The growth of Internet usage exploded in the early 21st century. More than ever, people have high-speed Internet in their homes and increasingly more devices that rely on that Internet access. A wireless gateway router gives more than one wired access point for the Internet, and it can supply a wireless contact as well.
Nearly all standard high-speed Internet modems, such as those for DSL or cable, have only one connection for the Internet. Many different network devices – such as computers, switches, or routers – can use that single connection, but only one at a time may be connected. The difficulty is that often more than one piece of equipment needs Internet access.
A wireless gateway router can provide accessibility to the Internet for any number of devices. It creates a local area network (LAN) between wireless and wired devices, and provides an access point to a wide area network (WAN). Typically, a wireless gateway router will have more than one wired connection and provide wireless connection for up to 255 other devices.
Wireless Internet, sometimes referred to as Wi-Fi, has been increasing in popularity as more higher-end electronics are developed. Hand-held computers, smartphone mobile devices, gaming consoles, and laptop computers all can have the capability to use the Internet if a wireless access point is available. The modem connects to the wireless gateway router to provide the outlet to the Internet, and the gateway router shares that connection between all wired and wireless devices that are connected to it.
Internet access is not the only shared feature of the wireless gateway router. All electronics connected to the LAN potentially could access one another. Laptops, printers, and desktop computers can access each other with the proper network setup. This can make data transfer, such as file sharing, much more convenient.
Wireless gateway routers often will have a hardware-based firewall built in as well. This provides some additional protection from incoming malicious data, as well as safeguarding private information stored on computers and other devices. Combining firewall, Internet gateway, and local network access makes the wireless gateway router a converged device.
Most of these network devices have access points inside for controlling the different rights of entry. The software stored within the router, also known as firmware, provides options for security as well as admittance to and from both the LAN and the Internet. Security encryption for wireless access will allow only devices with the correct security key to connect and use the gateway router.