The internet is something we all need in our daily lives and we rely on the internet to do almost everything we do these days. Some of these things include online banking, working from home, running a business, kid’s homework, gaming, watching TV shows or movies plus much more. The internet is essentially the centre of all of our lives.
The internet is the central point of our customers lives and it’s connected through a home network, usually with just one router. But many people do very little research into home network equipment or even know what is out there that they could get that could improve their home network’s speed and connectivity capabilities, making the things they do in their daily lives so much better. This article will look at some of the basics as well as highlight some new technology and accessories that might be useful for those looking to upgrade or improve their current home network.
What is the difference between a router and a modem router?
A modem router contains everything needed within it such as the modem, router and access point. It is suitable for ADSL and VDSL connections and acts as a bridge between the internet and the home network. But may not be necessary if you already have a modem. A router on the other hand enables wireless connectivity in a home and sends content from the modem, through the router and then to the devices connected wirelessly to the router in the home. Routers are usually connected to modems via an Ethernet cable.
What is mesh Wi-Fi or Whole home Wi-FI?
When you have router or a modem router in your home, it is just one unit that sits in one part of your home and the signal from it needs to travel from that point to every room in the home. Many people will find often when they have just one router that in some places the signal is great, but maybe in the bedroom upstairs, the signal isn’t so great at all, in fact it may be awful there. Maybe you are able to stream something like Netflix really well in your living room, but when you go to your bedroom to do it, it buffers and it’s slow. Many will think it’s their internet speed and will call their internet provider on the phone, but actually it may just be that the router in the home isn’t able to reach the bedroom that well. It’s just too far away.
A mesh Wi-Fi router will be able to deal with the issue of distance and improve signals in hard to reach areas. It consists of a single router that connects to your modem. But it comes with a series of satellite devices that can be placed around the home which can connect to the router and broadcast a stronger signal. A mesh network will be able to reach more devices and has far greater range than a single router. But a Wi-Fi mesh network is generally more expensive than purchasing a single router when it comes to the better brands on the market so shopping around for a good deal is advised and there are many available brands out there to choose from.
A good example of what mesh Wi-Fi is like can be seen in one of Google’s videos below for their product. You can see in the video where you place each of the three satellite units around your home and how better signal coverage is created. Other mesh Wi-Fi brands will work in a similar way, Google is not the only one on the market.
What are Powerline adapters?
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a mesh network when you maybe just need a powerline adapter to solve your connectivity issues? Powerline adapters work using Ethernet cables and your home’s electricity network. The internet will travel from your router through your home’s electricity network and then to the device you connect it to. No Wi-Fi needed.
What you do is plug an Ethernet cable into your router, then plug that Ethernet cable into a powerline adapter, then put that powerline adapter into a wall socket in your house. Then go to the room where you don’t have a great signal and plug that powerline adapter into the wall then get an Ethernet cable and plug it into the device you want to have internet on.
Powerline adapters are useful for a few different reasons:
- Signal Interference: Some homes have thick walls, thick furniture or other devices that interfere with signals that just naturally block Wi-Fi and not much can be done. Powerline adapters can be used to get around this by sending the internet through your electricity network and into another room using Ethernet cables.
- Old devices: Some older internet connected devices such as a Foxtel IQ 2 or maybe older Blu-Ray or Desktop Computers may be able to connect to the internet but they don’t have Wi-Fi. But they do have Ethernet connections on the back of them. A powerline adapter can be used to get an Ethernet cable to that device if it is in a room in the house that’s too far away from the router.
- Devices out of Wi-Fi range: You may have a bedroom with only 1 device in there such as a PlayStation, Xbox or PC. You could buy a mesh network but it’s expensive for just one device. Instead you could just get a powerline adapter and get that room connected with Ethernet instead.
Useful Things To Look For When Setting Up A Home Network
Setting up a home network is expensive, a good one costs a few hundred dollars and the devices only last so many years. But the good thing about this is that technology moves so fast that the devices on offer are upgraded with new features every year and some of these can be quite useful. Here’s some extra things to look for.
- Mu-MIMO: If you can find a router that offers Mu-MIMO support, it will be better equipped to communicate with multiple devices. Remember, increasingly we live in a connected home, so getting something that can handle more than 5 devices is very important. Your home network needs to be able to easily handle multiple devices and switch between them.
- Look for a brands that offer apps to manage the router from your smartphone: This is becoming increasingly common in the market, but it is still rather new. Some brands offer apps to connect the router to a smart phone to enable certain features such as prioritising certain devices over others. Say for example you have many devices connected in your home and you are watching a movie on Netflix in the lounge room. Then one of the kids goes in their bedroom and starts downloading a game. You might find in some cases that your connection is now slowed or even worse, it’s stopped. There’s no way to control this in most cases on older routers. But some companies offer apps that can be used to prioritise certain devices over others so if you’re watching a movie in one room, you can prioritise it using the app and it won’t drop out if someone goes in another room and starts downloading a game. There’s other features with some apps such as conducting speed tests, setting up parental controls or even disconnecting certain devices entirely from the network. Every brand is different and you do need to do your own research, but below is an example for how apps work on the Google branded routers and here is one for how apps work on Netgear’s Orbi here.
- Look for routers and devices with security features: The online world is not always safe and you need to make sure you’re protected. Check if the devices you are purchasing have any security features. Can you put a password on them? Do they come with parental controls? Can you block unwanted devices?
It’s now possible through many newer devices and accessories to never have signals drop out in your home at all. But every home is different so it’s a good idea to do research on what’s best for you and your set up when setting up a home network.