The evolution of the wireless router

Wireless router technology has evolved steadily over the last decade, keeping pace with advances in standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

These standards are updated regularly to improve network throughput in terms of maximum speeds and transmission capabilities.

These improvements are behind the large strides wireless routers are taking towards meeting the changing demands of the modern home with its multiple wireless devices including phones, tablets and laptops.

While the advancement of wireless routers has been widely welcomed (wireless routers are now ubiquitous in most homes), there is an element of their technology that stands poised to develop even more rapidly in the near future.

In many homes, the number of wireless devices is increasing exponentially as WiFi enablement goes from strength to strength.

Apart from the aforementioned phones, tablets and laptops, devices include stand-alone WiFi access points and repeaters as well as WiFi-enabled home security devices (cameras and sensors) and home management systems.

However, in these cases, the wireless router represents little more than a simple “access door” enabling multiple, overlaid wireless systems to communicate with the internet and other internet-linked devices. There is no “smart technology” involved.

The wireless router of the future, rather than hanging its hat on the well-used “faster-and-cheaper” peg, will gain significantly more intelligence, advancing to become the ‘smart hub’ of tomorrow’s homes, central to their functioning.

Characterised by support for 802.11ac Wave 2 – the next-generation of WiFi that will soon arrive embedded in any number of devices – as well as multiple antennas, modern chipsets, dual-band frequencies and built-in filters that automatically block adjacent-channel interference, the latest routers are giving a clear indication as to their technologies’ path to the future.

This is underscored by the latest ‘smart wireless’ and “smart scan” features and support for the wireless protocols relied on by the most recently released smart devices.

Underpinning the wireless router’s metamorphosis into the home’s smart hub are emerging standards for open APIs (application programming interfaces that govern how one application communicates and interacts with another) and the free if this then that (IFTTT) web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements (applets) which are triggered based on changes to a range of web services including Gmail, Facebook and Instagram.

The wireless router, in its emerging role as a smart hub, will support multi-user multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology giving it the ability to dynamically adjust its wireless profile to suit the dynamic of the home – even going so far as to include the home’s embedded electrical wiring as an ad hoc managed network.

In this vein, it will develop into a device with many satellites (such as adapters and repeaters) and the ability to control and manage multiple systems.

It will also have the ability to stay current with the latest changes in the home’s device software, making the router system compatible with new appliances and systems as they are added.

In a bid to deliver optimal WiFi performance – instead of offering only best-effort-type technology from coverage and repeating perspectives – it will gain automatic learning abilities, constantly improving itself to keep abreast of other technological advancements.

As a result, the router of the future will be a system that controls devices based on a number of new technologies, such as Bluetooth Smart Ready and “low-energy” Bluetooth 5.

For example, wireless routers with built-in Bluetooth 5 technology will enable connections to the internet of things devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, making beacons, location awareness and other connectionless services even more relevant.

In addition to significantly increased range, speed and broadcast messaging capacities, expect these routers to have the intelligence to alert users to anomalies based on pre-set parameters including ambient temperature, unauthorised intrusions and the like.

In this light, its always-evolving security features will update automatically to help protect the users’ network, data and devices.

The wireless router of the future will help redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information, changing from the traditional “app-paired-to-device” model to a connectionless IoT where there is less need to download an app or even connect an app to a device.

Now read: Switching to fibre? Get the best router for the job!

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The evolution of the wireless router