For years, I have insisted traders use a wired connection. An Ethernet cable plugged directly into a modem or router is the best, most secure connection for trading. Don’t trade all day, every day over wireless internet if you can avoid it.
But, if you can’t be wired (or if you feel like sitting on the back patio to work occasionally), this post can help you find the best router for your specific situation.
First, let’s clear up some potentially confusing terminology: what’s the difference between a “modem” and a “router”?
Modems and routers look like twins. Here’s the difference. Routers cannot help you get internet out of the wall and into your computer.
A modem is the device that connects you to the internet. A router is the device that routes the internet signal between your modem and where you want to use that internet signal (i.e., your computing devices, such as desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.)
With all the wireless devices we have now, almost everyone has a home network, including a wireless router. Setting this up can be confusing. In fact, setting up a home network is something I get asked about often. Traders usually want my advice on exactly which wireless router to buy.
Rather than talk about brands and model numbers (which come and go), I’d rather give you the more timeless information on what to look for.
Knowing the answers to the 5 questions below will help you determine the best wireless router for your home trading computer:
1. Does your internet provider include a wireless router inside the modem?
Many internet providers have now include a wireless broadcast antenna inside their modems. Hence, you may already have built-in wireless internet. Your internet installer should have informed you about this when they first set it up.
Believe it or not, you might be broadcasting two signals (2.4ghz and 5ghz). According to my Comcast guy, the lower-frequency signal (2.4 GHz) broadcasts farther, and the higher-frequency signal (5 GHz) is faster.
If you already have a cable modem with wireless internet built in, you don’t need a router.
2. Where is your modem located?
If your modem does NOT have a built-in wireless router, you will need your own router, connected to the modem via an Ethernet connection.
And if your modem is in a fairly remote location, such as in the basement or on one end of a ranch house, you will either need a wireless router that broadcasts a strong signal, or several routers chained together. (They call this “extending” your Wi-Fi.)
The key question is, can you effectively broadcast a strong enough signal with a wireless router located next to your modem?
3. Do you need to broadcast over a long distance?
Even if you have a wireless router inside your modem, you may need one or more additional wireless routers if you need to broadcast your signal around corners, through thick walls, or over a long distance.
There’s a rule of thumb for wireless internet distances. The distance between router and computing device should not exceed 150 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoors.
Notice the range doubles when your signal has no obstacles (walls, doors, etc). Each obstacle degrades your signal by 25%.
Also, older wireless routers used the 802.11a standard, which offers a shorter broadcast distance than newer technology. Keep this in mind when purchasing your next wireless router(s).
Personally, I use 3 wireless routers in my house: one near my cable modem, one in my kitchen to extend to my outdoor patio, and one in my living room to extend to my sun porch. Without extending my wireless signal, my access outdoors would be nonexistent.
4. What are you using the internet for?
Another factor to consider is your usage. If you’re using wireless internet to answer emails and check Facebook, speed doesn’t matter too much.
If you’re streaming video and trading over wireless, you’ll want to buy a router that supports the fastest speeds.
Wireless routers do not all have the same speed capability. Routers broadcasting with the newer 802.11n and 802.11ac standards have faster speeds and longer signal ranges.
5. Are your wireless computing devices older or newer?
Older computing devices (computers, tablets, etc.) can’t make use of the newer router speeds available. If you have older devices, you’ll need to check that your new wireless router is backwards compatible, meaning it will work with your older devices. Most routers do, but it’s always best to check.
Most newer computing devices can access the faster delivery speeds available on any new wireless router you might purchase. So if your computing devices are newer, you shouldn’t have a problem connecting through a new router.
Although I don’t recommend going wireless for trading in general, if you pay attention to the considerations here, you’ll be able to find a router that will keep you connected for those occasional times when you just want to get away from the desk for a change.
There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyers guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250