Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Good Reasons To Avoid Modems With Integrated Routers

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With the popularity of multiple and networked devices both wired and wireless Internet service providers are cashing in from those who want to hook up just about every device that they own to the Internet but who may not be technically adept to hook up, configure and secure a home network router.  Devices known as a 'home gateway' combines a cable or DSL modem with a router that on the surface may look simple but maybe an option that is best avoided once some facts are known.

1. Upgradeability- Now that every 802.11N is a ratified standard, just about every WiFi device is 802.11N compatible except just about every integrated modem/router which still uses the older 802.11G standard.  With a separate router upgrading from G to N only take disconnecting the old router and connecting a new router.  Not so easy with these home gateways which requires waiting for 802.11G home gateways to get into the market and the ISP to start distributing the new gateways, and even then some ISP's probably won't upgrade existing customers with the new version of the home gateway.

2. Security- Wireless security with a standalone router lets the user choose the level of security required to access the wireless network which should always be set to WPA2 with AES authentication.  With integrated home gateways, the wireless security is set by the manufacturer or the ISP.  2Wire, a brand integrated DSL modem and router used by Telco's as giant as AT&T to as tiny as Sasktel uses the weakest most easily wireless security, WEP.  Home gateways can be remotely configured by the ISP or an outside hacker.  This could allow a Telco to shut off access to Skype if they feel that their long distance revenue are being threatened.  This isn't just a threat to security but net neutrality.

3.  Cost- While 40.00 dollars or more is an up front cost that could be avoided by using a home gateway from an ISP, the home gateway might come with a rental fee which could cost a lot more over the long run.  Even if an ISP charges five dollars a month that rental charge would pay for a basic router in under a year. 

Despite the simpler process of just letting a technician from the cable or telephone company hook up a home gateway, it requires paying more for old technology that puts private data at risk.  When signing up for Internet service just tell the ISP, to provide just a modem please.

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