WARNING… Nerdie post
As you probably know our wireless internet access on the boat is achieved by utilizing our mobile phone tethering function creating a ‘Hotspot’. Whilst mobile data (ie, using the mobile phone) isn’t cheap in the UK, it’s much more expensive in Australia. When we move back into a static address we will need to move to a cable internet connection. Initially it’s likely to involve using the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) but eventually we’ll get a fibre connection. All of this is going to require a new router. I’ve been looking at routers and following my philosophy of staying at least one rung behind the most modern of anything (driven by price) and after extensive research, we’ve purchased a Netgear NightHawk R7000. This isn’t the latest model but is still very powerful.
This particular router was selected for the following reasons
- Wireless Data Speed. It is capable of transmitting at the (current) highest wireless standard of 802.11AC2.
- Ethernet Ports. Four ports with a rated speed of 600-1300Mbs
- USB Ports. Two for attaching devices such as external hard drives and printers, etc
- Processor – 1GHz dual core. Plenty of computing power to manage the traffic
- Ability to change the firmware
The problem with most routers is the standard firmware (operating system) is unreliable. Actually, some of the top routers’ firmwares are plagued by vulnerabilities and are limited in their features. I intend to overcome these vulnerabilities and limitations by replacing the standard Netgear router firmware with an open source (free) firmware version which will eliminate the vulnerabilities and also increases the router’s capabilities.
One reason for selecting the NightHawk is the availability of alternative firmware. I have opted to replace the standard Netgear firmware with Tomato. By doing this I will be able to install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software on the router rather than on individual devices. This has two advantages.
- It will save money by only needing to purchase one VPN license for the router rather than multiple licenses for each device (laptop, desktop, tablets, etc)
- Our privacy will be protected because everything on our side of the router will be anonymous to the internet.
The network should look something like the diagram below