A router is an integral part of any modern household. Usually rectangular in shape, equipped with a couple of antennas, it silently stands on coffee gables, dusty cupboards, on the floor, behind the sofa or slammed somewhere in the closet. It’s the magic box that most people think gives us our digital lifeblood – the Internet. It is true to some extent, but Wi-Fi technology is only part of a chain that enables you to connect to various devices. Let’s get a few things straight on how a wireless router works and what’s its role in connecting you to the World Wide Web.
Routers Are Not Modems
First of all, let’s point out that routers and modems are not the same things. A modem is a separate device that acts as the source of your internet. The modem receives information from your provider through the phone lines, optical fiber, or coaxial cable and converts it into a digital signal.
The router’s job is to split and push this signal out through radio waves, so that all the devices in, let’s say, your apartment can get access online. If it weren’t for the router, we probably would have to get several modems for every used device, and that would be highly inconvenient and expensive. The good news is that most modern-day wireless routers have modem units integrated.
How Does It Work?
Wireless routers are like seasoned digital gatekeepers and navigators at the same time. They encrypt data flowing inside of the network and also recognize and send information from different devices to the correct source. Wireless routers receive signals, decode them, and then send the information to the internet using a wired connection. The router can also receive information from the internet, translate it into radio waves, and then send it to various devices. This is often used when applying Wi-Fi marketing techniques.
Think of a router as a middleman between you and the internet provider – it assigns a local IP address to each of the devices online and ensures that the data is forwarded in the right place, rather than getting lost. Without enough information data packets could easily get mixed up, but the router makes sure that each device has a unique number so that the information reaches its destination. A router is basically like an experienced courier, navigating the vast and complex roads of the Internet, in order to get your message across.
How to Choose the Right Router?
Knowing how a wireless router works really opens up your perspective on technology and gives you a better idea on how to choose and safely set up a Wi-Fi hotspot. Here are some basic things you can start with:
Connection type. If you use your home phone for internet access, you will need an ADSL router. For other connections, such as cable or wireless broadband providers, you will need a non-ADSL router.
Security. Routers offer different security protocols such as WEP, WPA, and WPA2. WPA2 is considered the best so most new routers offer.
Router Speed. The speed of the router has a huge impact on internal network performance when you stream music, videos and share files.
Antenna. Most routers have internal antennas but they don’t match the power range of an external antenna. It can increase the overall range of the router so you can access the internet from any corner of your premises.
Dual-band. Most routers work on the 2.4GHz frequency range. Other devices such as microwaves and cordless phones operate at the same frequency. To avoid possible interference, you should consider a dual-band router that allows connection to exceed 5GHz frequency band.