Networking Equipment Reviews

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: April 29, 2011

Most modern businesses need a good data network in order to thrive. They provide access to the internet and email services, and in many cases serve as the phone system for the company. You will thus probably want to spend some time researching different options and reviewing networking equipment before deciding what to purchase for your office. 

You should begin the process by asking a few questions to help determine your company’s needs:

How many people are going to use the system? Small offices can probably get by with a standard wireless router. If you have a large number of employees, you may need to obtain a more powerful networking equipment in order to ensure smooth service. 

Do you want single band or dual band? Single band is almost always cheaper and tends to be sufficient for simple wireless networks. Dual band costs a bit more but provides a much higher level of internal network performance.

Are you using the data network for phone service? VoIP requires a great deal of bandwidth to function, so if this is the case you will probably want networking equipment that comes with a QOS (Quality of Service) setting.

You will then want to look up information on the different types of network equipment. There are several technology websites that provide general details and offer reviews from prior customers. You can also find out information by searching the internet with keywords like ‘router’, ‘switch’ and ‘interface card’.

Comparing Different Network Equipment Factors:

Feature Set – Most networking equipment comes with standard features like port forwarding, DHCP and firewalls. If the product doesn’t offer these functions, you should probably move on. You may also want to see if the networking equipment has special features like channel bounding and guest access.

Speed Rating – This is mostly determined by the megabits per second (MBps). A standard model might offer 54 Mbps, while a new router may be able to provide around 300 Mbps. Keep in mind that the average speed for the networking equipment may not be the same as the maximum rating.

Coverage Area – You are going to want networking equipment that offers coverage to the whole office. Most wireless coverage tends to be about 180 feet indoors. If this is not sufficient, you may want to look at a model with a more powerful antenna (you can also purchase signal amplifiers to improve coverage).

Security – You’re going to want a secure network, so make sure the equipment has standard WEP security. You may also want to see if the router has WPA, WPA2, and strong access control sections when you are reviewing the different network equipment.

Warranty – This will often vary quite a bit between different products. You’re probably not going to want to pay for repairs if the system unexpectedly goes down, so a good warranty can help to offset the costs. 
 

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