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Hi everyone. I have just signed up to PlusNet broadband. I am a fairly newcomer to the computers world. Can anyone tell me what a router is? and will I need one with my new broadband connection.

I'll be grateful for any help.

Making Connections,Ivan

Hello surbiton22

First of all a warm welcome to Plusnet Forums.

OK its a good question your asking. Broadband internet connections offer a technology that is faster in speed than we all had a few years back. Before most people used slow speed modems which worked at speeds like 28,000kps or 33,000kbps and then 56,000kbps. With broadband technology there are two main types of equipment that are used to make fast connections to the internet these are USB ADSL Modems (which can be both internal or external devices), & Routers (just to confuse matters some routers also have their own builtin modems too). Lets keep this answer simple as possible!

**There are also Wireless internet connections and again you can use wireless modems & routers for these (Wireless is also commonly described as WiFi). But just to make things more easy to understand I'm NOT going to mention wireless here.

**ADSL Modems work in a similar way that modems used to in the past, but the difference is that broadband modems DONT dial a phone number as such they connect the computer to the network and broadband channels. The ADSL modem makes the connection to your ISP (In this case Plusnet) and then from your ISP out onto the internet. Modems dont do anything more sophisticated than make the connection for the one machine.

**Routers on the other hand can be quite sophisticated, routers can be thought of abit like traffic cops which direct traffic from one road junction to another. Routers look at the traffic travelling across the network and see what the traffic is and then decide which place or direction the trafiic needs to go.

Routers have a degree of intelligence which modems DONT have. Modems cannot direct network traffice in different directions or between networks.

**Routers allow many many computers to be connected to the same network using a device called a switch or a hub. Behined one router can be hundres of computers. Where as a modem allows mostly just one computer to use that connection at a time (at the very most x2 computers might possibly share the same connection but thats the limit ).

**Personally if your new to broadband services & also computers in general I'd like to suggest that you start off with a USB ADSL Modem to connect to the internet. I think they are easier to get to grips with than routers (despite what other people might say!!) and USB makes setting them up quick and easy.

Yes! OK routers can be quick too setup too but only if your technically pretty knowledgable and know exactly what your doing. No! stick with a USB broadband modem, OK if you want to go down the router path then do that at a later date once you have more experience of IT & computers. (Just to clear this one up, No! I've nothing at all against using routers. But its best to get some experience before using routers I feel).

If you do have any more questions I'll be glad to try and help as I'm sure lots of other people around here will be too.

Best Regards Ivan

F9 FOL Forum Moderator
F9 Broadband Premier 2MB User


Hi surbiton22,

I dont necesarily run with the theory that usb modems are easier to get to grips with than routers. ( soz ivn2mod) There are some horrendous one out there. And even with some of the bigger named products my company has had to deal with many end user problems.

Routers are, in the main, simple, less resource hungry and way more reliable.

Many people, depending on their PC set up, experience problems with USB modems, especially the ones which do not have an external power supply. In my experiance you will encounter more issues with USB modems than routers.

Mess up on the set up (either by not following the instructions or having dodgy instructions) and you will be in tears.

In short routers are the way forward. They are extremely simple to set up and configure and in the main offer more features and better security than USB modems. The ability to connect more that one PC or games consol at a time is also a winner.

If paying the extra few quid initially is not the issue then avoid USB and go for a router from the off. You wont regret it.

For further info see this link
Posts: 2,886
Registered: 30-07-2007


Hello surbiton22
Speaking as somebody who knows NOTHING technical, I'd agree with pcsni that you should go for a router.

I got the one Pn supplied at the time, set it up easily first time following slavishly the instructions which came with it (I didn't understand what I was doing, but that didn't matter) and haven't had a problem with it since.

The router can be set to provide far greater security - important with an always-on connection - and doesn't drain your system's resources like the modem.
And then there seem to me to have been far more posts on the forums asking for help from problems with USB modems not performing, than with routers.

And of course there are plenty of people here to offer advice if you do have a problem.

I take the view that if I can set one up to work just by following instructions to the letter, then anybody can. Tongue


Thanks everyone for the information, I now know what a router is.