A router is a device that has the basic function of receiving and routing data packets within a network or to other networks. This type of device is more advanced than the switch. In addition to performing its functions, routers have the ability to determine the best route for a data packet to reach its destination.
In this sense, think for a moment that the network is a city. It is then up to the router to indicate which routes are less congested or which are shorter so that a vehicle can reach a certain point as soon as possible.
Because of this feature, routers are used for connecting networks. This can be done in the most different configurations.
For example, a company that occupies a three-story building and has a network in each of them can use a router to interconnect them and, at the same time, connect them to the Internet.
Routers can have different number of ports and work together with switches or even hubs. In addition, a router always brings complementary features such as firewall, DHCP, and DNS tools.
Wi-Fi Router (wireless or wireless)
So far, we talk about hub, switch, modem and router as equipment for cable-based networks. But wireless networks are increasingly common. We use so-called Wi-Fi networks mainly to connect notebooks, desktops, smartphones, tablets, TVs and various other devices to the Internet.
This work is done by a type of equipment known as a Wi-Fi router. What it does, basically, is create a local network (or, remember, a LAN) and connect it to the Internet. Here, the routing work is basically about routing the incoming and outgoing data packets between each network node and the Internet.
A Wi-Fi router may or may not have ports for connection via Ethernet cable (with this, the network becomes mixed). In addition, it can work with different data transmission speeds and vary in physical range (provided by the antenna).
If you have a 150 or 300 Mb/s router (megabits per second), it should work well in a house that has few devices connected, for example. But in a relatively large office or for applications that require a lot of bandwidth (online videos in 4K resolution, for example), more powerful Wi-Fi routers are nedded.
If you have a conventional Wi-Fi router, you need to connect to it the modem of your Internet connection (no matter if it is based on fiber optics, ADSL or other technology) so that the devices on the network can go online.
Generally, the modem is provided by your ISP. But in many cases, the company provides a router modem (in this case, Wi-Fi), that is, a device that unites these two functions.
Router next to a modem or modem router, what is the best approach?
It depends. If you have few devices connected to your network, a modem router is usually enough.
But you need the equipment to be compatible with the type of connection you’ve – a modem router for ADSL won’t work with fiber optic access and vice versa, just to give an example.
Now, suppose you want to increase the physical range of the network. In these situation, it is ideal to use the modem associated with a (separate) router that can offer great coverage capacity.
When making this decision, you do not need to ask your ISP to provide a device that only acts as a modem: you can usually disable the modem router’s routing function. To do this, check the equipment manual, call your provider’s support, or consult a network professional.