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The 411 on Wireless Routers

A wireless router is a very convenient option for many people that use the Internet. Many households today have more than one computer and they would like to be able to share Internet access between all of them along with a home VPN for better results. However, in some cases, it may just not be possible, or it may just be too much bother to physically install Ethernet cable throughout your home. This is where the wireless router comes in to play. However, are you really getting what you pay for? What kind of data transfer speeds are you going to get? These are some of the questions the average person does not consider because they believe that all routers are created equal.

The speed of the router is an issue which everybody should be concerned with. Most wireless routers use what is known as the 802.11g technology standard, which can deliver up to 54 Megabits per second. However, it is likely that you will never see this speed achieved in an actual home environment. Nevertheless, it is much faster than the old 802.11b technology some people are still using today. By the way, if you are using the 802.11b routers, it may be a good idea to upgrade and break that 11 Megabit per second threshold.

Of course, there are a lot of factors that can affect the actual speed of your router. The network traffic over your router is one factor, which will greatly reduce the speed reached. If everybody in the home is downloading large files, playing MMOGs, (Massive Multiplayer Online Games), or watching videos, you can be sure that someone’s connection will be suffering greatly, no matter how good the router is.

Your Internet connection is a big contributing factor as to how fast your connection will be. If you do purchase a wireless router that does claim to give you a very high speed, you may wind up a little disappointed. You see, the speed of the router only pertains to how fast the data transfers between your PC and the router itself. However, it does not relate to how fast the Internet connection is that you are getting through your ISP, (Internet Service Provider).

Another factor is the physical distance from your computer to the router itself. Many people believe that if they buy a router that it will automatically solve all of their Internet connection troubles. Not so, Internet connectivity and speeds are greatly affected by distance. The wireless router sends a signal through the air which is received by an antenna attached to the NIC card installed on your computer. The speed and quality of your connection are greatly reduced as the distance increases.

The physical layout of your home is another factor that can greatly hinder the speed of your wireless router. There are certain homes that are designed in such a way that they are not conducive to wireless signal transmissions. It may be the way that the house is wired electrically or just the way that the house is physically laid out which can be the determining factors.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all wireless routers are created equally. Always, and I stress always, look on the box to check what distances the router can cover. Wireless router manufactures have not been consistent in making sure that all routers can cover equal distances. While some may say that they can reach up to 420 feet, some may reach only as far as 150 feet. This is a big difference, and as you would expect, it is always wise to choose the router with the farthest distance. A good rule of thumb to apply to wireless routers is that whatever distance and speed they claim to be able to perform at, reduce that by half, and that is most likely the performance you will actually receive.

Wireless routers are very convenient, and for the most part, they perform very well. You and your family can enjoy the Internet from multiple PCs no matter where they are located in your home, without the need to install Ethernet cables. One final note, I have always believed, and it has always been my experience that, “You get what you pay for.” If you do pay for a generic or even inexpensive wireless router, you will most likely get one that will not perform the way you like, and it will become more of a frustration than anything else. However, sometimes going cheap is good enough, but that choice is ultimately in your hands.