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A Guide to Remote-Work Routers and Features

More workers are remote and depend on a strong home network. It’s helpful to choose the right Wi-Fi router for your circumstances.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand that router speed and ISP speed can be different
  • A mesh system helps workers get complete coverage at home
  • Some features to look for in a router:
    1. Merged with other smart features, like a virtual assistant
    2. Supports multiple remote workers
    3. Includes quality of service (QoS)
    4. Easy to set up and secure

With the massive shift to remote work, many employees are still relying on home equipment that’s not up to the task, including antiquated routers supplied by cable companies. It’s more important than ever to make sure you or your employees’ devices can keep with the productivity and performance demanded by modern work applications. 

And while computers or internet service providers can be the causes of home connectivity problems, sometimes it’s simply the router. 

So, what kind of router should you be looking for when working remotely? 

Here is a simple guide covering the modern features to check out when selecting a higher-quality router:

Understanding the difference between router speed and ISP speed

Before we dive into Wi-Fi router features, let's cover one critical point that’s easy to overlook. No matter how fast your router is, the data upload and download speeds will only be as fast as what you pay for from an internet service provider (ISP)

However, this limitation only applies to internet-dependent work. A fast router is always a plus when you’re transferring from one device to another on the local network.

Offsite workers should invest in home wireless plans that give them sufficient speed and bandwidth to run any performance-intensive online applications required by their jobs.

The coverage benefits of a mesh system

Some remote workers set up mesh Wi-Fi systems, so they have blanket coverage throughout their homes. These systems use a primary router connected to the modem and add other devices throughout the house as part of the same wireless network. The additional devices are satellites that integrate mesh technology to communicate with the primary router instead of range extenders that talk over 2.4HGz or 5GHz bands.

Many mesh systems benefit remote workers even more because newer tech can take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, which isn’t yet supported on all devices. With a mesh setup in which all the communicating devices support Wi-Fi 6, data can be transferred much faster.

Top router features 

Now, let’s walk through some valuable features of Wi-Fi routers:

1. Merged with other smart features

Smart homes are becoming common, and a router can be a bigger part of a smart network when it can do more than send out and receive signals. Specifically, some routers include smart speakers that provide access to popular virtual assistants controlling everything from internet searches to smart lights and appliances. 

2. High-performance and supports multiple remote workers

The new remote-work normal often means that multiple people are trying to stream or be on Zoom calls at the same time. If this is a reality for you or your employees, consider investing a bit more in a router that can easily support these activities. For example, some routers can deliver speeds of over 10.8 GP/s of combined speed while supporting dozens (or more) of connected devices. So, research different models and pay attention to their published metrics if you need better performance.

3. Includes a quality of service (QoS) feature

If you’re looking for more flexibility in a router, make sure you find one with quality of service (QoS). This feature allows the router to prioritize traffic depending on activities happening on the network at a given point in time. You might set up the QoS to provide more bandwidth to a Zoom call, for example, so that you don't drop a video call because someone else at home is trying to watch movies. Many routers on the market today have QoS. 

4. Easy to set up and secure

Sometimes, convenience wins out when looking for a router that you can depend on for remote work. If you need a mesh system, for example, look for one that’s relatively affordable, straightforward to set up and control, and offers the ability to expand by purchasing additional plug-and-play satellites. Make sure any router includes WPA2 and WPA3 security and provides flexibility and control over which devices can access the Wi-Fi network.

Keeping remote networks connected with 7SIGNAL

Wi-Fi routers are one possible cause of remote work connectivity, but certainly not the only problem. Many home networks are now tasked with supporting complex work requirements instead of just standard entertainment and browsing.

7SIGNAL’s wireless network monitoring solutions help remote workforces thrive. Wi-Fi must be strong and consistent for productivity to continue, and the only way to stay proactive about network problems is to increase visibility and continuously monitor performance. 7SIGNAL’s Mobile Eye® can be installed on devices to give IT staff visibility into remote employees’ Wi-Fi issues so that any problems are immediately addressed and resolved.

7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise wireless experience monitoring. 7SIGNAL provides a cloud-based platform that continuously monitors wireless networks and identifies elusive performance issues impacting application performance and digital experience. By taking the “outside-in” approach to monitoring, 7SIGNAL has visibility into the edge of any enterprise or home Wi-Fi network where complex device interaction exists, and user experience matters most. The platform maximizes employee productivity, operational efficiency, and network ROI. Sapphire Eye® and Mobile Eye® are designed for and deployed at the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, healthcare systems, and government agencies. Learn more at www.7signal.com.