Best Wireless Access Point for Home

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

What is a wireless access point anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

hands typing on keyboard

Benefits

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

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

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

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

Drawbacks

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

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

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

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

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

What is the best wireless access point for home?

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

About Ubiquiti

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

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

 

The UniFi Solution

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

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

Access Points

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

UniFi Security Gateway

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

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

UniFi Switch

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

UniFi Controller

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

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

What is ‘Prosumer’ gear? A disclaimer:

wireless network layout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different types of AP’s

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

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

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

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

UniFi AP AC LRUniFi AC LR AP antenna

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

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

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

UniFi AP AC Lite

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

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

Pros and Cons

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Performance all around

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

Your choice

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

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

 

 

How to get WiFi at home without a router

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

wifi logo

Not the mobile hotspot that you’re used to

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

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

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

Why no router?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros and Cons to going router-less

Pros

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

Cons

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

It’s only temporary (usually)

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

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

Getting Started

Difficulty: Medium
Time Required: 10 Minutes

Prerequisites

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

Optional

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

Windows or Mac?

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

Windows 10 Procedure

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

start menu settings button

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

network settings mobile hotspot

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

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

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

mobile hotspot settings

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

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

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

mobile hotspot devices connected

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

MacOS Procedure

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

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

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

mac apple menu

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

mac system preferences

  • Select ‘Internet Sharing’ on the left side:

mac sharing

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

mac wifi settings

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

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

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

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

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.

What is my IP address for my router?

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

Private vs Public IP Addressesprivate public road sign

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

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

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

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

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

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

ip address list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty much everything outside of these reserved ranges is public.

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

Why do you need your routers’ IP address?

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

Reasons to need your private address

  • router admin ip address

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

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

Reasons to need your public address

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

How to find your routers’ private IP:

router with admin ip

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

Windows XP/Windows 7/Windows 10

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

ipconfig output

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

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

MacOS

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

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

network preferences

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

How to find your routers’ public IP:

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

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

IP Chicken

What is my IP

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

ipchicken screenshot

Why do I need a dual-band router?

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

Some history

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

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

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

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

radio channel frequency

Benefits of dual-bands

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

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

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

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

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

wifi logo

Differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz

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

Range

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

Speed

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

Number of channels, channel width

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

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

Bringing it all together

So what exactly is a dual-band router?

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

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

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

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