When many of us have routers at home supplied for ‘free’ by our broadband providers, is there any point in buying one off-the-shelf? Perhaps not, if our latest routers test is anything to go by.
We tested routers from the UK’s biggest broadband providers against wireless routers from well-known brands, like Belkin and Netgear.
For some reason I assumed these branded routers would perform better in our tests than the ones sent out by your broadband provider. How wrong I was.
Stick to your provider’s box
Our results show that you’re often better off using the router from your broadband provider. Sky, BT and Orange all had routers that scored higher than the top scoring off-the-shelf models. And while routers from Virgin Media and TalkTalk didn’t do quite as well, they still beat the majority.
Of course, your broadband provider’s routers aren’t actually ‘free’, since you’ll be signing up to a contract and you may even have to pay a set-up fee of some sort.
In terms of performance – the range and speed of data transfer – all of the routers (both provider and off-the-shelf) did well. Of course, it’s important to remember that the speed of your broadband is probably not down to your router; it’s the speed coming in on your line.
How old’s your router?
Where the providers’ routers really stretched ahead was in how easy it was to set up a secure wireless network. We think a router’s installation process should leave you with a working wireless network and internet connection, complete with encryption and password protection. After all, you don’t want any old stranger using your internet.
Of course, if you’ve got one of your provider’s older routers, it might not be quite as good as the ones we tested. I’m with Virgin Media and the dusty Netgear router we have on the floor of my share-house has clearly been there for some time. It certainly doesn’t give the impression of being as good as the latest shiny routers we had on test.
If this is the case for you, give your provider a call to see if you can upgrade. I can’t promise anything, but if you’re asked to pay for this, point out that you’d get a brand spanking new router if you were to move to a competitor. That could move things along nicely…
So, what type of router do you have and are you happy with it? Will our routers test influence where you get your next box from?
What type of wireless broadband router do you have?
The 'free' router given to me by my broadband provider (68%, 748 Votes)
A branded router that I bought from a shop (29%, 315 Votes)
I don't have a wireless broadband router (3%, 37 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,100