Router lingo 101: Key house networking phrases price figuring out

Router lingo 101: Key home networking terms worth knowing

Ry Crist/CNET

We have come a great distance from dial-up modems, the place your desktop pc, a telephone line and 20 seconds of screeching was primarily all there was to getting on-line. Web expertise has improved considerably since, however for many people, connecting to the web is as blissfully mysterious right now because it was again then. 

It is time to take among the thriller out of your property web connection and make clear among the seemingly advanced phrases and acronyms. Why? As a result of not like the dial-up days, a easy understanding of routers, modems and your community could make a giant distinction in your connection high quality and safety. Let’s check out the house networking phrases price figuring out.



The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers maintains an inventory of trade requirements for a broad vary of applied sciences. Web community connectivity occurs to fall within the 802.1 to 802.12 vary, with the 802.11 designation pertaining particularly to wi-fi native space networks. So, 802.11 is mainly a set of trade requirements for Wi-Fi units, or routers. 

What does that imply to you? Nicely, what comes after the “802.11” on a router will present you what class of requirements the system falls beneath. Wi-Fi 5, which was the usual for almost the final decade and certain the one your present router falls beneath, is 802.11ac. The latest router customary, often called Wi-Fi 6, is 802.11ax. So, in case you’re out there for a brand new router and need the most recent, biggest system, search for fashions with 802.11ax. 

Entry factors

Whereas most Wi-Fi extenders connect with the router wirelessly and subsequently should be positioned in a location the place the Wi-Fi sign is already sturdy, entry factors are Wi-Fi vary extenders which are linked to the router by way of Ethernet cables that run by way of your partitions or ceiling. The wired connection not solely lets you place Wi-Fi extenders in areas the place the router’s sign could not sufficiently attain, like on completely different flooring or down within the basement, nevertheless it typically produces a stronger sign than customary Wi-Fi extenders, too.


DNS stands for Area Title System. A site title represents the Web Protocol tackle (extra on that later) of a pc, server or web site, as a result of typing in “” is quite a bit simpler than remembering and getting into an extended collection of numbers, letters and punctuation. The DNS interprets what we kind into what the server must get you there.


DOCSIS stands for Knowledge Over Cable Service Interface Specs. DOCSIS is most relevant to those that have cable web. Much like how 802.11 applies to Wi-Fi requirements, DOCSIS applies to cable modem requirements. Most properties are geared up with DOCSIS 3.0 units, which might help obtain speeds of 1Gbps and add speeds of 200Mbps. That is as quick or sooner than the marketed speeds you may discover from nearly any cable web supplier, however as high-speed web will get even sooner, we may even see extra use of DOCSIS 3.1, which might help as much as 10Gbps down and 1 to 2Gbps up.


A gateway, like this mannequin from Comcast, is a tool that features each a modem and a router in a single.


Gateway routers

A modem and router mixed into one system. Your “gateway” to the web. Many suppliers, together with AT&T, Optimum and Xfinity supply a gateway system instead of separate modems and routers. 

IP tackle

Just like the bodily tackle of your property, an IP tackle identifies the placement of a tool or server on the web. The usual for speaking between these web addresses known as the Web Protocol, therefore the “IP.” 


LAN stands for Native Space Community. When units within the house, in school or at a piece workplace are linked to the identical community, that is a LAN. A WLAN can be an area space community, however wi-fi. Wi-Fi is a sort of WLAN connection.

MAC tackle

MAC tackle stands for Media Entry Management tackle. Every NIC (see under) has an identifier. This identifier is the MAC tackle. 


A mesh router, just like the Arris mannequin seen right here, makes use of a number of units to unfold a stronger sign all through your complete house.

Ry Crist/CNET

Mesh Wi-Fi

A mesh Wi-Fi system includes a router and extra nodes that increase the sign from the router all through your property. The advantage of a mesh system is that you could stroll all through your property with a wi-fi system, like your laptop computer or the brand new iPhone 13, and your system will mechanically connect with the most effective sign output, whether or not that be your router or a node. 


Brief for “modulator-demodulator,” modems ship and obtain knowledge by way of the web. As CNET Senior Editor Ry Crist explains, “Your modem’s job is to behave because the translator to your house community.” So in case you carry out an motion on the web, like clicking on a hyperlink to a cat video, that knowledge is shipped to the modem and translated into knowledge the world broad net understands. The net then sends knowledge again to your modem, which interprets it to your house community and there you go, one other cute cat video.


MU-MIMO stands for multi person, multi enter, multi output. A router with MU-MIMO capabilities, which is almost all of Wi-Fi 5 routers and all Wi-Fi 6 fashions, divides the Wi-Fi sign into a number of streams, accommodating a number of units directly and doubtlessly delivering additional bandwidth to any that will want it.


NIC is brief for Community Interface Controller. The NIC is the element in your pc or wi-fi system that allows it to speak with a community.


ONT stands for Optical Community Terminal. Most web connection sorts use a modem, together with DSL and cable, however fiber-optic web doesn’t. As an alternative, fiber web connections use an Optical Community Terminal, which performs the actions of a modem over a fiber community.


A router is a chunk of {hardware} that communicates together with your modem to ship and obtain knowledge over a wi-fi community. Briefly, it is the system that creates the Wi-Fi sign and allows you to join together with your modem with out wires.


VPN stands for Digital Non-public Community. A VPN establishes a non-public connection over a public community by encrypting your knowledge and hiding your IP tackle. There are a lot of safety benefits to utilizing a VPN, however it could value you a number of additional bucks per thirty days. For those who’re thinking about a VPN, try CNET’s picks for the most effective VPN service for 2021.


Wi-Fi is a sort of wi-fi native space community, particularly one which adheres to IEEE 802.11 requirements, however there isn’t any have to outline Wi-Fi, proper? — it is that wi-fi connection everyone knows and love. What you might not know, although, is that Wi-Fi is just not a separate connection from your property web, it is only a completely different (and far more handy) means to connect with it (with out wires, to be particular).

The Wi-Fi customary will get up to date with new options and capabilities each decade or so, much like the way in which mobile connections have progressed from 3G to 4G and now 5G. With Wi-Fi, the most recent model is Wi-Fi 6.


Wi-Fi extenders connect with your router wirelessly, then rebroadcast the sign out to provide your connection some additional oomph.

Ry Crist/CNET

Wi-Fi extender

Even the greatest Wi-Fi routers can solely achieve this a lot. That is the place Wi-Fi extenders are available. Generally additionally referred to as a Wi-Fi booster or repeater, Wi-Fi extenders improve the vary of your Wi-Fi sign coming from the router. These units typically plug straight into {an electrical} outlet, however since they connect with your router wirelessly, you may wish to plug it in the place there’s nonetheless considerably of a powerful sign, in any other case there will not be a lot for the system to “prolong.” 


WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Entry. Because the title suggests, WPA is a built-in safety protocol designed to forestall somebody from hacking your router. WPA2 and WPA3 are up to date requirements, with WPA3 being the present model.


WPS stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup. For example you might have a visitor over and so they wish to connect with your Wi-Fi, however you are not precisely comfy sharing the password. WPS means that you can add their system, generally even on a separate community, typically by merely pushing a button on the router or by getting into a novel PIN.


How do I reset my router?

Most routers come geared up with a reset and/or energy button. You possibly can press this button to reset your router, however be cautious when doing so. On most units, holding the button down for too lengthy will reset the router to manufacturing facility settings, erasing any customized settings and passwords. The quickest, sure-fire option to reset your router or modem is to easily unplug it, wait a number of seconds and plug it again in. The system ought to restart itself.

How typically ought to I reset my router?

There’s actually no accepted time-frame for resetting your router. I reset my router roughly as soon as a month, however the most effective time to reset your router is if you’re having connectivity points. Persistently sluggish speeds, a laggy connection or one which goes out completely are indicators you might have to reset the router. And you probably have separate modem and router units, go forward and reset the modem whilst you’re at it.

Is it higher to make use of my very own web tools?

The reply to that comes down to non-public choice and probably somewhat math. For those who decide to make use of your individual router for higher efficiency (shoutout to the superior gaming routers) then utilizing your individual router is smart. If you wish to use your individual router to avoid wasting cash on tools rental prices, you should definitely calculate how lengthy it can take you to get your a refund. A very good router can simply value $100 to $200 or extra, whereas the tools rental value of most suppliers falls within the $5-to-$15-per-month vary. 

How do I modify my Wi-Fi password?

Most routers have an app that means that you can change your Wi-Fi password rapidly and simply. If there isn’t any app, there are a selection of different methods to alter your password, even in case you forgot what the present one is.

What’s an Ethernet cable?

An Ethernet cable is what we use for wired web connections. Your modem is linked to the router by way of an Ethernet cable. Like with routers, modems and different web applied sciences, Ethernet cables have numerous generations. Cat7 and Cat8 are the most recent era of Ethernet cables, however these could be dear and are most probably geared up to deal with greater than the common house wants. Cat5e and Cat6 cables each help speeds as much as 1Gbps and are sometimes a bit extra accessible and reasonably priced than Cat7 or Cat8. 

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