When purchasing a network router for your business, it can be easy to go for the cheapest solution, however this may not offer you the best solution for your business. Read our guide to find out some important router features to look out for when aiming for a more efficient office network.
Single or Dual band WiFi?
A frequency band is usually categorised as a certain range of frequencies. In wireless (WiFi) communication there are two notable frequencies. These are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Single band routers are only able to pick up the 2.4 GHz frequency, whereas a dual band router will be able to operate on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.
A single band router can suffer from interference as it will only have a few non-overlapping transmission channels, while other wireless equipment can use the same frequency. This can also contribute to taking up bandwidth space and lead to a congested signal. While 2.4GHz delivers better range, the 5GHz band will have a larger number of non-overlapping channels and will have a less congested spectrum. With dual band routers, you will be able to get an improved performance at a higher speed.
QOS - Quality of Service
Quality of Service, also known as QoS can be a very useful feature for a business. Network traffic can differ, so it makes good sense that utilising a router that can identify and prioritise traffic will make your network more efficient. One example of this is when using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) over a broadband connection. Using a router with QoS control means the data packets used during a voice call be differentiated between those used when downloading a file. With QoS, priorities can be set and different types of traffic can even be blocked. In an office environment, this feature can really help with network efficiency.
Guest Networks or VLANs
VLANs, sometimes known as Virtual Networks or Guest Networks, help segregate traffic on your network. Differing from QoS, this feature lets businesses create different networks that are separate from one another. For example, data from one team or department in an office can be kept separate from another. Likewise, you can grant guests access to the Internet without also providing them access to any files or printers on your network. This can be useful if providing WiFi to customers in a store for example.
Business grade routers will tend to include additional security features which are often grouped as Unified Threat Management Gateways or UTM gateways. These features will often include antivirus, anti-spam and content filtering to block dangerous web content or email threats. Integrated built-in firewalls and supported security keys such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (WiFi Protected Access), and WPA2 (which uses Advanced Encryption Standard or AES) also provide extra network security against attacks.
If upgrading to a business class router, one aspect to look into is Gigabit Ethernet. While consumer level routers are capable of operating at a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), a router with Gigabit Ethernet functionality can offer a significant speed increase in the speed of data transfer over your network up to 1,000 Mbps (or 1Gbps).
In addition, we would expect business class routers to also offer features such as VPN (Virtual Private network), failovers, IPV6 support, and load balancing.
VPN will allow remote users to access the office network as if in the building, and a good business router will be able to handle around 5 to 100 VPN users. Business routers will also provide great redundancy in terms of failover to an alternate connection, such as a 4G connection, if the primary ADSL line fails for any reason. With less downtime businesses can enjoy more productivity. These are just a selection of business grade features that your router should feature. For more, check out our range of business routers on the NetXL.com Store.