Best WiFi Booster for RV

rv plus antenna

 

Camping in an RV is a great way to relax, vacation, and see the countryside. Let’s be honest though – most of us want to stay connected to the outside world, even while we are camping.

After all, people buy or rent RV’s because they want to enjoy some of the comforts of home while they camp. Those that aren’t interested in having creature comforts usually opt for backpacking and tent camping instead.

While many RV parks, campgrounds, and marinas offer Wi-Fi to their customers, accessing this service from your RV can sometimes be a challenge. Many times, the Wi-Fi facilities may be sub-par – perhaps the campground only uses a single wireless router and doesn’t have any outdoor access points deployed.

Maybe your campsite is just too far from the office or clubhouse. Or, perhaps the campground didn’t intend for Wi-Fi to be accessed from the campsites and their only goal was to cover the general areas around the clubhouse, pool, picnic areas, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to utilize campground Wi-fi reliably from the comfort of your RV? We think so to. Interested? Read on.

Alternative means of accessing the Internet

There are, of course, other alternatives to relying on campground Wi-Fi – with the main one being mobile 3G/4G cellular data. This, however, is not always reliable, and can also be quite expensive – since you can quickly burn through your mobile data allocation.

Satellite Internet is another possibility, however it can also be slow and expensive, and usually requires an annual contract.

Fixed Wireless through a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) is a good option, except for the fact that most RV’ers are moving between campgrounds regularly and thus setting up a permanent fixed wireless solution isn’t really an option. If you tend to stay in one place most of the time in your RV, I’d definitely recommend checking out WISPs in your area.

Other alternatives such as dial-up, T1, Cable/DSL, etc are not really an option due to the permanent nature of their installation and the fact that they are not designed for mobility.

Using campground Wi-Fi is still one of the best bets for most people. Luckily, there are improvements that can be made to your RV to increase the accessibility, reliability, range, and performance of these wireless networks.

Different ways to increase nearby Wi-Fi signals

rv with antenna

There are two parts to the process of increasing the usability of nearby wireless signals:

  1. Access the nearby signal using a high gain omni or directional antenna located on a high point of your RV such as attached to a window or on the roof
  2. Make this signal available for use inside the comfort of your RV

Utilizing products currently on the market, there are two main ways to accomplish this:

  • Access the external signal directly with your laptop by use of a remote antenna
  • Access the external signal and re-broadcast it inside your RV by means of a booster, repeater, or range extender

Each of these methods involve different twists on the same basic idea – position a high gain omni or directional antenna in a place to optimally receive and transmit data to the campground Wi-Fi network, and then make that signal usable inside your RV.

Differences between Remote Antennas and Boosters/Repeaters/Range Extenders

Remote Antennas

Using a remote antenna is the cheaper option, because it is less complex – one end (the antenna) goes in an elevated area, preferably with line of site to the Wi-Fi source. The other end connects directly to your laptop via USB.

The antenna can be placed on the roof or attached to a window inside of your RV.

The advantage of this solution is simplicity and price. With the remote antenna plugged in, your laptop simply has better access to the wireless signal than it would on it’s own.

The remote antenna includes it’s own wireless adapter in addition to the antenna, but it’s integrated into one device – simply plug in the USB cable into your laptop and you are ready to go. There are no additional devices to configure or power.

Installation is also simpler in some cases – many remote antennas are designed to attach to a window versus permanently drilling a hole in the roof of your RV and mounting an antenna externally.

The disadvantage is that it will not work on tablets or smartphones, it cannot be shared with multiple devices inside the RV, and it’s user will remain tethered to the antenna cable.

Side Note: In some cases you CAN share the internet connection through the laptop with other laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the RV. This depends on several factors, including the type of computer and operating system. Check here for more info.

Best Wi-Fi adapter Remote Antenna for RV

We like the Alfa Network antenna:

2000mW 2W 802.11 G/N High-Gain USB Wireless Long-Rang WiFi Network Adapter With Original Alfa Screw On Swivel 9dBi Rubber Antenna and Suction cup Window Mount dock
  • 802.11 b /g and "N", 2000mW of power which is more powerful than ANY other WiFi adapter on the market
  • Includes a 4 inch 5 DdBi Screw-On Swivel Rubber Antenna that can be removed and upgrade up to the include 9dBi antenna
  • Very Secure with wireless data encryption with 64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP,and AES and is Compatible with IEEE 802.11n, 802.11b/g/n wireless standards
  • Supports driver for Windows 2000, XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7, Linux (2.4.x/2.6.x),and Mac (10.4.x/10.5.x)
  • The Mount designed for easy clinging on Notebook, Netbook and Window.

Boosters/Repeaters/Range Extenders

travel trailer

Boosters, Repeaters, and Range Extenders do exactly what their name implies – they boost/amplify incoming and outgoing signals. An antenna on the roof of your RV is connected to a cable that is ran inside of your RV and connected to a router and an omni-directional antenna located inside. The original, boosted signal is then ready for use inside your RV where your laptop, tablet, or phone will be readily able to connect to it with a stable signal.

Think of it as plugging in your own wireless router between the campground Wi-Fi and your computer. You get a strong signal from the source connection and maintain mobility of Wi-Fi  access inside the RV.

In this scenario, the signal is actually being re-broadcast – you will have your own wireless network name (SSID) and password (to keep other campers off your network). This method provides additional security, since your devices will be located behind an additional router/firewall from the rest of the campground network – but this benefit also comes with the drawback that it is more complex (your traffic will pass through one additional routed “hop” on it’s way to/from the Internet).

The other main benefit of this solution is that you can share the connection with multiple devices such as other laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Installation is also more complex, however.

If you are looking for a long-term solution, we generally recommend using a booster/repeater/range extender over a remote antenna as it will generally give better results.

Best WiFi repeater for RV

We like the Halo Wi-Fi Extender System:

Halo Long Range Marine & RV Wi-Fi Extender System
  • Get marina or RV Wi-Fi service from farther away than with your mobile device alone
  • Wi-Fi connect multiple cell phones, tablets or computers on your boat or RV at the same time
  • Marine-ready stainless steel connector for 14 TPI 1" wide mounts; includes 10M cable
  • Durable marine grade materials withstand harsh conditions at sea or extended outdoor RV use

Best WiFi range extender for RV – runner up

If the Halo isn’t a good fit for you, we also like the Alfa Wi-Fi Camp Pro:

Alfa WiFi Camp Pro long range WiFi repeater kit R36/Tube-(U)N/AOA-2409-TF-Antenna
  • FREE HD CHANNELS: antess HDTV antenna lets you save cable fee without giving up your favorite HD channels! Antech Picks up all over-the-air programming in your area, free FULL HD Channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, PBC, Fox and SO MUCH MORE. With amplified tv antenna start to access all of the news, sitcoms, kids and sports programs!
  • 4K HD TV CRYSTAL TELEVISION & HD SOUND QUALITY : The smart tv digital antenna adopt 2019 newest signal amplifying booster technology to picks up signals within 60-120 miles range, filters out cellular and FM signals, resulting in clearer picture, high voice quality, low noise and access to more free broadcast TV signals with enhanced gain, range and frequency performance.
  • 60-120 MILES RANGE : The indoor HDTV antenna can reach up to 60-120 miles and can be placed almost anywhere in your Home. 360° design pulls in signal from all directions. If a signal cannot be received with the amplifier, remove the antenna amplifier and try again. You can flexible to position for the optimal signal reception, especially for a TV sits distant from the window.
  • EASY SETUP : Connect one end of a coaxial cable to the antenna and the other end to your TV. Scan existing channels using your remote control.Try several locations to find the best reception and remember to scan for channels in each location.Enjoy all your favorite local programs and shows in full HD 1080.
  • WORRY FREE GUARANTEE : We work hard to create the best TV Antenn on the market which is why we're confident in offering a worry free guarantee for satisfaction. 100% moneyback guarateed quality.

Regardless of which option you choose – a range extender versus an antenna, you will definitely notice a large improvement compared to simply using a laptop or tablet to connect directly to campground Wi-Fi – the antenna in those types of devices is simply not designed for the range needed in this situation.

Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

How to tell if a Router is bad

A broken router is no fun! After all, everything on your network depends on it – streaming, gaming, schoolwork, and real work all get impacted equally when your router stops working. Here are some steps to take (ordered from simple to advanced) to determine if your router is bad.

broken router

Start Simple:

Why do you think your router is the problem? Just because you can’t access the internet? The first, and often overlooked step, is to isolate the issue. Are all of the devices in your house affected, or just your computer? If only your computer is affected, the problem is likely not the router.

It is best to figure this out before spending time troubleshooting the wrong issue. If the problem is affecting your entire house, perhaps it is the router and you should continue troubleshooting.

Look at your router and start by checking the obvious things. Is it still plugged into the power outlet and is the outlet supplying power?

If the outlet is wired to a light switch, check to make sure that the switch is in the ‘on’ position. The same goes if the router is connected to a power strip or surge protector – make sure the power switch is on there too.

Also, check your breaker panel and verify that the breaker for that outlet hasn’t tripped.

Now check the indicator lights on the router? Do they look normal? Most routers’ lights will flash to indicate activity on the network – are they flashing?

Are the status lights for the ethernet ports on your router lit up? You should see a ‘link’ light when a device such as a laptop or printer is plugged in to a specific port only. You shouldn’t, however, see port ‘link’ lights on ports that are not plugged in. Seeing a ‘link’ light on all ports, regardless of whether or not they are plugged in, is a classic sign that the router is having issues.

Is the router generating heat? Does it seem like a normal amount?

What about noise? Generally, consumer routers don’t make any noticable noise.

These types of observations may assist you in determining the health of your router.

Intermediate Troubleshooting:router status lights

Is your router functioning (passing traffic)? Try opening up a command window and seeing if your computer currently has an IP address. This can be done by running the ‘ipconfig’ command on Windows, or the ‘ifconfig’ command on Mac and Linux.

Most networks are configured to provide IP addresses from the router, so if your computer has a valid IP address, your router might be functioning okay. Now that you have your IP address, try pinging it (ping yourself). This should always be successful – if it’s not, it could indicate that your computer’s networking components aren’t functioning correctly and, again, is not the router’s fault.

Now, try pinging the IP address of your router (this is the gateway address listed in the ‘ipconfig’ or ‘ifconfig’ commands you ran earlier). See this article for more help with finding your router’s IP address.

If that is successful, try pinging another device on your network. If that works, your router seems to be passing traffic okay. Maybe the problem is isolated to your internet service?

Try pinging Google’s primary DNS server, 8.8.8.8. If that is successful, try pinging google.com. If you can ping 8.8.8.8 but not google.com, you are experiencing a DNS issue – but if you can also ping google.com, your internet should be functioning normally.

If your router seems to be okay but your internet service isn’t working, try rebooting your DSL/Cable modem or contact your ISP for assistance.

 

broken router

Ruling out the router for good:

If you still haven’t tracked down the problem, here is a good way to test your router: bypass it and connect your computer directly to your ISP’s device (typically a DSL modem, cable modem, or fiber ONT).

To do this, unplug the cable connecting to the WAN or Internet port on your router and connect it to your computer. Can you access the internet now?

If so, your router is almost certainly the issue since bypassing it got you back online.

Keep in mind that this test method will only work for some people – it depends on how your ISP configures your service. If your ISP uses static IP addressing or PPPoE, you would need to take additional steps to use this test method – simply plugging in directly will not work.

Advanced Troubleshooting:

router with heartbeat

If at this point you’ve established that the router is bad, you can either cut your losses and replace it, or you can attempt some advanced procedures that might possibly allow you to recover your router.

If you decide to continue troubleshooting the router, the next step would be to attempt to reset the router to defaults. This will wipe the current config from the router and reboot it into the factory-default state that it was in when you first opened the package.

The process for this operation differs from router to router, but typically involves pressing and holding the ‘reset’ button on the router down for up to 40 seconds. Sometimes, you have to power cycle the router while you are holding the reset button down – be sure to check your router’s documentation.

Be advised that if this procedure is successful, you will need to re-configure your router from scratch: set up your wireless network name, password, channel setting (if previously configured), administrator password, port forwarding (if applicable), etc.

Console Cable

Some routers have a special port (called a console port) that can be accessed with a cable like this. In many cases, the router casing has to be opened in order to access the console port, so this is not for the faint of heart.

Using the console port allows you to access the routers’ pre-boot/loading environment, which can sometimes be used to fix a router that won’t boot.

Since every router is different, I recommend doing some research to see if your router brand/model is equipped with a console port and what recovery techniques can be accomplished using it before you purchase a cable.

Flash It:

If a factory reset doesn’t work, the next step would be to attempt reloading the router’s firmware, aka ‘flashing’ it.

The concept of reloading firmware is usually used to replace a bricked router that has been broken due to being tinkered with. If your router failed in service (you weren’t doing anything to it when it failed), this probably won’t work, because the router is probably broken at the hardware level, not the software level. Still, you may want to continue – what do you have to lose?

The process for reloading the firmware differs from model to model and brand to brand – the procedures are too different and vast to name them all here. I’d suggest searching for something like “reload firmware brand_name model_number router” into your favorite search engine.

This should help you find specific instructions to follow. Keep in mind that attempting to “flash” your router’s firmware can cause your router to completely stop working – again, you might not have anything to lose, but I wanted to give that disclaimer none the less.

The basic jist of reloading the firmware involves uploading a new firmware file from your computer to the router. This can either be done via TFTP, or serially by connecting a special cable to the router. In some cases, you have to partially disassemble the router in order to get to the serial port.

Again, check your router’s documentation for this process, or online. Once the new fimware file has been uploaded, reboot the router and hope that it comes back to life!

Need a new router now?

Our current pick for the best router (for most people) is the ASUS RT-AC68U. This router provides fast, stable performance, is loaded with features, and is available at a reasonable price.

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

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
  • Dual-band (2. 4 + 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+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
  • Manage your network with the ASUS router app – setup your network, manage usage and parental controls, even get instant notifications about important network-based events. Connected devices must be 802. 11 ac-compatible for best results. Ac input: 110v240v(5060hz)

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 75Mbps Internet

For those with a 75Mbps Internet connection, it is important to buy a high performance router that is able to keep up with your speedy Internet service.

After all, 75Mbps is substantially faster than 46Mbps, which is the worldwide average Internet bitrate for fixed broadband as calculated by Ookla, one of the major players in the bandwidth and performance measurement space.

The study, which was conducted in 2018, is available here https://www.speedtest.net/insights/blog/2018-internet-speeds-global/.

Since you are paying probably $50 to $100 per month for 75Mbps Internet service (this obviously differs greatly depending on where you live), it is in your best interest to ensure that you are taking full advantage of the speed you are paying for.

router with lan cable
A typical consumer-grade router

In many cases, users may not be able to take full advantage of the speed they are receiving from their provider because their router is a bottleneck. In some cases, this is due to a license restriction, but in most cases it is simply due to old hardware that can’t keep up.

Regardless of reason, not being able to use the speed that you are paying your provider for month after month and year after year, is criminal.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to cheap out on the one-time expense of a router, which could result in wasted money month after month depending on how long you stick with a bad router.

Best for 75Mbps: Introducing the the TP-Link Archer AC1750

This router wins our recommendation for 75Mbps Internet users because it is the right mix of price and performance, and it is appropriate for those levels of throughput. I wouldn’t suggest this router for gigabit connections, but for 75Mbps it will do a great job without breaking the bank.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • 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
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The TP-Link Archer-AC1750 is a cost-effective router specifically designed for home users. It has multiple features like USB support, parental controls, multiple (4) LAN ports, guest Wi-Fi capability, and more.

Typically priced under $100, the device is definitely a good value for the money, and perfectly meets the needs of midrange bandwidth users (50Mbps-500Mbps).

What we like and what we don’t like:

A word on the ‘Cons’

Most of our dislikes regarding this router involve the optional additional features such as the USB ports (used to connect external storage) or support for a 3rd party Firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato (which is a topic for advanced users only). We don’t feel that these cons will affect most users, since many people won’t use these additional optional features.

Dual Band? Check.

The AC1750 is a dual band router, which is a basic necessity in any router nowadays. Originally, WiFi devices only used the 2.4Ghz spectrum, but starting with Wireless-N, the 5Ghz spectrum was opened up. As a result, the 5Ghz spectrum is much less crowded and also features increased channel capacity.

The 2.4Ghz spectrum tends to penetrate walls a little better and thus reaches a little further, but the 5Ghz spectrum is higher frequency and thus (theoretically) allows for higher throughput.

Additionally, many devices still ONLY support 2.4Ghz, so buying a router that includes 2.4Ghz support is still mandatory. Thus, a dual band router that supports both bands is strongly suggested.

This router features support for the current WiFi standard – 802.11AC. It sports a fast processor, six antennas, multiple USB ports, and a host of other features. It was even named PC Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” and J.D. Power ranked the TP-Link brand highest in customer satisfaction for routers in 2017.

Easy to setup and manage

The “Tether” app from TP-Link can be used to setup and manage the router in minutes.

This provides the capability to monitor your network and make changes either from home or remotely via the Internet.

It can literally be “plug and play” if you like. Depending on your Internet provider, you can generally just plug the “Internet” port into your modem, power up the router, and be online within minutes without configuring the router.

To be fair, most routers operating this way, however (thanks to the fact that most ISP’s provide configuration via DHCP.

Additional Pros

Latest Standards

wifi logo

The router supports many of the latest networking standards such as IPv6 and 802.11 AC. Though this product is primarily a home router, you can easily use it for a small office as well.

Integrated 4-port Ethernet switch

I was looking for the perfect router for my home, the one that suited my budget and my requirements. As I had multiple devices like the desktop PC and the laptop in addition to the mobile devices, I was looking for a router that had multiple LAN ports. To be fair, many home/small office routers come equipped with an integrated 4 port switch like this one.

Mobile Application & Quality Customer Support

One thing that I found exceptionally well is the way TP-Link treats customer support. They have a dedicated round-the-clock support team who are always ready to assist you in case you have an issue with the product or its operation.In addition, it also comes bundled with a free mobile application. I used the app for the initial setup of the device. I just connected the router to power and most of the other complex things were configurable via the app.

Guest Network Capability

I often have guests and students coming to my home and asking for the password to use the internet. On my previous router, I had no option to differentiate a guest user from a home user.

The TP-Link comes with a unique solution to this issue. A guest user can login using the guest credentials and can easily access the internet but not my private network, its devices and its data. Now, that’s very innovative of the company to include this feature at this price point.

Parental Controls

Children are increasingly getting exposed to technology. This is definitely a boon considering the usefulness it offers. However, it also brings along with it negatives.

Child abuse and other sensitive visuals need to be kept away from children. The parental control feature allows you to blacklist potentially harmful websites.

USB Ports

This is definitely one of the highlights of the product and one of the main reasons that I decided to go with this. You can easily connect two peripheral devices like printers or external hard drives and make them accessible from the network.

6 Antennas (3 external and 3 internal)

Connectivity is the core of any router and TP-Link understands that like no other. The router comes with three adjustable and removable antennas at the back and three internal antennas within the device.

This ensures better range and reception, resulting in the ability to use Wi-Fi at longer distances more reliably.

16MB Flash Memory

You can easily skip this part as a technical detail. However, believe me it does bring a lot to the table. The additional flash memory has enabled the company to add more features to the first version that was launched
way back in 2014.

Price

bandwidth speedometer

I tried hard to exclude this, but come on! For a sub $100 product, the TP-Link Archer-AC1750 does pack a punch. Years of experience and understanding the customer has enabled TP-Link to come off with a real gem at an affordable price point.

Cons

Documentation isn’t exactly user friendly

The user manual is somewhat difficult to understand and can overwhelm a newbie. I recommend using the mobile app to setup the router.

USB Ports

The USB indicator is at the back – the front panel is overloaded with potentially less useful information. However, when a device is connected via USB, the indicator is on the back side of the router, making it harder to see.

Also, thanks to USB 2.0 (instead of the newer 3.0 standard), I found the file transfer a bit on the slower side. If you are using the USB ports for a printer, however, you don’t need to worry about this.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • 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
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons. We feel the AC1750 from TP-Link is a great fit for 75Mbps Internet users. You get the performance and speed that you need, without paying more for an over-the-top router with performance and features you likely don’t need.

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.

Best Wireless Router for HughesNet Satellite Internet

What is HughesNet?

satellite with earth reflection

HughesNet Internet service is a type of broadband that uses a satellite network to deliver Internet service to its’ subscribers.

There are many pros and cons to this service, with the main ‘pro’ being that the service is available anywhere in the continental United States and Alaska (as long as you have unobstructed access to the southern sky).

This means that HughesNet (or other satellite-based Internet services) can reach subscribers located in areas where other broadband technologies are unavailable.

Since traditional wireline providers (fiber, cable, or DSL) incur a lot of expenses with the installation and management of a broadband network, ISP’s will generally only build out their network in semi-populated areas. Often times, this leaves people that live in rural areas lacking any options for high speed internet access.

Sometimes, there are other choices available, such as T-1, fixed wireless, cellular/mobile data, and even dial-up. However, these solutions are not always available and can sometimes be quite expensive. This is where Satellite Internet comes in.

Obtainable Speeds

tech installing satellite dishHughesNet’s current service tier, dubbed ‘Gen5’ and served by their epic new “EchoStar XIX Satellite”, boasts speeds up to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. While impressive compared to their previous offerings, Gen5 service just barely meets (not exceeds!) the FCC’s definition of Broadband.

When looking for a router to use with HughsNet, the requirements are a bit different compared to someone looking for a router to be used on a higher speed broadband service, such as cable or DSL. Given that HughsNet tops out at 25Mbps, the bandwidth requirements are fairly low.

Even Wireless-N and Wireless-G routers are capable of pushing 25Mbps of traffic sustained. Does this mean that you should dig out that old Wireless-G router from 2005 (WRT54G, anyone)? No!

Selecting a router to use with HughesNet Satellite Internet

New 802.11AC routers provide several benefits beyond increased speed. For HughesNet subscribers, the main benefit of choosing a newer AC router would be range. 802.11AC technologies such as beamforming and MIMO result in better coverage than routers built on previous Wi-Fi standards.

You may only have 25Mbps to work with, but with the right router, you can ensure that you get those speeds in all areas of your home, not just when you’re sitting right next to the router.

Our recommendation: 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.

We like the R6700 because it features the speed and range improvements of the 802.11AC wireless standard at an affordable price point. Given that Hughesnet service tops out at 25Mbps, this router can easily handle those meager bandwidth demands.

This Tri-band router provides excellent speeds, even at long range. It also supports Quality of Service, which if configured, can prioritize certain traffic types over other types. Have a large download running that you don’t want interfering your Netflix streaming? Quality of Service can handle that.

Designed to provide excellent range when used in small to medium sized homes, the R6700 also features parental controls to help you keep your kids safer online.

It is also a stable router – it doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently like lots of other consumer-grade routers. It also features four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, to keep your local network running at high speeds.

It includes a USB 3.0 port, which you can use to optionally connect a USB hard drive to the router. This allows you to easily share files with other devices on your network through the router.

router with lan cable

Any Router Will Work

Speaking Frankly, most any router will work with HughsNet Internet Service, but for the best experience, you should choose one with excellent range and reliability.

We chose to recommend an economical choice in this case, because high throughput is unnecessary, given the relatively low bitrate of the Hughesnet service. The R6700 should fit the bill for most any HughsNet subscriber.

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.

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!

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
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • 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
  • 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
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • 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
  • 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.

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