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Business Routers vs. Residential Routers

router for home, Understanding routers, how routers work, Wireless Standards, Business Routers

How do I know what type of router is best for me?

Whether you are searching for a router for your home or business, it helps to have a basic understanding of routers, how they perform, and how they canl meet your specific needs.

Routers today have various features and dynamic capabilities. The technology behind routers can be overwhelming to comprehend. Let’s lift the ‘shroud’ of confusion that surrounds routers!

What is a router?

A router is a device that connects computers through a wireless connection or cables. Routers are a necessity in a business and becoming so within the homes of most everyone that uses the internet.

Home Router

Connecting to the internet while in your home is done through a router. Residential routers are quite basic and function (Diagram 1) to capture signals from your laptop, computer, tablet, cell phone, and gaming system. Once the signal enters the router, it sends a connection to the internet.

Business Router

Because of routers, we can access the web while visiting a business, hospital, clinic, restaurant, coffee bar, etc. These establishments have routers that offer guest access. If you have a business and do not provide your guests access to free wifi, you may seriously consider updating your router.

In businesses, establishments, and public facilities, routers generally act as a network switch. If you refer to Diagram 2, you will notice that the ‘switch’ has ports on the back. These ports are the point at which workstations (computers, phones, etc.) connect through an ethernet cable.

The ‘switch’ then feeds the connection on further to a router firewall. Firewalls are crucial for security and data protection. Once through the firewall, the connection is sent on out to the internet.

What is the difference in how routers function in a home or business?

The difference in a home router and a business router is the process which the router connects a computer to the internet.

Residential Routers

Residential routers (wireless) connects the below to a network and/or to the internet.

  • Laptops and computers
  • Cell phones
  • Printers
  • Smart TV’s
  • Tablets
  • Gaming systems

(Diagram 1)

Business Routers

Businesses use a different setup to route connections from one computer to another as well as to the internet.

  • Workstation computers and phone systems are connected through cables to a switch.
  • Signals are then directed from the switch to a router firewall.
  • The router directs the connection on out to the internet through a gateway.
  • If a business has free wifi for guests or their employees, a wireless router is also used.

(Diagram 2)

The Basic Elements Of Routers

Routers work in specific ways due to its speed, band, communication standard and included features. It can be somewhat intimidating to dig too deep into the details, so we will keep it simple by skimming the surface with giving you the basics.

For those considering a router, they must consider the following.

  1. What is the size of the coverage area you want the router to accommodate?
  2. How many clients (employees, family members, guests) do you want the router to accommodate?
  3. What type of devices will the router support?

Coverage Area and Speed

Routers have identified ‘frequency bands’ that determine the coverage area it will support and at what speed. Wifi comes to us through radio waves which are then converted by a router into frequency bands. 

Frequency Bands

Dual Band Router is the most common router used.

  • Band #1: 2.4 GHz (supports up to 32 devices)
  • Band #2: 5 GHz (supports up to 32 devices)

2.4 GHz Band

  • Lower in frequency
  • Supports up to 32 devices
  • Better range
  • Penetrates through walls and structures
  • Does not support high-speed access (this is where the 5GHz band steps in)
  • Competes with other things in your home such as microwaves, cordless phones, and Bluetooth
  • Effectively supports web surfing and social media

5 GHz Band

  • Higher in frequency (pulls data in faster)
  • Supports up to 32 devices
  • Supports streamlining video such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime, YouTube
  • Supports online gaming
  • Has a minimal competition with other things in your home

Wireless Standards

A set of global standards for certifying wifi products is determined by the Wifi Alliance. This group of worldwide leaders assigns an ‘802.11’ standard to routers. As improvements are made in routers, a new updated ‘802.11’ standard is issued to the specific router.

When you are choosing a router, you need to know what standard it falls under. This will help you to know whether the router is outdated or not.

The Age Of Standards

When you are browsing routers, you will need to select something that is at the very minimum an 802.11n. Anything before that is outdated. Some routers may support the 802.11g’s.

Standard

802.11b

(outdated)

802.11g

(outdated)

802.11n

802.11ac

802.11ax

Year of Release

1999

2003

2009

2014

2019

Frequency Band

2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Speed

slowest

slower

fast

faster

fastest

Comparison of Business Routers vs. Residential Routers

Let’s take a look at the side-by-side details of what a business router offers in contrast to a residential router.

Business Router

Residential Router

Workload

  • Designed to a handle heavy workload for prolonged hours

Used To Support

  • Numerous computers
  • Printer Hub
  • Phone System at Workstations
  • VPNs (virtual private network)
  • Guest wifi access

Firewall

  • Heavy firewall

Setup

  • Requires expertise to set up

Options

  • Control quality of service & traffic

Warranty

  • Long-term warranty

Cost

  • More expensive

Workload

  • Designed to handle intermittent smaller workload for varied hours

Used To Support

  • Laptops/computers
  • Smart TVs
  • Tablets
  • Gaming Systems
  • Cell Phones

Firewall

  • Basic firewall

Setup

  • Basic setup with instructions

Options

  • None

Warranty

  • 1 year or less

Cost

  • Cheaper

Deciding What’s Best For You

All routers are not created equally! Keep in mind a few things when considering a business router or a residential router.

  • Bigger is not necessarily better, especially for home use. Likewise, smaller is undoubtedly not going to benefit the requirements of a business.
  • Read the reviews on the router.
  • Make a decision on a router based on how you want it to perform.

By having this basic knowledge-set under your belt, you will have an idea of the difference between a business router and a residential router.


More on this topic: How to Stop Hackers from Invading Your Network: 9 Steps

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