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What should I buy for wireless access point/router to take advantage of my super high speed FiOS?

Posted on 2009-05-08
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I have Verizon FiOS internet service - I bought their premium service. Currently the spec for that is 20Mbps down and 5Mbps up.

I recently became aware of the fact that my existing wireless access point (a Linksys WAP54G) is probably not doing me any favors in the speed department. And I use my computer wirelessly all the time, so I'm not getting the most I could out of my fast FiOS connection.

In particular, I read that I'd want WPA2 to cut down on overhead. I am currently using WEP-128 and I have the AP set for "Mixed mode" -- I know, at a minimum I need to change that to G-only.

But my only "WPA" options are "WPA Pre-Shared Key" and "WPA RADIUS".  I don't think either of those are "WPA2" right?

My router is a D-Link Ethernet Broadband Router (DI-604) that Verizon installed when they installed my FiOS service almost four years ago (yikes!). Is it worth upgrading the router?

I'm using a Dell notebook with an internal wireless chip. In device manager, it says it's 802.11b/g and it uses channel 11. It's set up to operate g only.  I will be buying a new notebook soon, so I'll be getting newer technology (I would imagine) for the wireless.

Bottom line: What hardware should I have to be getting the most out of my superfast FiOS connection when I'm always accessing it wirelessly, and what settings should I have?

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Question by:alicia1234
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by:GinoDivx
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I would suggest any brand name 802.11n router, espeically capable of working in 802.11g and 802.11n bands at the same time. If your laptop supports it, fine, otherwise, get a 802.11n card.
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by:alicia1234
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Is 802.11n the "new" 802.11g?
If the router is for 802.11n, can I assume it will support WPA2?
Can I keep my existing D-Link router and just get an 802.11n access point?
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by:inbox788
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What are you doing that's not fast enough?

"In particular, I read that I'd want WPA2 to cut down on overhead. I am currently using WEP-128 and I have the AP set for "Mixed mode" -- I know, at a minimum I need to change that to G-only."

WEP, WPA, WPA2, etc have more to do with security than performance. From the security side WEP isn't secure enough these days, and that is the main reason I would suggest to move to WPA or WPA2. Now, on most modern hardware, you're unlikely to notice any performance difference among any of these protocols. If you can get WPA2 to work and it doesn't appear to slow down, then go with it. Otherwise just use WPA, and don't sweat it.

Now if you're running 802.11g, it should be close enough to 20mbps that upgrading hardware isn't likely to make a significant difference unless you have a lot of systems simultaneously (say > 2 or 3 making heavy use of network).

Run a few speed test from the wireless laptop and report to us the results to see if anything looks abnormally slow:

http://www.speedtest.net/
http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/
http://www.dslreports.com/stest

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by:inbox788
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As far as getting upgraded to 802.11n, it depends on whether you really need it. The bottleneck is still likely to be FiOS. You might need it if you're far away from the router, so you might want to run a few additional tests:

1) laptop in same room as router
2) laptop in furthest location away from router
3) any desktop directly connected to router via 100mbps/1gbps ethernet

If you get similar results to all of these, then it's likely the router or more likely FiOS that's the bottleneck. n-network might help if 2 is slower than 1 or both 1 and 2 much slower than 3.



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russell124 earned 250 total points
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In theory, your 802.11g should be connecting you at a max of 54Mbps.  Since your WAN is only 20Mbps, your wireless isn't going to be a bottleneck, but your signal quality is going to have a lot to do with your wireless speeds.  

If you don't have great signal quality everywhere, you can either get a router with better signal quality, or you might think about upgrading your router and wireless cards to 802.11 n.  If you want to use the higher speeds of the 802.11n, you will have to buy a wireless card for your dell that supports your new router.

Also, be aware that the 802.11 N isn't a fully developed standard, so stick with the same brand for your router and for your wireless card should you decide to upgrade.

Any new router or wireless card should support WPA2, but your internal Dell wireless may not,  it depends on the drivers and hardware.
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by:alicia1234
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>>Any new router or wireless card should support WPA2, but your internal Dell wireless may not,  it depends on the drivers and hardware.

How would I determine if the internal card supports WPA2 or not? And with my existing LinkSys AP, would I use "WPA-Pre Shared Key" or "WPA-RADIUS" - what's are these?

BTW: my signal quality is excellent. I'm in the same room as the AP most of the time.
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by:russell124
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You can try to look up your wireless information from Dell's website, or you may be able to tell on the wireless connection utility.

WIth your existing router, you would be using WPA with Pre shared Key.  The "Pre-Shared Key" is the encryption password for WPA you have to enter when connecting your wireless, much like you already use with WEP.  

If you are mostly in the same room, you are probably going to be fine with your existing router.  WPA encryption is pretty good, and it is much better than WEP, and should be perfectly fine for home use.  

Just make sure to choose a somewhat complicated WPA encryption key, and try to name your SSID something fairly unique, and longer than 6 charaters.  Don't leave your SSID named "AP" or "LINKSYS"\ or anything like that.  

WPA Radius is for use with a Radius Server that controls authentication and encryption keys on a per user basis, and is mainly used in larger corporate environments.  So you don't have to worry about the WPA Radius option.
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by:nettek0300
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You will want to use the pre-shared key.  This allows you to enter a passphrase that you will need when joining the wireless nework (similar to WEP).  With the WPA radius, you need to set up an IAS server running radius and then authenticate to it. Russell is correct in stating that if you are connecting at 54 MBPS, then you will most likely have full bandwidth to download from the Internet.  Just remember, the farther away you are from the router, the slower your connection speed lower the quality of the signal.
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