Our protagonist today is going to be the firmware. In this regard, it is advisable that we have all the network equipment with the latest version of firmware or software. The reasons are various, from enjoying the latest features added by the manufacturer to also correcting possible malfunctions and security. On the other hand, it should be noted that one from an operator is not the same as one from a manufacturer. Although they basically do the same thing, one of them has more functionalities and advantages. In this article we are going to see how an operator firmware differs from one from a manufacturer.
Cool additional features on the router
Whether it is an operator firmware that is, for example, the routers that your ISP distributes or those of a manufacturer, both will allow us to fulfill the basic tasks. By this I mean surfing the Internet, opening ports for programs or having our servers at home, and also configuring our Wi-Fi networks with the password that we establish.
That does not mean that we like to have additional features in our router, and that they present things to us in a more intuitive and graphical way, automate tasks and help us share resources on the network. For example, when we have to renew our router we have to make sure that its specifications include:
- QoS to prioritize data packets and give preference to gaming-oriented equipment.
- Bandwidth limiter to limit the maximum download and upload speed.
- Have the possibility from turn our router into an access point.
- Can have our VPN server, for example, remotely connect to our LAN.
- Detailed information and diagnostic tools.
- Have time programmers for Wi-Fi to turn on or off at certain times.
Sometimes, after updating the firmware of your WiFi router, we find a new function, along with the correction of errors of various kinds. For this reason, it is advisable to keep them updated whenever possible.
Differences between carrier and manufacturer firmware
We must bear in mind that a firmware for an operator router is made by the manufacturer together with the operator in question. That is, in both cases it is done by a manufacturer, and later the firmware is adapted to the needs of the customers. An operator firmware if we compare it with that of the best manufacturers, we will see that they have notable differences, among them we are going to list a couple:
- The manufacturer’s firmware is more complete. Sometimes ISPs use manufacturers’ routers to which they add their own firmware. Despite being identical in terms of hardware, on many occasions we will see that they have different menus and far fewer options. In this regard, it is much more likely to find fewer extra functions such as those we discussed in the previous section in the operator’s firmware.
- A better support in the manufacturer’s firmware. In this aspect, it can be observed that it is more possible that in a manufacturer firmware throughout its useful life, more new functions are added or errors are corrected. On the other hand, they also tend to be updated more often, so we would be less exposed to security flaws.
Therefore, when we are talking about the best firmwares for home routers we mean those of the manufacturers. Some examples would be ASUS with Asuswrt, AVM with FRITZ! OS firmware, and other very complete ones would be NETGEAR.
ASUS incorporates the Asuswrt firmware in all its routers, although the lower-end ones may not have all the features mentioned below. As for Wi-Fi, it is one of the most complete because it supports WPA2 / WPA3-Personal and even WPA3-Personal only, it has WDS, MAC filtering and the possibility of configuring an external RADIUS server to use WPA2-Enterprise. We also have Port Triggering, the DMZ, DDNS services to configure in the router and also different NAT Passthrough rules. It also has QoS in which we could easily prioritize games, VPN servers and many services to make the most of its USB ports, such as having a Samba or FTP server.
In summary, although we have enough with an operator firmware, with a manufacturer’s one we obtain greater functionalities that in many cases are very easy to use.