Small businesses never upgrade their networking equipment often enough, so if you manage or service a small business network you almost certainly need a new wireless router. Even if your router isn’t hopelessly out of date, the demands by laptops, tablets, and smartphones have increased so greatly over the past three years that your existing router lacks horsepower and the newest wireless networking protocols.
As you consider upgrades for your customers, take a good look at the Linksys WRT1900AC. This is an update of the old, reliable WRT54G, one of the first wireless routers designed for homes and small businesses. It’s hard to forget that famous black and blue housing, and the WRT1900AC keeps that same look but updates it both inside and out.
Nice Box in the Box
In one of the neatest packaging examples I’ve seen in a while, the box includes three levels. At the top is the router, held in place not with tape or bubble wrap but by a thick foam cutout that grips the feet tightly. Under the router await the four antennas, held securely in their foam cutout spaces. Beneath that in cardboard compartments that are part of the box sit the power brick, AC cord, and network patch cable. Sure, packaging design may seem tangential, but well-considered packaging almost always holds well-considered products.
The Quick Start Guide does double duty as the CD-ROM holder for the documentation disk. Inside the flap are the four steps to follow to configure the router. After years of struggling with wireless router setup, this is the easiest make-ready process I’ve ever seen. If I were still doing field support, I’d almost feel guilty charging to configure this router (Figure 1). I’d do it, of course, but there would be a twinge of almost-guilt if all went as easily as it did in my testing.
- Connect the antenna, then plug in and turn on the router.
- Connect the patch cable from your broadband modem to the yellow RJ45 port on the back of the WRT1900AC.
- Find the wireless network listed on a label in the Quick Start Guide, and use the assigned password. Both can be changed, of course.
- Open a browser window in the attached PC and go to www.linksyssmartwifi.com. The router will guide you through the rest.
Hard? Not so far. Does the hard part start now? Nope. I clicked the box saying I read the license terms for the router and software, even though I never looked at them. Only chumps read the terms, right? Check. Would I like the router to keep itself current? Yes, because users will never remember to upgrade.
Now is my chance to change the router name and password. Both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless networks are supported, including the latest protocols, 802.11n and 802.11ac, respectively. You can name both networks the same or not. One network password works with both networks, and you don’t have to follow restrictive rules on the number or characters as with previous wireless routers.