Discover the best business broadband routers: essential features, top models, and tips for optimal network performance in our detailed guide.
There’s nothing more frustrating in the workplace than being unable to get a reliable Wi-Fi signal, so choosing the right router is always an important decision for any business. Most business broadband providers will supply their own when setting you up, but you may find that you get added functionality from getting your own. It may even be necessary, should you want your operations to run seamlessly.
You’ll need a router which can handle the bandwidth that your connection offers if you’re to get the maximum use out of it. You might get a less advanced one if you have a slower copper ADSL connection of around 10Mbps with just a couple of people connected to it, but you might get a more advanced one if you opt for an ultrafast connection of 500Mbps+ with many people connected to it.
Security should be at the absolute top of your list of priorities when it comes to choosing a business router. Business Wi-Fi routers often include additional security features, which are grouped as UTM gateways or Unified Threat Management Gateways. These gateways can scan for viruses, protect against spam and filter content to protect your business from threats and dangerous content. Many business Wi-Fi routers also have built-in integrated firewalls, which support security keys such as WEP, WPA and WPA2, for an extra level of network security.
All business routers will allow simultaneous access to several different users, but if you want to future-proof your choice and you’re considering expanding your business, you’ll need to consider how many it will allow. You don’t want your entire network slowing to a crawl because too many people are connected to it at the same time.
You also need to consider how your connection integrates with the specific type of business that you do. Some will offer more sophisticated features such as wireless guest access, which allows you to make your internet connection available using a separate wireless network name (SSID). This connection is virtually separated from your main business Wi-Fi network and different security settings are applied. This means it is possible to provide visitors, the public and contractors with access to the internet, while keeping your own Wi-Fi network secure.
Alternatively, a business Wi-Fi router with two WAN (Wide-Area Network; the technology that connects your offices, data centres, cloud applications, and cloud storage across sites) ports or direct 4G support can be great if your business relies heavily on a reliable internet connection. It will be possible to connect two lines from separate providers or plug in a 4G adapter, which will ensure there is always a backup connection available. It may even be possible to increase the bandwidth through load balancing by using both connections simultaneously.
Of course, you can have the fanciest, most expensive Wi-Fi that money can buy, but this will count for little if you can’t depend on your router to work consistently. Reliability can vary from device to device, so you need to look out for a router which won’t keep flaking out on you!
The BT Smart Hub 2 will already be very familiar to those who have one at home, but it can also be used in business settings as well. BT’s latest wireless router has built-in support for mesh networking through their BT Complete Wi-Fi service, which allows you to extend the range of your router through a combination of the Smart Hub 2 router and extra Wi-Fi Discs. But this comes with a couple of catches. It's only available to BT customers, and it’s the only one which you have to pay for on a subscription basis. The Wi-Fi discs work well, but they come at a cost.
If there’s one thing that Virgin Media’s broadband is renowned for, it’s speed. The company’s cable network has put it miles ahead of the pack when it comes to download speeds for many years, but with full-fibre competitors now more commonplace, that speed advantage is slowly being eroded. And if you want the fastest router, you’ll have to request that at the point of policing your order, or you may end up with a slower, more out-of-date one.
That said, the Media Hub 5 in particular has much to recommend it. It comes with a 2.5Gps ethernet connection and the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology, which means that it is one of the fastest around, and it has excellent security features. But Virgin are no longer the only option for superfast cable internet, and their contracts certainly start to get expensive once their introductory periods come to an end.
Sky Broadband now offers two routers, the Sky Broadband Hub and the new Sky router; the Sky WiFi Max Hub. Both are modern routers that deliver good connectivity. The Sky Broadband Hub is the default dual-band router. It was introduced recently and replaced by the Sky Q Hub. The Hub is much more than an entry-level router. It has more antennas, a better Wi-Fi range, high average speeds and some smart features that make it a decent option for small businesses.
The Sky WiFi Max Hub is an optional, paid upgrade which was introduced in July 2023. It’s a Wi-Fi 6 router that uses smart features, allowing you to control Wi-Fi speed, device access and more from the MySky app. The Sky Wi-Fi Max Hub also has the option to use Sky Max Pods. These are Wi-Fi extenders that link to the Max Hub to improve wireless signal throughout your home. Both include a built-in firewall as standard.
With the TalkTalk Wi-Fi Hub, TalkTalk is attempting to challenge the notion that for the best Wi-Fi speeds you need to use a third-party router by promising the improved Wi-Fi performance and features that you’d usually expect to see on more advanced routers, such as beamforming (which focuses the Wi-Fi signal to better reach your devices) and multiple Ethernet ports. And while the TalkTalk Wi-Fi Hub is designed to deliver a performance boost for TalkTalk customers, it can also be bought separately and used regardless of your ISP, although set-up can be a little more complex if you're not a Talk Talk customer.
We’re getting into the realms of third-party routers now, and while these will offer a wider range of features, the costs can start to accelerate too. The Netgear Orbi Pro comes with a router-designated module and a single satellite-labelled part. As neither element contains a modem, any deployment will invariably require a separate cable or ADSL broadband connection.
There are two ways that these modules can be deployed depending on the wired infrastructure available in the building. If Ethernet is available, the router can connect over that to the Satellite module to provide a high-speed backbone. If not, the two can establish a wireless corridor for data to flow without interfering with client connections. Set up is straightforward through the Netgear Insight app, but while this offers excellent performance and range, it is an expensive option.
Strictly speaking, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 is a consumer router, but it does have many features which may make it suitable for your business needs, including seven Gigabit LAN ports and powerful hardware. It has support for 802.11ad, which is short-range, high-speed connectivity that requires a line of sight to work correctly and comes bundled with a six-month subscription to Amazon Cloud Drive.
Synology is a company best known for its network-attached storage (NAS) systems, and the RT3600AC acts as a fusion of one of these with the functionality of a business router. Attach an external hard drive to it or connect it to your Google Drive or other cloud server, and you’re good to go. The performance of these routers is fine, but their relatively limited range might only make them suitable for smaller businesses,
The Cisco RV340 is a wired router that will help you connect with fax machines, printers, etc. If you want a wireless signal along with this, you will also need to purchase a wireless router. The best part about the Cisco RV340 is its reliability, security, and durability. You will get a high speed consistent and powerful signal for all the connected devices, and you can set up multiple VPNs through it.
This router is priced at the lower end of those which support the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology and comes with eight LAN ports, which is double the number usually found on routers of this size. It comes with a companion mobile app and a sophisticated web app that displays connected clients, USB devices, and security status. There are also settings to adjust guest networking, analyse traffic, and tweak other options. The QoS offering is particularly strong. It’s highly robust and will allow you to understand which devices will get priority internet service at what time of the day.
The Asus BRT-AC828 is expensive but comes bundled with a lot of features, including an M.2 slot to plug in an SSD to convert it into a mini-NAS. There’s a lot more here too, including RADIUS support, the ability to aggregate four 1Gb Ethernet ports into a virtual 4Gb one (it has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports in all), and even support for LTE as a backup connection to improve resilience – the router already has two 1Gbps WAN ports that can be aggregated or used independently. It offers theoretical speeds of up to 2.6Gbps with open plan coverage up to 100m (albeit on the lower range 2.4GHz band), as well as a built-in security package called AIProtection. You won’t get better performance than this router, but it comes at a significant cost.
So, let’s talk about Wi-Fi 6 for a moment. Operating over 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands, Wi-Fi 6 delivers a faster connection and much better performance than its predecessor. Upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router, therefore, will give your network a significant boost. Besides that uptick in speed, Wi-Fi 6 routers also offer better support for crowded environments. They are much better equipped to handle multi-device offices.
A Wi-Fi 6 router allows for larger amounts of data to be transferred all at once without worrying about overwhelming your network and experiencing slowdowns. And even if your network isn’t congested with devices and traffic, it’s still a wise choice to buy a Wi-Fi 6 router. An increasing number of devices are coming out with Wi-Fi 6 support, and you’ll have to get one just to stay up to speed. The Netgear Orbi Wifi 6 offers all of this and also features mesh networking, so it's great for home workers and small businesses who require the option to scale, but it comes at a price.
There are some circumstances under which it makes more sense to use a wired router rather than a wireless one. Wired routers used to beat wireless ones for speed hands down, but this gap has significantly narrowed as wireless technology has developed while wired technology, which is largely considered the older-fashioned way of doing things, has remained constant. But they’re still more secure - it’s considerably more difficult to hack into a wired network than a wireless one - and they’re certainly more stable.
But the obvious costs of this are cost and convenience. Wired networks are expensive to install or reconfigure, while end users cannot instantly move a device from one location to another as they may want or need to, and they won’t be able to use them with smaller devices such as mobile phones at all. Under the right circumstances, a wired router could be just what you need, but the reasons for having one are steadily diminishing as wireless technology continues to become faster, more reliable and more secure.
Wi-Fi coverage starts with placing the central router. Two things determine the right spot for your router: range and interference. The first thing you want to do is find a central room that will allow the router to reach the whole building. If you have multiple floors, the router needs to be in the middle. Standard business equipment will have a range between 100 and 200 feet. That’s a good rule of thumb to help you find the best place to keep it.
Interference is often a bigger problem than simple range. Thick walls or ceilings can eat a lot of the radio signal that Wi-Fi uses. Any wall that isn’t hollow is going to be trouble. By that same philosophy, you want to avoid putting the router in cabinets or other obstructions that add to the effective thickness of material the signal needs to penetrate.
Even worse than thick obstacles are metals and electronics. Any sufficiently large metal container or siding can effectively act as a Faraday cage and ultimately kill the signal. Large electronic devices and heavy-current wires can also create large sources of interference. You want a location for your router that is as central as possible and clear of obstruction. Space should surround the device for the best signal strength.
Once you’re set up, you need a strong password and encryption to ensure that unauthorised users can’t access the network. If you allow guest access, you should use a completely different network. Many business routers will allow you to set up more than one. And make sure that your router firmware is updated as it’s released, ensuring that you get the best performance from it.
Once you’re set up, you need a strong password and encryption to ensure that unauthorised users are off the network. If you allow guest access, you should use a completely different network. Many business routers will allow you to set up more than one. And make sure that your router firmware is updated as it’s released, ensuring that you get the best performance from it.
It is easy to think that when it comes to accessing the internet in our homes and businesses, the similarities are vast and the differences are small. That couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to networking.
None of your business activities will be at their best if you’re using a consumer-grade router. From limited protections and poor internal equipment to a warranty that won’t last nearly long enough, reliability and strength are a core difference between home router and business router choices.
Businesses expecting growth should consider routers that offer scalability. These routers can easily integrate with additional network equipment like mesh nodes or extenders, allowing your network to grow with your business.
Every home and business in the UK has the legal right to request a decent, affordable broadband connection. This is called The broadband universal service. If you can’t get a download speed of at least 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbit/s, you can request an upgraded connection. You can make this request to BT (or to KCOM if you live in the Hull area) and you don't need to be an existing customer of BT or KCOM to apply.
A new law has also been introduced to protect smart devices. The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill lays out three new rules:
Easy-to-guess default passwords preloaded on devices are banned. All products now need unique passwords that cannot be reset to factory default.
Customers must be told when they buy a device the minimum time it will receive vital security updates and patches. If a product doesn't get either, that must also be disclosed.
Security researchers will be given a public point of contact to point out flaws and bugs.
The new regime will be overseen by a regulator, which will be appointed once the bill comes into force. It will have the power to fine companies up to £10m or 4% of their global turnover, as well as up to £20,000 a day for ongoing contraventions.
With so many options at your disposal, it’s easy to see how businesses can find themselves getting flummoxed by the terminology. However, a business router is key to ensuring that your business network runs as smoothly as possible. The extra functionality will protect your data give you peace of mind, and could even prevent the sort of data breaches that can be ruinous to a business. With stability, speed and security all important in this interconnected age, your business could significantly benefit from this one single upgrade.
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