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Your internet connection is controlled by your ISP and the devices that your ISP provides, but there are some advantages from faster equipment.

I have a Versalink wireless gateway. Model 7500 that my ISP furnishes. With it, I get 12539 down and 943 KB per second up. Now, is there any real advantage to adding a high-speed router? Say 100 - 300 Mbs to drive my computers, and streaming device a ROKU box, or a DVD player and my smart TV? I'm thinking I can exceed the download/upload speeds that my ISP provided, but will I get different bandwidth for all of my devices?

In this excerpt from Answercast #51, I look at the advantages of adding a high-speed router or switch to your home network.

High-speed router

So, typically, it's probably a good idea to include a high-speed device as the center of your home network.

But we need to understand, we need to be clear, that it's not going to speed up your internet connection. Your internet connection is completely controlled by your ISP and the devices that your ISP provides. So, ultimately, you're not going to improve your ability to upload or download information from the internet.

That's just not going to happen. To do that, you would have to contact your ISP and essentially pay for a faster connection than you are getting today.

In-home connections

Where a high-speed device on your local network really helps is in your own computer-to-computer communication.

For example, even though I have a 3mbps internet connection here at home, I actually have a gigabit switch to which all of my machines are connected. Now that doesn't improve their internet speed, but when I copy a file from machine A to machine B, then that file copies significantly faster than it did with my old 100mbps router, or my old 10mbps router.

So in those kinds of situations, it can really be advantageous to have a higher speed device if you do a lot of inter-machine communication on your own local network.

Now it really depends on how you do things, how you use things. Sometimes, a lot of people don't:

  • Each machine is effectively isolated from the other and there isn't a whole lot of inter-machine communication.

  • Each machine is basically just communicating to the internet and that's it.

In that case, a higher speed device won't help you a lot.

Faster transfers

But if you're like me at all, chances are you're probably doing something where you're sharing information between machines. In that case, a high-speed device (like a high-speed router or a high-speed switch) usually is the best solution for a home network that has been provided a router by your ISP.

That can actually improve the performance of the machines locally - just not the performance of the internet connection.

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Article C5789 - September 8, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
Richard
September 8, 2012 8:09 PM

Leo
In this article you have written MB to indicate a million bits per second. I mostly see MB as indicating a million BYTES and Mb to indicate a million BITS. I haven't checked your other articles to see whether or not you usually follow this convention - but at least in this article the original poster used Mbs and you switched to MB and there would seem to be the possibility of a lack of clarity?

One of the perils of audio transcriptions. I've gone through and corrected it. Thanks for letting me know.
Leo
10-Sep-2012
Alvie
September 8, 2012 11:52 PM

I originally wrote he request; However I misspoke where I stated I CAN exceed the speed of my internet connection. It should have read CAN'T exceed the speed of my internet connection.

Thanks very much for your prompt reply

Ron
September 12, 2012 3:24 AM

What about if you don't use equipment from your cable subscriber and you have an old modem and router that you're using, just a 10/100. Would it speed up the connection if you update the modem and router to a gigabyte?

Changing your local equipment isn't likely to make your internet connection any faster.
Leo
12-Sep-2012
James
September 12, 2012 7:25 AM

Ron,

The general rule of thumb is that networks (inter- and intra-) always operate at the speed of the slowest device. Your ISP has already determined the maximum speed of your internet connection. So you can get a faster modem/router, but if it's faster than the ISP's pre-determined speed, it won't work any faster.

Like Leo said, there's not much you can do about your internet speed unless you are willing to pay more money to your ISP for a faster connection. Certainly if your old modem is slower than the speed determined by the ISP, then yes, upgrade; otherwise it's pointless as far as trying to get faster internet.

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