Monday, September 13, 2010

Broadband Vs Narrowband Router - What's the Difference?

There's a lot to learn when it comes to router technology. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is What's the difference between a broadband and narrowband router?"

From a layman's point of view a narrowband router is the one your parents had. Yeah, the one connected to the 56kbps modem. That is, if they even had a router... perhaps it was just the 56kbps modem then? If you can remember, you might even recall that it used your standard phone line which is by definition narrowband.

Today's routers are primarily broadband. They use high speed cable, DSL, etc.

But what's the real difference between broadband and narrowband? It's the frequency band over which they operate. A broadband router uses a bigger range of frequencies than a narrowband router.

Let's use sound as an analogy. A tuning fork is a narrow band device, commonly resonating at exactly 440Hz (middle A). I, on the other hand, can sing over a range of several octaves and could therefore respectively consider myself to have a broadband range of frequencies.

So what's the big deal? Well, broadband devices are typically faster! Why? Hmmm...

To differentiate the data being sent by two tuning forks I would have to sound them at different times to tell them apart, effectively taking turns, in time, with each fork. However, two people can sing at the same time, and I can tell them apart as long as they sing at two different frequencies. That would be just like sending twice as much data. This is why a broadband router is faster than a narrowband router.

Aaron Jensen is the owner of the online blog: Small Wireless Router

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