IPIQ: Selecting the Right IP Networking Tools for the Job
As IP networking has become such a critical part of both residential and business environments, it is important that installers have a solid understanding of the breadth of networking tools available, as well as the usage scenarios of each. What you install in a 2,000-square-foot bungalow will certainly vary from the equipment used in a 20,000-square-foot mansion or a commercial enterprise. Likewise, the types of applications used in each installation will influence the tools selected for the job.
While not a comprehensive analysis, here are a few guidelines and considerations:
Selecting a Router—the Network Core
As the primary connection between the outside world and the Local Area Network (LAN), the router sets the tone for the entire network. When selecting a router, start by determining the expected number of client devices in the network. There are three main router types from which to choose:
• Modem/wireless router combo. Often provided by the ISP, this device typically serves a network of five to ten devices within a small area reasonably well. Because features with this option are typically limited, we don’t recommend it as a serious solution for installers.
• Wireless router. A wide range of wireless router options exist for serving networks ranging from five to ten devices on up to 75 or more devices. A simple low-power single-band wireless router may cover only a small area with five to ten clients before becoming bottlenecked, while a high-power, dual-band wireless router can handle significantly more devices over a larger coverage area. For example, my company’s Luxul XWR-600 dual-band router is typically rated for up to 25 devices and less than 2,000 square feet of coverage, while our high-power XWR-1750 can handle deployments with 75 devices or more and up to 5,000 square feet. Wireless routers also typically have more remote access options, including more flexible port forwarding, and even VPN servers in some cases.
• Wired router. Offering more robust features and more processing power, a dedicated wired router is a good option for optimizing data throughput and functionality of networks of any size—especially for networks with more than 75 devices. Most wired routers support port forwarding, VPN server and DMZ hosting, while well-equipped models (like our ABR-4400 and XBR-4400) can also support VLANs, web filtering, multi-WAN, QoS and other advanced features. Wired routers are better suited to networks where scalability is an issue, allowing the addition of switches and wireless access points as needed. When dealing with a network that is under heavy utilization and/or uptime requirements, a wired router is recommended.