WLAN router for unlimited access to the Internet
The Internet has become an integral part of modern working life. We write e-mails, research important information on the Internet or share data with our colleagues thanks to cloud software. In addition to the company's own online presence, social platforms such as Facebook and blogs are also an important tool for effective customer retention at many companies. Reliable WLAN routers are required to keep everything running smoothly. Especially when the WLAN needs to be accessed everywhere on the company premises with mobile devices such as the smartphone, tablet or notebook.
- What is WLAN router required for?
- What is the WLAN router doing exactly?
- What was the wireless router capable of?
- Problems, solutions, AND MESH
- What specifications are important when purchasing a router?
- What should you look for when using the WLAN routers?
- Germany's most popular WLAN router: THE FRITZ!Box from AVM
What is WLAN router required for?
"What emails did I receive?" - "What is my calendar today?" - "What info was posted on the company's intranet?" - several times a day, you can look at your laptop, tablet or smartphone just to get answers to these and other questions.
Being informed everywhere and at all times is everyday life. The World Wide Web is available 24 hours a day. Various "switching points" are required to ensure that this also arrives at the terminal. In addition to the mobile network, the WLAN router is also used in the office and home area. The abbreviation WLAN stands for "Wireless Local Area Network" and means "Wireless Local Network". In some countries, Wi-Fi has also become a term for a wireless local area network – but it is technically not correct because Wi-Fi is a certification standard of the Wi-Fi Alliance. The term "router" refers to devices that can exchange (send/receive) data packets in networks.
The WLAN router is connected to the home connection of the telecommunications service provider (and the power supply). This is usually a classic telephone connection socket. Modern routers are equipped in such a way that they can separate (split) telephone and Internet signals internally. An extra device like the one used to be, the splitter, is no longer needed today.
Our practical tip: Communication
Modern WLAN routers control not only the data traffic within the wireless network. In addition to the router, a modem (DSL, cable or LTE) is often integrated, which connects to the Internet via the communication service provider. Therefore, the terms "WLAN router" and "WLAN modem" are often confused or misused.
What is the WLAN router doing exactly?
The WLAN unfolds as a radio network in a locally limited area, in which the network can be received by appropriately equipped terminals. Antennas on the router are used to emit the radio network. The field strength of the signal decreases with the distance, was the local limitation of the reception possibilities, hence the term "local". Within the usable signal strength, all WLAN-enabled devices, such as smartphones, tablet computers, can now communicate with various home and security devices (keyword "smart home") both with the WLAN router and with each other. The radio network transmitted by the router has its own address, which appears as SSID (Service Set Identifier) or network name, for example "Conrad home network". The signal is transmitted with a security key, which is to be resolved with a password (usually selectable).
The individual devices within the WLAN receive their own addresses, the so-called IP address (IP = Internet Protocol). The address range from 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255 is provided for the range of the routers described here. The second-to-last numeric keypad is used for the router, the last for the devices in the network, which makes them uniquely identifiable, for example, 192.168.178.22 a smartphone, 192.168.178.23 a WLAN-enabled printer, 192.168.178.24 a tablet computer.
The router is connected to the outside technical world with the telecommunications provider via a clearly identifiable address, so that sent "request" data packets from the terminal in the WLAN as "response" data packets find the way back to the sender via the router.
What is the wireless router capable of?
The equipment of modern routers offers far more than just the connection of terminals to the Internet.
With the built-in splitter, telephones can be connected separately if this option is included in your telecommunications tariff. Modern models also include wireless telephones in the system. In addition to the WLAN, a LAN (Local Area Network) can be set up, i.e. a wired connection of devices to the router takes place. For this purpose, network connections are offered directly at the router housing.
With USB ports on the router, separate data carriers can be controlled for data backup and for remote access to your own data. The technology used for this is called NAS (Network Attached Storage). For fast data throughput, USB 3.0 should be available.
An administration software is provided by the manufacturer to the WLAN router, usually implemented via an integrated operating system, which can be accessed via a separate Internet address in the local network. Such addresses are, for example, "http://speedport.ip“, "http://fritz.box“, or http://easy.box. With clearly arranged user interfaces, the router can then be configured with a local computer. This includes assigning or renaming the above SSID and selecting the encryption standard, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). In addition, many WLAN routers can be programd with a time window for WLAN availability. This admin access to the router itself is also protected with a supplied password.
Some models can be equipped with SIM cards (via so-called surfsticks), so that they ensure the Internet connection via the mobile network.
Our practical tip: Suitable hardware
- When purchasing a WLAN router with modem, pay attention to the appropriate hardware for the desired access to the Internet (DSL, cable, LTE, UMTS etc.).
- Before connecting a WLAN router to an existing external modem, the compatibility of the devices should be checked.
Problems, solutions ...
As with any radiation source, the field strength of the WLAN radio network decreases with the square of the distance. In addition, steel-reinforced concrete walls and other shielding elements can weaken the WLAN signal strongly. This can cause the signal to be lost in large offices or in apartments with a winding-up.
For this purpose, so-called WLAN repeaters (amplifiers) have been developed, which, like a separate router, record the signal at the still available place and emit it more and more around themselves. Two technical solutions can be found:
- A radio receiver picks up the weak, but still error-free WLAN signal wirelessly and releases it again as a "new" radio network.
- The WLAN signal is taken from an available location and fed into the low-voltage network via a socket. Frequencies that do not interfere with 230 Volt 50 Hertz are used. A receiver is inserted elsewhere within an electrical house installation, which filters out the high-frequency signal from the mains voltage cable and radiates it as a new WLAN signal.
... and MESH
A solution that is currently in the process of being established is mesh technology (mesh: English for mesh or mesh). Thereby, a first mesh spot is connected to the WLAN router (often also possible via LAN). Using an app, the other mesh spots are then configured very easily. The individual mesh devices can then also be positioned using a smartphone. This creates a nationwide WLAN network that has the same network name (SSID) and also the same transmission rate as the WLAN router everywhere. The individual spot then decides which WLAN frequency (2.4 or 5 gigahertz) is best suited for a connection. Mesh systems also allow you to set Wi-Fi usage times and content filters.
When you move through the mesh, the user is always automatically connected to the strongest available spot. With this solution, the wireless network reaches every office or apartment corner, with outdoor devices also the garden or the roof lounge of the office.
What specifications are important when purchasing a router?
Today, attractive Internet applications are often associated with streaming or downloading large amounts of data. The user expects trouble-free enjoyment of films or graphically complex games. Thus, the achievable data rate in megabits per second (Mbps) is an essential purchasing criterion.
It should be noted that the telecommunications service provider guarantees a maximum data rate in the contract. A faster WLAN router cannot increase this, but it can be future-proof if the personal needs of the Internet connection change.
IPv6 support should be a matter of course today, as should all current security procedures, including sensible default settings and individual passwords ex works. Server services such as print and media servers as well as a NAS function further extend the possibilities. And dynamic DNS (DDNS) functions are indispensable for accessing the local LAN from the Internet.
How well your home is covered by the home network depends on the range of the WLAN device and the spatial conditions. Reinforced concrete or wooden walls in particular shield the signal strongly. In this case, as well as in large apartments, a WLAN repeater can help to increase the range of the radio network.
A WLAN router can either only provide access to the Internet or serve as a network center. In any case, it should bring four Gigabit Ethernet ports and be able to connect wirelessly to other devices via WPS button. In addition, a switch is ideal for switching the WLAN network on and off at the push of a button, and two USB sockets, at least one of them according to the current USB 3.0 standard.
The transfer speed specifies how fast data from the Internet in your home network is forwarded to the terminals. The transmission power is determined by the standard used. In practice, however, the transmission speeds are significantly lower than the maximum values. In order to take advantage of the optimum speed, it is important that all terminals support the WLAN standard used.
What should you look for when using the WLAN routers?
WLAN routers are complex devices and should therefore be supplied with at least a printed setup and quick start guide. A simplified setup wizard makes configuration much easier for less experienced users. And regular, automatic firmware updates ensure that Internet usage is always safe.
As a wireless network extends beyond its own four walls, it must be protected from unauthorized access. This prevents neighbors or strangers from gaining access to your network at the front door and potentially abusing it for illegal downloads. When selecting the WLAN router, always observe the current WPA2 encryption. Some devices still use the old WEP transmission. However, this can be easily cracked today with corresponding special programs.
Germany's most popular WLAN router: The Fritz!Box from AVM
The most popular WLAN routers in Germany are the AVM FRITZ!Boxes with integrated modem. In addition to THE FRITZ!Box, you no longer need any additional devices to enjoy high-speed WLAN. However, AVM offers enough room for additional hardware, such as Ethernet connections for a cable connection with a PC, game console or smart TV. USB ports enable the connection of a USB printer as a network printer for the entire household. Storage media or UMTS sticks can also be connected. In addition, up to four analogue telephones can be connected and up to six cordless telephones. Even VoIP (Voice over IP) based telephony is not a problem. And with the integrated answering machine you do not miss any more messages. In addition, the Conrad online shop offers suitable FritzFon hand-held devices ideal for working with THE FRITZ!Box and can be ordered directly. Thanks to the in-house AVM operating system – THE FRITZ!OS – new functions are added through updates. These features also include using your wireless router as a NAS server or personal cloud service. When used as a NAS server, music, photos, videos and films can be easily streamed from the WLAN router to all devices in the home network. Security issues do not arise if you use a WLAN router as a personal cloud. Access to all data is password protected as is the network itself FRITZ!Boxes from AVM are therefore suitable not only for private use but also for professional use.
(This text is machine translated.)