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Tech Term: Router

Tech Term: Router

The more that people depend on mobile devices and portable computers to get work done, the more businesses have to consider how to manage their organization’s wireless network. The router is the piece of hardware that makes the wireless network possible. Today, we will talk a little bit about the router and how its configuration can dictate the strength, reliability, and security of your business’ wireless network.

An Introduction to the Router
It’s been nearly 50 years since the router was developed. Today’s router technology has matured to become an integral component in all types of communications. From data to voice to video, the router is a core piece of technology for almost everyone.

The first router was developed by BBN in the late 1960s. Called the Interface Message Processor, it was built for use on the ARPAnet, which was an early predecessor of the Internet. It was quickly improved upon and in 1981, Bill Yeager, of the Stanford Knowledge System Laboratory, developed the code behind the first multiple-protocol router. Interest in Yeager’s concept led Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner to develop the first Local Area Network (LAN) and in 1984 the pair launched Cisco Systems, which is currently the largest networking company in the world.

What Is a Router?
The simplest definition of a router is: a device that acts as a tunnel to the other devices on a network, supplying them with the means to communicate with each other. Today, most routers have wireless capabilities allowing this to be done without connecting the machines to the router.

Despite being called a wireless router, there are typically two wires that will always be connected to it. One is obviously the power cord, while the second comes from the modem. The modem, of course, is the piece of hardware that allows connection to the Internet.

How Does It Work?
Once all the wires are connected, your router will emit a signal that usually travels between 90 and 300 meters; it is device-dependent. When you connect a device to a Wi-Fi connection, the signal is sent from the router. Many products, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets have Wi-Fi connections built in, but more than that, these days a lot of consumer goods now come with connectivity. Internet of Things devices continue to grow in number, so when picking a router, you’ll likely have to take that into account.

Options and Features
Like every other piece of technology, the more features and options a router has, the better it is. Here are a few options and features that modern routers have aboard that can make a difference for your data dissemination and protection.

    1. Dual-band Wi-Fi - Today most wireless routers have dual-band Wi-Fi, since the traditional 2.4GHz frequency is used in so many places that it can be a problem. Today’s routers come with both 2.4 and 5GHz.
    2. Wireless On/Off Toggle - There may be times when you have to disable your Wi-Fi network (i.e. troubleshooting interference) and having a dedicated on/off button can come in handy.
    3. Detachable antennas - Many routers come without visible antennas, instead opting for internal antennae. Sometimes you need more range, however. That’s why buying one with detachable antennas give you more flexibility and signal coverage.
    4. IPv6 Support - The Internet’s supply of IPv4 addresses has been exhausted, so having support for IPv6 sites is mandatory if you plan on keeping your router for any length of time.

If you are looking for help with your organization's wireless network, start by calling the IT professionals at Network Solutions Unlimited at 217-428-6449.

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