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What is a Router?

Before we delve into the world of routers, you need to understand what a broadband connection is and how it works. According to Dictionary.com, broadband is "a high-speed, high-capacity transmission medium that can carry signals from multiple independent network carriers. This is done on a single coaxial or fiber-optic cable by establishing different bandwidth channels. Broadband technology can support a wide range of frequencies. It is used to transmit data, voice and video over long distances simultaneously."

Routers take information that arrives through your broadband signal via a modem, decipher it, and deliver it to your computer. The router will also choose the best route for the data packet so that you receive the information quickly.

Many different types of routers have been developed so that the information coming over your broadband connection can be sent to a variety of different receivers including your computer, your phone, and others.

Types of Routers

There are several types of routers that you will want to understand. You need to know the difference so that you can set up your network or at least so that you can understand what the local computer guy tells you to do.

Broadband Routers

Broadband routers can be used to do several different types of things. They can be used to connect two different computers or to connect two computers to the Internet. They can also be used to create a phone connection.

If you are using Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, then you will need a broadband router to connect your Internet to your phone. These are often a special type of modem that will have both Ethernet and phone jacks. Although this may seem a little confusing, simply follow the instructions that your VoIP provider sends with your broadband router - usually you must purchase the router from the company in order to obtain the service.

Wireless Routers

Wireless routers connect to your modem and create a wireless signal in your home or office. So, any computer within range can connect to your wireless router and use your broadband Internet for free. The only way to keep anyone from connecting to your system is to secure your router.

A word of warning about wireless routers: Be sure your secure them, or you will be susceptible to hackers and identity thieves. In order to secure your router, you simply need to come to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com, and get your IP address. Then, you'll type that into your web browser and log into your router (the user ID and password will come with your router).

Remember to change the router ID and password as well or someone else might lock you out of your system.

Once there, visit the wireless settings, type in a security key and you'll be about ready to go. Make sure you write down the key or save it in a Word document. When you try to log onto your Internet connection, you'll just need to enter the key. Your computer should remember the key, but write it down somewhere for safe keeping just in case.

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