Sunday, March 26, 2006

Linksys ADSL Wireless Gateway

PC Medic has started using Linksys WAG354G ADSL wireless gateways, which have replaced the older WAG54G model (small picture). The most obvious difference between the new and old units is that Linksys has put the newer model in a more contemporary slimline silver package and the external antenna has been replaced with an internal unit, resulting in cleaner lines and an overall less "techy" appearance. I was concerned that the internal antenna might have resulted in reduced range but initial results with customer installations seem to indicate that this is not a concern. We have recently installed a unit in an attic conversion in an average suburban semi-D and the customer reports excellent reception throughout the ground and first floor rooms.

The user interface is pretty standard Linksys fare and it's an interface that we like. Features such as wireless security, MAC-address filtering and port-forwarding are all easy to access. We haven't been using these units long enough yet to establish if they need occasional re-setting (as do many domestic-grade units), but we'll update you on that in due course.

So what does one of these units actually do? Firstly, it has a built-in ADSL modem, which means that it allows you to connect to a broadband service-provider e.g. Eircom, BT, Imagine, UTV etc. (not NTL, which requires a cable modem). Secondly it provides a 4-port ethernet switch which allows up to four PCs to be connected via ethernet cables into a home network. Thirdly, it provides a wireless access point for up to 32 PCs or laptops to connect wirelessly with the unit. And, finally, it has a built-in router that allows PCs connected to the unit, either wirelessly or via ethernet cable, to connect to the internet and share a single broadband connection. In other words it's a single one-box solution for setting up a wireless home network that can share a broadband internet connection. With a hardware firewall thrown in, it's hard to beat. While there is a wide range of manufacturers of home networking products out there, Linksys, which is part of networking giant Cisco, remains a firm favourite of ours and the only brand that we install.

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