When it seems like your internet service is slow, there can be a variety of reasons why. Those can range from network congestion or weather issues to viruses, too many people on your home network to, yes, the router.
So what’s the difference between your router and your modem? The modem is the hardware that takes the signal from your satellite dish and gets it inside your house to your computer or your router. Unlike the olden days of internet, most people aren’t content to just have one Ethernet cable connecting their modem to a single computer. Instead, most of us use a wireless router, which takes that signal and broadcasts it a short distance via a radio signal. This is how you can share your signal with all of the connected devices in your home, from smartphones and TVs to gaming consoles and even connected thermostats and door cameras.
*Note: Many internet providers, Viasat included, offer modems that include a built-in wireless router. This article is primarily focused on external routers connected to the modem via an Ethernet cable.
Wireless routers, especially older ones, can be fickle things. Here’s a rundown of things that could prompt your router to slow your internet:
- You’re too far away. Depending on the make and model of your router, your signal may only go 150 feet or so.
- There’s a brick wall or a wall with metal studs in the way. Routers don’t like those.
- There’s a baby monitor, a wireless phone, a microwave oven or some other kind of radio signal interfering with the router signal. Routers prefer the airwaves to themselves.
- You haven’t password-protected your router and 17 of your neighbors are free-riding your signal.
- Your router’s signal is being impeded. If yours is on the floor behind a 10-foot stack of unread National Geographics, that could be the problem. Happy routers are placed high up, with no obstructions around them.
And finally, this: Your router is old, and it’s time for an upgrade. There is some good news if it comes down to this.
- Routers are pretty inexpensive. Even the fanciest routers don’t go much over $200, but you can get a perfectly good one for $50-$100. Look for deals online or at places like Best Buy or Walmart.
- Routers get better every year. Like most electronic gizmos, router tech continues to improve, meaning today’s routers have better range, are less likely to be bothered by interference and have handy features like parental controls. They’re also easier to use.
- It’s not hard to install a new router. Plug in the power, connect to the modem with the supplied Ethernet cord and do a few simple setup things online and you’re in business.
If your router is more than five years old, it may be worth upgrading to a newer model.
For Viasat customers, another other option is to upgrade to the WiFi Modem, with that built-in router. The advantage here is that we support it, so if you ever need help with it, you can just ask us.
Whichever route you choose, just remember to throw a little love your router’s way. Make sure it’s got room to breathe, a clear view from up high and not too many devices connected to it. And if it’s getting a little long old, well, it may be time to retire it and get something new. Here’s a PC Magazine post that rates the best routers. And if you want to go with the Viasat WiFi Modem, just give us a call at 855-463-9333.