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How to Buy the Best Wi-Fi Router in Australia

How to Buy the Best Wi-Fi Router in Australia

Wi-Fi at home, in the office, and in many other places is a must for most people. It is possible to offload data from cellular to Wi-Fi and save more expensive cellular data allowances.

Wi-Fi in the office and other places is equally important, so it is important to choose the right Wi-Fi router to buy.

However, when choosing the best Wi-Fi router to buy, there are a lot of things to consider. Knowing how to choose the best Wi-Fi router can mean taking advice and knowing the aspects that really matter.

Wi-Fi Standards

One of the first considerations when choosing the best Wi-Fi router to look for is the wireless standard used. Very early routers used IEEE802.11a or 802.11b, but things have evolved significantly since then.

They are often compatible with a number of the latest versions, but if the router is going to be used for a number of years, it is best to make sure that it supports the latest standard. In this way, the router will be able to provide the best performance. Since it is backward compatible, even if there are some older devices that require connections, it can still be supported.

The latest standard is 802.11ac, which you see on the latest routers. This means that the router can support speeds up to gigabit, much faster than the previous limit of 600 megabits per second. However, be aware that it is not possible to take full advantage of a router that has the latest standard unless your mobile devices are also using it, but at least have the latest future proofing

Wi-Fi speed specifications

As expected, all manufacturers will indicate the maximum speed provided by the latest 802.11 standard supported by the router. In fact, these speeds are rarely seen - they actually only happen under ideal conditions set up in a laboratory. Multiple users, interference, signal attenuation caused by walls, other objects, and a host of real-life issues will reduce speed.

But do not be afraid, because the speeds listed are usually much higher than necessary. Existing routers will support high definition video streams, unless the signal is very low, there are too many users or too much interference.

Check the wired interfaces of the router

There are several forms of Wi-Fi routers. Some are designed for broadband connectivity, while others are only designed for Ethernet, or perhaps other connections. Local routers often have a broadband service connection in addition to Ethernet, and possibly USB.

When choosing a router to buy, make sure it meets the connection requirements in terms of broadband and Ethernet only, with USB or whatever combination required.

Routers with USB ports are now more and more popular for cheap network storage. It is possible to connect a hard drive or flash drive to the back of the router and share this data with any device on the network. This way a networked media center can be created to stream movies, music or TV locally.

When looking at the wired connections, it's worth checking out the speeds. Cheaper routers often only have Ethernet adapters rated at 100 Mbps, so to select the best router, it's best to make sure your Ethernet connection is rated at 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps). Also check the performance of any USB connections because USB3/USB3.1 is much faster than the older USB 2.

Broadband provider compatibility

It is generally required that Wi-Fi routers be associated with a broadband provider. Verify that any router you consider compatible with that specific broadband service provider.

It is also worth noting that broadband service providers, and ISPs, tend to mention the maximum speeds available. When

Another point to note is that many people are using fiber connections these days - learn how to hook a router into a fiber connection - an additional modem may be required or provided by your broadband provider.

Make sure your broadband provider can deliver data at the speed you want. Again, providers often quote maximum speeds, so when a lot of users get into their networks, speeds often slow down.

Protection

Hackers are regularly making headlines these days. Accordingly, security is an important issue to consider when choosing the best router to buy.

Wireless networks can be very insecure - they are said to be as unsecure as they are convenient! Without the network properly secured, anyone within the signal range of the router could eavesdrop on what is going on and capture secure information such as bank and card details.

When choosing the best router to buy, make sure it uses at least WPA2 (the second implementation of Wi-Fi Protected Access Protocol). However, it is necessary to ensure that every device on the network must also support WPA2 for this to work. Security is only as good as the least secure device.

Reputable major router manufacturers understand the need for security and have been designed with advanced enterprise or family security in mind. These devices come with many additional features, including the ability to add additional encryption, monitor devices, block unwanted users from the network, and even see what people are browsing. Check the facilities available and whether they meet the needs.

Wi-Fi bands

The main Wi-Fi bands are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Most routers these days have the option to use any of the bands. As such they are called dual band Wi-Fi routers.

Wi-Fi bands 2.4GHz vs. 5GHz

Sometimes Wi-Fi routers have two separate radios, which means they can set up two separate wireless networks - one on each band, to improve speeds when there are a lot of users - the router can split the number of users in each band to enable it optimal speeds obtainable, but these routers tend to be the most popular enterprise Wi-Fi routers.

For local users, make sure the router is dual band and then it can select the best band for best performance.

Some tri-band routers are available. They may have two separate bands within the 5GHz region. Alternatively, they may use completely different frequencies. If this is the case, make sure that the domains are licensed for the country of use.

Routers with MU-MIMO

Many new routers come with a facility called MU-MIMO. Routers that have this facility will be able to deliver high speed data. Also if a large number of people are connected to the video services, MU-MIMO is definitely an advantage.

Router antennas

The antenna on any wireless component is very important, the same applies to Wi-Fi routers and should be considered when buying a Wi-Fi router.

When comparing routers, it can be noted that some models have antennas protruding from the case, usually at the top. Other routers have internal antennas and tend to look more elegant, but the radiated signal is not as strong. Routers with antennas also do not have any position adjustment. This can come in handy when getting the best coverage.

There's a balance between getting excellent coverage and appearance - the most stylish are often able to provide adequate coverage, but consider all options when buying a new router.

Wave beam shaping

Some advanced routers have a capability known as packet shaping. This is an advanced option in some modern routers that can greatly improve signal strength and speed.

Beamforming or spatial filtering allows the router to focus the signal towards specific devices rather than covering the entire area with the same signal strength.

Purchasing a router with beamforming capability is likely to result in better performance.

Use as an access point and repeater

Many existing routers can also be set up to act as an access point or repeater. This can be very useful when trying to cover a large area because it is often impossible to get good coverage from a single router.

When buying a router that needs to perform in either of these roles, check the specifications because many but not all routers can perform in these roles.

As an access point, the Ethernet line is taken from the router interface to the broadband connection and this is transmitted to the access point. The new router is then configured to act as an access point - this will be in the instructions and very clear in the setup procedure. It is also possible to set it to have the same ID and password as the main router so that the overall system looks like one Wi-Fi network and not two.

If the router is required to operate as a repeater, this will also be configured in the setup procedure. Place the repeater where it can receive a good signal from the original router and also provide dead zone coverage.

Buying a router with these capabilities will likely cost a bit more, but it offers a lot of additional power that can be used right away, or later if the need arises.

There are several points to consider when buying a new Wi-Fi router. While most of them will perform perfectly well in most situations, it is worth considering what is really needed and then matching that to the specifications and cost. It also helps to understand some of the key buzzwords associated with Wi-Fi routers, so you can understand exactly what kind of Wi-FI router you are buying.

4th Oct 2021

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