Faster internet connection speeds are becoming more and more important with the advance of technology. Apart from speed, another important parameter is connection stability. Fiber optics technology offers the best of both worlds! And now, fiber optics has arrived to modems.
That being said, many users will be interested in how to make their connection the best it can be by purchasing proper modems and routers. Fiber optics technology doesn’t use the same modems as other technologies and you often don’t have a say on which one to use. Learn about the difference between routers and modems and what fiber optics is at the end of this article. But before that, check out the best fiber optic modems and routers you can get right now.
Fast online connection equals the ability to download a ton of data rather quickly. If you need lots of storage, check out our list of the best 4TB SSDs. If you’re after storage that can be hooked directly to your motherboard, we have a list of the best M.2 SSDs. Last but not least, our guide for the best PCIe WiFi cards includes options that work great with ultra-fast fiber-optic connections.
1. Netgear Nighthawk R6700: Best overall fiber optic router
Fiber optic networks are all about speed and the Netgear Nighthawk R6700 has that part covered. Supporting speeds up to 1750 Mbps, it can cover up to 1500 square feet and provide high-quality network access to your mobile devices and laptops. For your PCs, game consoles, and other home devices, there are 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports available to plug them in.
This Netgear router supports up to 25 devices, making it a perfect choice for large families with plenty of devices or for smart homes where many devices need to stay online at all times. Speaking of smart homes, this router also supports Alexa Voice Control. As a paid feature with a free trial, you can use some advanced features like website filtering, internet access scheduling, time limits, and many more useful parental controls. Additionally, another feature you can try out is Armor Cyber-threat protection. Payment is yearly but there is a 30-day free trial!
2. TP-Link AC1750: Best budget fiber optic router
The TP-Link AC1750 is an award-winning router that also works with Alexa and supports all Wi-Fi devices. The supported network speed is also 1750 Mbps (450 Mbps for 2.4 GHz and 1300 Mbps for the 5 GHz channel). Its exterior features 3 antennas with an awesome range of 2500 square feet that can cover large homes in need of strong Internet connections powered by mighty fiber optical networks.
For wired connections, there are four Gigabit LAN ports. You’ll also notice a USB port you can use to easily share the contents of your USB drives. You can easily use parental controls and control guest access on your network, for quite a reasonable price.
3. D-Link EXO AC2600: Best mid-range fiber optic router
For users with extremely fast fiber optics Internet connections, the D-Link EXO AC2600 offers up to 2600 Mbps connection speeds. It implements a dual-core processor inside to provide better data transfer management. D-Link brags about using their MU-MIMO technology with multiple users, allowing sending a high-quality signal to many devices simultaneously. With four external antennas, it provides a good range of connectivity to keep your home covered. Alexa is not supported. There are 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connections and a guest network to help you keep track of all connected devices. 4K streaming and gaming have never been easier, even on multiple devices on the same network powered by this mighty router!
4. ASUS AC5300 ROG: Best high-end fiber optic router
When it comes to the ASUS AC5300 ROG, we think that it tops the high-end market for users who are not looking to invest serious money into a high-end gaming router. To start, the router utilizes three bands: dual 5 GHz and a single 2.4 GHz band. This fact allows connection speeds up to 5334 Mbps! With 8 external antennas, you can cover up to 5000 square feet which is great for large homes.
Under the hood, it utilizes a 1.8 GHz 64-bit Quad-Core processor and 4×4 802.11ac MU-MIMO technology to maximize connection speeds even when many devices are connecting to the same network. Other useful features include VPN Fusion, Game IPS, Game Boost; all serving the purpose of keeping you safe and making your gaming easier!
Difference between modems and routers
There is one misconception we should clear out for those unfamiliar with internet networking technology. You can often hear people using the terms “router” and “modem” interchangeably but they are quite different. The info below might help you realize what to look for when making your next modem/router purchase!
The core difference is simple: a modem connects your device to the Internet and a router connects your device to a local network!
What does a modem do?
A modem is a bridge between the infrastructure (cable, fiber optic, telephone, or satellite) of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and your Ethernet cable output that you can connect to a router or a computer. An example of an ISP is Comcast/Xfinity, but there are many out there. For fiber, telephone, and cable connections, a single cable from your ISP is the input and an Ethernet cable is the output. Different ISPs have different modems and you must use the one that will work with your connection. Routers, on the other hand, can be chosen manually as their input is the standard Ethernet cable.
What does a router do?
A router doesn’t need a connection to the Internet. Its primary function is to connect multiple devices/networks and manage all traffic between them. For example, a router can be used to establish a Local Area Network (LAN) where your devices can communicate amongst each other as long as they are physically or wirelessly connected to the router. However, its most common use is to use one connection to the Internet and enable multiple devices to use the same Internet connection.
Combining modems and routers
Many people might wonder why routers and modems are still two separate devices. Let’s face it – no one will use their Internet connection on a single PC with multiple smartphones, tablets, and laptops laying around our houses! That is why routers and modems can be found in a single device. While saving on space and possibly money, you lose the ability to simply switch to a better and faster router any time you want.
Getting the most out of your fiber optic connection
When purchasing a fiber optic Internet plan, your ISP will install its own fiber optic modem that is often referred to as an Optical Network Terminal (ONT). It transforms the optical signal you receive and it provides an Ethernet port you can plug into your fiber optic router.
So worrying about the best fiber optic modem is pointless as you’re stuck with the ONT that you’re given.
Since you have no word in choosing the ONT, you can maximize your network connection speed by using the best router possible. The most important thing about choosing the perfect fiber optic router to support your high-speed fiber optics connection is that it doesn’t throttle it.
Make sure the maximum supported router network speed is bigger than the network speed offered by your ISP. Once you’ve figured out what range you’re talking about, you can settle for the perfect router! If your maximum network speed is, for instance, 1 Gbps and your router’s maximum speed is 100 Mbps, it will throttle your connection and slow it down.
If you own Alexa or if you plan to, in the future, consider buying a router that supports Alexa Voice Commands. Having a router stand out from your smart home is never a plus. Depending on whether you have children or how much you care about online safety, you can choose routers with built-in parental controls, firewalls, and other security features.
Below is a top-4 list of fiber optic routers that we consider to be at the top of the market and that support high bandwidth connections!
What is fiber optic technology?
We often hear about fiber optics as a term being thrown around when talking about high-speed Internet connections. However, many people don’t know what the term represents and what about it is useful to make your Internet connection that faster.
Fiber optics are long, thin, and flexible strands of fiber made of either drawing glass or plastic. Fiber optics (or optical fibers) are extremely thin, with the diameter of a single strand being similar to the one of human hair. These strands are used to transmit light from one end of the fiber to another and, when stranded together in a large number, they make optical cables.
Fiber optics are used for data transmission. In electronics, different voltage levels are used to signalize either a logical 1 or 0. Using fiber optics, voltage levels are replaced with “light” or “no light”. Since light travels much faster than electrons, you can expect such data transmission to be much faster. This is in no way a new technology. Fiber optics have been used for more than a century but it’s only in the last 40 years that its development has exploded. Some of its most significant applications include:
- Computer networking and communication
- Power transmission
- Military and aerospace
Why is fiber optics better than ADSL and cable?
ADSL and Cable connections are quite fast for today’s standard but they are simply not fast enough for the future. The main reason is the Internet of things, a system of connected devices that can communicate amongst each other without human interaction. Here is a list of several major advantages fiber optics has over the competition:
- Extremely high speeds – Since light is most definitely the fastest thing in the universe, it provides this technology a bandwidth advantage that can’t be achieved with metal wires.
- Longer transmission distance – When transmitting data using metal wires, power loss is a major problem. Power loss in fiber networks is mostly related to light reflection and faulty installations so they can be minimized with proper connections.
- Data transfer can be either analog or digital – Even though both options are possible, sending data as digital signals is a major advantage as it doesn’t require analog-to-digital conversion.
- Electromagnetic interference resistance – No electricity means no electromagnetic interference. This is the most important source of noise in the copper wire transfer. Without this problem, fiber optics can almost be considered noise and error-free. This also implies safety from lightning strikes!
- Small size – With fiber optic cables being quite thin in diameter, they take up less space and are easier to accommodate.
Still, fiber optic technology is not perfect. Cost is the first thing that comes to mind. However, we must point out that its price decreases exponentially from one year to another and it should meet with copper wire installation in no time. Installing fiber optic cables is quite difficult. They are easy to break. Faulty connections and improper installation can be a source of power losses and errors during transmission.