Sign up for a broadband service and chances are you’ll be sent a free router as part of the deal, but it may not do all that you require. Indeed, to get the latest in WiFi technology plus things like VPN remote access, support for Voice over IP (VoIP) and multiple WAN ports, you’ll have to buy a router of your own. Such as the Vigor 2820 from Draytek, which has these and other features in spades.
Several different versions of the Vigor 2820 are available and none of them is cheap, but then they do have a lot to offer: not least the ability to connect to the Internet in three different ways.
The first is via a built-in ADSL modem, which can detect and automatically configure itself for use with both standard ADSL and newer ADSL2+ services. In addition, however, there’s an Ethernet WAN port to which an external ADSL or cable modem can be attached, and a USB port for connection via a mobile phone or mobile broadband adapter.
Any of these interfaces can be used to give LAN users shared Internet access. They can also be used to back each other up in the event of a hardware or service hiccup, plus, if you opt to use the two wired ports, the available bandwidth can be pooled.
Local users can be connected via a built-in 4-port network switch, with Gigabit support on one port for a server or backbone network uplink. The USB port can also be used to connect a printer (if you’re not using it with a mobile wireless adapter). Added to which there’s a wireless model (the Vigor 2820n) with support for the latest Draft 2 802.11n WiFi technology.
Of course, you’ll need compatible adapters to take advantage of the faster WiFi, but with the standard almost complete, interoperability shouldn’t be a problem and some vendors are offering bundles that include a suitable adapter (around £145 + VAT). Plus there’s backwards compatibility with earlier 802.11b/g technologies and wireless bridging support, if needed.
Support for every one of the various wireless security technologies, from WEP to WPA2, is another standard feature. Added to which you get network address translation, a stateful inspection firewall and SurfControl site filtering to keep all those Internet nasties at bay.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) server is yet another common feature across the range. Implemented in hardware on all models with a built-in encryption processor, this allows up to 32 remote users to connect to the network at any one time using a choice of protocols including PPTP, L2TP and IPSec. A custom VPN client isn’t included but the software built into Windows works fine.
Lastly, it’s possible to get the 2820 with VoIP built-in. Known as the Vigor 2820Vn (£155 + VAT), this model has ports to enable two ordinary handsets to make and receive SIP calls over the Internet. Another then connects the router to the public phone network, enabling calls to be routed conventionally when needed and to provide a backup for use in emergencies.
Installation is easy. An external adapter feeds in the mains power at the back while all of the connectors are at the front. A bracket for rack mounting is also available. The usual Web-based interface is then used to configure the router, with a wizard to help with the basic LAN/WAN setup. The interface does take a while to get used to but is no harder than most, and there are lots of useful ‘how-to’ documents on the supplier’s Web site to help with common setup issues.
We tried the Draytek router for several days and had no problems whatsoever. Performance was good and, if it’s anywhere near as reliable as previous Vigor routers, the 2820 will be popular with small businesses and others looking for a little bit more than the average router has to offer.
Contact: 020 8381 5500