In an earlier newsletter, I wrote about Upgrading the Router in Preparation for DOCSIS 3.0 Speeds. At the time, I was considering a Cisco-Linksys WRT320N Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router
. That’s not the one I finally chose, though — a newer, better model came out.
The main point is that I finally took the plunge myself. Rather than picking a wired-only router, I
Since the 802.11n specification was approved back in September 2009, several routers have been released that meet the 801.22n specifications.
On the other hand, a lot of notebooks and wireless adapters still refer to "Wireless N" and, if you look into the details, still meet the "draft N specifications."
Do they meet the final 802.11n specs? I’d think that the manufacturers would be quick to label them so, if they did.
The E3000 is not only a wireless router, but it also has four wired Ethernet ports, too. Not only that, the wired ports are Gigabit (10/100/1000 Mbps) Ethernet ports. That means that my computers can network at Gigabit speeds.
The biggest difference between routers that support the draft-N and the final-N specifications is that the final 802.11n specifications call for the router to be able to use both the 2.4 MHz and the 5 MHz frequencies at the same time.
That doesn’t necessarily mean multiple connections between the router and an individual wireless computer. It means that multiple computers can connect to and communicate to the router at the same time on either or both frequencies. The router sets up a wireless network on 5 MHz and another network on 2.4 MHz. This enables you to segregate connections by function or by speed.
Many of the draft-N routers support both frequencies, but make you decide which you want the router to use.
I matched my new 802.11n wireless router with a pair of draft 802.11n wireless USB adapters. I chose to get "refurbished" ones since the price difference was so big — about half, after including shipping costs.
My intent was to plug one into my desktop computer and the other into my home theater PC. My thought was that I would get a higher data transmission rate between the two if I used wireless N instead of 10/100 Ethernet.
I didn’t measure to see if there was any difference, but I didn’t notice any when I was trying wireless N versus 10/100 Ethernet. This was from the view of my notebook, which had a 10/100 Ethernet port (and is my primary computer).
I did notice a significant increase in wireless throughput, even on devices like my iPhone that use 802.11g, with the new router. Even though it has internal antennas, the connections are more stable and clear, so that the transfer rates are better and connections are possible from farther distances.
Be sure to secure your wireless network — WPA2 encryption, MAC address filtering, and use a different SSID than the default. Wireless will never be as secure as a wired connection, but you lock it down as much as your equipment will allow. If you have a wireless printer that does not support WPA or WPA2, it’s time to upgrade to a better model.
Shortly afterwords, I discovered that, with the addition of my E3000 and its Gigabit Ethernet ports, my existing Gigabit switch and by replacing my 10/100 Ethernet switch with Cisco-Linksys Gigabit 8-Port Switch
I had waiting on the shelf, I now had a Gigabit Ethernet network — other than my notebook!
The E3000 came with Cisco’s Network Magic software (basic version). A version with additional capabilities is available as a paid product. Network Magic is designed to make the configuration of the router much easier, especially for new users. In addition, some features such as the Guest Access are only available if you configure your router using Network Magic. I chose to configure mine using my web browser, rather than Network Magic.
I have noticed the speed difference within my network with Gigabit Ethernet, particularly between my home theater PC and my desktop computer.