Wireless routers and access points are commonly used to expand a home, home-office, business, commercial or enterprise network! Routers and Access Points vary in pricing depending the type, features, functions and capabilities. It’s important to know that there is a big difference between the typical “consumer” grade routers and access points that you can find at Staples for $40 – $70 that are typically designed to support up 3 – 6 concurrent users or connections, and the $150 – $300 routers that may be designed to support up to 12 concurrent users or to work better for gaming and streaming! The “small-business” and “commercial” grade routers offer enhanced security features and can support many more concurrent users and connections than the consumer grade routers and access points! The primary difference between a “consumer” grade router and a “commercial” grade router is the amount of data which can be transferred and that transfer rate!
Of course with everything from computers, smart phones, tablets, Xbox, PS3’s, Blue-ray players and other audio / video streaming devices being connected to many home networks now days, often times a consumer grade router is not sufficient and will only slow down your network or create connectivity errors! So, if you have a large family or share your Internet access with more than 3 – 4 people in your home or office, you should really check into upgrading your wireless router or access point to one of our small-office or commercial grade devices in order to be able to benefit from your high-speed Internet access!
When selecting a router or access point, there are many things to consider including:
• Internet Service type and speeds (Dial-up, Satellite Internet, DSL, Cable Internet, T1, etc.)
• Wireless “frequencies” to be used (802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.11ac)
• Location (indoor, outdoor, etc.)
• Range (signal coverage area)
• Features, capabilities & options (streaming video, gaming, VPN, security, etc.)
Obviously if your Internet speeds are only 1mb x 256k, or even 30mb x 5mb, you would think that a wireless G router that supports 54Mbps would be adequate, however you need to consider how many users will be connected at the same time and so on, so in many cases, a wireless N router that offers 100 – 300Mbps may be a better solution for you! The newer wireless AC standard supports up to 1.3Gbps and dual band technology for much better speeds and throughput, however the range is not usually any better than wireless N technology!
For instance, if you are only interested in surfing and e-mailing from time to time, then one of the less expensive consumer grade “wireless g” routers on the market should work fine for you, course “wireless n” is more commonly used now! On the bright side, most wireless N routers will support wireless G devices as they are “backwards compatible!
If there is a gamer in the house, then he or she could benefit from purchasing a router / access point that is designed to properly support the vast amount of data transferred during online gaming! Gamers often have to “open ports” or use “port forwarding” in the router to get proper connectivity to their gaming servers, and some routers support that better than others also!
Those who love streaming video could benefit from a router that is designed to support that use as well! In fact, some of the newer routers have built in storage to store video and other files as well to make it easier to access them from anywhere in your network!
If you have a home -office or connect remotely via remote desktop, VPN, etc. then many routers offer special features and functions for that! Many routers offer enhanced security features as well!
For those who want to provide wireless access to several users, there are MANY things to consider, and the router and access points you choose will play a huge role in the quality, capability and manageability of your network!
The wireless range or “coverage area” is another obstacle in selecting the right equipment for providing wireless access for a home or business application! Most “wireless n” routers have a maximum range of 150′ indoors and 300′ outdoors, however many factors affect this range including:
- type / brand of router or access point (Netgrear, Linksys, DLink, Cisco, Engenius, etc.)
- where the router is located (basement, main floor, upper floor, cabinet, shelf, etc.)
- type of building (house, apartment, office trailer, rv, etc.)
- building material (wood, concrete, metal, stucco, etc.)
- signal interference in the area (cordless phones, etc.)
- strength of the wireless device (pc, table, smart phone, etc.)
We offer access points that are designed for longer / extended range and for commercial applications as well, such as used for Wi-Fi access for Internet cafe’s, coffee shops, hotels, motels, hospitals, rv parks, campgrounds, and more!
While some of them advertise up 5 mile range and so on, that’s usually not something we see typically and there is a catch to that range! You have to consider the line-of-site, the number of concurrent users and the Internet access source before you can determine how far any access point is going to work, and there is a difference between connecting and actually providing fast, reliable service!
Fortunately most of the router and access manufacturers offer comparison charts for the various models they offer, however if you are shopping at WalMart or Staples, keep in mind that they are probably not going to stock any commercial grade routers as they are usually professionally installed and configured by an IT person who is familiar with the features and options of each router!
However if you have decided on a consumer grade router, most of the router boxes have comparison charts on the back of them to help you select the right model for your application(s). For example here is a chart relating to some of the Netgear Consumer grade routers on the market:
And here is a chart related to some of the Linksys Consumer grade routers on the market:
But keep in mind that our Free Consulting Services can help you determine the best router and / or access point for your network.
Contact us for more information!