Wireless Routers FAQ
28 May 2014
Wi-Fi Demand has increased significantly throughout the last couple of years due to the increased demand of portable devices such as notebooks, tablets and smartphones. It is therefore essential to understand the basic attributes of a wireless router which are generally used to provide these mobile devices with wireless connectivity.
What is a Wireless / Wi-Fi Router?
A Wireless / Wi-Fi Router is a combination of a router and a wireless access point. A function of a wireless router is to forward data packets to wireless devices and therefore an integral part of a wireless network. A modem is connected to the wireless router to provide wireless devices internet access. A Wireless Router with an integrated modem is called a wireless modem router.
What is the difference between the Wireless / Wi-Fi Standards?
It can be very confusing choosing a wireless router with different manufacturers using their own unique marketing jargons. Basically performance is measured by Mbps or megabit per second. Higher Mbps will translate to higher transfer rate hence better performance. There are different Wireless Standards available in the market today, notably the Wireless N or 802.11n being the most popular. There are also 2 operational frequencies, which are the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency band within the standards. The 2.4Ghz frequency provides superior range but is prone to interferences due to other types of wireless devices (such as cordless phones) also uses the 2.4Ghz frequency, whereas the 5Ghz has less prone to interferences but lags the penetrative ability of the 2.4Ghz hence providing inferior range. A dual band wireless router is a router that is able to operate at both frequencies.
Below are the main difference of Wireless Standards
Maximum speed: 54mbps
Maximum speed: 11mbps
Maximum speed: 54mbps
Maximum speed: 900mbps
Wireless N Class Designations:
Backward Compatible With 802.11a (If it is a dual band router) 802.11b/g
Maximum speed: 1900mbps
Wireless AC Class Designations:
Backward Compatible With 802.11a/b/g/n
How do I secure my WiFi?
Various methods are employed to prevent and protect the wireless / wi-fi connection from unauthorised access. These standards are WEP, WPA and WPA2. The latest standard is the WPA2 that is available in the 802.11n and 802.11ac wireless routers. These wireless routers are also capable of running the older WEP and WPA security protocols, however it is highly recommended to use the WPA2 for best protection and performance.
Wired Network Ports
There are 2 types of wired network ports available on the wireless routers. These ports are normally at the rear of the wireless router.
The first type is the WAN or INTERNET port. This is used to connect your ADSL/Fibre modem to the wireless router. The WAN port has two speed ratings, it can be 100Mbps or 1000Mbps (also called Gigabit), the latter being faster. It is highly recommended to use a gigabit port when connecting to a Fibre modem to achieve maximum possible performance.
The second type is the LAN port or also known as Ethernet Port. This is used to connect your wired devices such as PCs, Notebooks and Media Players. The number of available LAN ports varies, 4 LAN ports being the most common. LAN ports are also available in 100Mbps And 1000Mbps types.
USB Ports on a Wireless Router
USB Ports on wireless routers are becoming a common sight as many manufacturers use this as a means to increase functionality of their products. The USB Port can be used as a printer server. This is where a printer can be plugged into the wireless router and serves as a centralised printer to all devices connected to the wireless router. The USB Port can also be used as a NAS or Network attached storage. A USB Storage device such as a flash drive or USB hard drive is used as a centralised storage solution over the network and can be access to all devices connected to the wireless router. There are 2 standards currently available. These are the USB2.0 and USB3.0 standards, USB3.0 being the fastest type available today.
Choosing the right Wireless / Wi-Fi Router
Choosing the right wireless router is the key for all your wireless devices to work and perform at its best. Keep in mind the wireless router will only perform to the maximum speed of the receiving device. This means should you get a wireless N router, and the receiving end is an older wireless 802.11b device, you will only achieve wireless b level of performance. It is however recommended to purchase a wireless router with one standard above your current device to future proof your purchase as new portable devices will normally come with the latest wireless standard built-in.
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