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Domestic broadband routers explained

The broadband router you use as well as the settings you employ for it can make a big difference in terms of your signal and service. While all modern routers will do the job, it is worth knowing a little about them so you can configure yours properly, know what to look for if you choose to replace it, and what kind of performance you should expect. Here are a few of the market leading products and a bit about them.

First, it is good to get an idea of some of the terminology around wireless routers. Most important to know is the basic functioning of the system, the broadband connection comes through a cable or wire to your house where it is transformed by the router into a signal you wireless devices can pick up. This can be with either conventional ADSL (which is used by most BT connections), Fibre connections, or cable connections (which run on the digital cable network used for digital TV). Regardless, the basic functioning is the same, but you will need a router that matches your service type (cable, fibre, or ADSL).

B, G, and N refer to the standard of speed to which the router can handle the internet traffic. B has a limit of 11Mbps, G has a limit of 54 Mbps, and N has a limit of over 100 Mbps. Other acronyms you should know about are WEP/WPA/WPA2. This is straightforward also: WEP is a very low security setting that is quite outdated, WPA is more acceptable and offers a reasonable amount of security, while WPA2 is top of the line. Finally, channels are the spectrum through which the broadband is sent, and you can tune to different channels (which should only be necessary in the event that you’re experiencing bad service quality. In this case, consider switching away from channels 1, 6, or 11 in the event you have slow speed.

Here are some of the more popular routers available:

Sky Hub cable router

Sky Smart Signal functionality is one of the benefits of this router, which helps alleviate some of the optimisation issues with channels mentioned above. It also offers built-in security features and easy installation, as well as optimised power consumption.

Virgin Media Super Hub

This offering from Virgin leverages the N technology mentioned earlier which allows it to offer speeds of up to 200 Mbps.

BT Router Home Hub

One of the benefits of the BT offering is power consumption. It probably makes not much sense to have wireless activated in your home when no one is using it, since this uses electricity. So the Home Hub allows users to flick a switch and instantly disable wireless signals.

BT have been refining this offering for years now so it is quite advanced in terms of security and ease-of-use.