Home Networking Guide

Should I use equipment from an ISP? Yes and no. If your ISP offers a free modem, take it. But if you have to buy or “rent” one from your ISP, it’s better to ask for the list of approved modems and buy your own from a third-party retailer. It’s a much better deal to spend about Rs. 1,500- Rs. 2,000 for a cable modem than paying Rs. 45 or so a month to rent it. And keep in mind that most broadband modems work the same.

 

Is USB support necessary? Many routers come with a USB port; some even come with two. Generally, this allows the router to host a printer or an external hard drive. The former means that you can share an USB printer with the rest of the network, allowing multiple computers, including those connected to the network via Wi-Fi, to print to that printer simultaneously. The latter means that you can connect an external hard drive to the router and share data stored on it to all network devices in the local network, including the ability to stream digital content to network media players.

Note that many new printers now come with built-in network features, meaning that they can connect to the network by themselves via a network cable or Wi-Fi without using their USB port. In this case, you don’t need a router with a USB port to share these printers.

 

Dual-band or single-band? Wi-Fi signal works on two frequency bands, the ever-popular 2.4Ghz and the relatively new 5Ghz. Though Wi-Fi signals of the same standard share the same speed caps on both of these bands, the 5Ghz band tends to offers much better real-world data rates. This is partly because the 2.4Ghz band is saturated due to the sheer number of Wi-Fi clients on the market, and also because other home appliances, such as cordless phones, use this band, too.

 

If you live in a neighborhood with few Wi-Fi networks around, or if you just want to share the connection to the Internet, a good single-band 2.4Ghz router should work just fine. On the other hand, if you want to have a robust Wi-Fi network with lots of local and Internet activities, you probably want a dual-band router that offers Wi-Fi signals on both bands simultaneously. Note that which band a Wi-Fi connection uses depends on both the router and the client.

 

When do I need an access point? An access point (AP) is a device that broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal so clients, such as a tablet, can connect to it. A wireless router is actually a regular router with a built-in access point. There are generally two situations where you’d need an access point: when you want to add or extend a Wi-Fi signal to an existing network. The former is when your existing router or office network doesn’t already offer Wi-Fi. Since most home routers now come with Wi-Fi capability, its best to get an access point, place it farther away from the router’s existing Wi-Fi coverage, and connect it to the router using a network cable. Note that most routers can also work as an access point.

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