The first thing to check before buying a Wireless Router is the download speed claimed by your service provider. Note that this speed should be available to your home and not to the building premises. Next thing to look at is the end point cable carrying internet to your home that has to be connected to the router for conversion from Electrical or Optical signal to Wireless. It can be a Phone Line RJ-11 with ADSL/VDSL standards on top of it or can be RJ-45 Electrical or Optical WAN cable that gets directly terminated to your Modem first. In the latter scenario, the output from the Modem gets connected to the Input of the Wireless Router by a RJ-45 LAN Cable.
Once the download speed claimed and the cable or standard that carries internet is known, it’s time to choose a wireless Router with input sufficing and exceeding the speeds claimed by the Internet service provider. There are two parts attached to it. So, let’s discuss them one after another.
1. Type of Input to the wireless router.
a. ADSL/VDSL Routers – The phone Line RJ-11 Input.
These routers would have a Phone Line RJ11 Connector as input and comes with specific speed standards supported like ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+/VDSL and VDSL2. Check in Router spec sheet, the maximum download speed supported. This would be mentioned in terms of ITU-T Standards supported.
ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ up to 24 Mbps download speed and 3.3Mbps upload speed. So, Check which of the below standards are mentioned in the specification of the Router.
ITU G992.1 supports 8 Mbps download speed. (12Mbps with Annex A/B)
ITU G992.2 supports 1.5 Mbps download speed.
ITU G992.3 supports 12 Mbps download speed.
ITU G992.4 supports 1.5 Mbps download speed.
ITU G992.5 supports 24 Mbps download speed.
VDSL/VDSL2 up to 100Mbps download speed and 100 Mbps upload speed depending on the standard supported.
ITU G993.1 supports 55Mbps download speed.
ITU G993.2 supports 100Mbps download speed.
The Router in consideration must support the standard with higher speed than mentioned by the service Provider.
b. WAN Input Routers – The Internet RJ-45 Cable Input
If the terminating signal at home is optical, then the Modem essentially converts the Optical signal to electrical before being fed to the Router for wireless conversion via a LAN Cable.
So, these Routers would have RJ-45 connector as input supporting 10/100 base T standard up to 10Mbps and 100 Mbps download speed respectively or 10/100/1000 base T standard supporting up to 1000 Mbps that is Gigabit Ethernet.
c. Routers supporting both ADSL RJ-11 Phone line and RJ-45 WAN Input.
These Routers give the flexibility for both ADSL and WAN internet connectivity. So, this choice would depend on the cable that gets attached with the Router.
2. Wireless Connection with the Router.
a. wireless standard supported.
Now that we know that the Router’s input is exceeding the speed claimed by the Service Provider. So let’s look at what does it take for the same speed to reach your Laptop/Mobile/Tablet/PC that connects with Wifi. There is certainly an option to connect Ethernet RJ-45 LAN cable output from the Router to your PC and get the desired speeds. However, the Router should be able to give a similar performance with the Wifi Option.
Check what wireless bands and standards are supported by the Router. The bands could be 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency with standards like 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11 ac respectively.
Then, there is an option of simultaneous dual band use of bands 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. So, Band 1 could be for general browsing and band 2 for Gaming/Video download over multiple connected devices.
Do check that your laptop supports 802.11ac before arriving at a conclusion.
802.11 b/g supports a link speed up to 11Mbps and 54Mbps respectively at 2.4GHz and approximate coverage of distance up to 120 ft indoor.
802.11 n up to 600 Mbps at 2.4 GHz up to 230 ft.
802.11 a supports 54Mbps at 5GHz up to 110 ft.
802.11 ac supports a link speed from 150 Mbps to more than 2 Gbps with multiple configurations ranging from AC600 to AC5300.
802.11 ad up to and above 6Gbps theoretically.
The Link speed for Single/dual or Tri bands are usually mentioned in the datasheet in a combined manner. But in practical terms you would never exceed the speed that the input of the Router supports. So, that means a Router supporting Gigabit or 1000base T input would never be able to exceed a combined speed of 1000Mbps with Wifi. The best of Routers would curtail it to 600Mbps -700Mbps.
b. Number of Antennas.
The next thing to look at is the number of Internal and external Antennas the Router has for supporting Small/Medium/large house application need.
So, the higher the antenna number, the higher the probability of better signal reception in multiple direction.
Other things to consider are the LEDs available for diagnostics, the available Ports for Ethernet LAN and USB2.0 /USB3.0 Ports for connectivity.
Selecting the right Router could take considerable amount of time. Therefore, do check out the One Drop Down All Market Tool for Routers. This has all Routers in a single drop down menu for easy specs selection and quick buy options.
Inputs? Leave a comment below...