Home Routers- Beginners Guide

A home router is responsible for connecting the home network to the Internet, and usually provides several important networking services like:

  • DHCP
  • DNS

Most home routers provide both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections for devices on the home network.



Although from a networking perspective home routers provide routing functionality they are also called hubs by some ISPs and device manufactures because they usually include an Ethernet switch.

Router Internet Connection Types

A router connects two networks together. In the case of an home router the networks are the Internet and the home network as shown in the diagram below.
home-network-diagram-2

There are four main Internet connection types in use

  • ADSL – old
  • VDSL – Used with Fibre to cabinet connections (FTTC)
  • Fibre – Used with FTTP
  • Cable – Cable networks

If you purchase your own router then you need to ensure it is the correct type for your Internet connection.

Routers and Modems and Filters

If you look at the internet connection diagram above you will see a broadband filter.

This filter is necessary on ADSL and VDSL connections but is now commonly included in the ISP socket.

However you will need to check your socket type to determine this.

What isn’t shown is a modem.

A modem, if required, is placed between the router and the internet connection.

External modems are commonly found on Networks that connect using fibre, and are required to convert electrical signals from the router into light signals to send over the fibre cable.

internet-connection-fibre

VDSL and ADSL

Internet connections that use telephone cables to connect to the Internet use these link protocols or technologies.

ADSL (Analogue digital subscriber line) is the older technology, and is now being replaced by VDSL (very high speed digital subscriber line) which is faster.

VDSL isn’t fibre, but it is used in conjunction with fibre in what is know as fibre to the kerb connections.

In these connections the fibre is provided to a distribution point near the home, and the standard telephone lines provide the connection to the home using VDSL.

fibre-kerb

Home Routers Without a Land Line

Traditionally Internet connections have required a land line connection.

However more and more people are not using a traditional land line phone connection but a mobile phone.

There are many home routers on the market that support 3G and 4G mobile networks.

They were originally designed for use by mobile workers or people on holiday that required to share a mobile Internet connection.

Usually they provide a Wi-Fi access point and Ethernet connections just like a traditional home router but the connection to the ISP is via the mobile network as shown below.

home-router-3g-4g

Before you purchase one for home use you should check the network availability in your area.
The upload and download speeds are generally slower than land line with 3G giving between 200kbps and 7.2Mbps.

4G giving 8-10 Mbits/s (quoted speeds) in the UK but published speeds are much higher with 4G having maximum download speed of around 160Mbits/s.

Here is a screen shot from the ee mobile provider.

4g-speeds-uk

Common Questions and Answers

Q- Do Home Routers support POE ports

A- Generally no

Q- Can Home Routers be powered using POE

A- Generally no but many Wi-Fi mesh routers can

Q- Can I have more than one router on my network.

A- Yes but this is not normally done as a routed network is more difficult to set up and not needed. Vlans are a better option.

Q- Do all home routers support VLANS.

A- No you will need to read the feature description to determine this.

Q –Do Home Routers use NAT

A- Yes for IP4 addresses

Q- How do I find the external address of my home Router.

A- See the understanding Internal and external addresses tutorial.

Q- Should I use the router provided by my ISP or buy a new one.

A- I would use the ISP router unless you require a feature that isn’t provided by that router.

Video Understanding Home Router Types for Beginners

Related Resources and Tutorials

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