A common misconception is that you need to verify that your router is compatible with your ISP before you use it. Routers, by themselves, are typically universal. So if you're looking for a new router for Optimum or Frontier FiOS, any router will be compatible.
They do not talk to your ISP directly, but instead just work to route your internet throughout your network. Regardless of the type of internet you have, you should be able to use a separate router device.
That said, the real challenge comes when you are looking at a modem router combo unit. Modems are not universal. There are modems based on the type of internet that you have, whether it is DSL or cable, and even then, not every type of modem will work with your ISP.
Since so many people buy combination units, it is not the router itself that risks compatibility issues, but the modem part of the device.
Another issue with modem router combos and compatibility is that there are a lot of third-party DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems on the market right now, but not all ISPs support them. You do not want to take a risk on a device that you are not sure will be able to actually work with your internet.
Router Speed Compatibility
The question of router compatibility has less to do with your internet company, but more with the internet speeds you get. For example, if you are paying for internet that offers 300 Mbps download speeds and your router is only capable of 200 Mbps, you are not utilizing the speeds that are available to you.
Get a router that is capable of more speeds than are included in your internet package. Getting a more capable router also ensures that you are using every bit of internet available to you, wasting nothing.
Router Coverage Compatibility
Another feature of a router that you will need to pay close attention to is whether the router’s coverage is compatible with your home.
Coverage area is usually given in square footage, not taking into account the layout and any obstacles that might exist within your space. The listed coverage area is more like a possible coverage area if there were no obstructions.
A basic router usually will come with adequate coverage for an apartment or smaller house, but the bigger houses will need more powerful routers. For extended coverage, you will want to look into getting a mesh system that can be extended to the square footage that you actually need.
Modem Router Combo Units
All of the router compatibility still does matter whether you are looking for a combo unit or you are looking for separate units. Even if you know you need to get a cable modem and want to get a built in router, you still need to consider whether the features are appropriate for your individual living situation. While routers might be more flexible with your ISPs, they need to be flexible to your life as well.
Combo units will not work if you have fibre internet, since fibre uses a different type of gateway. In this case, you will just need a router that is compatible with your needs. If you have cable, DSL, or satellite internet, however, you will also need to confirm that your modem is compatible.
Combo units are not for everyone. Some users like the simplicity of having two devices put into one, because they are easier to set up and typically just easier to manage, since you are dealing with only one unit. Other users prefer the separated devices, because you can get more specific about your needs.
What To Look For In A Router
Finally, let’s take a quick look at everything that you need to look for when you are shopping for a router.
- Speeds: As we said above, make sure your router’s speed is compatible with your internet package.
- Coverage: Your router will also need to have the right amount of coverage.
- Bandwidth: You should at least have a dual-band router, but tri-bands have now entered the scene. You want to have a reliable amount of bandwidth.
- Features: Your router needs to have all of the features and securities that work with your network as well.
Always research a router before deciding that you have found the right one for you. There are a lot of factors to consider before you can make an educated choice.