If you’ve been working from home during the past year, you’ve probably already experienced Connection Roulette: where every participant blames the lag, delay, or faulty audio on everybody else’s internet connection. The last thing you want to hear in your home is the dreaded phrase “the internet is down.” Likewise, no one is ever willing to own up to their own wifi being the problem on a call – with good reason. In today’s digital era, having a slow or poor connection is one of the biggest tech headaches possible. As so many areas of our lives transition to taking place online, investing in the best router possible means that you can continue to contribute meaningfully in social and professional situations.
Internet speed usually hinges upon two main components: ISP service package and actual network equipment, like the router. Even if you’ve purchased a high-speed, high-capability plan, having a slow or outdated wireless router can still lead to bottlenecks and delays.
Having multiple bands available via your router can also make a difference. Most households have multiple members using multiple devices to stream or download data all at the same time. Logically, a single band router has a more limited range and signal strength than a double. Single band routers are limited to a 2.4GHz frequency band, whereas a dual band router can access 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz. If you haven’t already, upgrading to a dual band router is the simplest first step you can take in order to maximize the internet speed and range available in your home. Tri-band routers may offer even greater speed, with an extra 5.8Ghz frequency available.
Reasons to Use the Best Possible Router
- Security – One of the most important reasons to install the best possible router is also often the most overlooked. The right router can help strengthen your home’s network security, which is imperative for small business owners, remote employees, and anyone using the internet to store or share personal data. A wireless router is your point of entry to the internet, but it’s also your first and best barrier to its many risks. Most routers come with firewalls installed that need to be updated. An out-of-date router means less security for your internet traffic. Routers can also set defined internet access policies, to restrict certain suspicious websites. Finally, you can add a passphrase to create a more secure network, and even specify devices that can access your router’s network, on top of passphrase authentication. All of these are important roles a router can play in keeping your data secure. To gain access to these full benefits, it’s worthwhile to invest in the best possible router for your budget and space.
- Speed – The most obvious reason to upgrade a router is usually internet speed. If videos or audio is taking longer than usual to buffer, your router may be overworked or out of date.
- Stability – Being accessible while working from home can take many forms. Often for employees, video conferencing or Zoom calls are important methods of sharing information and being present. Having reliable access that can support a stable connection is one key component of having valuable participation in online meetings. A better router can also reduce latency, or the amount of lag in video connections. A highly latent connection means that your speech won’t sync up with your movements, or there may be other forms of distortion.
- Ease – “Fixing the internet” doesn’t have to be a dreaded task when you have an up to date router. Recent upgrades allow for different devices’ connectivity to be prioritized in successive generations of Wifi. For instance, new developments in QoS (Quality of Service) features allow devices that consume more data, such as gaming consoles, priority internet access over smaller ones. These developments should translate into less headaches ensuring connectivity overall.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends these minimal speeds for certain uses:
- 1 Mbps for internet browsing and email
- 1 Mbps for general video conferencing
- 6 Mbps for HD video conferencing (often standard for certain services)
- 5 to 25 Mbps for telecommuting and remote work
Additionally, many internet users recommend a speed of 10 Mbps download speed per person in a household in order to effectively work from home.
When to Upgrade Routers
If you’ve had the same router for over 5 years, you’re more than likely overdue for an upgrade. Gear representatives from Google, NetGear, Linksys, and Amazon estimate a window of three to five years for router replacement. A Consumer Reports survey shows that one-fifth of customers wait at least four years before replacing a router, which can lead to out-of-date equipment, delays, security breaches, and other issues.
Does My Router Need Replacing?
One foolproof way to check if your router needs replacing is to manually check for updates by searching online. If no update shows as available within the past few months or years, it’s usually a clear indicator that your technology is past its prime. You can also check your internet speed using a speed test through your provider or online to make sure you’re getting the full benefits of the ISP package you pay for.
The conclusion? Invest
Having the best possible router can give you ease of access as well as peace of mind. Protect your internet activities, enjoy your down time, and participate more meaningfully when working from home by investing in an up-to-date and effective wireless router.