take only few minutes over 1000 Mbps connection. Now imagine that if your router’s speed is limited to 10 Mbps then sharing the same file would take not less than 3 hours! Thus, a faster wireless speed is of utmost importance.

• The further you go away from your router, the less wireless speed you get?

If your laptop is 30 feet away from the wireless router then it is likely that the internet will slow down. If you want all your devices to be used in the best possible way then you need to consider a router that has more speed than your current internet speed.

• Future proofing your network?

The more devices you add, the more bandwidth you would need. Simply increase the bandwidth of your internet plan to support all the devices. Do not upgrade your router if you see that your router can handle more devices than usual. You may test few devices and see how the internet speed is.

3- What speed Internet connection do you need?

Ask your service provider if you are unknown about the speed of your internet. The speed depends on the amount of bandwidth you are paying for. If you do not stream videos then upgrading is not required, but if there is a heavy usage then you need to upgrade your plan with more bandwidth. Most of the service providers these days offer 50-100 Mbps plan.

4- What are the benefits of upgrading the modem?

Your Internet Service Provider must have sent you a modem as a part of your internet plan. The rental fee that rolls into your monthly payment is basically for this device.It might happen that your modem has become out-of-date due to several years of usage and now is the time to upgrade it! A new modem will increase your internet speed without any doubt.