What is a router?
Latest news for Home Broadband RoutersA router is a device at the heart of your home network that passes data between home computers and the modem, which connects you to the internet.
The router bridges the gap between your gadgets and the internet, literally routing information to and from various computers, laptops and phones by providing them with IP (Internet Protocol) addresses which allow them to communicate with each other and the outside world.
Most routers you get these days are wireless routers, which transmit data signals to your devices via WiFi as well as via cables.
This means you can have a wireless router set up in the middle of your home and have multiple devices connected to the same point without the need for cables. Our feature on What is WiFi? has more information about WiFi signals and how they work, as does our guide, how to set up a wireless home network.
What else can I do with a router?
Routers will have one or more Ethernet connections or ports built in, typically four. This lets you connect devices like smart TVs, Blu-ray players, YouView and Sky+ HD boxes so you can make use of on-demand services like iPlayer, Now TV and Anytime+.
Though four is the typical number of ports available there are wireless routers with five or even eight ports available, depending on your needs.
What’s the difference between modem and router?
It’s a misconception that the router is the device that sits between the internet and you. That’s what the modem does.
However, it’s increasingly common these days that you get routers with built-in modems; back in the day most of us connected to the via two boxes with blinking LEDs rather than one.
Household name routers like the BT Home Hub and the Virgin Superhub are combination router-modems. Most domestic routers designed for home broadband are combination devices and will normally say if they don’t have modems built in.
One scenario where you might want to have a separate router and modem is if you were upgrading from traditional ADSL broadband to fibre broadband.
Older DSL modems won’t work with fibre broadband and you’d need to get a new fibre modem. If you had a separate wireless router with all of your security settings and preferences already configured, then all you’d have to do is swap out the old modem for a new one and keep your router.
BT’s newer Home Hub 3 is a combination router-modem that’s been configured to work with both BT Total Broadband (ADSL) and BT Infinity FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet). So if you’ve got one of these then you won’t have to do anything when upgrading to BT Infinity.
- Virgin Media claims new Super Hub 2 five times faster than Sky Hub
- BT Home Hub 5: New WiFi AC dual-band wireless router: Hands-on pictures
- BT Home Hub 4: Hands-on video
- EE announces Bright Box 2 WiFi AC self-install wireless router: Hands-on pictures
- BT launches new dual band Home Hub 4
- Tooway satellite broadband router sends VPN links via space
- Router wars: TalkTalk opens a home front against BT, Sky and Virgin
- Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender, streams music, handles print jobs
- Netgear’s D6200 is the first WiFi AC router with a built-in ADSL modem
- TRENDnet TEW-812DRU Dual Band Wireless Router supports speeds of 1.3 Gbps
- EE BrightBox: The new router for Broadband From EE
- Sky Broadband Sky Hub: Hands-On Pictures, First Impressions
- Sky launches new Sky Hub wireless router for ADSL and fibre broadband
- World’s first 802.11ac 1600Mbps WiFi router with 24Mbps modem
- Netgear N750 Gigabit router comes with cloud storage
- Avanti developing satellite broadband suitcase portable router
Another new Netgear device on the block is the Universal Dual Band WiFi Range Extender.
Coming to the UK, this snappily named gadget will not only extend WiFi coverage around the home but thanks to the handy little USB port on its side, you’ll also be able to connect it to compatible speakers and then wirelessly stream music to them.
You can also use the Netgear Genie app for iOS and Android phones to stream tunes straight from your phone as well, making the Universal Dual Band WiFi Range Extender part wireless AP, part Sonos.
Similarly, connecting the Range Extender to a printer via USB means you’ll be able to send print jobs via the wireless network. As well as acting as a capable dual-band WiFi access point (2.4 and 5.0 GHz, 802.11 N/G/B/A) it’s a handy multitasker for home and small office situations too.
Netgear will be bringing the Universal Dual Band WiFi Range Extender to UK at some point soon but there’s no ETA or price just yet.
January 16, 2013
Netgear is touting the D6200 as the world’s first WiFi AC router to come with a built in ADSL modem. If you’re connected to an old school non-fibre broadband line you can pick one up now, set it up and you’ll be beaming WiFi AC around the home.
While there aren’t many peripheral devices with WiFi AC aerials in them at the moment, you’ll get better quality WiFi N (at speeds of up to 300Mbps) and it’ll work with the older WiFi A, B and G too.
The Netgear D6200 WiFi DSL Modem Router also has a separate 1Gbps Ethernet port, making it ready for connecting to fiber optic broadband or high-speed cable modems as and when it becomes available in your area.
Netgear’s UK page for the router seems to be down at the moment, but a quick scout online reveals a UK ETA of January 22 and a price of around £112.50 including VAT.
January 14, 2013
TRENDnet’s TEW-812DRU Dual Band Wireless Router is all set for the forthcoming WiFi AC revolution, promising to support speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps.
Like most cutting edge routers worth their salt these days, the TEW-812DRU features dual band Multiple User MIMO tech, which means multiple phones, tablets, laptops and other devices can connect more easily. Transmitting over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, the TEW-812DRU allocates connections based on how congested the home network is.
Devices using the current generation WiFi N band will be able to connect at speeds of up to 450Mbps as well. Legacy bands G (up to 54 Mbps), B (11 Mbps) and A (54 Mbps) are also supported making TRENDnet’s AC1750 ideal for those who want a future-proofed router.
The TEW-812DRU has also been designed specifically to handle multiple HD video streams over the home network. There’s a single USB 2.0 port for connecting drives and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Provided you can connect to a modem that’s capable of handling up to 1Gbps, this could be the one you’re after if you’re expecting to get some FTTP broadband from Hyperoptic, Gigler, B4RN or BT, whenever they get round to launching faster speeds on their FTTP network.
January 9, 2013
Netgear has announced the world’s first modem-router to combine Gigabit WiFi with an ADSL2+ modem that can deliver broadband up to 24Mbps over your phone line.
If you think that’s a bit of a mismatch, the D6300 also has a Gigabit WAN port that can connect to a fibre or cable broadband modem if you decide to upgrade to a faster broadband connection.
WiFi speeds up to 1,600Mbps are possible by combining both 802.11n at 2.4GHz with 802.11ac at 5GHz, under the draft 802.11ac standard, with the A6200 WiFi AC adapter using USB 3.0.
Priced £209, it will be available in October and also has four Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting to wired devices, plus two USB ports for printers and storage.
Like the N750 (see below), it also Netgear’s ReadyShare Cloud storage, and it has a built-in DLNA media server, support for Apple AirPrint and a Guest Network.
September 17, 2012
When’s a router not just a router? When it’s also a cloud storage device. The Netgear N750 is a dual-band Gigabit router (WiFi 802.11 b/g/n) that offers more than just blazingly fast speeds.
As well a providing speeds of 750Mbps capable of streaming HD video around the home, the Netgear N750 also comes with Netgear ReadyShare Cloud storage. This lets you store files online and access them anywhere on the go on your laptop, tablet or phone through your web browser.
If this wasn’t enough, it’s also compatible Apple Time Machine for automatic wireless backing up to connected USB hard drives and TiVo storage, for saving your favourite programmes. We’re double checking now to see if this means you’ll be able to use this with Virgin Media TiVo, because being able to watch recorded programmes on the go would be pretty sweet.
The Netgear N750 is a dual-band router, transmitting signals on both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequencies. There’s four gigabit Ethernet ports included so you can wire in devices if you’d prefer.
If four ports isn’t enough then you might want to check out the Netgear N900 WiFi adapter, also announced today.
The Netgear N900 is a WiFi adapter/wireless AP that comes with another four Gigabit ethernet ports of its own. So you can have your smart TV and Blu-ray player connected to the N750 in your living room and your N900 sat in your bedroom where you can wire in your desktop PC, Xbox 360 or vice versa, depending on your home set up.
Due to be unveiled at IFA this week, expect more details including price and availability for the Netgear N750 and N900 to be coming soon – we’ll update once we know more.
August 29, 2012