Best Wireless Access Point for Home

One of the best  ways to improve your  Wi-Fi’s coverage, speed (throughput), and reliability, is to add a wireless access point (AP) to your home network.

What is a wireless access point anyway?

Simply put, a wireless access point is a device that connects to your wired network and makes your network available wirelessly. It consists of a network port and one or more Wi-Fi radios that are used to serve wireless devices.

Think of a wireless access point as having a second router in your home that can be used in order to extend the coverage of your wireless network. In fact, all wireless routers include an access point – it just happens to be built into the router, so it isn’t called an access point in that case.

A wireless router is like a swiss army knife – it performs several core functions within your network. Not only does it route traffic (thus the name “router”), it also acts as a firewall, a switch, an access point, a DHCP server, and sometimes a modem.

An access point only serves one purpose – to provide wireless connectivity to devices on your network. You can’t get online with just an access point – you need a router as well.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using an access point versus a wireless router?

hands typing on keyboard

Benefits

Using wireless access point(s) gives you the ability to distribute one or more AP’s throughout your home, which serves to increase the range and signal quality of your wireless network. This in turn makes your wireless network run faster and more reliably.

Speaking of reliability – as with many things in life, devices that are designed to accomplish just one task generally perform that task better than a device that is designed to accomplish many different tasks. This principle also applies to wireless routers versus an access point – the old adage “Jack of all trades and master of none” definitely applies here.

Since access points are designed only to efficiently and reliably connect wireless devices to the wired network, they generally do the job of serving wireless clients better than a router does.

Another benefit of access points is that they can be placed strategically – such as ceiling mounted or installed inside of a network jack gang box.

Drawbacks

Wireless access points are enterprise-grade networking equipment and are not generally marketed toward consumers. Thus, they usually require a bit more technical ability and knowledge of computer networking than a consumer-grade wireless router would.

Access points also require additional wiring work. This is both a pro and a con. Since the AP is usually placed in a strategic area to provide the best coverage, it usually requires running an Ethernet cable from the desired placement location back to wherever your router is.

This can be a lot of work, depending on the construction and layout of your home, and the proximity of the AP to your router. The amount of work also depends on how accessible of a crawlspace or attic your home has, whether or not you own or rent (which means you can’t drill into walls, floors, and ceilings), and the degree to which you wish to hide the wiring versus simply running it in plain sight along the baseboard or ceiling.

Another drawback of using a wireless access point, is price. Since using an AP also requires a router, you must buy an AP and a router, plus additional cabling. In some cases, you also need to buy a switch or firewall as well, depending on your needs and the capabilities of your current router.

The time required to run wiring (or pay labor costs to have someone else do it) should also be considered.

What is the best wireless access point for home?

Some of the best wireless AP’s on the market right now, are the UniFi product line from Ubiquiti. They are extremely popular, and for good reason – they strike an excellent balance of performance, features, ease of use, and reliability – all at an excellent price point. We recommend the UniFi AC LR (Long Range) and Lite models:

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAP-AC-LR-US),White
802.11AC Support
Power Over Ethernet (POE)
Optimized for Larger Homes
Footprint
Medium
-
Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE UniFi AP AC LITE 802.11ac Gigabit Dual-Radio PoE
802.11AC Support
Power Over Ethernet (POE)
Optimized for Larger Homes
Footprint
Small
-

About Ubiquiti

Ubiquiti Networks has been around since 2005. They are well known among wireless internet service providers for making quality gear that is easy to manage.

They were originally known for making outdoor, long range fixed wireless equipment that allowed for high speed connections between buildings over long distances. Over time, their product lines have expanded and they have moved into other technologies of computer networking such as switches, routers, and access points.

 

The UniFi Solution

The Ubiquiti UniFi wireless solution consists of several different pieces of technology that can be put together in a customized fashion to build a very robust and feature-rich network solution. We are only reviewing their access points here, but we wanted to make our readers aware that there are several other add-on’s to the UniFi solution that will add features and visibility into your network if you wish to explore that.

The main components in the UniFi solution are the access points, the security gateway, the switches, and the controller (Cloud Key). Most components are optional – you can piece things together however you’d like, using only a single component (like an AP) if you like, or using them all together.

Access Points

The access points serve to connect wireless devices to the wired network and are the main topic of this article.

UniFi Security Gateway

The UniFi Security Gateway (USG) serves as a router and firewall. This is not your typical wireless router that you purchase at Amazon – it only performs a subset of the duties that a typical consumer-grade router does, which is just routing and firewall duties.

It also generally does a much better job of handling these duties than a typical wireless router, which is expected to handle everything. Is it any wonder that most people have to reboot their wireless router regularly?

UniFi Switch

UniFi Switches are Ethernet switches that expand the port capacity of your network and allow you to plug all of your wired devices into your network reliably and at high speed. They also serve as the connection point for the AP’s.

UniFi Controller

The UniFi Controller brings everything together. It is used to configure everything initially or to make changes down the road. It also provides a ton of reporting and security features.

The Controller can be ran on a computer or server in your home, or you can opt for the Cloud Key, which runs the controller software on a self-contained micro device that you simply plug into your network.

What is ‘Prosumer’ gear? A disclaimer:

wireless network layout

By now you are probably saying “OK hold on, this sounds complicated”. You are right.

We wanted to stop here and issue a disclaimer for anyone considering purchasing the UniFi solution.

The UniFi solution is considered “Prosumer Equipment”: it is professional-level equipment that is also suitable for savvy consumers.

This equipment is designed for professional use – it is intended to be used in enterprise environments, where the requirements for speed, security, and reliability are stricter than a residential environment. That’s what makes this equipment so desirable – it is professional grade.

There are, however, tons of people using UniFi gear in their homes. It works very well for home use… as long as you can manage installing it and getting everything up and running.

Anyone purchasing UniFi equipment should be somewhat savvy with computer networking. You should also be willing and prepared to Google for help, read forums, watch YouTube videos, and have some patience during the process. If this is you – we say go for it.

If this scares the daylights out of you – perhaps the UniFi solution isn’t for you. Or, perhaps you should consider hiring someone to install and configure it for you if it’s something you really want installed in your home.

It can, after all, be installed and configured very quickly by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Different types of AP’s

There are dozens of different UniFi AP’s SKU’s, however we are narrowing it down here to the UniFi AP AC line, which supports the newest 802.11AC wireless standard. We aren’t discussing any of the older Wireless B/G/N products here.

The four main types of UniFi AC access points are HD, Pro, LR, and Lite. You can explore more about these models here: https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ac/

Since we are looking for the best wireless access point for home, I won’t discuss the HD and Pro models here. Those models are generally geared at larger and more dense deployments than anyone would need in their home, such as a large office, church, or stadium.

The two models that the team here at Infravio recommends are the LR and Lite version. Dare I say, these models are slightly aimed at home users, even though they are enterprise-grade.

UniFi AP AC LRUniFi AC LR AP antenna

The LR model contains most of the features common to any of the AP’s in the UniFi AC line, however is is designed to go longer distances.

It contains an antenna design that allows it to reach further into the corners of your home and yard, all from a single AP. This antenna allows it to not only transmit data further distances, but it also allows for receipt of data from a longer distance – something that a simple high-powered AP can’t accomplish alone.

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAP-AC-LR-US),White
  • Ubiquit Unifi AP AC Long range
  • The installer needs networking knowledge to get it to work properly so for people that can’t get it to work.

UniFi AP AC Lite

The Lite model also contains most of the features of the other UniFi AP’s, however it is smaller and more compact than the other models. It is also generally the lowest-priced option of the line, making it an excellent option for home users.

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE UniFi AP AC LITE 802.11ac Gigabit Dual-Radio PoE
  • Original brand product.
  • Two-year warranty against factory defects.

Pros and Cons

Note: These apply to both the LR and Lite models unless otherwise noted, as they are very similar.

Pros:

  • Excellent coverage from a single access point (especially the LR model)
  • Wireless connections are reliable
  • Great price point
  • Plays nice with other UniFi AP’s (even if they are not the same model)
  • Powered over Ethernet for simplicity – no need to run separate power, just a single Ethernet cable

Cons:

  • Requires controller software (or Cloud Key) to setup initially – needs to be running regularly if you want to see data/reports or any time you wish to make changes
  • AP only – still requires a router to get online
  • Advanced setup requires some networking knowledge and persistance
  • Older UniFi AP units don’t support standard POE – make sure you get a newer one or use the included AC power brick
  • Ceiling mount can be difficult to install
  • Many people report difficultly getting good support from Ubiquiti

Performance all around

Both the LR and Lite versions bring speed and stability to your Wi-Fi network – something that I think most users are looking for. Additionally, they both support advanced features such as band steering and airtime fairness, which help ensure an enjoyable experience.

Your choice

Most people will be happy with the LR or Lite. It’s up to you to choose which one you prefer. If you are needing to cover a greater area, perhaps the LR model is the best choice. If you are more price sensitive and wanting something with a smaller footprint, perhaps you should consider the Lite model.

If you are needing to cover a really large area, you should consider installing multiple AP’s. That is one of the benefits of using AP’s instead of a single wireless router – you can grow your network over time, adding AP’s as your need for a larger coverage area increases.

 

 

Best Router for a Guest Network

Best Router for a Guest Network

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give guests access to your Wi-Fi without worrying about them having access to everything on your network such as your files, computers, security cameras, etc.

Previously I had wondered this as well. I always cringed a little bit when I gave out my Wi-Fi password.

Even though I typically only gave it out to people I trusted, such as friends and family, you never really know if the information might be shared later.

Another concern is that you never know what may happen to a device that has your Wi-Fi credentials stored on it. Perhaps you give your password to a friend today, and maybe their tablet gets stolen tomorrow.

The thief could potentially find and access your wireless network from the tablet, or even worse, extract the password from it and share it on the dark web.

Another common scenario would be if your friend sold or gave their tablet to someone else, which could easily lead to your password being compromised.

The point is, once you start to give out your Wi-Fi password, you have lost control of the potential security implications that its distribution might bring about later.

Luckily, there is another way. Many modern routers feature guest network capability, which does exactly what its name implies – it allows you to create a special Wi-Fi network for your guests.

How it works

The guest network will have a different name (SSID) and a different password. Devices that join the guest network will still be able to access the Internet, but they will be restricted from accessing any of your private internal network resources, such as file shares (NAS), printers, security cameras, and more.

This means that you can give out your guest network credentials to friends and family without worrying so much about your security.

Additional Features

Some routers will have additional advanced guest network settings such as the ability to throttle bandwidth, define access schedules, etc.

Bandwidth Throttling

Routers that support guest network bandwidth throttling allow you to define how much bandwidth your guests can use. Sometimes, this limit is a global limit (enforced across the sum of all users) and others this limit is enforced per-user.

For example, my home broadband connection runs at 40Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. In light of this, I have chosen to set my guest user bandwidth policy to 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

This is plenty of bandwidth that a typical guest user would need. It is enough for basic surfing or even streaming a video on YouTube.

It prevents a guest user from (knowingly or unknowingly) abusing access and consuming large amounts of bandwidth by downloading something large, running BitTorrent, etc.

This ensures that my family will still have an enjoyable experience online, since the majority of my bandwidth will be reserved for them.

Access Scheduling

Some routers support the ability to define a schedule for guest network access.

For example, if you only want your guest network to be available on weekdays between 8AM and 5PM, you can configure this.

Any time outside of that schedule, the guest network won’t even appear in the list of available networks and no device will be able to connect to it. How’s that for cool!?

Best Router for a Guest Network – TP-Link Archer A7

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • OneMesh Compatible Router- Form a seamless WiFi when work with TP-Link OneMesh WiFi Extenders.Processor : Qualcomm CPU.
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range Wi-Fi. System Requirements-Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 12.0, Chrome 20.0, Safari 4.0, or other JavaScript-enabled browser. Cable or DSL Modem (if needed)
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The TP-Link Archer A7 features all of the Guest Network capabilities mentioned above. Not only does it have the capability to create a basic guest network, but it also allows for bandwidth throttling and access scheduling.

Configuring the Guest Network features can be done easily from the administrative interface:

Archer C7 Guest Network Configuration

As you can see, you can easily configure an access schedule from the Web UI:

Archer C7 Guest Network Configuration

Configuring bandwidth throttling is equally easy:

The team here at Infravio loves the Archer A7 from TP-Link and we recommend it to our readers regularly.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • OneMesh Compatible Router- Form a seamless WiFi when work with TP-Link OneMesh WiFi Extenders.Processor : Qualcomm CPU.
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range Wi-Fi. System Requirements-Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 12.0, Chrome 20.0, Safari 4.0, or other JavaScript-enabled browser. Cable or DSL Modem (if needed)
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The Archer A7 features a host of great features and specifications beyond its guest network capability, which explains its high ratings and widespread popularity.

How to access my Netgear router

Accessing your Netgear router’s web interfacenetgear login page

The process for accessing a Netgear router’s configuration screen is actually a little bit easier than most other home router brands.

This is because Netgear uses the routerlogin.com (or routerlogin.net) URL to redirect you to the Netgear router on your own network. That way, you don’t have to remember the IP address of your router. Pretty slick.

To start, open your favorite web browser

  • Clear out anything and everything in the address bar
  • Type in www.routerlogin.com OR www.routerlogin.net (either one will work)
  • Press Enter

You should be directed to the router’s login screen and prompted for a username and password. If not, verify that you spelled www.routerlogin.com or www.routerlogin.net correctly.

If you spelled it correctly, try the other routerlogin varient – assuming you tried www.routerlogin.com the first time – try again, this time using www.routerlogin.net. Likewise, if you tried .net first, try switching to .com.

If it’s still not working, try a different web browser. Also, make sure the computer you are using is connected to your network, either via Wi-Fi or wired in directly.

Find the router’s IP address

If that still doesn’t work, try finding the router’s IP address. See this article for the procedure.

Once you’ve located the router’s IP address, go back to your favorite browser and clear out the address bar again. Now enter the IP address of the router and press enter.

You should finally receive a username and password prompt to login to your router.

Login Credentials

username password login prompt

Now you’ll need your router’s administrator credentials in order to login. For Netgear routers, the username is always admin. It cannot be changed to anything else.

The password is whatever you selected when you first set up the router. It is technically a different password than your Wi-Fi password, but it is possible that you used the same password for both, so give that password a try if you’re unsure.

If you still aren’t sure what the password is, try password or 1234 which are the default passwords for most Netgear devices. Perhaps you never changed the password from the default when you first set the router up.

Reset your router’s configuration to factory defaults

If you are still unsure of what your password is, and the default passwords don’t work either, your only choice is to reset your router to the factory default configuration.

Be advised that this will require you to go through the initial set up again – you will have to set up your Wi-Fi network name (SSID), the Wi-Fi password, the new administrator password, and any other special configurations you previously had in place such as static IP addresses, PPPoE usernames/passwords, port forwarding configurations, etc.

Your internet will likely stop functioning until your router is set up again. If your ISP requires you to use a username and password with their service, make sure you have that information accessible.

If you don’t have it, I recommend contacting them and requesting the information before you reset the router – that way you don’t end up without an internet connection longer than necessary.

computer router login screen

Reasons why you would need to access your router’s management interface

Below are some of the common reasons why a person would need to access the management interface on their router. It is certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • To change their Wi-Fi network name (SSID) or Wi-Fi password
  • To change the IP address of their router
  • To change the IP address of other devices on their network
  • To set up new port forwarding on their router so that they can access their home network via the internet
  • To set up a VPN connection
  • To access/change their PPPoE credentials provided by their ISP
  • To change the hostname of their router
  • To change the Wi-Fi channel their router uses
  • To enable or disable certain bands (2.4Ghz or 5.0Ghz)
  • To check their public IP address
  • To find out how many devices are connected to their network
  • To implement parental access controls
  • To view their bandwidth usage statistics
  • To upgrade their firmware or reboot their router
  • To modify their firewall settings

Remember the steps for next time

I recommend writing down the steps you used to access your router, and the working username and password.

It’s not every day that you need to change settings on your router, but the need does arise every so often. Save yourself a headache later and write the information down now while it is fresh in your head.

Best Router for Frontier FiOS

frontier logo

FiOS service from Frontier Communications is a high-speed internet service brought into your home via fiber optic cabling.

If you are luckly enough to live in an area where FiOS is available, congratulations. Fiber-based internet service such as FiOS is far superior to the other broadband technologies most Americans’ get to deal with. It is generally both faster and more reliable than cable, DSL, or fixed wireless technologies.

As great as FiOS service is, however, the included router is not-so-great. Many people report that the included router does not perform well, especially when Wi-Fi is in use.

This leaves many people wondering what the best router for Frontier FiOS is?

Well, don’t sweat. We’ve reviewed the current offerings available on the consumer networking market, and will detail our pick here.

What is the best router for Frontier FiOS?

Here are the best routers for Frontier FiOS, listed in order of our preference:

  1. ASUS RT-AC86U Dual Band AC2900 Router
  2. Netgear R6700 Dual Band AC1750 Router
  3. Linksys EA7500 Dual Band AC1900 Router
  4. ASUS RT-AC68U Dual Band AC1900 Router

Our Top Pick: Asus RT-AC86U

ASUS RT-AC86U
  • Connector Type : USB.Antenna: External detachable antenna x 3. Internal antenna x 1..Memory : 256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
  • Dual-band (2.4 plus 5 GHz) AC2900 wireless router with the latest 802. 11AC MU-MIMO technology for data transfer speeds up to 2900 Mbps
  • 1.8GHz 32bit dual-core processor optimizes network traffic and connectivity speeds from the USB 3. 1 Gen1 and 4x Gigabit LAN ports
  • Designed for lag-free online gaming and flawless 4K UHD streaming with WTFast game Accelerator and adaptive QoS; Product Segment: AC2900 ultimate AC performance: 750 plus 2167 Mbps
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides built-in 24/7 protection from external attacks and threats, neutralizing them before they reach your network or connected devices. DC Output : 19 V with max. 1.75 A current

Why the RT-AC86U is a good choice for FiOS

The team here at Infravio loves the RT-AC86U and recommends it to our readers frequently. This router is loaded with features, boasts excellent speed and reliability, and sells at a semi-affordable mid-range price point.

It excels for Frontier FiOS customers for several reasons:

  • It supports the latest 802.11AC wireless standard for superior range and bandwidth
  • Super-fast dual-band AC2900 rated with multiuser MIMO
  • It supports all of the features commonly supported in a Wi-Fi router, plus several unique features
  • Its’ WAN port supports a Gigabit Ethernet connection to the Frontier FiOS ONT – this is especially important for customers with the 150Mbps and 500Mbps plans, to ensure that you actually get the speeds you are paying for
  • It features a 1.8GHz dual core CPU to support multitasking and ensure fast throughput

Additional unique features not found on all routers

  • Ability to monitor and manage the router from a smartphone app
  • AiMesh technology support – able to connect with other ASUS routers to create a whole-home mesh network for better coverage and throughput
  • Range Boost technology for increased range and signal stability
  • Additional advanced features including IPv6 support, VPN server, and ability to create additional SSID’s
fiber spelling fiber

Why not use the included FiOS router?

Most FiOS installations are completed using the Frontier-issued Actiontec gateway or FiOS Quantum gateway (or equivalent).

These devices do not match the performance level of many aftermarket consumer-grade routers available today. Many people complain about insufficient Wi-Fi range, inability to support multiple devices very well, limited speeds over Wi-Fi, and limited customization options of the included routers.

Many people also don’t like the idea of being forced to pay a monthly lease fee to Frontier for one of these devices. Others simply wish to use features that may not be supported by the FiOS-provided box.

Fiber service is superior to Cable, DSL, fixed wireless, or other types of broadband because it is a very high capacity, very low latency, and a highly reliable medium. If you are lucky enough to have it in your home, you should make sure your router is up to the task as well.

Think of it this way – someone that drives a Station Wagon probably isn’t going to notice a difference if they fill it with premium fuel. But someone with a sports car definitely will notice a difference.

Bottom line: You are paying for a high speed, premium service – you have a sports car. Don’t put cheap fuel in it by settling for a sub-par router.

Things to know before you replace your FiOS-issued router

router with lan cable

Before you buy a new router, you should know a couple of things about your existing FiOS router:

  • If you have bundled FiOS television or voice services with your internet, you should pay special attention. These services generally rely on the FiOS-issued router in order to function. Replacing the provided router without considering this may result in certain services or features not working.
  • Also, you’ll need to check the connection type between your ONT and the router, as this may need to be changed before you upgrade your router.

Bundled services generally still depend on the FiOS router

Based on discussions and experimentation by other subscribers, FiOS voice services still require the original router in order to operate. You can usually either:

  • Connect the original router to a LAN port on your new router – thus voice/TV service would still operate through both routers and your Internet service would only use the new router.
  • Place the original router in ‘bridged mode’ and connect the new router through it – Internet traffic would pass through both routers, but it wouldn’t face the performance drawbacks or complications of being double-NAT’d since the original router wouldn’t be performing any routing duties. This requires first logging into the original router and reprogramming it from routed to bridged mode.

If you are an internet + TV subscriber only (no voice service), you may be able to utilize an Actiontec MOCA adapter to remove the original router completely, as documented here:  https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/simplify-fios-dump-actiontec-and-use-your-own-router/.

Basically, this procedure involves connecting the MOCA adapter to a LAN port on your new router, and then connect the Coax cable that was connecting to your FiOS-issued router to the MOCA adapter. This allows the set top boxes to still access the internet via the MOCA adapter + your new router.

Your router’s connection to the ONT may not be Ethernet

fiber cable exploded view

This generally only applies to customers that joined FiOS when it was still Verizon-branded, as new installations are no longer provisioned this way.

Originally, FiOS installs used a Coax (MOCA) connection from the ONT to the router. ONT stands for Optical Network Terminal and is the box that terminates the fiber signal coming into your house and converts it to a signal the router can understand.

If your install is configured this way, you will need to change it to an Ethernet (Cat5e) handoff before you install a new router, because none of the popular consumer-grade routers available today feature a Coax port.

There are two steps to this procedure:

  1. Run a new Cat5e cable between the ONT and router. This may be a piece of cake if you have an Indoor ONT. If your ONT is exterior (usually mounted on the outside of your house), running a new wire from the inside (where your router is located) to the outside of the house (where your ONT is located) can be substantially more work.
  2. Once the wiring is ready, you will need to contact Frontier Communications technical support (1.800.921.8101) and request that they  re-provision your ONT to use an Ethernet port instead of the Coax port. The Alcatel or Motorola ONT you have should already have an ethernet port, so they just need to re-configure the device to deliver your services over this port. Once this is done, they will tell you to plug in the new wire. Connect the other end to your new router, and you’re done.

More Great Choices

If you’re not interested in the ASUS RT-AC86U, (it is a little pricey, after all!) here are a few other models we would recommend for use with Frontier FiOS:

The best router for Verizon FiOS

In select parts of the country, Verizon FiOS still exists and hasn’t (yet) been acquired by Frontier Communications. If you are one of these customers, our recommendations here apply to you as well – since the Frontier FiOS and Verizon FiOS services are so similar.

The bottom line – pretty much any router will work

As long as your ONT is set up to provide an Ethernet handoff (as discussed above), pretty much any consumer-grade wireless router will work with your Frontier FiOS service. Just make sure it is a new enough router to allow you to get the speeds you are paying Frontier for. Many older routers only have a 10/100 WAN port, meaning that they aren’t capable of running any faster than 100Mbps and thus would limit a 150M or 500M Frontier customer to 100M.

Best Router for Brick Walls

Best Router for Brick Walls

Looking for a good wireless router to go with your high speed Internet connection but live in a house or apartment made of brick or concrete?

Look no further – let’s discuss the best router for brick or concrete walls.

What is the best router for brick walls?

Here are the best routers for brick or concrete walls:

Our Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS AC3100 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC88U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, MU-MIMO
NETGEAR R9000-100NAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router - Certified Refurbished
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AC1750
AC1900
AC3100
AD7200
Processor Cores
2
2
2
4
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
4 (external)
Prime Status
-
-
-
Our Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1750
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
-
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1900
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
-
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS AC3100 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC88U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, MU-MIMO
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC3100
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
NETGEAR R9000-100NAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router - Certified Refurbished
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AD7200
Processor Cores
4
Number of Antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
-

What’s the deal with brick or concrete?

The composition of materials used to construct a building can absolutely make a difference in the range, reliability, and performance of your wireless network.

If your house, condominium, flat, or apartment is primarily make up of brick or concrete, you have more challenges than someone living in a building composed of traditional materials such as wood and drywall.

This has do with the fact the the Electromagnetic Waves of the Wi-Fi signal get absorbed (or even reflected) more or less by different materials in the environment. In the case of brick or concrete, these materials absorb the signal much greater than wood does, resulting in decreased range and speed, and generally less reliability than the same Wi-Fi network in a wood environment.

What can I do about it?

This is where the selection of your router and it’s configuration comes into play.

Most routers nowadays are dual-band routers, which is a good thing. However, in the case of EM-absorbing materials being present in the walls, ceilings, and floors of your residence, (and therefore being present between your router and your phone/tablet/laptop) it is best to connect on a lower-frequency band if possible.

What does that mean?

Most routers can operate at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Generally 5GHz is preferred because of the greater availability of clear (non-overlapping) channels and fewer devices and interference to compete with.

However if you are dealing with brick or concrete, your primary concern is the ability for your Wi-Fi signal to penetrate the materials in your walls.

Lower frequencies penetrate better and are attenuated less by brick, so you should use 2.4GHz over 5GHz.

This logic is the opposite of what I usually recommend. As I said before, people living in brick or concrete environments have special challenges!

So I should just scrap my dual-band router?

Now, hold on. I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t use the 5GHz band on your router. In fact, for wireless devices that are close to your router such as in the same room, or perhaps just one room away – you should try sticking to 5GHz.

For the rooms that are further away than that, you may need to use 2.4GHz.

Overall what I’m trying to say, is that you should be prepared to test both frequencies and see which works better for you.

Best Router for Brick Walls – Netgear R6700

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
  • Recommended for up to 25 devices: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect smart home devices
  • Wired Ethernet ports: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Loaded with advanced technology: Designed with a 1GHz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming plus, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and more
  • USB connections: Share a storage drive or printer with any connected device or create a personal cloud storage to access from anywhere, using the 1 x 3.0 USB port
  • Safe & secure: Supports WPA2 wireless security protocols. Includes Guest Wi-Fi access, DOS, Firewall, VPN, and more

The team here at Infravio really likes the R6700 and recommends it to our readers frequently. This router is feature-rich, highly stable, and offers excellent performance without breaking the bank.

Connecting your devices to the 2.4GHz band on this router should provide some of the best performance you can hope to attain in a brick/concrete environment.

If you are still having trouble, you may want to think about deploying one or more wireless access points in your home, which will serve to decrease signal attenuation by bringing the source closer to more devices.

What is the best channel for my wireless router?

wifi logo

The best channel for your wireless router is the one that has the least amount of interference on it.

Strictly speaking, all channels are the same. Lower channels don’t have more bandwidth than higher channels or vise-versa.

In other words, if you were all alone on a desert island and it was just you, your laptop, and router, you would have the exact same experience on every channel.

This is because you would be the only device on your Wi-Fi network, and there would be no nearby Wi-Fi networks or other sources of interference.

Unfortunately, we don’t all live on islands by ourselves – free of frequency interference and bathed in high speed internet.

 How Wi-Fi works

 

tv remote channelWi-Fi is a shared communication medium. This means that all nearby wireless devices (yours, your kids or roommates, and even your neighbors) are competing for use of the same airspace.

Now within that airspace, there are multiple channels available for use – like channels on your television, each with something different going on.

Now think of the activity going on in a channel as a phone conversation. All nearby wireless devices that are on your channel (or an adjacent overlapping channel – more on this in a moment) are like a group of people that are all on a conference call. Only one person can speak at a time.

If there are only two or three people on the call, everyone can say what they need to say without much of a wait. But on a call with 50 participants for example, people are going to have to wait a long time to speak.

Wireless communication works the same way. The more devices, nearby networks, and interference there is, the slower and less reliable your Wi-Fi network will be.

Yes, the channel you pick matters, but only sometimes

Manually picking a wireless channel is becoming a thing of the past on 5GHz networks, but it still matters on your 2.4GHz network.

2.4GHz

If you are using a 2.4GHz radio, which most likely you are, (most older routers run exclusively at 2.4GHz and newer routers have dual-band 2.4GHz AND 5GHz radios) then you should be using one of the three non-overlapping channels.

This would be channel 1, 6, or 11

The reasoning for choosing 1/6/11 is complex, but suffice to say that all of the 2.4GHz channels overlap with each other to some degree.

What does overlapping mean? It means that devices in nearby channels will interfere with each other, even though they aren’t in the same channel. Kinda defeats the purpose of having channels, doesn’t it? Don’t get me started.

So why choose 1, 6, or 11? Because it is the most efficient strategy.

If you need 3 wireless routers or access points in the same room, putting one on channel 1, one on channel 6, and one on channel 11 is the best strategy. No other choice would allow all three devices to operate without interfering with each other.

Sure, there are other non-overlapping choices you could make – channel 2 and 10 don’t overlap, for example. But 1/6/11 is the only choice that will give you three independent channels.

 

2.4ghz wifi channels

 

OK I’m using a recommended channel, now what?

Using channel one, six, or eleven makes it a little easier to avoid adjacent-channel interference – but only if the other wireless networks near you are using the same strategy. The problem comes in when someone nearby is using one of the other channels (2-5 or 7-10).

For example, if you were being good and chose channel 1 or 6, but your neighbor next door is using channel 3 or 4, your neighbor’s network is still going to interfere with yours. You could try changing your router to use a different channel, but it may be difficult to find one that doesn’t interfere with someone else, especially in multifamily housing or apartments.

If everyone would only use 1, 6, or 11, the world would be a better place – but unfortunately this is not the case. Still, you can do your part by picking one of these non-overlapping channels.

5GHz

5GHz Wi-Fi is the future and you should be using it now if your router AND your devices support it. I say ‘AND’ because many devices still only support 2.4GHz networks.

For example, just thinking of a few devices in my house, my Chromecast, Sony smart TV, robotic vacuum (Roomba clone), and my laptop all lack 5GHz radios. Yep, they only operate at 2.4GHz. This means that I must leave my 2.4GHz radio enabled on my router, or I will not have connectivity with these devices.

radio channel frequency

Why is 5GHz better?

The 5GHz spectrum is wider and supports more channels. In the US, there are 25 channels in the 5GHz spectrum, and all of them are non-overlapping.

In addition to the higher availability of non-overlapping channels, 5GHz radios also support higher throughput (albeit at slightly shorter range due to the higher frequency) and technologies like multiuser-MIMO, which acts as a sort of channel bonding.

 

Disclaimer: This article applies to users in the United States. If you live in a different country, check with your national communications regulatory/authority, as the laws regarding the frequencies you can use will likely be at least a little bit different.

Which security option is best for a wireless router?

Wi-Fi security is paramount – without it, there are many things that someone could do on your wireless network – things that range from minor or barely noticeable all the way up to flat out illegal – and everything in between.

A case for security

arm coming through computer screen

Honestly, most people that are looking for Wi-Fi networks with no security or weak security are simply looking for free internet access. These people just want to check their email, surf the web, or download something without paying for internet access.

They don’t really have any hostile intent for your network.

However, there are also more sinister people looking to gain access to a wireless network for unsavory uses, such as:

  • To steal your data – perhaps they can get your credit card number or tax information to use it for fraud, or maybe they want to steal photos or other personally identifiable information and use it to blackmail or otherwise expose you
  • To invade your privacy, search for risque photos, or access sensitive financial information
  • To download or upload illegal content online without being traced back to them – things like copyrighted material, illegal software, or child pornography
  • To hack or attack other systems without being traced
  • To download or upload large amounts of data without it slowing down their own internet connection

Ultimately, it comes down to this – someone is using something of yours without paying for it and without your permission. Is that really something you are okay with?

You could be liablemasked computer hacker

Furthermore, if the perpetrator does something illegal online using your internet connection, the authorities can investigate the source IP address. This will lead them to your ISP – upon which they can subpoena your ISP to provide the associated subscriber’s name and address.

Guess whose door they will come knocking on next? Yours.

The scary part is, it could be the guy next door, someone parked in the street, or a neighbor down the road. It is very difficult to physically locate the person.

Isn’t it easier to just set up ample security from the start to ensure that you are keeping all potential unwanted guests out?

Security Methods

iphone wifi encryption selection

There are several different modes and methods you can use to secure your wireless network. The easiest, most common, and most effective solution is to enable the proper type of security and encryption protocols on your router.

This will not only prevent someone from joining your network who doesn’t have the password, it will also prevent anyone in the area from eavesdropping on what you are doing online.

The main security protocols are:

  • Open/None (AKA, no security)
  • WEP (weak security, very easily cracked)
  • WPA (better, but still weak)
  • WPA2 (best for home use)
  • WPA Enterprise (ok, for business)
  • WPA2 Enterprise (best, for business)

Can you use the Enterprise versions at home?

I can see why you would want to – the enterprise versions of each protocol renew/update their keys at a set interval, whereas their non-enterprise counterparts simply use a pre-shared key. This key update makes the enterprise versions rock-solid secure, since the key is always changing.

A typical user would not want to attempt using an Enterprise protocol at home due to the advanced knowledge required to set it up. Additionally it requires setting up a dedicated server to make everything operational.

The vanilla WPA2 protocol is enough for most users and is much easier to set up and manage.

The best security option

For home users, WPA2 is currently the best choice. If your router gives you the choice of using TKIP or AES with WPA2, choose AES.

 

wireless security signAdditional security settings

Utilizing WPA2 on your router with a strong passhrase provides plenty of security for most users. If you are extra paranoid, you can also employ some additional security methods.

Here are some additional security settings that can optionally be enabled to enhance security on your wireless network. These features are not as robust or as easy to implement as enabling WiFi security/encryption – they are intended merely to be supplements to the security of your network.

Basically, you should not enable these options without security/encryption and expect your network to be secure.

Disable SSID broadcast:

 

With the SSID broadcast disabled on your router, people won’t be able to see your Wi-Fi network, or they will only see an “unnamed network” in their list of available Wi-Fi networks. Connecting to a network with SSID broadcast disabled is more difficult – you will have to manually define your SSID in your computer’s network settings before it will connect.

Fewer people will notice your network, but advanced users can still easily find your network using the right tools. Simply disabling the SSID broadcast also does nothing to protect your privacy as information is transmitted through the air – you need security/encryption for that.

If you are connected to an Open Wi-Fi network (one that does not use encryption), anyone that knows what they are doing can intercept your traffic and view what you are doing online without you knowing it.

MAC address filtering:

 

Like disabling the SSID broadcast, utilizing MAC address filtering will also do nothing to protect your information from eavsdroppers.

It will, however, make it more difficult for an unauthorized user to access your network. MAC filtering works like a whitelist – where only MAC addresses that are defined on the list can communicate on the network.

That said, advanced users can ‘sniff’ for a valid/authorized MAC that is currently in-use on the network, and then spoof their MAC to use an authorized one.

Enabling MAC filtering also makes managing your own wireless network very cumbersome – any time you want to connect a new device to your wireless network, you first have to log in to your router and add the new device’s MAC address to the whitelist.

What is my IP address for my router?

Did you know that your router has two IP addresses? We’ll show you how to find out what they are.

Private vs Public IP Addressesprivate public road sign

Your home network (and most networks in general) consist of both private and public IP addresses. What’s the difference?

Public addresses can be used on the Internet, and private addresses can’t.

However, that’s not to say that private addresses don’t have their place. One of the main reasons private addresses exist, is because there are a limited number of public addresses.

In the current version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4), there are only about 4.3 billion public IP addresses. That may sound like a lot, but consider the fact that that number of addresses must provide internet access to every device on planet Earth, and suddenly its’ not such a big number.

There is a new version of the Internet Protocol coming (IPv6), which will drastically increase the number of public IP addresses available. However, global adoption of the new version has been very, very slow. It appears that the world will continue to use IPv4 for the foreseeable future.

Due to the fact that there is a shortage of pubic addresses, most people only get one public address from their ISP for their entire household. This addresses then goes on your router, and everything inside your home (computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, smart TV’s, thermostats, etc) gets a private address from your router instead of getting its’ own public address.

ip address list

Your router also gets one of these private addresses so it can communicate with the devices in your home. It then performs a function called Network Address Translation (NAT) to translate traffic to/from devices on your network to/from the Internet using a combination of its’ private and public addresses.

Without NAT, you would only be able to use the internet on one device at a time because you only have one public IP address. How inconvenient!

With NAT, it’s like your router is bi-lingual and is translating a conversation between two people that don’t speak the same language. Your router must speak both languages to ensure that communication between the two parties is successful.

In this case, the two “languages” are the routers’ public IP address and private IP address.

So, your router is actually using two IP addresses at all times. It uses its’ public IP to communicate with devices on the Internet, and it uses its’ private IP to communicate with devices on your home network.

How do you tell the difference between public and private addresses?

Public and private addresses share the same format – four numbers (0 through 255) separated by three dots, such as 192.168.0.1.

Since they look the same, is there a way to tell if an address is public or private just by looking at it?

Turns out the answer is yes. There is a standard (RFC1918) that defines IP addresses that are reserved as private. They are:

  • 10.0.0.0/8
  • 172.16.0.0/12
  • 192.168.0.0/16

Pretty much everything outside of these reserved ranges is public.

So, if you see an IP address beginning with 10, 172, or 192, chances are good that it is a private address. If it begins with any other number, it is a public IP address.

Why do you need your routers’ IP address?

Here are just a few reasons why you would need to know your routers’ IP addresses:

Reasons to need your private address

  • router admin ip address

    If you need to change the settings on your router – perhaps you want to change the name of your Wi-Fi network, modify your firewall settings, or change your Wi-Fi password. You will need to know your router’s private address in all of these cases so that you can login to your router and make the necessary changes.

  • If you need to configure a device on your network with a static IP address – in this case the device won’t be configured automatically, so you’ll need to know your router’s private IP address – which will be entered into the ‘Default Gateway’ box in your computers’ IP address settings.

Reasons to need your public address

  • If you need to access your home network remotely over the Internet – Maybe you are wanting to set up remote desktop to access your home computer from the office. Or, perhaps you are wanting to monitor a security camera in your home while you are on vacation.
  • If you are hosting a server of some type – Perhaps you are running a file server or a game server – you will need to know your public IP address so that you can give it out to someone that would need to access your server remotely.

How to find your routers’ private IP:

router with admin ip

Note: The vast majority of consumer-grade routers will use either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 as their private address. Unless your router has been set up with a custom configuration, it is highly likely that one of these IP addresses will be assigned to your router.

Windows XP/Windows 7/Windows 10

  1. Click on the Start Menu (or press the ‘Windows’ key on your keyboard)
  2. Type ‘cmd’ (abbreviation for “command prompt”)
  3. Press ‘Enter’start button command prompt
  4. A black command prompt box will appear. Type in the word ‘ipconfig’ and press enter.

ipconfig output

You will see a bunch of information scroll by and may have to scroll back up a bit to find what you are looking for – which is the Default Gateway IP address of your current network connection. In the example above, it is 192.168.1.1.

The default gateway is the address that your computer sends data to if it needs to go out to the Internet. This is the private IP address of your router.

MacOS

  1. Click on the ‘Apple’ menu in the top left corner of your screen
  2. Select ‘System Preferences’apple menu system preferences
  3. From the System Preferences menu, click on the ‘Network’ iconsystem preferences network icon
  4. Select your active network adapter on the left side

You will see IP address information appear on the right side. Look for the section that shows ‘Router:’.

network preferences

This is the address that your computer sends data to if it needs to go out to the Internet. This is the private IP address of your router.

How to find your routers’ public IP:

This one is pretty easy. From any device on your home network, you just need to check a website that will retrieve the public IP address your traffic is coming from and report it back to you.

There are countless free sites out there that provide this service. Here are a few:

IP Chicken

What is my IP

Google – Simply run a search with the words ‘What is my IP’ and Google will tell you.

ipchicken screenshot

Why do I need a dual-band router?

Dual-band routers are all but standard nowadays (Tri-band routers even exist now), but many people don’t stop to think “why is a dual-band router is worth having?”

Some history

The FCC (and most communications authorities worldwide) have set aside certain frequencies for local area high speed wireless transmissions, aka Wi-Fi. These frequencies are 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The original Wi-Fi standards released in 1999 – 802.11b and 802.11a (now also known as Wi-Fi version 1 and Wi-Fi version 2) only operated on single bands. 802.11b operated at 2.4GHz and 802.11a operated at 5GHz

As technology matured and Wi-Fi become more prevalent, it become obvious that using additional frequency bands was an effective way to provide additional bandwidth, support additional devices, and reduce interference.

Starting with the 802.11n (Wi-Fi version 4) standard released in 2009, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands were included in the standard, paving the way for the first dual-band routers to be produced.

radio channel frequency

Benefits of dual-bands

Prior to the ratification of 802.11n, we had two standards (802.11b and 802.11g) using the 2.4GHz spectrum, and one standard (802.11a) using the 5GHz spectrum.

802.11b/g ended up being much more popular and widespread, likely due to the fact that it was cheaper. As a result, the 2.4GHz spectrum was much more crowded.

Compounding the issue, the following non-WiFi devices also operate (or create interference) in the 2.4GHz spectrum:

  • Microwave Ovens
  • Wireless Microphones
  • Bluetooth
  • Car Alarms
  • Baby Monitors
  • Garage Door Openers

This resulted in the 2.4GHz band being really crowded. Having the ability to use the 5GHz band with the newer 802.11n and 802.11ac standards really alleviates this congestion issue.

wifi logo

Differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Aside from the obvious difference (Look, different numbers!), there are some technical differences between the two spectrums.

Range

The first difference, is range. Lower frequencies can penetrate objects better than higher frequencies, so the 2.4GHz spectrum generally results in better range than 5GHz. The difference, although noticeable, is not huge.

Speed

5GHz can generally transmit data faster (better modulation schemes) than 2.4GHz.

Number of channels, channel width

2.4GHz only has 11 channels in North America, only 3 of which are non-overlapping. Non-overlapping basically means they are channels don’t have as much interference from nearby networks, assuming everyone is playing by the same rules.

5GHz has 23 channels in North America, and all of them are non-overlapping. This makes it much easier to avoid interference in dense environments. Less interference = better speed and reliability.

Bringing it all together

So what exactly is a dual-band router?

A dual-band router is a device that is equipped with two radios operating simultaneously – one that operates at 2.4GHz, and another that operates at 5GHz.

Devices connecting to the router will then have the choice of which band to use. Some devices only have a 2.4GHz radio equipped and thus will have to connect via 2.4GHz, while others can use either band and will generally choose the 5GHz band due to the fact that it is less crowded and has more clear channels.

The main point is this: offloading some devices onto the 2.4GHz spectrum and others onto the 5GHz spectrum increases the performance for everyone.

Make sure your next router or access point is dual-band!

How to get WiFi at home without a router

Are you looking to have Wi-Fi in your home, but you don’t have a router? This may sound strange, but it is possible using the mobile hotspot feature on your computer. Many of the newer and more popular computer operating systems support this feature (for free).

wifi logo

Not the mobile hotspot that you’re used to

This method of sharing an internet connection is frequently referred to as ‘mobile hotspot’, however this setup differs from most people’s definition of mobile hotspot – which is the process of enabling a feature on their smartphone so that they can tether a computer to the phone for internet access through the phone’s mobile data connection.

Using a smartphone’s hotspot permanently will get expensive very quickly – since you will likely blow through your mobile data allotment in short order. This type of hotspot also requires that the phone has adequate mobile data reception – if your signal is too weak, you won’t be able to even turn on the mobile hotspot functionality on your phone.

The solution we are discussing here uses a computer to act as a router in order to share an internet connection. The internet connection you are sharing could be a Cable or DSL service of your own, or perhaps a neighbor’s Wi-Fi that they are granting you access to.

Why no router?

There are multiple reasons why someone would want to go without a router.

The most common reason is that someone has recently moved and doesn’t yet have a router because they either didn’t buy one yet or because their old router is packed away somewhere and they can’t find it.

Or, perhaps they were leasing their last router from their ISP – in this case, they would have had to return it when they disconnected service at their last house/apartment.

Also, people that are traveling frequently can benefit from hotspot functionality on their laptop. Frequently, while traveling, you will run into internet access services that only allow one device online at a time.

Want to get online with both your laptop and your tablet? In this case, you may have to pay again to get the second device online as well. This type of service is not uncommon and is typically found in airports, cruise ships, and some hotels.

A Mobile hotspot on your computer can alleviate the need for these additional charges and allow you to only pay one access fee for all of your devices.

Pros and Cons to going router-less

Pros

  • Saves money up front – No router to purchase
  • Slightly lower power consumption due to the lack of a router (this only applies in cases where you leave your computer running all the time anyway)
  • It’s an easy fix when you’re in a bind and don’t have a router
  • Excellent for travelers

Cons

  • More complex – Traffic is going to be double NAT’ed in some cases, which can also impact performance
  • Worse performance – Depending on the speed of your computer and the other tasks that are running, your computer may not be able to route packets as quickly as a regular router can
  • Worse coverage – Most computers lack an external wireless antenna, and the ones that do have one are quite small. A router can easily cover a larger area than a computer can
  • Must keep the computer on all the time – That’s right, if you shutdown or reboot your computer, other people in the house that are using your Wi-Fi network will be disconnected
  • Difficult to expand wireless coverage – adding additional access points to your network to increase the range won’t work in some cases because the wired Ethernet adapter on your computer is likely already being used to connect to your Cable/DSL modem
  • Limited to 8 devices (Windows 10) – Windows caps the amount of devices that you can share with at 8 total

It’s only temporary (usually)

There’s no reason why you couldn’t rely on this set up permanently, however, most people will only use it temporarily – such as when they are on travel or if they just moved in to a new place.

A router isn’t THAT expensive and the benefits of using a traditional setup versus a mobile hotspot are many.

Getting Started

Difficulty: Medium
Time Required: 10 Minutes

Prerequisites

  • A computer with an Operating System that supports mobile hotspot functionality (Windows 10, MacOS)
  • The computer must have a wireless adapter (any modern laptop will have a wireless adapter built in, and some desktops have them too)
  • An internet connection to share – either your own Cable/DSL type service, or a nearby Wi-Fi network that you have access to (Windows 10 only – MacOS can’t be connected to WiFi and share via WiFi at the same time like Windows 10 can)

Optional

If you are wishing to share your own Cable/DSL service, your computer will also need to have a wired network adapter for connection to your Cable/DSL modem. If you are sharing a nearby Wi-Fi network, a wired adapter is unnecessary.

Windows or Mac?

See the mobile hotspot procedure for Windows 10 below, or jump ahead to the instructions for MacOS.

Windows 10 Procedure

  • Click on the ‘Start’ Button and click on the ‘Settings’ icon:

start menu settings button

  • Click on ‘Network and Internet’:network and internet settings
  • On the menu on the left, click on ‘Mobile hotspot’

network settings mobile hotspot

You will see a drop down box that says ‘Share my Internet connection from’. If you have multiple connections to the internet, such as a Wi-Fi connection to someone else’s network plus a wired connection to your Cable/DSL modem, you will see them listed here.

  • Choose the connection that you want to share.
  • If desired, you can change the network name and password by clicking the ‘Edit’ button. Your password needs to be at least eight characters long.

Alternatively, you can keep the randomly generated name and password that is already shown on the settings screen.

mobile hotspot settings

  • Lastly, move the slider at the top of the screen that says ‘Share my Internet connection with other devices’ to ‘On’. Your computer is now acting as a router.

You should now see your shared wireless network available on other devices in your home and you should be able to connect to that network using the password shown on the mobile hotspot configuration screen.

You will also see a count of the number of devices that are connected to your shared wireless network:

mobile hotspot devices connected

Remember: If you turn off or reboot your computer, you will cut off anyone else that is using your hotspot.

MacOS Procedure

Note: With MacOS, you can create a mobile hotspot just like in Windows 10, except you can typically only share a wired Ethernet connection. This is due to the fact that Windows 10 allows you to connect to a Wi-Fi network and then share that same network on the same wireless adapter.

MacOS does not support this functionality, so you are generally limited to sharing an internet connection that comes in through the computer’s wired Ethernet port, unless you happen to have two wireless adapters. However, many people want to share their Cable/DSL service through their computer, so this functionality on the Mac is still definitely worth mentioning.

  • Click on the ‘Apple’ menu and then click on ‘System Preferences’:

mac apple menu

  • Locate the ‘Sharing’ option and click on it:

mac system preferences

  • Select ‘Internet Sharing’ on the left side:

mac sharing

  • On the ‘Share your connection from’ drop-down, choose ‘Ethernet’
  • In the ‘To computers using’ box, chose your Wi-Fi adapter (the screenshot doesn’t show a wireless adapter since my Mac doesn’t have one, but your computer should)
  • Click the ‘Wi-Fi Options’ button at the bottom to configure your hotspot. You can chose a name for your network as well as select a channel:

mac wifi settings

We recommend selecting ‘WPA2 Personal’ from the ‘Security’ box and then pick a secure password. If you don’t set a security mode, the network will be created as an open network, which will allow anyone to connect to it. Bad idea.

  • Lastly, check the checkbox next to ‘Internet Sharing’ on the left to enable the hotspot. ‘Internet Sharing’ will show as ‘ON’ and have a green dot next to it once it has successfully been enabled.

You should now be able to see the Wi-Fi network on other devices and connect to it to access the internet.

Remember: If you turn off or reboot your computer, you will cut off anyone else that is using your hotspot.