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 - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control&QoS(Archer A7)
  • Wireless internet router 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 Comparable to the router NETGEAR R6700
  • 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
  • Integrated USB port acts as a media server, easily share your USB drive content

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 - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control&QoS(Archer A7)
  • Wireless internet router 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 Comparable to the router NETGEAR R6700
  • 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
  • Integrated USB port acts as a media server, easily share your USB drive content

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 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
  • 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 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 WiFi 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
  • FAST WiFi PERFORMANCE: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to 450 + 1300 Mbps)
  • 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 1 GigaHertz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming+, 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.System Requirements:Microsoft Windows 7, 8, 10, Vista, XP, 2000, Mac OS, UNIX, or Linux

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 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

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Why do I have to keep resetting my router?

Pretty much the first thing anyone does when they start having problems with their internet connection, is reboot their router. After all, rebooting your router usually fixes the problem – but why?

Why power cycle?

finger pushing power button

What is it about a reset (power cycle) that fixes problems? Well, there are several things.

For starters, a router is similar to a computer. It has a power supply, a processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and even an operating system (firmware).

Just like your computer needs a good reboot from time to time, so does a router.

Some routers are more well built than others and don’t require a reset as often, but for the most part any consumer-grade router is going to need a power cycle occasionally.

Consumer routers are generally built with lower quality hardware, slower speed components, and less rigorous software engineering standards compared to the routers that your ISP uses. As a result, they generally can’t go as long without a reset as their business-grade counterparts can.

Drain the electricity from circuitry

A proper power cycle involves disconnecting power from the device for 5-10 seconds, which allows for all of the circuitry in the router to fully discharge.

There are capacitors inside the router that take a few seconds to discharge, during which time, if you were to reapply power, the device would start back up but could continue to have issues since it wasn’t fully reset.

Memory in a computer system (or a router, in this case) gets fully erased when the power is cut. This is called volatile memory.

Don’t worry – there are also non-volatile memory types, which is why we don’t lose the configuration on our router as well when it is power cycled.

When power is re-applied, the router’s operating system boots from a fresh state, which fresh memory,  and is completely re-initialized so it can run at maximum capacity again.

IP address issues

After rebooting, the router also verifies that its’ current IP address from your ISP is valid (called renewing the IP) or if necessary, it requests a new IP address from your ISP.

Sometimes there is a bit of a disconnect between the IP address your ISP is providing and the IP address your router is using – the reboot will synchronize your router with your ISP again.

Bandwidth hogs are shut down (at least temporarily)

bandwidth hog

Sometimes, an internet connection is not working well because of a bandwidth hog. A bandwidth hog is defined as a person or device on your network that is uploading or downloading a large amount of data.

It could be something like a roommate downloading a new game on their Xbox, or something more systematic, like a computer downloading an automatic update.

This large upload or download creates a data contention issue, where other user’s data is slowed down because of the lack of bandwidth.

During a router reboot, bandwidth hogs lose the internet connection along with everyone else. They will usually resume their upload or download once the internet connection becomes available again, but sometimes (like in the case of a software update) they will wait a while to resume the data transfer.

Sometimes this delay is all you need to finish what you were doing online.

Wi-Fi frequencies are re-scanned

Some routers have a dynamic channel allocation feature where they survey the other nearby Wi-Fi networks to see what channels are in use, and then they pick the channel that is least populated or has the least amount of interference.

Power cycling your router will force your router to perform this adjustment as soon as the router has finished its reboot, as opposed to waiting for the router to do it on it’s own.

What are your options?

If you are otherwise fairly happy with your current router, you may wish to simply continue putting up with the minor inconvenience of occasionally resetting it. You could also automate the resets so that you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.

keyboard reset button

Therapeutic reboots

Depending on the model of your router, you may be able to schedule it to reboot at the same time daily or weekly. I do this with my router – I have scheduled therapeutic reboots to occur every day at 2:00 AM, when everyone in the house is sleeping and won’t notice the brief interruption associated with the reboot.

If your router doesn’t support scheduled reboots, you can also get smart power switches that can turn the power off or on depending on the time of day. You could obtain one of these switches and then connect your router through it and accomplish the same goal.

Get a new router

You could also just consider getting a new router. Here is a recommendation on a router that gets overwhelmingly positive reviews and most people report that it doesn’t need rebooting.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 WiFi Router with 4 Ethernet Ports and Wireless speeds up to 2.6 Gbps, AC2600, Optimized for Low ping
  • Minimize ping and maximize performance with four 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports for lag free, wired connectivity and 1.7 GHz dual core processor network efficiency
  • Amp up your WiFi with AC2600 dual band router that delivers blazing fast speeds up to 2.6 Gbps
  • Put your gaming traffic in a designated express lane with advanced Quality of Service, bypassing network congestion and reducing lag spikes, jumps and jitters
  • Make every millisecond count by using geo filtering to connect to the closest servers and players so you can respond and dominate
  • Monitor your network and game ping in real time so you can see who's hogging the bandwidth by device and application

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
  • 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.

Which security option is best for a wireless router?

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

A case for security

arm coming through computer screen

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

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

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

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

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

You could be liablemasked computer hacker

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

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

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

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

Security Methods

iphone wifi encryption selection

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

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

The main security protocols are:

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

Can you use the Enterprise versions at home?

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

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

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

The best security option

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

 

wireless security signAdditional security settings

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

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

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

Disable SSID broadcast:

 

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

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

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

MAC address filtering:

 

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

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

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

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

What is the best WiFi Router for Comcast?

What is the best Wi-Fi router for Comcast?
Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi 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 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) - AD7200 Wireless Speed (up to 7200 Mbps) for 60Ghz WiFi Devices | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage | 6 x 1G Ethernet, 1 x 10G SFP+, and 2 USB ports
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AC1750
AC1900
AC3100
AD7200
CPU Cores
2
2
2
4
Number of antennas
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
4 (external)
Prime Status
Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi 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 Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1750
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Linksys Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1900
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC3100
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) - AD7200 Wireless Speed (up to 7200 Mbps) for 60Ghz WiFi Devices | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage | 6 x 1G Ethernet, 1 x 10G SFP+, and 2 USB ports
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AD7200
CPU Cores
4
Number of antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
comcast xfinity logo

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say this:

Finding a good Wi-Fi router is hard.

I mean, there are so many different brands, models, technologies, and standards to think about, it’s enough to make your head spin.

On top of that, few things are as frustrating as when technology doesn’t work right. You can never really be sure how a router is going to work until you buy one and plug it in at your home.

In this article, we’ll go in depth to review our pick for the best router for Comcast, and explain why we think it’s the best choice for you to spend your hard-earned dough on.

Do you really need a router?

It’s important to recognize that you may not need a router. Comcast may be providing you with a router already.

At a bare minimum, you need a cable modem. This is the box that the coaxial cable plugs in to and it will have an RJ-45 network connection as well, which feeds your router. This connection looks like a phone plug, only it is about twice as wide.

Some of the equipment provided by Comcast is just a cable modem, and some of is a combo device, featuring a router and a cable modem in the same device. How to tell?

back side of a cable modem
The back side of a typical cable modem – notice the single Ethernet jack at the top.
The back side of a typical cable modem + router – notice the quantity and variety of ports.

Locate the cable modem/router in your home. If it only has a coaxial connector plus a single network plug, it is likely just a modem. If it has a coaxial connector plus multiple network plugs, USB ports, antennas, or Wi-Fi symbols or branding, it is a combo device.

Comcast-provided equipment

Unfortunately, Comcast’s standard equipment provided at installation seems to vary widely depending on where you live and when you signed up, so it can be difficult to guess what equipment they provided to you. I recommend looking at your monthly bill to see if you are paying a lease fee for equipment. This will likely show a description of what the equipment is such as “modem” or “router with integrated modem”.

A word on equipment lease fees

If you are renting or leasing equipment monthly from Comcast and aren’t planning to move to an area without a cable internet option. you should consider buying your modem and/or router, instead of leasing it.

This can result in significant cost savings over time and has the bonus convenience of not needing to return anything to Comcast when you eventually disconnect service.

If all you have is a cable modem, you will generally be able to only get online on one computer at a time, and you will not have Wi-Fi. Of course, there are ways around this, but most people prefer to just buy a good ole Wi-Fi router so that they can share their Internet connection with all of the devices in their home and also have Wi-Fi.

Even if you determine that Comcast is already providing a router to you, you may still wish to buy a router so you can make your own choice on the best equipment and not be locked into what they think you should have.

Most frequently, a modem/router combo is installed – which spares the customer from having to provide a router if they don’t want to. We generally don’t like modem/router combos, since they are typically a “jack of all trades and master of none”.

If your cable modem also has router functionality, and you are planning to buy your own Wi-Fi router, I strongly suggest configuring your modem for “briged mode”.

This effectively disables the built in router functionality so that your new preferred router can perform those duties. It is best to avoid connecting routers back-to-back after all, to prevent configuration and performance issues associated with double NAT.

So what is the best router? Our recommendation is the NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi 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:

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi 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

We like that it is a Tri-band router that supports the newest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It has the capability to handle the speeds that you can get from Comcast.

With Comcast, in some areas, you can get Gigabit service (and beyond) via fiber, but the majority of consumers are still on their cable network with service being delivered via the DOCSIS standard on traditional Coax cable. Speeds available to these customers usually top out around 300Mbps currently, which is still smoking fast!

Many routers that are more than a couple of years old will still have a Fast Ethernet WAN port on them, meaning that they top out at 100Mbps. You wouldn’t want to use this type of router with a 300Mbps service for obvious reasons – you simply won’t get anywhere near the speeds you are paying for, since your service will only be running at 1/3 of its potential.

The R6700 has a gigabit WAN port and is built to actually provide a Gigabit worth of actual throughput. Not all routers can make this claim.

The wireless radio on the R6700 can also support full Gigabit – under the right environmental conditions, of course (which applies to all routers, regardless of brand).

What else?

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi 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

A few other things we really liked about this router: It supports several additional features that you may or may not want to take advantage of, including Quality of Service (QoS). QoS can prevent bandwidth hogs (such as large downloads) from ruining the experience of any real time applications such as VOIP calls or video streaming that is going on at the same time.

After all, no one likes it when their Netflix stops to buffer. This router can prioritize streaming traffic so that the large download doesn’t affect anyone else in the house, for example.

The router also has excellent range for larger homes, has parental controls to help keep your kids safe online, and supports all of the current common WiFi security standards. It is also very reliable and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently.

Additionally, it sports four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a USB 3.0 port – which can be connected to an external hardrive and then used as a NAS device to share files over the network.

You can also connect a printer to the USB port, granting the ability to print over the network. This is especially handy if your printer doesn’t already have network capability.

Again, any recent router should work fine with Comcast, but the Netgear R6700 is our choice based on the features, performance, reliability, and price.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi 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
  • FAST WiFi PERFORMANCE: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to 450 + 1300 Mbps)
  • 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 1 GigaHertz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming+, 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.System Requirements:Microsoft Windows 7, 8, 10, Vista, XP, 2000, Mac OS, UNIX, or Linux