Best Router for Charter Spectrum

What is the Best Router for Charter Spectrum?

Have Charter Spectrum Internet service at your home or business and looking to pair it with the best router? Have no fear – we are going to break down the best routers available so you can make an informed decision and get the best “bang for your buck”.

Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
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
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
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)
D-Link WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
4
4
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
AC1750
AC1900
AC2600
-
Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
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
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
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
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1750
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1900
-
D-Link WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC2600

About Charter Spectrum

Charter Spectrum logo

Spectrum from Charter Communications is a brand of broadband Internet services offered to business and consumer customers to roughly 25 million people across 48 states.

Spectrum service is primary delivered across a coaxial cable system, using infrastructure originally designed to bring cable TV to homes. Charter also delivers service in some areas via fiber optic cabling.

They have invested heavily in the infrastructure of their network and are running the latest DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 standards in many areas, enabling them to offer Gigabit speeds (and beyond) to their subscribers.

Spectrum’s speed offerings differ a bit depending on the service area, but in general they offer three tiers

  • a base tier that runs approximately 60-100Mbps downstream and 5-10Mbps upstream
  • a middle tier that runs approximately 300-400Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream
  • a top tier that runs at 1000Mbps (Gigabit) downstream and 35Mbps upstream.

If you’re saying to yourself “Wow, that is not a lot of upstream bandwidth compared to the downstream amount you get”, you’d be right.

Fortunately, most users down’t need a large amount of upstream capacity. Power users may notice a pinch though, which is why fiber-based services that are usually available as a symmetrical service are preferred or cable-based providers such as Charter.

What to look for in a router for your Charter Spectrum Internet service

man using a tablet

There are a ton of routers out there and most of them are very similar in the standards they support and the features they offer. For the most part, various features don’t make much of a difference.

There are, however a few things you should definitely make sure your new router for Charter Spectrum supports, and those are:

  • The newest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11AC (aka, Wi-Fi 5) offers a host of improvements over previous standards. Don’t buy a Wireless-N router, and certainly don’t buy a Wireless B/G router (if you can even find someone selling them still)
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports – Since your Spectrum service will likely be running at a minimum of 100Mbps and possibly as high as 1Gbps, make sure your router has Gigabit Ethernet ports. Many older routers have 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, meaning the router can pass a maximum of 100Mbps. You don’t want to be paying for 100+Mbps speeds and not be able to use it because your older router can’t hack it.
  • A proven track record of reliability – Make sure your new router is stable and doesn’t need to be rebooted constantly in order to perform. Some routers do!
  • Sufficient number of antennas providing decent signal coverage – some router’s just don’t have powerful or well designed enough radios and thus are unable to provide decent coverage, which ensures that Wi-Fi users will have a strong, reliable signal that provides decent speeds at various ranges.

Best Router for Charter Spectrum – ASUS RT-AC88U

You will be happy with any of the four routers highlighted above – but of course there can only be one winner. In this roundup, we chose the ASUS RT-AC88U.

You’re probably not surprised to see that it’s not the cheapest router available either. Well, unfortunately, quality, performance, and reliability come at a cost.

ASUS RT-AC88U
  • 1024 Qam technology 80 percent faster 5 GigaHertz at up to 2100 Mbps, 66 percent faster 2. 4 GigaHertz at up to 1000 Mbps; utilities: firmware restoration
  • 33 percent greater 2. 4 GigaHertz coverage with a 4 transmit, 4 receive (4T4R) antenna design, able to reach our widest ever coverage up to 5000 square feet
  • Expansive connectivity options: with exclusively has 8 x Gigabit LAN ports for up to eight Ethernet compatible devices to connect simultaneously
  • Powerful 1. 4 GigaHertz dual core processor, faster USB data transfers enjoy up to over 100 MB/s Speed and the router download/UPLOAD speed (WAN LAN throughput) up to 1. 8 Gaps
  • Smart Connect automatically chooses the best band available for you, Dimensions: 11. 8 x 7. 4 x 3. 3 inch (WDHP).

What we like about the RT-AC88U

Excellent Range – Thanks to the four external omni-directional antennas and a plethora of improvements built in to the 802.11AC standard, this router provides some of the longest range and most reliable connections among consumer-grade Wi-Fi routers.

If your house is huge, you may be better off installing multiple wireless access points instead of trying to get one powerful router. Many people don’t understand that wireless communication is a two-way street. Your phone, tablet, laptop, etc must not only receive data from your router, but it must also transmit it back. So even if your router transmits at a high strength, there is no guarantee that your device will be able to also transmit at a high enough signal strength to ensure a reliable connection. Having multiple access points in your home, where your device can associate with the closest one, is a better option for people needing to cover really large areas.

A plethora of Ethernet ports – This router has a whopping eight LAN ports. Most routers only have four LAN ports.

Many people have too many devices to plug in and need to add an Ethernet Switch such as this one to give them more Ethernet ports. This router can eliminate that need, since eight ports is probably enough for most people.

Good Management Options – ranging from an Intuitive WebUI to a handy mobile app. Advanced users really like AsusWRT-Merlin, a robust (and completely optional) firmware that supports many advanced features.

Good QoS controls – The Quality of Service controls are straight forward and actually work, allowing you to prioritize some traffic types over others (such as prioritizing Voice over IP traffic over BitTorrent traffic).

Guest Wi-Fi capability – This router features the ability to easily create a Guest Wi-Fi network – a separate network for guests with a different name, different password, and no ability to access resources on your private network (only ability to go out to the Internet).

What we don’t like about the RT-AC88U

Pricey – This router definitely carries a bit of a premium price tag.

Physical size – The AC88U is larger than most routers and many users report that it can generate a lot of heat.

Not novice friendly – While we really like the long list of advanced features that this router supports (especially if you flash the Merlin firmware), this router is not as friendly for novices as many routers on the market.

Potential for radio failure – Some users have reported individual bands (either 2.4GHz or 5GHz) failing or stopping working intermittently and requiring the router to be RMA’d. While these seem to be isolated cases (not a manufacturing defect), the failure rate seems to be abnormally high based on user reviews.

laptop and plant on tabletop

Runner Up – Netgear R6700

The R6700 from Netgear is one of my favorite routers and I recommend it to our readers frequently. Its performance and reliability relative to its affordable price point makes it the obvious choice for runner-up in this round up.

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.

This router may not have all of the features or as many LAN ports as more expensive routers, but it can handle a Gigabit Internet connection from Charter Spectrum without any problems.

What we like about the R6700

Gigabit Ethernet ports – The Ethernet ports on this router are all Gigabit, meaning you won’t be limited to 100Mbps like some routers.

Current Generation (Wi-Fi 5) support – This router supports the current 802.11AC specification so you get all of the benefits of the current standard and aren’t stuck on the previous Wi-Fi 4 standard, 802.11N.

Excellent Coverage – The Wi-Fi coverage from this router is excellent, providing a strong and reliable signal in the far reaches of your medium to large sized home (assuming the router is placed in a central location).

Reliability / Stability – Sampling a large number of reviews online, most users report that this router is quite reliable: not frequently experiencing drop-outs in service or requiring reboots.

Advanced Features – Make no mistake about it, this router supports its own suite of advanced features. Most notably, the Quality of Service (QOS) and Parental Control features generally work quite well.

What we don’t like about the R6700

Netgear Warranty Support – If you do run into an issue and need support, many people have reported that Netgear’s tech support is not the greatest. Some people have even said they had to pay money to Netgear for a support contract before they could start an RMA on a router that was still under warranty. Not Cool!

Advanced Firmware Incompatibility – Some versions of the R6700 are not compatible with advanced firmware, such as DD-WRT. As of this writing, v1 and v3 are compatible, but v2 is not.

Wrapping Up

Regardless of which WiFi router you buy to go along with your Charter Spectrum Internet, as long as you follow our guidelines listed at the top of this post, you should be okay.

Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
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
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
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)
D-Link WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
4
4
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
AC1750
AC1900
AC2600
-
Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
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
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
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
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1750
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1900
-
D-Link WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC2600

What is the best router for 100Mbps Internet?

Looking for the best router for 100Mbps Internet?

If you have a 100Mbps internet connection, you are ahead of most people in terms of broadband speed. True, there are some services that go much faster (usually up to 1 Gigabit per second, which is 10 times the speed of 100Mpbs).

However, there are still many people that struggle to reach anywhere near 100Mbps. Lots of cable and DSL services still max out in the 25Mbps and 50Mbps ranges, and then there are people in rural areas that have to setting for speeds in the 1-10Mbps range using technologies like fixed wireless, T-1, and satellite internet.

Our Pick
ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
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)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AD
802.11AC
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
1.7GHz Quad Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
AD7200
AC1750
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
-
Our Pick
ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AD
CPU
1.7GHz Quad Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AD7200
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
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
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1750
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-

Thus, it is recommended to pick a router that can support your 100M Internet connection without slowing you down.

Best Router for 100Mbps Internet

Our Pick: ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6. Memory: 128 MB Flash; 256 MB RAM
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

The team here at Infravio really likes the RT-AC68U and recommends it to our readers regularly. It features just the right mix of performance, features, stability, and quality – all at a reasonable price point.

Performance

The RT-AC68U sports the latest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It supports dual-band connectivity (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) with data rates up to 1900Mbps.

ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control

It also features a 1 GHz dual-core CPU and all of it’s wired ports support Gigabit. Gigabit support on the WAN (Internet) port isn’t required for people with 100Mbps Internet, but it is still a good idea to future-proof your router in case you upgrade your Internet service later.

Older routers without Gigabit support typically came equipped with 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, meaning that they could run at 10Mbps or 100Mbps, but not 1000Mbps (Gigabit). Technically, if your Internet service clocks in at 100Mbps, you could get by with an older 10/100M router, but we don’t recommend it.

We say this because even though the 100M port on the router wouldn’t slow you down (since it is running at the same speed as your Internet service), the router’s older technology and lack of current feature sets could set you back.

For example, an older router likely wouldn’t support features such as 802.11AC, MIMO, and Beamforming – all of which can give you increased wireless range and speed.

There are a plethora of new features being released all of the time, so it is generally worth it to consider upgrading your router every few years, even if your existing router isn’t broken. If your old router happens to be an ASUS router, you may even want to re-use it in another area of your home and take advantage of ASUS AiMesh technology.

Features

asus mobile app - best router for 100mbps internet

The AC68U runs the ASUSWRT web interface, which features powerful reporting capabilities to see what is going on in your network. We also like that it is simple enough that a novice that quickly complete the basic 3-step installation and get online without worrying about configuring optional advanced features that they may never use.

The AC68U is fully compatible with ASUS’ mobile app (available for both Android and iOS) – which lets you view bandwidth usage, modify settings, enforce parental controls, see a list of all devices connected to your network, and much much more – all from your smartphone or tablet .

This router also optionally supports the Asuswrt-Merlin firmware product – which unlocks additional advanced features of the router and offers loads of additional monitoring capabilities. This is definitely an advanced feature and can be risky if you are a novice (flashing a router is always a bit risky).

Stability

The router has been very stable in our testing, and the majority of other reviews on this model echo our sentiment – it shows great reliability and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently like some routers. That being said, it may need to be rebooted from time to time (every router does) and the AC68U has a great feature for this too – the auto reboot.

reboot scheduler

This is such a handy feature – you can configure the router to reboot itself regularly at a time you designate. For example – I have my router set to reboot every day at 2AM while I am sleeping.

It is well documented that most types of computing and networking equipment performs better and more reliably after a reboot – we call these ‘theraputic reboots’. The idea is to reboot the device BEFORE trouble starts.

Since these reboots can be scheduled to run at any time and on a recurring schedule, it makes for a nice ‘set it and forget it’ situation, where you can reboot the router daily at a time you won’t notice and still reap the benefits of a regular therapeutic reboot.

I never notice these reboots, and my router never needs to be rebooted manually because it is always running at peak performance due to the recent reboot.

Build Quality

The build quality on this router is great. It is both durable and stylish. It feels great when handled – you can tell that it is more than just a cheap chunk of plastic.

It also features removable antennas – a feature usually found only on higher end routers.

It also features ASUS AiProtection, which provides an additional layer of security. This service is included with the router free of charge for the life of the product and is NOT a subscription service.

Value

Overall, the AC68U offers a great mix to the 100Mbps internet user – performance, features, quality and reliability – all at a good price point.

We hope this article has helped you answer the question of what is the best router for 100Mbps Internet. Thanks for reading.

What is the best Router for Google Fiber?

linksys gaming routerThe need for speed

If you are part of the small percentage of Americans that are lucky enough to live in a Google Fiber coverage area, you may be wondering, what is the best router to buy for use with your new Google Fiber service?

After all, if you are going to be getting an ultra high-speed direct fiber service to your home, you want to make sure that there are no bottlenecks in your internal network, right?

This is excellent thinking, and as a network professional, I had the same thoughts when considering Google Fiber.

Traditionally, we’ve been exposed to slow internet connections such as cable and DSL services. Typically, these services run at speeds of 25Mbps to 50Mbps, or maybe something closer to 100Mbps if you are lucky.

The speed of your internet service is limited by the slowest link in the chain. Traditionally, this was always your broadband internet connection, but that is changing.

Today, with Google Fiber and similar fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services, you can get up to 1000Mbps (1 Gig) service at your home. Suddenly, the slowest link in the chain can easily become a device on your internal network, such as your router.

Some people still run routers that max out at 100Mbps. They literally don’t support Gigabit. And many people don’t realize it.

Google Fiber includes a router

Here’s the rub for Google Fiber subscribers: Their service includes a Wi-Fi router whether they like it for not. So, some people may not wish to buy a router for their Google Fiber service. After all, you technically already have everything you need.

When Google Fiber is installed at your home, there are at least two pieces of equipment provided. A “Fiber Jack”, which is really just a micro ONT (Optical Network Terminal) which terminates the GPON signal coming from the OLT (Optical Line Terminal) port at the nearest hut, outside plant cabinet, or data center.

Your Fiber Jack then connects to a little black box which Google has affectionately dubbed a “Network Box” (who named these things?). The network box acts as your router, terminating the service and allowing you to share the connection throughout your house.

It also supports WiFi, has a firewall, allows basic port forwarding, etc. Many of the features of your average consumer-grade router are supported by the Network Box.

What’s the problem?what chat bubble

The problem, is that per Google, the Network Box is required. Unfortunately, you can’t just plug your shiny new Netgear/Linksys/TP-Link router into the Fiber Jack and get online. You must use the Network Box – which is why the selection of a new router may be unnecessary (your traffic still goes through the Network Box, regardless of what you plug in).

So, for some users, there is no real need to use a regular router with their Google Fiber service – the Network Box is enough.

What if I want to use an aftermarket router?

Google says that you can still plug your router into the Network Box and use it, and indeed you can. You can unbox your new aftermarket router and install it just as you would with any other type of broadband internet service from Comcast, Cox, Centurylink, etc.

We should note that installing a router behind the Network Box will create a scenario where all of your traffic is getting NAT’d twice. This means that your traffic is getting translated from one type of IP address to another, twice. Usually this is only done once, but most users won’t notice a difference with their traffic being double NAT’d.

What to look for in a router to use with Google Fiber

Since you are buying a service that is high-speed, low-latency, and highly reliable, we recommend that you don’t skimp if you decide to purchase an aftermarket router. Specifically, you want a router that supports a Gigabit WAN port, the newest WiFi standard (802.11AC), and has a dual-core or better processor.

The following routers are our picks for use with Google Fiber. Any of them will work well with the service, though some are pricier than others.

Great performance at an affordable price!
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
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
-
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
4
Prime
-

But surely there is a way to bypass the Network Box?!

If you are a power user and feeling ambitious, there are supposedly ways to use Google Fiber’s service without a Network Box. This typically involves use of a Ubiquiti Edgerouter or setting up a PFSense box, and is completely unsupported by Google.

That information is beyond the scope of this article due to it’s advanced nature, so I’m not covering it here. But you should know that it is possible.

How to Reset a Router from a Computer

All routers need to be rebooted from time to time – it’s just just a fact of life. Unfortunately, consumer-grade home routers typically need to be rebooted more frequently due to the lower grade engineering and manufacturing that goes into them compared to their business/provider-grade counterparts.

It can be very handy to have the capability to reboot your router from a computer, so we are going to cover various methods here.

If all of this sounds too complicated for you, be sure to read all the way to the end of this article where we discuss a clever alternative – rebooting (well, technically power cycling) your router from a computer using a “smart plug”

Be forewarned: If you plan to reboot your router remotely (via the Internet), all of these methods require some advance preparation – your router needs to be setup to allow remote access to the management web interface in advance. This means that you’ll need to configure remote access to your router while you are accessing it locally (from your house).

You probably won’t have much success if you are trying to reboot it remotely without the aforementioned prep work, since you likely won’t be able to gain the required access to the router to initiate the reboot.

If you are simply wanting to reset the router from a computer on your local network (within your home), this additional prep work is not necessary.

First, let’s clear up the terms –

Before continuing, I should point out – resetting a router can mean two different things: rebooting it or resetting the configuration back to factory defaults.

A simple reboot is most often what people actually mean when they say ‘reset’. We are discussing rebooting here, not resetting the router’s configuration.

Either option is typically available remotely, but it differs depending on the make and model. Just make sure you don’t actually factory reset your router when you are only intending to reboot it.

Also, consider this:

While the need to reboot occasionally is normal, if you router frequently needs to be rebooted, you might want to look into other issues that may be causing the trouble, such as the need for a firmware upgrade, overheating or other environmental issues, or issues that need to be addressed by your ISP.

Some definitions:

Remote Access: Accessing your router via the Internet. This could be from across town or across the world. Access is initiated from the outside (from the Internet) going in. For most people, 99% of your traffic is initiated from the inside going out, which is why setting up remote access requires some advance configuration (due to the inherent security concerns).


Local Access: Accessing your router from your home network – either through your own WiFi connection, or a computer that is plugged in to your router.

Why the need to reset (reboot) a router?
reset remotely button

Some of the reasons that you might need to reboot your router include:

  • router is frozen and completely unresponsive (your internet access is completely down)
  • performance is bad – the router is working but is slow or unreliable
  • certain features aren’t working – maybe you just changed a setting or enabled a feature, but it isn’t working properly
  • to rule things out – maybe you aren’t sure if the problem is your router or a problem with your ISP

Rebooting your router physically is pretty easy, simply unplug the power cord and plug it back in. But what if you want to reboot the router from a computer?

The most common reason for needing to reboot remotely, is when you are not home but need to access something on your home network like a computer, security camera, or smart home device. Or, maybe you are the most technical person in the household and a family member or roommate calls you at work to ask for help with fixing the internet.

Or perhaps you just want to reset the router without the inconvenience of going upstairs, downstairs, or across the house to physically reset it. The ability to reboot your router remotely in these cases can be very handy.

Requirements:

To accomplish a reset remotely, the following is required:

  • The router must be operational and currently passing/routing traffic. This is a big one, because often times people want to reboot their router BECAUSE it’s not currently operating. If the router is frozen or otherwise not responding, you are not going to be able to log in to it in order to reset it.
  • The routers’ admin username and password. This differs from your WiFi password and is required any time you are making configuration changes to the router. If you don’t know or can’t remember the password, be sure to try the default password – perhaps you never updated it when you first installed the router. The RouterPasswords site can help you find the default password for your make/model.
  • You need to know what the IP address of your router is. More on this in a second.
  • If you plan to initiate a reboot remotely (via the Internet), access to the router’s management web interface must be enabled from the WAN side. Most routers support this feature but it is almost always disabled by default due to security concerns. By enabling this option, your router will respond with the login page when accessed on it’s public IP just like it currently responds when you access it from home by going to http://192.168.1.1, etc.

Procedure:

Determine the IP address of your router:

If you are accessing the router from home, simply run an ‘ipconfig’ (Windows) or ‘ifconfig’ (Mac and Linux) command to see your IP address information. Included in this information, is the default gateway. This is the IP address of your router.

If you are trying to access your router while away from home, the process is a bit trickier. You will need to know your public internet IP address, which can be found by going to IP Chicken before you leave the house.

Be advised, many ISP’s will change your public IP from time to time, so you might also with to explore setting up Dynamic DNS so that you don’t have to check each time to see if your IP address has changed.

router config remote management

There is also an extra option that usually needs to be configured on the router to allow management access from the internet. This is usually a simple checkbox that says “allow management access from internet, web, WAN”, etc. In the screenshot above it is called “remote management”.

Enable this feature after you have set a secure administrator password on your router. Don’t enable it if you are still using the default administrator password.

Login and Reboot!

Once you have obtained the IP address of your router, simply put it into the address bar of your favorite web browser and hit ‘enter’. Next, enter your admin username and password to log in.

The reboot option is different on every router, but will typically be found in the ‘status’, ‘tools’, or ‘administration’ sections of the menu. I’ve even had routers that had a ‘reboot’ button right on the first page. Check your router’s documentation if you can’t find the reset option.

router is rebooting message

Once you have issued the reset command, you will lose connectivity to it for a few minutes while it reboots. You can log back in to it once it boots back up.

Other Options:

In addition to logging in via the web interface, some routers have the option to log in to the command line via telnet or SSH. This can be quicker and sometimes works when the web interface won’t load.

This is also more advanced and sometimes requires knowledge of the command line syntax to properly issue a reboot command.

Additionally, some routers have a scheduled reboot option. For example, I currently have my home router scheduled to reboot every night at midnight. I know that everyone in my house is in bed at this time, so it won’t disturb anyone, and it ensures that my router is always running fresh.

We call these ‘theraputic reboots’ in the tech industry.

Check your router’s web interface or the documentation to see if your make/model supports scheduled reboots. Most third party firmware options like DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato have this option as well.

A simpler fix

Finally, you can also get a remote power switch (AKA, a “smart plug”) and plug your router into it. Smart plugs provide a user with the ability to remotely turn the switch on and off, which would be equivalent to unplugging your router from the wall and plugging it back in to reset it.

These devices vary from remote-controlled units – which are the cheapest and most simple, but also require close proximity – to advanced IP-controlled units that can be operated from thousands of miles away via the Internet.

Disclaimer: What we are discussing here potentially has the same “chicken before the egg” problem we discussed before. That is, if your router isn’t passing traffic, you might not be able to access the smart plug in order to initiate a reboot.

Luckily, you can also schedule reboots using the smart plug – so you could schedule the smart plug to cycle the router’s plug at, say, 2AM every day. (again, you would need to configure this in advance)

I recommend the TP-Link smart plug shown below. It supports the ability to turn on/off power to the plug from your phone, and allows for scheduled power cycling as well.

Kasa Smart Plug by TP-Link, Smart Home WiFi Outlet works with Alexa, Echo,Google Home & IFTTT,No Hub Required, Remote Control, 15 Amp, UL certified, 1-Pack (HS105)
  • Control From Anywhere: Turn electronics on or off from anywhere with your smartphone using the Kasa app (Compatible w/ Android & iOS)
  • Voice Control: Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and MicroSoft Cortana supported devices for a hands free experience
  • Compact Design: Won't block the other wall outlet allowing two Smart Plugs to be installed side by side
  • Kasa scenes & schedules: Schedule the Smart plug to automatically switch on and off when away or set a scene for controlling many devices with a single button
  • Note: Requires a secured 2.4 GigaHertz Wi Fi network connection

Hopefully this information helps you achieve your goal of rebooting your router from a computer.

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.

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.

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:

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 Networks UniFi AP AC Lite, Dual-Band 24V passive PoE, UAP-AC-LITE (24V passive PoE Indoor, 2.4GHz/5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 1x 10/100/1000)
  • UAP-AC-LITE UniFi AP AC LITE 802.11ac Gigabit Dual-Radio PoE
  • The UniFi AC Lite AP features the latest Wi-Fi 802.11ac technology in a refined industrial design and is ideal for cost-effective deployment of high‑performance wireless networks.
  • Dual-Radio performance, gigabit speeds, the UniFi AC Lite AP delivers 5x the performance of the first-generation UniFi AP while still maintaining Ubiquiti disruptive pricing strategy.
  • Sleek, Ultra-Compact Design, uniFi AC Lite AP features a cleaner design in a reduced footprinthalf the size compared to the standard UniFi AP.
  • Scalable Enterprise Wi-Fi Management, UniFi Controller v4 software is a powerful, enterprise wireless software engine ideal for high-density client deployments requiring low latency and high uptime performance. With its software-based capabilities, the UniFi virtual control plane allows for unlimited scalability under one centralized controller. Remotely access the UniFi Controller to upgrade deployed UniFi APs while in the field.

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.

 

 

Can you have two routers in one house?

You are decluttering the electronics bin and remember that old router that you forgot to recycle.  You begin to wonder…

Electronics resale value falls notoriously fast and it often makes more sense to repurpose or recycle equipment versus selling.

Does this old router have any use?  Is there any reason to have two routers on the same home network?

In this article, we detail the reasons two routers may improve your home network and provide some tips on making sure your two routers play nice.

What do routers do? laptop wired to router

Obviously, your router “routes” internet traffic.  What else?

Routers request and receive content from the Internet

When you use your internet browser to Google questions that led you to this article, your router sent a request out and received an answer back from the Internet, which the router then forwarded to your specific device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc).

This is the core functionality of any router and the reason for its’ name, however routers generally serve many other needs within a network that are less known and happen behind the scenes.

Routers can listen for requests and provide configuration information for your network

A router usually acts as a DHCP server. Since other devices on your network such as laptops, printers, tablets, Smart TV’s, etc don’t generally have a network configuration when they first boot up, they rely on the DHCP server for their configuration (IP address, Gateway, DNS, etc).

Routers can function as wireless access points

With the right security settings in place, your router can safely function as a wireless access point.  Relating to security, the real muscle of a firewall in today’s world is no longer handled by your operating system but by your router.  (But go ahead and keep updating your operating system!)

Routers can extend your network’s physical size

For wired devices, your routers can also “switch” it up and act as a four-port switch, thus extending the number of devices that can be physically plugged into your network.

Why might one network need two routers?

router with lan cableIn short, to improve network range (to include the man cave), bolster coverage (to fix those dead zones upstairs), ensure reliability (you never know when the router is going belly up), and increase size (more ports in the storm).

How can you ensure your two routers will improve your network?

Multiple routers can make a network “two” crowded.  Basically, you still need to think of one router as the “one in charge” and any functionality that leads to and from the outside world must go through just that router.

Choosing one of the routers to be the liaison to the outside world provides a starting point for the ways your routers should be configured the same and how they need to be different.

What functionality do you want to make sure not to duplicate?

You need to look out for WAN (wide area network) versus LAN (local area network) port connections (how the routers access the outside world), DHCP configuration (making sure both routers aren’t handing out conflicting information to devices on your network), and the routers’ channels (ensuring your routers do not talk over one another on your own network).

Most importantly, do not connect the second router via the WAN porttwo router diagram

The WAN port (sometimes called the “Internet” port) is reserved to access the outside world.  If you connect your second router on the WAN port, duplicate routing occurs because your network is now divided by a firewall and each device that connects to your new network is NAT’d twice (once by each router).

Instead, you should connect the routers together via any of the LAN ports (numbering does not matter).  Remember, only one of your routers accesses the outside world. Refer to the diagram above.

DHCP configuration

Your home network is a bit like The Highlander – there can be only one!  With two routers, you want to disable DHCP server abilities on the second router to avoid IP address conflicts.

Otherwise, devices on your network may acquire their IP address from the router that does not have access to the outside world or the device may not be known by the primary router. This would lead to that device being disconnected from the Internet.

Make sure your routers do not use the same channel

This is especially important if your two routers are in close proximity (within fifty feet or so).  Channel duplication will cause interference and degrade the Wi-Fi performance of devices.

If your routers use 2.4 GHz, use a non-overlapping channel – see this article for help with choosing the best Wi-Fi channel.

Remember that frequencies matter

Consider whether the routers use 5 GHz versus 2.4 GHz wireless frequencies.  This impacts the range and bandwidth of routers.  A 5GHz router will provide faster data rates at a shorter distance while 2.4 GHz routers may improve coverage for farther distances at slower speeds

How should your routers be configured the same?

 

router status lights

Under most circumstances, you will want your routers to have the same SSID (bonus points if it makes your neighbors laugh), the same security and encryption (WPA2) protocols, and the same key/password.

These configurations will ensure that your Wi-Fi devices can automatically connect to your network and will roam to your second router when you go out of the range of your primary Wi-Fi network.

Should you ever have different SSIDs on the same network?

You can use different SSIDs and keys/passwords for each router if you like.  This creates a second wireless network with a different name.

This configuration does not enhance security, unless your router allows you to map each SSID to a different network connection using VLAN tagging.  When a device connects to an SSID, traffic is passed to the associated VLAN which has its own security settings.

This is an advanced topic, but can be simple to set up if your router supports “guest network” functionality. Using this feature, guest traffic can be isolated from the rest of the network or limited in the services (and speeds) it has access to.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, there are several reasons having two routers on your home network may be an improvement.

Remember one router is in charge and does all the talking to the outside world, but as far as your network’s name, the routers should usually be in agreement.  Plus, you can tell all your friends that you have a new tech upcycling hobby!

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