7 Tips for Buying a Wireless Router for Your Church

linksys-router

Wireless internet is almost a must-have for many businesses and organizations; the ability to provide access to the internet anywhere within the premises increases productivity for your employees and enables you to do more technological things in terms of your environments and experiences.

But it’s probably not going to be the Senior Pastor who’s going to make the right choice in terms of that wireless router (he’ll leave it up to you). So it’s your job of knowing what’s what.

Here is a very quick primer and overview of wireless routers so that you can make the most informed decision for your ministry.

Not All the Same

There are tons of options when it comes to choosing a wireless internet router. They all look the same! And that can be a good thing; in fact, many different routers exist with their own blend and set of features and attributes.

So it’s up to you! Use the following info to help you make the best decision possible.

1. Speed and Speed Ratings

Routers and wireless routers typically advertise speed in megabits per second, or Mbps for short. Older Wi-Fi models offered 11 Mbps, mid-range 802.11g routers 54 Mbps and the latest Draft N routers claim up to 300 Mbps.

Don’t be fooled (or tempted) to simply look at the highest Mbps rating because when you consider that the actual performance you will achieve on a daily basis is just an average amount (which is much lower than the max rating).

Furthermore, even high speed routers cannot directly speed up your Internet connection.

The extra speed boost from a faster router may not be worth the extra cost.

2. The More Popular Models Decision

You know, it’s just generally true: There is safety in numbers.

The point of saying this is that if a lot of people are buying a particular product then it’s generally safe to assume it’s a good product and fulfilling their needs as expected.

The stuff that sells the most is generally safe as a purchase and is typically up-to-date in terms of technology; don’t expect the bleeding edge though.

If you’re a conservative bunch, this might just be the best option: Buy whatever the most people are buying.

Here are four top-selling 802.11g and n wireless routers to consider:

3. Warranties

Always consider a warranty with your purchase. Nearly all manufacturers provide some sort of package with their equipment.

Of course, the length, terms, and specifics will vary. Generally speaking, a better warranty shows a providers commitment to their product and in support of their product.

4. Talking with Others and Personal Opinions

You don’t have to search hard to hear about a glowing recommendation from a friend about a particular product and then seconds later hear the exact opposite from an equally-valuable and credible source.

The point is this: There is going to be a mix of both positive and negative reviews every where. The complex nature of an organization’s network system provides enough latitude for success stories and failures.

Don’t let someone else’s experience, both good and bad, be too much of a decision maker for you.

5. Keeping it in the Family

Brand matching is another word for this.

It’s helpful to consider buying a wireless router from the same brand as your network adapters. The benefit can be a small one but it is typical for vendors to optimize their family of equipment to work well together.

The result? Better performance. Consider buying all that you need from the same brand and family and you may save yourself some troubles later down the line.

6. It’s All about Style

Or, not really.

I know some businesses who had opted to buy a particular brand just because it was “prettier” than the other options available. If you’re super into environment creation and detail, then this will be a factor for you.

They vary in sizes, colors, shapes, you name it. Make sure you take into consideration where they will actually physically reside (form factor plays here) or if you’re going to be needing it to be more mobile than stationary.

7. The Bottom Line

Ultimately the price is going to affect your decision making. There are tons of online rebates and discounts available everywhere, so take advantage of a good Google Search.

Remember that the newest ones that release aren’t necessarily the best buys and even if it is last year’s model, it may just have everything you need.

Shop around, do your homework, and then commit to buy.

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John Saddington

I am the CEO of 8BIT and a Full Time Entrepreneur/a>. I like what I do.

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  1. JTK says

    If also possible, make sure that you secure ALL the computers wired into the same network as the router or it could be easy to hack into them. If the church can afford it, by infrastructure/equipment that supports multiple SSID’s and maybe even a firewall to segregate your networks.

  2. says

    Good thoughts – I would also recommend to check out how many simultaneous users the router can handle.

    We went with an Apple Airport Extreme base station and it has worked great. Apple’s newest routers offer the option to have a guest network separate from your work network. Apple routers cost more, but they really are better for commercial use. If you need storage space, then the Time Capsule units are pretty slick.

  3. says

    Sometimes the “where you buy” dictates the “what you buy”. For example I often recommend to “purchase whatever is available at Costco.” They have a killer no-questions-asked return policy. That means if the router doesn’t work or is confusing… I can easily bring it back.

    True story, I once returned a 6 month old Hoover vacuum cleaner, that I had used the entire 6 months, in a garbage bag and they took it. No receipt. No questions asked.

    That’s service.

    peace | dewde

  4. says

    So when I went from like 4-5 WRT series Linksys routers to a more “enterprise” solution from D-Link it was aweful. And not to make plugs or slam any product, I’m saying what we did right and wrong. The issue was our power seems to fluctuate a bit I think, so were constantly having to reboot all the WRT routers, they’d just freeze, and then people wanted full campus coverage, not just “hotspots”. So we went with PoE to keep the power even and backed up and to be able to put them in all the best spots without the need for power. Perhaps if we could have found “D-Link” experts they could have fixed us up good, but we didn’t, and it was a waste of several thousand dollars, and loads and loads of our time. Loads of our people’s time, and lots of lost goodwill. We finally just owned up that we made a bad call and put together a proposal for a Cisco level solution. Yeah, it’s not cheap on the price tag, but it’s cost of ownership has been cheaper. It’s rock solid, the access points are so robust, and we don’t have to touch it. And as a big plus, we have quite a few Cisco engineers at the church that can help us with the system, and want to.
    I’d add that as number 8, do you have a star volunteer that knows and loves a product that would be able to help you support it, whether that’s apple or a linksys running a 1-off firmware, I’d go with the one I can delegate.
    If you can get by with a few access points, do it, and perhaps there is a middle ground product, I’m sure someone else has found it, but we didn’t and had to jump to the big end of the pond, but it’s great when you don’t have to worry about your network and it’s not a topic of conversation at the weekly staff meeting, that is worth something.
    Sorry longish.

  5. kylan says

    If you’re really interested in customization and full control, the Linksys WRT54GL is a great choice. Why? There are a number of third party firmware packages out there that enable all sorts of crazy features. There are great communities for Tomato, DDWRT, OpenWRT, and others. These open source firmwares turn a $70 router into a professional-grade device.

    • says

      yep, I’ve played with that a good bit. pretty cool. the only gotcha is that sometimes the firmwares are specific to certain revisions of the different models so like Rev 4+ of the WRT54G might be fine but 1-3 not as much or something. Very cool stuff though, and easy as pie to play with, and then easy to switch back too. so just double check on the sites for what models to buy and what revisions to get or avoid.

  6. says

    Another inexpensive, but ideal way to add wireless to your campus is to use routers from http://www.OpenMesh.com. They allow for Public and Private networks over wireless and also provide a simple web interface to manage all of your access points. I just bought 6 of these for our new campus and they are work great!

  7. says

    I think it’s important not to “undersize” your wireless system. If you are looking to deploy a large wireless network, you will save yourself headaches in the future by taking a look at enterprise class wireless solutions from companies like Cisco, Aruba Networks, etc. It will certainly be more costly up front, but these options are more stable and provide a robust, secure system that you can grow into. Small consumer-grade wifi may very well be the right call, but make sure you are thinking about the long term vision for wifi on your church campus. Always best to get it right the first time! We’ve been using Aruba for the past 4 years which has given us central control of over 50 access points from one console. That’s powerful stuff that makes managing a large wifi network a lot less painful.

    • JTK says

      Not trying to throw a plug in but I have been working w/ Aruba for about 3 years and they have a great scalable product. They can fit to any size church. It may be somewhat expensive in the begining to purchase but the intangables are worth it. In the deployment I work in currently, we have 10,000 AP’s and will get to approx 50,000 before we are done. We should not think just because it is a church network (big or small) that they are not vulnerable to attack. By all means the Dlink’s and Netgear’s of the world are great HOME routers, I just dont think you want to open up a hole in your church network and expose very personal information. Just my 2 cents.

  8. Kevin says

    I’m all about customization. I want to be able to tweak everything about the router down to which antenna is RX and which is TX. A lot of routers limit the amount of customization though the hardware is capable of much more than the firmware. I think picking something that can expand as you do is a must.

    …and out of the list above, I’d have to pick the WRT54GL. Having the Linux compatibility is incredible as well as the ability to change the firmware to something like DD-WRT or Tomato. The freedom is just awesome.

      • Kevin says

        I wouldn’t say that there’s a ‘best’ way to do it. I know that using QoS and disabling UPnP can help out a lot. Beyond that, I’m not really sure either. Multiple routers on the same connection wouldn’t really help distribute bandwidth though, because if one person was sucking a lot of it, it’d be gone for everyone regardless of the number of routers.

  9. Gonzalo Brekke says

    Looking at buying a wireless router for home may seem like a off-putting task if you don’t know what all the dissimilar variables are in a router. This is not the truth and with a simple explanation of the seemingly complex routers you can very easily pick the one that is correct for you and your family. The primary thing you are going to want to look at is the type of wireless cards you have for your laptops or desktops. Present are quite a few diverse wavelengths of signals that are second-hand and you want to match your router to your laptop or desktop. The in progress signals are 802. 11, 802. 11a, 802. 11b, 802. 11g and 802. 11n. ,

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