NetworkTigers discusses the importance of high-quality routers in your network.
The kind of router you choose sets the standard for how quickly, efficiently, and safely you can access the internet. When building a network, selecting the best and most up-to-date routers is essential to ensure data security and speed. Your router is responsible for processing, managing, and protecting every device on your network. Ideally, choose high-quality network routers and other components when investing in your network infrastructure.
Why do I need the best router possible?
High-quality routers can protect your network from data breaches more effectively than outdated ones. Older routers may stop receiving security updates and patches as they are replaced in a company’s lineup. Worst case scenario, an older router may not support WPA3 at all. In July 2020, all wireless access devices were required to support WPA3 to receive certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance. If your routers predate this decision, you may be working with a by-definition less secure wireless network algorithm, putting a target on your back for hackers.
High-quality routers can also increase the range of connected devices, allowing for higher internet usage speeds. If you have been steadily adding connected devices to one network without seriously considering upgrading your overall infrastructure, the time has come to invest in quality routers.
Why are high-quality routers essential for fast and efficient networks?
The following are some key considerations as you build a reliable network infrastructure:
Your internet plan
When it comes to speed, your ISP sets the limit to how fast you can access data online. Many routers can quickly outpace average ISP download speeds, but you may not get to put them to the test without investing in an enterprise-grade or business plan that doesn’t restrict downloads. Additionally, Mbps (or bandwidth) makes a difference in network responsiveness, as does network latency. While many routers can reach speeds of 1 gigabit per second or faster, the median fixed broadband speed in the United States still lags at close to 192.12Mbps. While this is still the 7th fastest median internet speed in the world, routers can often move much faster than many areas can access.
Still, when choosing a router, experts suggest choosing one that is faster than your internet plan advertises. Doing so ensures you don’t waste the service speeds you’re paying for. Additionally, you’ll be able to maximize capacity when conducting local transfers, like pulling files from one computer to another connected device via your local network. ISP speed doesn’t matter within a localized home or business network, so investing in a fast router can ensure that your internal data transfers can happen as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Choose a router that supports one of the latest wireless protocols, ideally WiFi 6. At the very minimum, your router should be able to meet one of the following standards:
- Wi-Fi 4: Wi-Fi 4 is quickly becoming outdated, but this standard was the first to allow users to access 2.4 GHz and 5.0 frequencies. Wi-Fi 4 (11n) supports speeds up to 600 Mbps.
- WiFi 5: Wi-Fi 5 supports speeds up to 3.5 Gbps, making it much more efficient than Wi-Fi 4. Wi-Fi 5 (11 ac) is what the majority of routers today operate on.
- WiFi 6: Wi-Fi 6 (11 ax) is expected to deliver speeds up to a mind-boggling 10 Gbps. While you may not need this level of connectivity yet (and some devices may not support these speeds), staying ahead of the curve can ensure that your wireless network does not need to invest twice in the latest technology.
Mesh network options
For expanded Wi-Fi access or to combat existing dead zones, you may want to consider a mesh network. Instead of a single router, a mesh system combines various nodes with a main router to create a unified network. Working with mesh Wi-Fi allows you to expand and scale your existing network, depending on your needs. Many mesh network options also allow users more control over data flow.
Quality of service (QoS)
Speaking of control, QoS is a must for users who want to prioritize specific devices and connections over others. Choosing a router with QoS options can help your network experience feel as smooth and steady as possible. For home networks, QoS can be set to prioritize work computers over kids’ gaming consoles or streaming. For business networks, QoS can prioritize access in executive areas or ensure steady access for tech support or customer service calls. However, you configure it, choosing a router with QoS options and beamforming can ensure a stronger signal and connectivity for the areas and devices that need it most.
Multiple user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO)
MU-MIMO is a must when building a reliable network infrastructure in today’s day and age. With MU-MIMO, one router can support multiple connections more efficiently, whether wired or wireless. MU-MIMO allows your router to divide bandwidth and apportion it to connected devices all at the same time. MU-MIMO essentially takes what was a single-file line and creates multiple lanes to access the internet. In Wi-Fi 5-enabled devices, the maximum number of lanes is four. With an investment in a Wi-Fi 6 router, however, the number of devices that can be served simultaneously with MU-MIMO doubles to eight.
Prioritizing quality routers for your network can change how you access the internet and how your home or business stays safe online. With data breaches on the rise and the average cost of a hack hovering in the million-dollar range, choosing the best routers makes your network infrastructure more robust and more secure. It’s the smartest move possible when building an efficient network today.