Choice of Type

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For General Users

The primary purpose of routing, in a home or small enterprise, is to share one Internet connection between multiple devices (computer/laptop/tablet/VoIP)

Categories of Internet Connection

Most ISP allow subscribers to "Bring their own modem". Users need to be aware that older or economy modem/routers are not capable of handling all three common types of Internet connection:

  • Broadband via VDSL(2)
    • TransACT's "cable"/Phase 1/VDSL(n)/NBN is in this category
    • technically HFC, FTTN, FTTH/P (NBN)
  • Broadband via ADSL(2/2+)
    • also called "ULL" by some suppliers
  • "Mobile" Broadband via USB modem (2G/3G/4G)

If uncertain what category of service would be provided then the most reliable course of action is to accept the ISP's offer of a new modem/router. Often this will come pre-configured with your login details and require little or no setting up

Dial-up Internet via conventional phone line is effectively obsolete:

    • no longer provided by most ISP
    • nowadays suited to email only
    • line speed is inadequate for most web pages

Applicable Routers

If an ISP offers a "router" for their service then it is probably of the applicable type. Otherwise a user would need to choose carefully from the following types of "routers", depending on the type of Internet connection being used

  • for an ADSL service use an ADSL combined modem/router
  • for a mobile broadband service use any device supporting this type of service
    • "pocket" mobile broadband router
    • an ADSL modem/router or broadband router that supports USB mobile broadband modem
  • for most other services use a (broadband) router

If the product description of a router does not make clear its applicability see "Getting Technical" below for some guidelines

If an existing router of any form is in service, but has only one Ethernet socket, then a new router is rarely required

  • adding an Ethernet switch should enable sharing
  • although a replacment, multi-port router would take less space and consume less electricity


Not uncommon earlier practice was to use a Windows PC with "Internet Connection Sharing" (ICS) activated, to share an Internet connection with other devices. Effectively the PC was a router. This technique is now obsolete:

  • low cost multi-port modem/routers or routers are now available
  • likely to also provide more reliable connection

Getting Technical

Characteristics of Router Types

ADSL Modem/Routers

  • always applicable to ADSL connections
  • some provide for alternate connection via USB modem as well
    • check features carefully some USB slots support only USB printer
  • few, if any, can be used with Cable/NBN
  • need to distinguish from ADSL modem (only) devices
    • were popular ~ 10 years ago
    • supported only one computer, in absence of additional router
  • WiFi LAN included in many models

Broadband Routers

  • might be described simply as "Router"
    • primarily for use with HFC, FTTN, NBN
  • many have USB port
    • need to check whether supports USB moblie broadband modem
    • might support only USB printer
  • technically could be used in conjunction with ADSL modem or ADSL modem/router
    • new, combined ADSL modem/router device generally a better solution
    • suitable choice only when ADSL device already owned in order to:
      • extend ADSL modem service to multiple computers
      • enhance security of older ADSL devices
  • WiFi LAN included in many models

Mobile Broadband Routers

  • usually physically small devices intended for moblie use with laptop/netbook/tablet
    • require mobile phone plan of some type
    • those having slot for SIM card should have inbuilt 2/3/4G wireless broadband modem
    • others require separate, plug-in USB wireless broadband modem
      • essential to check router manufacturer's web-site for compatible modem models
  • might not be a good choice for use only at fixed location (home/office)
  • almost invariably include WiFi LAN capabliity
  • may include "wired" LAN via Ethernet or USB connection
  • some powered by internal, rechargable battery
    • these models tend to have limited transmission range
    • usable only in medium/strong signal areas for moble phone reception
    • WiFi LAN may have limited range and/or ability to penetrate walls etc
  • need to stand vertically for best signal strength

Dial-up Routers

  • no longer commercially available
  • options/alternatives include
    • change to another type of ISP service
    • DIY router see: DIY

USB Wireless Broadband Modem

  • not a router
  • requires one of the above separate routers, if routing required


A wide range of devices are commercially available in each of the above categories. Suggested guidelines:

  • an ISP is likely to be better able to provide techical support for a device they sell
  • if relying on friends/relatives/acquaintances for technical assistance then choose a model with which they are familiar
  • if also relying on the router as primary firewall for a LAN, compare firewalling features


  • Routers are generally configured via a Web Browser
    • other, more technical routers are generally unsuited to home users
  • Reputable manufacturers have their User Guides available for download from their web-site
    • peruse manual prior to purchasing device
  • user interface via web browser varies widely
    • impractical to provide generic configuration guidelines
    • good quality manuals cover the physical connections and setup procedures well

Strictly for Geeks

Various techniques for improving on commercially available routers are outlined at DIY

--Rpeters 14:22, 1 September 2013 (EST)