Whenever you sign up with a new Internet Service Provider (ISP), you normally get a free broadband router included in the package. More generous companies may even send you a new router every now and then to replace the outdated model. Many home users automatically assume that they must use the free router provided and some even assume that it is impossible to use their own broadband router. The situation can be complicated, but it is most likely that you have more options than you might think.
Using the ISP-Provided Router
For most home users, using the router provided by the ISP is recommended. A free router is not likely to be as high-quality or as feature-rich as a third-party one manufactured by a well-known and reputable company, but it normally provides everything that the average user needs. In some cases, ISPs may even attempt to prevent you from using hardware which is not provided by them. If you are thinking about using your own router, you should first check with your ISP to see if they allow it. Some ISPs will temporarily suspend your service if you attempt to use your own router.
Another issue is technical support. If you are a novice user, you should always stick to the free router provided. Using another device, you will need to adjust your own network settings and set it up using the software and manual provided with that device. Your ISP will not be able to offer you any technical support for hardware other than that which it provides.
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If you insist on using a different router, you should always keep the free one as a backup just in case anything goes wrong. Also, if you need to call your ISP for technical support, you’ll most likely need to be using the router that they provided before they will help you.
Using Your Own Router
If you choose to use your own broadband router, you can generally enjoy the use of more features, improved performance and a better wireless signal. The current wireless standard is 802.11n and while most ISPs will provide routers using the latest specifications, others may be out of date. Using your own router ensures that you have the latest hardware available.
ISP-provided routers are often very short on features as well. Some of them have particularly limited connectivity options. If you have a fairly large wired home network, you may find, for example, that the free router doesn’t provided enough ports to connect all of the computers.
If you choose your own broadband router, you can enjoy extra security, performance and connectivity features as well as things like built-in multimedia streaming features and print servers. For power users, using your own router is definitely preferable.
Finally, if you use your own broadband router, you will need to retrieve the configuration details from your service provider so that you can get it working correctly with your connection.
When you opt for a new Internet service provider, it is normal for all of the required hardware and software to be provided for you including setup information and technical support. For most users, this is simply much easier than attempting to configure a router yourself from scratch. Unfortunately, however, the quality of a free router provided by the ISP is unlikely to be able to compete with that of a high-end third-party solution. Since this is the case, more advanced users with higher requirements will probably want to use their own hardware.
In some cases, the ISP may offer various alternatives when it comes to the broadband router, so it’s worth looking there first. If your ISP provides a choice of more advanced broadband routers, they probably come preconfigured for your connection too. Also, you won’t need to worry about a lack of technical support if you encounter a problem with the hardware.
Also worth noting is that business broadband packages often come with better quality and more feature-rich hardware, especially with regards to security and reliability. By contrast, your average free broadband router provided with a standard home Internet service is rarely anything to write home about.