Ask Stolendroids – Wifi Advice

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I was thinking about my wireless home router today (it is about 8 yrs old) and wondering if I should get a new one.  I know less than nothing about routers so I thought I would reach out to my tech buddies(!) …

It is a linksys WRT54G with firmware v4.21.1

To answer the questions that I normally ask when someone asks for my assistance …
Q1) Does it do the job you currently need it to?
A) Yes, no problem.  It seems to work for all of our PCs, Macs, Desktops and wireless enabled DVD player
Q2) Is it causing you any problems?
A) No
Q3) Why do you want to change it?
A) I have no idea but I am worried that our speed could be better with a better router.




Hi.  (see what I did there?)
Your Linksys is the old favorite and the reason why that company has such a recognizable name; everyone has/had that router!  And it always worked.  However, since then, a lot of things have come out in the world of wireless that you may want to have.  Most notably N and AC.
802.11n is now the standard among laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  It has a broader range and higher speed than a, b, or g.  Where g would top out at 54Mbps, n tops out at 600Mbps.  Even better than the range and speed, however, is the true introduction of MIMO technology (multiple in, multiple out).  Where earlier routers would talk with one device at a time and just rapidly switch between them, MIMO allows multiple devices to talk at once.  It also allows a router to have more antennae which helps with range and reception greatly.
802.11ac is a brand new standard that has yet to be integrated into devices (but mark my words, IT WILL BE) but has an even greater range and speed.  In theory, ac will allow up to 1.5Gbps streams.  MIMO capabilities are also increased with the capability of 8 antennae setups and even higher multi-user use.
Both “n” and “ac” also bring 5Ghz frequencies to the table, which is awesome in a crowded environment.  Long ago, the FCC cleared the 2.4Ghz band for public use and so everything started using it.  Not only that, but most personal electronics also produce noise at that frequency.  That means most wireless networks are fighting with all the other networks around them, wireless phones, cell phones, microwaves, and anything else you have near you.  Channel auto-switching is designed to help this problem, but it doesn’t solve it entirely.  By moving to 5Ghz, you are going to where there is MUCH more room.
In addition to these speed improvements, most higher-end routers now also have built-in media centers, QoS capabilities, traffic shaping, and improved firewalls.  Devices with media sharing may also have printer sharing capabilities, however not all of them will support multi-function printers (ones with scanners/fax built in).  It’s best to research any potential routers if you need this.
Hope this helps answer your question!


Executive Producer for Stolendroids Podcast. Also resident 'tech-head' and de-facto leader of the group.

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