Hardware, Software, Technology

How-to: Understand Your Wireless Router

Netgear Wireless LAN RouterThe Router is that box with the flashing lights which connects you to the Internet via the telephone socket. Wireless routers are included in wireless broadband packages, and are essential in homes or small offices where multiple devices connect to the Internet at the same time. You could hard-wire every device using Ethernet cable, but that’s so 2003…

Internet routers can be wired or wireless. Unless you have a 3G connection – that is, Internet via a cellular provider over mobile telephone, it’s not the broadband connection or package that is wireless, it’s the router.

Wireless routers are now the most common type of broadband router. They support all the services of a wired router but without the cables.

  • provide wireless Internet to wireless-enabled devices such as computers, laptops, tablets and gaming consoles
  • make Internet telephony calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • enable streaming services such as digital TV

How it Works

  • Internet data comes in to the router from the fixed phone line
  • The data is wrapped in a layer of wireless protocol, encrypted (you do have encryption enabled on your home or office router, don’t you?)
  • It is then converted into a radio signal broadcast from your router around your premises.
  • The radio signal is picked up by the network card in your computer, smartphone or games console and unwrapped and translated into Internet data again.

The wireless router is itself a small computer, preloaded with its own operating system and firmware. This makes it a capable and robust device, a special-purpose machine, as opposed to the general-purpose of your computer. All wireless routers include a hardware-based firewall which you can largely configure yourself, along with other router features, using the Administration Control Panel.

You should be able to find an operating guide in the box it came in or look one up for the model on the manufacturers web-site. All you need is to access the control panel is the router’s address on your network (start with //, the Admin logon and password and a web-browser to display the user interface. Take care changing settings, however as you can lock yourself out of the router or render your connection otherwise unusable.

Wireless routers are mostly used with home broadband, but newer models are produced with 3g capability – for use with mobile broadband. Plug in a 3g dongle into the router’s USB port and your mobile broadband can be configured for use over the wireless router wherever you are. AJS

About Allan J. Smithie

Allan J. Smithie is a journalist and commentator based in Dubai.


3 thoughts on “How-to: Understand Your Wireless Router

  1. If there is one technological gadget that has truly made life easier for system administrators, then it has to be the wireless router.

    Posted by Jacob Rishalu | Feb 26, 2012, 10:00 pm
  2. More simply said than performed I think. tierra

    Posted by i. sleawey | May 1, 2012, 10:52 pm
  3. Valuable information. Lucky me I discovered your site.

    Posted by Vansoest Stachowiak | May 22, 2012, 9:28 pm

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