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Cable Dsl Routers - Why We Need Cable DSL Routers

packet internet computer network

Cable / DSL routers are popular items. As more and more people get internet access in their homes, and they want to connect more and more devices, the need for routers becomes increasingly apparent. Let’s take a closer looks at what routers do and why they are needed, and briefly discuss choosing a router.

It’s worth mentioning how cable and DSL routers work because not everyone understands why they are needed, or think that they’re just for connecting computers wirelessly via Wi-Fi. However without a router a person can’t connect more than one device to a modem, so multiple modems would be necessary for a household with multiple computers or other internet connected devices.

One of the fundamental technologies underlying the internet is the idea of packet switching. When the scientists at ARPA (a government research agency) were trying to create the network that would essentially be the first version of the internet, they faced a problem. They needed to find a way to connect computers over thousands of miles. They decided, of course, to use the phone network, but this presented a problem. Over the phone network, they could not get a reliable, permanent connection between two computers. Imagine if getting a website was like a bad phone call, where random words dropped out or were scrambled. The solution they came up with was called packet switching. Data that was to be transferred would be divided into small “packets”. These packets would then be transferred one by one. Each packet contains information about where it is going and how big it is. When the computer on the receiving end gets a packet, it checks it against the size that it is supposed to be. If it is the right size, it keeps the packet, if not, it tells the sending computer to resend the packet.

You don’t know it happens, but when you load a website, your computer is actually loading lots of small packets. Occasionally a packet will “drop,” and have to be resent. You never know that this happens, and it usually takes such a short amount of time to occur that you don’t notice a difference in loading time of a webpage (plus, this doesn’t happen as much anymore with newer internet technologies, like cable).

So what does this all have to do with routers? Well, as packets are sent to your home, they all contain information about where they are going. If you only have one computer, then you can plug it into a modem, and be fine. However, you need a router to “route” packets to the correct destination when you have multiple computers or devices connected to your network. A router is essentially a small, stupid computer that sits and looks at every packet that passes through and sends it to the correct computer. These are often combined with wireless technology so that you can connect a Wi-Fi enabled computer to the network without having to have yet another device.

There are many different companies which make routers, and in general there aren’t certain types you should or shouldn’t buy. As with all electronics, try to stick to more reliable brands, and look up reviews online before you buy a product to help you find a good one. Also, make sure you get one that supports speeds higher than your internet connection; otherwise your router will slow down your internet speed.

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