Author Topic: Tell Me About Routers  (Read 716 times)

nessa

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Tell Me About Routers
« on: February 04, 2021, 10:59:42 AM »
My home internet went up another $5 this year. I've been stuck with Spectrum because they are the ONLY provider for where I live (the boonies). "internet" is one cost I've been looking at reducing - I have no landline, my cell isn't "strong" enough to be a hotspot for the house, and c'mon - its 2021 and I cannot live without home internet access.

HOWever I just received a mailer from a provider who has finally moved in to my area. I have been looking around at ways to cut internet costs and have seen things about "buy your own router" to cut costs. So now I have some questions hopefully a Mustachian can answer:

1) Router is the blinky box that Spectrum gave me that connects to the wall coax cable(?) right?

2) If I buy my own router, what should I look for?

3) any specific questions I need to ask my new provider about using my router?

BikeFanatic

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2021, 12:19:17 PM »
MY provider, Comcast, had a list of routers that they said works well with there service, so I got a Netgear modem/router and I just plugged it into the wall then plugged the cable wire into it, and wham I had a working modem, there was a program that helped me set it up. I do not know anything about this stuff and I was able to do it. The router modem cost 150 I got it at Best buy probably 2 years ago. They used to charge me ten dollars per month for the modem an now I heard it was 15$ a month. SO I saved money broke even at 10 months.

jeroly

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2021, 12:33:06 PM »
Look around and you should be able to find an offbrand, used, or refurb cable modem for under $100, if not $50.
You may want to take some of the savings and invest it in a separate wireless access point to improve the quality of your home wifi - the wifi packed into cable modem/router boxes is usually pretty poor.  There's a 'good enough' Netgear AP on sale on Amazon today for $40, for example.

cool7hand

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2021, 12:38:42 PM »
Be sure to research the router's ability to handle the square footage and number of simultaneous users and devices in your application. The type of connection to the router--coaxial cable v. ethernet--also can make a big difference, especially if you live in a place with old coaxial cable that is split in multiple places. That should give you a few topics to research!

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2021, 12:51:39 PM »
1) A wireless router is a blinkenlichts box that provides wifi to your house.  The box that plugs into your coax is your Cable Modem.  Often, your cable company will rent you a combined modem/router, which does both.  You can provide your own cable modem, and your own router, and they don't have to be expensive, especially if you buy them used.  Spectrum have a list of authorized routers from which you can choose.  Your wireless router is entirely up to you.

2) In a good router, you'll want multiple antennas, good speed, and be from a reputable company (tp-link, netgear, linksys have all been around for a long time).  The router model number usually has a number in it (600, or 1200, or 1900, or something like that) which indicates the potential speed that router can support.  We used a "600" router in our small business (half a dozen users) for several years, and recently upgraded to a 1200mbps model.

3) Your ISP cares about what cable modem you have, but the rest of your home network doesn't matter to them.  You'll need to call them up and say "I've bought my own cable modem and need to activate it."  They should walk you through the process.  They'll need to know some numbers from the label on the modem, so their system will recognize it as being authorized.  You'll need to return the modem/router they've been renting to you as well.  Make sure to get a receipt--I've never dealt with Spectrum, but a few years ago Comcast tried to bill me for a modem I had already returned.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2021, 07:21:44 PM »
I’ve bought my own router for years, just upgraded to a new one, it’s faster.  I picked one from the companies  authorized list and called them with the above referenced numbers.  Took maybe 30 minutes due to “high caller volume”

RWD

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2021, 09:41:02 AM »
I drew up a quick diagram of a typical home network. Your ISP is probably providing you a combo cable modem/wireless router. Usually it is better to separate the modem from the wireless router as you get higher quality components and it improves upgradability (e.g. if you switch to fiber in the future).

For the cable modem you want to look at the DOCSIS version number. Anything prior to version 3.0 is already obsolete and ideally for future compatibility you would want a 3.1+ modem. Something like a Motorola MB7621 should be fine.

For a wireless router make sure you get something with Wi-Fi 6 as that is the most recent spec and will give you the best range/speed and future compatibility. Something like a TP-Link Archer AX20.

Daley

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2021, 10:28:40 AM »
For deeper discussions on routers specifically and what to aim for or stay away from, give this thread a read.

Poor Rod

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2021, 02:22:07 PM »
I would caution about looking to ensure that the router's WAN connection is a gigabit connection if you are going to go the separate modem/router path (the WAN connection is the port where the network cable from the modem to the router connects to).

Back in November I bought a Netgear R6080 router to replace an older N300 router. After setting it up, I was getting slower speeds despite the R6080 touting gigabit speed. Turns out the new router had a 100 Mbps WAN connection while the older N300 had a gigabit WAN connection. This was with 200 Mbps ISP service from Spectrum, so it was noticeable. Returned the R6080 and decided to keep using the old N300.

I was really surprised that a modern router would have such a slow WAN port. Granted I was looking on the lower priced side of available routers, but if you are also looking on the budget side for your new router, watch out for this.

crazy jane

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2021, 02:40:51 PM »
Posting to follow

Papa bear

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2021, 03:02:38 PM »
For deeper discussions on routers specifically and what to aim for or stay away from, give this thread a read.
This thread is/was awesome.  I got a lot of good info and feedback there. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

nessa

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2021, 04:19:31 PM »
Thanks for the great information folks! I'm gonna call the new company and ask what modems they work with. If they don't/won't, I'll have Spectrum work with me and I'll buy my own and save some $$ there.

One more question: I have a small house (one story 1350ft2) would I need to boost my wifi power to cover more house, or to make the signal stronger/more powerful?

Daley

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2021, 05:26:44 PM »
Thanks for the great information folks! I'm gonna call the new company and ask what modems they work with. If they don't/won't, I'll have Spectrum work with me and I'll buy my own and save some $$ there.

Most ISPs like to shoehorn you into mandatory modem/router combo rental on the vDSL/fiber internet end with no option to purchase. Here's Spectrum's approved modem list. Buy a Motorola/Arris, and as much as it pains me to say, stay away from used and refurb due to MAC address blacklisting habits in the industry.

If there's an off-chance your second potential ISP is AT&T, give Toast.net a look.

One more question: I have a small house (one story 1350ft2) would I need to boost my wifi power to cover more house, or to make the signal stronger/more powerful?

A single decent base station should be plenty for most folks, the key is to properly do a site survey and find the best channels with the least interference to utilize. Read the router recommendation thread I linked earlier for more details on that front. Fortunately, you can go used on this end. Currently, I personally recommend any decent used Netgear Nighthawk without broken antennas (proprietary, but not entirely unreplaceable without a screwdriver, some strategic hot glue and the right parts) - check description for damage, systems shipped in original box are best), loaded with FreshTomato. You can pick up a Netgear AC1750/R6400 for under $35. There's no point spending money on an 802.11ax/WiFi 6/WPA3 capable router if none of your devices support it, and given how few devices have shipped with it so far, outside of a few flagship smartphones. After all, the standard hasn't even been formally published yet (supposed to be some time this month).
« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 05:34:40 PM by Daley »

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2021, 05:27:02 PM »
One more question: I have a small house (one story 1350ft2) would I need to boost my wifi power to cover more house, or to make the signal stronger/more powerful?
If you have framed walls, then there will almost certainly be no need for anything other than a single router.  If you can locate it centrally, that'll give you the best coverage, but a house that size should be covered easily with a normal router.

RWD

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2021, 07:30:33 PM »
There's no point spending money on an 802.11ax/WiFi 6/WPA3 capable router if none of your devices support it, and given how few devices have shipped with it so far, outside of a few flagship smartphones. After all, the standard hasn't even been formally published yet (supposed to be some time this month).
My laptop I bought early last year (a 2019 model) has Wi-Fi 6 and I saw it on most new laptops when I was looking at options for my mom last month. I think it is already pretty common.

That said, I don't disagree with getting a cheap used wireless router (I'm personally running an R7000 with AdvancedTomato). Definitely the better value. But for anyone buying a new wireless router I think it would be silly to get the previous generation of tech.

nessa

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2021, 09:02:25 AM »
One more question: I have a small house (one story 1350ft2) would I need to boost my wifi power to cover more house, or to make the signal stronger/more powerful?
If you have framed walls, then there will almost certainly be no need for anything other than a single router.  If you can locate it centrally, that'll give you the best coverage, but a house that size should be covered easily with a normal router.

My walls (except a few patches) are plaster and whatever they stick the plaster to. It was built in 1963. I currently have no problem getting reception anywhere inside or in my detached laundry room. Does this matter?

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2021, 09:13:05 AM »
One more question: I have a small house (one story 1350ft2) would I need to boost my wifi power to cover more house, or to make the signal stronger/more powerful?
If you have framed walls, then there will almost certainly be no need for anything other than a single router.  If you can locate it centrally, that'll give you the best coverage, but a house that size should be covered easily with a normal router.

My walls (except a few patches) are plaster and whatever they stick the plaster to. It was built in 1963. I currently have no problem getting reception anywhere inside or in my detached laundry room. Does this matter?
Sounds like you have nothing to worry about, then :)

nessa

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Re: Tell Me About Routers
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2021, 10:46:34 AM »
One more question: I have a small house (one story 1350ft2) would I need to boost my wifi power to cover more house, or to make the signal stronger/more powerful?
If you have framed walls, then there will almost certainly be no need for anything other than a single router.  If you can locate it centrally, that'll give you the best coverage, but a house that size should be covered easily with a normal router.

My walls (except a few patches) are plaster and whatever they stick the plaster to. It was built in 1963. I currently have no problem getting reception anywhere inside or in my detached laundry room. Does this matter?
Sounds like you have nothing to worry about, then :)

Sweet - thank you!