If you have high speed cable Internet in your house, chances are that you also have a cable router. A cable modem plugs in to the cable coming from the wall, which may also provide you with cable television. The cable router then plugs into your cable modem, and transfers the signal to your home computers.
A router is a device that acts as connection between two different networks. In this case, the cable company has one network, which includes your Internet connection. The other network is your home computer or computers. The cable router allows these two networks to connect with each other and share information.
The information sent between your home computer and the cable Internet service provider, or ISP, can include many different types of data. The cable router, as the name suggests, routes this data to where it needs to go. For example, if you have two computers on your home network, and you use one of them to access the shared picture files on the second computer, the router gets the information request from the first computer, and routes it to the second computer. If the second computer is trying to view a web page, the router takes this request and routes it to the cable Internet service provider. When the ISP sends the web page information back, the router sends it to the second computer.
When you decide to purchase a cable router, there are several things to consider. Some come with built in firewalls. These firewalls protect your home computers from hackers and help to secure your network. If you have software firewalls on your home computers, you may not need a hardware firewall on your router, but the extra security may be worth the extra price.
Another consideration when shopping for a cable router is whether you want a wireless network, or plan to use network cables. The most common type of network cable is CAT5 (pronounced cat five). A wired router is suitable when all your computers are close to it. The wires can lose the signal if the computers are too far away, and running long cables all over a house or office can be messy. Keep in mind that you will want enough ports on the router to supply all your computers with a connection.
A wireless cable router might be a good choice if there are multiple computers, or if the computers are spread out in different rooms or on different floors. The router's signal will still suffer from long range, but you won't have to run wires across the floor or drill holes between rooms. When you get your cable Internet service installed, you can ask your installer or the representative from the cable company if they recommend any particular cable routers to go with their products. A knowledgeable sales associate in your local computer store will be able to help you find the right cable modem for your network, and help you with any additional cables or other hardware you might need.