Got the new Asus RT-AC68U router last night

This weekend, I (and my wife, the family CFO) committed and purchased a new router for home use. I’ve had my eye on the Asus brand of routers, and they seem pretty neat. As a FiOS user, I can’t easily replace or swap out the Verizon-supplied Actiontec MoCA device / router. I have wanted better wireless and overall home networking capabilities / features for a while now. Heck, after nearly four years of using the original MI424wr router we were supplied, I went and purchased a newer or more modern Actiontec router available from Verizon that had Gigabit Ethernet ports and supported 802.11n. Sadly, the 802.11n wireless is only single stream, and only supports a slow 150 Mbps max throughput.

Maybe that doesn’t mean much to you, but I was dying inside. Well, that’s not true, but it irked me. I was irked inside.

Waiting, waiting, waiting, and now we have even more devices in our house (phones, tablets), and a Tivo Roamio Plus on the “Ipe Home Entertainment Roadmap” (future state), that would all potentially benefit from faster wireless speeds on our internal network. So I used one of our unused Visa gift cards to defray $100 off the total cost, and ordered it on Amazon on Saturday. Should arrive Tuesday.

In the meantime, I call up Verizon on Monday to inquire if there are any new bundle offers that would potentially benefit us, as we were currently out of contract. They ended up offering us the same phone and TV package, but bumped our bandwidth up from 25 Mbps / 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps / 25 Mbps. For $10 less a month. Less! It took only a few hours, but the new speeds eventually kicked in. Check ’em out.

Updated SpeedtestNet Speed Results, as of March 5th 2014

Updated SpeedtestNet Speed Results, as of March 5th 2014

Hours later, I went online to check the tracking status on the router arriving on Tuesday. And it said, “Delivered.”
The router was already here? How does Amazon do it? I just ordered it on Saturday. It took me a few initial hours on Monday night, and another hour tonight, but I finally got the router set up successfully in Access Point (AP) mode. So while Actiontec is my primary router, the wireless radio is turned off. Now the Asus provides all high speed wireless connectivity, with better coverage, faster throughput, dual stream (2.4 GHz and 5 Ghz networks), and even guest network capability. Love it. Did some work on my company-supplied laptop, and now it’s connected at double the speed — 300 Mbps.

Double love it. Is that a thing?

Asus RT-AC68U router

Asus RT-AC68U router

One piece of knowledge that I was reminded recently — there’s a big caveat on these promised “blazingly fast” speeds. Your max data throughput is not only affected by how your home is set up (distance, number of walls, sources of interference), but by the features and limitations of your networking hardware components. For example, 802.11n and 802.11ac are the two relatively new certified WiFi protocols. But there’s a big “But.”

The manufacturers will extoll how fast their particular router is. However, there are many potential speeds that you can attain, depending on what kind of wireless adapter/card/chip that you have in your laptop, desktop, device, phone, or media device. Heck, even my old FiOS router doesn’t clear explain that it is “single stream” so it maxes out at 150 Mbps. They just say “It supports 802.11n!” There is way more to it than that. I think they are all purposely vague.

Your router and collection of devices could support up to 150 Mbps, but only specific brands or models will potentially get you to 300 Mbps or 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps or whatever. Nothing I have in my house currently will support more than 300 Mbps. I would need to replace and specifically purchase certain other devices that have network components that had these capabilities. Case in point: my new Asus router will supposedly provide me 1900 Mbps wireless speeds. Wow, great. However, in order to achieve that magical speed, I need to purchase specific Asus brand network adapters that also have Broadcom’s “TurboQam” technology. Right. Few and far between. And that new “TurboQAM” technology may get dropped or superceded in the next year or two. I remember Linksys did the same thing 10 years ago with their devices featuring “SpeedBoost.” All of your other devices had to have it.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy with my recent purchase. I’m also wiser too. I have no idea if we will get those magical speeds in my house, but for now, I’m comfortable. In our next house, though, I want it wired for Gigabit Ethernet. That would be awesome.

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