What is a Router, Gateway, Repeater and Controller?

When it comes to WiFi networks there are many acronyms and definitions making it seem like you’re learning a new language. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! 🙂 Keep in mind this is a broad overview and without trying to make your head spin, here are some definitions to help bring clarity to your WiFi Network:

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Todays Router does all the work!

A Router: (aka modem/router), is the point of contact between your internet connection and your computer or WiFi Network. Traditionally, a Modem and Router were separate. The Modem allowed access to the internet and the Router distributed the internet amongst your computer/WiFi network. Today things have progressed and now a single Router does both. It allows your network access to the internet and distributes the internet (data) to your computer network. If you have a WiFi Network it will be connected to your Router. From here our journey into WiFi begins!

To start, the term Wireless Access Point (or WAP) can mean either a Gateway or a Repeater, we explain the differences below.

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WiFi Access Points- Repeaters

A Gateway: is a physical WiFi Access Point connected to a Cat5/6 cable (usually a blue cord coming from the wall, Switch or Router with telephone cable like ends on it). Gateways are one of the most important aspects of a WiFi network and also the most overlooked. They are the backbone of your WiFi network because they distribute data directly to the Access Point which keeps your speed up. We will cover internet speeds and broadband in our next post… stay tuned :). Gateways are also responsible for sending data to Repeaters which extend the networks reach.

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Cat 5/6 Cable for Gateway

A Repeater: is a physical WiFi Access Point not connected to a CAT5/6 cable. Repeaters simply extend the reach of your WiFi network. Repeaters are extremely helpful for large area properties with many rooms or floors. Important: Repeaters cut your bandwidth in half with each signal bounce between devices. This is why strategically positioned Gateways are mandatory, or your network will be strained and slow.

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WiFi Access Point Power Supply

Power Supply: powers your Router, Gateways and Repeaters. It is black with one round end for the Access Point or Router and the other end will plug into the wall socket.

Switch: is used to further distribute the internet to other computers or Access points in your network. There will be one Cat5/6 cable running from the Router to the Switch, which transfers data, and then multiple Cat5/6 cables running from the Switch to other locations. Some Switches can send data and power over the Cat5/6 cables

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This is a big switch. Others can be as small as 8 ports.

which reduces the need for Power Supplies at Access Points. This is called Power over Ethernet (or PoE) and is extremely helpful when you need a Gateway positioned in a place where there is no plug in for power.

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Manage your WiFi Network through the Cloud.

 

A Controller: is the mother of your network. This is where your network is monitored and where changes are made (ex. change passwords, channels, SSID Name ect). There are physical controllers, which are located on site at your property, and there are cloud based controllers that can be logged into and managed remotely. There are big differences regarding price and capability. Some controllers expensive and some are free!

Hopefully this overview gives you peace of mind and assists you with any trouble shooting or network issues you are having. For more information click on the button below and we would be happy to assist!

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2016-11-21T11:15:13+00:00