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[News] Buying a new router? Understand these Wi-Fi basics first

2019-09-22 09:15:54
709 36

Hi Mi Fans

Shopping for a new router can feel overwhelming, especially if you don't really understand what you're looking for. There's lots of jargon to wrap your head around, plenty of hyperbolic claims about speed and coverage to sift through, ISP limitations to take into consideration -- and that's before you try to comprehend the newfangled features that come with emerging, next-gen Wi-Fi tech.

But there's no need to feel paralyzed if it's time for an upgrade. If you understand some key basics, you'll have no problem finding the right router for your family. Here's a primer to help you do just that.

802-dot-what now?

Wi-Fi was developed and standardized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which classifies the technology within the 802 family of standards for local area networks. The IEEE's full code for Wi-Fi is 802.11, pronounced "eight-oh-two-dot-eleven." The ".11" distinguishes Wi-Fi from other standards in the family, including Ethernet (802.3), Bluetooth (802.15.1), and Zigbee (802.15.4).

Over the years, the IEEE has done quite a bit to certify new improvements to Wi-Fi and standardize them for widespread use. That's where those confusing letters that come after "802.11" come into play. Each of them denotes specific generations of Wi-Fi.
802.11b : the first version of Wi-Fi that was widely used was released in 1999
802.11a : shortly after 802.11b
802.11g : in 2003
802.11n : in 2009.
802.11ac : The current-gen version of Wi-Fi that most devices use today, was first introduced in 2013.
802.11ax : The newest version of Wi-Fi is simply called Wi-Fi 6

With a new version of Wi-Fi called 802.11ax launching this year, the group decided to market the standard as "Wi-Fi 6," and to retroactively refer to previous Wi-Fi generations in the same way.
802.11ac is called Wi-Fi 5
802.11n is called Wi-Fi 4
802.11g is called Wi-Fi 3

What does that number in the router name mean?

Along with each manufacturer's internal naming schemes, most of today's routers will typically also come with designations like "AC1900" or "AC3150." The point is to give you a quick, comparative sense of which version of Wi-Fi each router supports ("AC" for Wi-Fi 5, "AX" for Wi-Fi 6, and so on), along with a rough sense of its speed capabilities.

I say "rough" because those numbers after the "AC" or "AX" part indicate the sum total of the maximum theoretical transfer rates across each of the router's bands. That's not useless info as you're comparison shopping, but it's more than a bit misleading, since that sum total will almost always be significantly higher than the fastest speeds you'll experience as a user.

"AC" tells you that this is a Wi-Fi 5 router, while "2600" refers to the combined theoretical max speeds of each of the router's bands. Your actual speed per device will be a lot lower.

Example :  the D-Link DIR-867 is listed as an AC1750 router. It's a dual-band, Wi-Fi 5 router with theoretical maximum transfer rates of 1,300Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Add those two numbers together, and you get 1,750, hence AC1750.

What else should I look for as I shop?

You'll see all sorts of Wi-Fi jargon as you shop for a new router. Here's a rundown of the terms you'll see the most, and what they actually mean for your home.

Mesh: A mesh Wi-Fi network is one that uses multiple access points to provide better coverage throughout large homes. You'll start with one that wires to your modem like a traditional router, then add in satellite units around the house that act like repeaters for the signal. If you have a pesky back bedroom that struggles to stay connected, then move mesh routers up to the top of your list.

MU-MIMO: Short for "multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output" (and pronounced "multi-user-meem-oh"), MU-MIMO lets your router divide its signal between multiple streams. That, in turn, lets the router send data to multiple devices at once. If the receiving device supports it, MU-MIMO also lets the router use multiple streams at once to send data its way, which makes for faster transfers. Current-gen routers can support up to four simultaneous data streams (4x4), while next-gen Wi-Fi 6 routers will support up to eight streams (8x8).

Band steering: Different brands have different names for the feature, but a growing number of routers will automatically move devices between bands as their positions change within the range of the router. So, if you're using Wi-Fi to make a video call on your phone, and you're sitting in the living room in close proximity to the router, it might automatically assign you to the 5GHz band, which is the speediest at close range. If you move into another part of the house during the call, the router might automatically "steer" your connection onto the 2.4GHz band, which offers a steadier connection at a distance.

Beamforming: A basic router will broadcast its signal more or less equally in all directions, but with beamforming, the router can focus its signal in the specific directions of the devices that are trying to connect to it. That can help it eke out slightly better range.

Quality of Service: Often abbreviated to QoS, Quality of Service is a feature that lets the router prioritize certain types of traffic above others. It's a common feature for gaming routers.

Beyond basics like those, router manufacturers are turning more and more to extras like simplified, app-based setup, integrations with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, VPN support, better parental controls, and optional cybersecurity monitoring. All are worth considering if you think you'd put them to use in your home.


Thanks for your time

2019-09-22 09:15:54
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Advanced Bunny

1775043278 | from app


Great info thanks
2019-09-22 09:51:11

Advanced Bunny

6203526292 | from app


Useful guide thank you
2019-09-22 10:22:17

Advanced Bunny

6203571021 | from app


Thanks for sharing
2019-09-22 10:37:43

Grand Master Bunny

Ian Adoe | from Redmi Note 5A Prime


Nice info, thanks
2019-09-22 10:50:35

Advanced Bunny

AndreyW | from Redmi S2


Thanks for sharing
2019-09-22 11:18:32
Great, Thanks for sharing!
2019-09-22 11:52:18

Master Bunny

redzuan79 | from Redmi Note 5A


Great info. Thanks for sharing.
2019-09-22 12:06:38

Pro Bunny

hlucbo | from MI 5s Plus


Very interested
2019-09-22 12:44:08

Rookie Bunny

6203662876 | from app


thank you for sharing
2019-09-22 12:49:13

Semi Pro Bunny

Aris fadarisman | from Redmi 6 Pro


Thanks for sharinh
2019-09-22 13:12:02
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