How Does a Router Affect Internet Speed?
The fact that you can stream Netflix on your smartphone while your brother plays an online game in the other room and your mom shops on Amazon downstairs is nothing short of a marvel. Who would’ve thought that such an extent of connectivity would be possible in the 21st century?
The credit goes to your in-home network. This in-home network connects your devices and those of the rest of the household users to the World Wide Web and allows you to hop online whenever, wherever, and however, as long as you are in the reach of an internet signal.
To be honest, without internet access, nothing is manageable, nowadays. When you have the support of an internet connection, you can fill up your day with multiple activities and accomplish your tasks with utmost precision.
Fortunately, there are many internet options in the market. In regards to the best ones, you can check here. Still, while the internet is highly demanded in this era, many consumers don’t bother to look behind the curtain and see how it works. People just need higher speeds and faster network performance. Which technical aspects of the internet give rise to such blazing-fast speeds? No one knows.
That’s why we are here to help you get to the bottom of your in-home network. The internet infrastructure, at the level of a user’s household, consists of mainly two things: The modem and the router.
The modem is responsible for receiving data packets from the internet service provider and for translating them into digital data that can be read by your devices. Whereas, the router acquires these translated data packets from the modem and converts them into wireless internet signals, otherwise called Wi-Fi, so your devices can connect to the web without needing an Ethernet cable.
Thus, a router plays a crucial role in your in-home network. Whether it has an impact on your internet speed or not, you’ll have to read on to find out.
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Does a Router Affect Internet Speed?
It sure does, especially if you prefer to use Wi-Fi for most of your online hustles. Being an essential component of your in-home network, a router has a direct say on the state of internet speeds that are dispersed throughout a vicinity.
Its job is to “route” data traffic between your connected devices and the web servers. It works like a post office, stamping addresses on information requests, so they can travel along their designated pathways and reach their destinations on the net.
Now, these information requests or data packets may travel at a faster speed or a slower one, depending on the health of your router. If your router is performing optimally, it can facilitate faster data distribution and deliver the internet speeds you have subscribed to in your internet package.
Conversely, if a router is bogged down, it can actually cause delays in data distribution, failing to follow up on the internet speeds you have signed up for with your ISP. So, yes, a router does affect internet speed.
How Does a Router Affect Internet Speed?
The question of “how” is really important because it can help you prevent a bottleneck and enable you to streamline your router’s functionality. Here are the top ways a router may affect your internet speed and what you can do about them:
1. Older Equipment Problems
Wi-Fi standards are protocols, which dictate the speed of Wi-Fi signals, their range, and frequency, as well as the efficiency of a wireless router to carry them. They undergo a modification every once in a while due to innovations in wireless networking technology, thus, bringing in newer features and greater speed support.
The latest wireless communication standard is Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, which has the capability of transmitting internet signals at the theoretical speed of 1.2 Gbps. Whereas, if you look at an older standard, like 802.11n, otherwise known as Wi-Fi 4, it has a max data-dispersal speed of 150 Mbps.
So, if you have an older router with Wi-Fi 4, let’s say, then you can’t expect it to deliver 500 Mbps download speed of your internet plan, as it can only transmit data at the speed of 150 Mbps. This can create a bottleneck in your connection.
An incapable router will also deprive you of the full strength of your internet subscription. Therefore, always get a router that is compatible with the internet speed you have signed up for, or else the older equipment will adversely affect the speed throughput.
Note: Just because you purchase a faster router, like Wi-Fi 6, while your plan only enables a 300 Mbps speed, then it doesn’t mean that your router will speed up your plan itself, despite its 1.2 Gbps support. In other words, a faster router can’t increase a slow-speed plan. You will only get the internet speed you have subscribed to. Nothing more.
2. Misplaced Hardware = Weaker Signals
Another way your router may affect internet speed is due to its placement, or in our case, misplacement. It is vital for a router to be positioned perfectly, in an open, centralized space, and preferably at a higher place, if it is to supply wireless internet signals to each and every connected device in the area at a faster speed.
Placing a router inside a cabinet, on the floor, or closer to a wall may seem fine at first, but it obstructs the range of the router and weakens its signals, which get absorbed by the physical objects surrounding the hardware, and fail to reach their destinations.
Similarly, placing a router near a window or next to another wireless device like a microwave can create signal overlapping and network congestion. These wireless devices may be working on the same wireless frequency, i.e. 2.4 GHz, as the router, and can throw the Wi-Fi signals off their pathway in the mess and confusion.
This can result in weaker signal throughput and subsequently, slower internet speeds. Switching the router’s frequency to the less crowded 5 GHz band may help repair some of the signal loss and fasten up data distribution.
The bottom line is that a router is an essential part of your in-home network and has a deep impact on the speed of wireless internet signals you ultimately receive.