Broadband Router Comparisons


Not all consumer grade customer premises equipment is created equally. But end customers sure think it is. I have retirement aged customers buying the crappiest routers and then blaming my cable network for all their connection woes. The real problem is that there were plenty of problems on the cable network to deal with, so it was impossible to tell between a problem that a customer was having with their CPE versus a real problem in my network.

Much of that has been cleared up on my side now, but customers were used to blaming us for everything so that they don't even consider that their equipment could be to blame.

I want to be able to point out a third party list of all (most) broadband routers that rates them by performance. Or that rates them by crappiness that I can send them to so they can look up their own router and determine if other users have had problems with that router and what can be done to fix it.

So far my search has been in vain.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

Lorell Hathcock

Have the customer bypass the router. Why suggest another router that may
have problems in the future that you ended up getting blamed for?

Josh Luthman
Office: 937-552-2340
Direct: 937-552-2343
1100 Wayne St
Suite 1337
Troy, OH 45373


That's a good troubleshooting technique when the customer is cooperative and technically competent.

I am looking for a third party list to which I may point that rates all/most routers on the market. This list would not have my input on it at all. If a router from the list winds up being bad, it is not my fault because it is third party.

Such a list would help shift the conversation from blaming us at the ISP by default to casting doubt on the CPE device where the blame now rightly resides.

I've checked the primary search engine for such a thing a list. I get a lot of ads for broadband routers. A search on yields nothing useful. wants to tell me about $150-$300 routers new to the market in 2015.

I just need a comprehensive list of routers with ratings. A couple of user reviews about routers going bad would also be nice!


Lorell Hathcock

For a place to find reviews about specific models, I'd just point them to
the product pages on Amazon and emphasize the ratings and narrative
descriptions. Maybe not the most "scientific" method, but as long as the
reviews posted align with your observations/assessment of a particular
model, you've got a starting point there. Maybe compile a list of direct
links for models you often see customers trying, so your CSRs can
copy/paste them without research.

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of a repository like you're describing with
your request, though.


​Paywalled, but

... and has ethernet on anything in the house, which is increasingly a bad thing to rely on. Got an iPad, a smart phone, and a MacBook Air (any revision)? Two of the three have substantially no support for hardwired Ethernet. The third requires an external USB adaptor. "Go out and buy this $24 gizmo so we can confirm that your $29 router/wireless device is indeed crap" is a hard thing to get most people to do.


I have reasonable success with simply lending the customer a router. In
most cases they will then buy it afterwards, because it turns out that
their old router was indeed bad.

But you can not win them all. Sometimes it is the other equipment that is
bad, or the customer is clueless. They might even be lying because everyone
knows you have to pretend it is worse than it actually is to get the doctor
to take you seriously. Also who here can honestly say you never pretended
to power cycle your Windows 95 when asked by the support bot on the phone,
while actually running Linux, because that is the only way to get passed on
to second tier support?

Just last week I had a customer complaining his router was bad. I went out
there and found it in the basement, on the floor, under a bed with a ton of
crap on top. He said it was so much worse than his old internet, where he
had the router in the center of the house in his living room. Not too
surprisingly? He claimed the routers were located the same place until I
turned up at his house and asked to see it...

I do not think you will have much success at pointing to a list of
supposedly bad routers. The world is just too complex. A bad experience can
be due to anything really. Most likely they are on 2,4 GHz and the spectrum
is crowded. Combine with an old computer (or even brand new!) that has crap
2,4 GHz wifi - nothing a router can do about that. I demonstrate that it
can work with my own computer and then advise the customer on what to buy.



The trend is a managed router service. This way the ISP can control the customer experience a little better. It also gives the ISP a DMARC point to test from, which is not as reliant on getting the customer involved.

Mikrotik makes the hAP lite, which has a retail of $21.95. . This is *nix based router you can cheaply deploy even if a customer doesn’t want a managed router. I have clients who deploy this as a “modem” if the customer chooses their own router. By doing this the ISP can run pings, traceroutes, see usage, and other useful tools from the customer side.

Once you figure on your average support call on troubleshooting a customer router $21.95 is a drop in the bucket. Having a place to test from the customer side is invaluable. Tons of tricks you can do too. Turn on the wireless and have the customer connect to it. Block out all traffic except what the customer is using for tests (i.e. wireless) so you can see if there are devices hogging the pipe. You can do frequency scans to see how bad 2.4 is. You can get a dual band hAP router with AC. It is more expensive so deploying one of those at every customer might not be feasible.

Justin Wilson

to take you seriously. Also who here can honestly say you never pretended
to power cycle your Windows 95 when asked by the support bot on the phone,
while actually running Linux, because that is the only way to get passed
on to second tier support?

I can honestly say that I have told support droids that I am rebooting "Windows" while actually running zOS. Support droids have a definite problem with comprehending "No Transport" ...

I have even called to report a border router down on their network. They complain and want to plug, unplug and reboot. It isn't until 20 minutes later when the call volume exceeds the "geez there must be something wrong with our network" limit that someone actually bother to look and see where the problem is really located.


Here's one managed option that non-Calix customers, such as WISPs, have found interesting:


Providing a managed service is the direction we're going. In our case,
since we're a Calix shop, we're using their GigaCenters, but I'm sure there
are other vendor options out there.

Early indications are that 95+% of our residential customers would rather
pay a nominal "maintenance" fee and use our managed router than purchase
their own. From our end, we get a little more revenue, we ensure our
customers aren't blaming us for problems caused by junk routers, and we
provide a level of service and support that the big guys can't even come
close to matching.


We really need to ask if China and Russia for that matter will not take abuse reports seriously why allow them to network to the internet ?


Well, first off, it isn't like China or Russia are just one ASN. You'd have
to de-peer a bunch of ASN's - and also eliminate any paid transit connections.

Note that even North Korea has managed to land at least a small presence on
the Internet. Are you going to ban them too?

While we're banning countries, how about the country that's known for
widespread surveillance both foreign and domestic, has one of the strongest
cyber warfare arsenals around, and has been caught multiple times diverting and
backdooring routers sold to foreign countries?

Oh wait, that's the US. Maybe we better rethink this?

Obviously, there's a lot of organizations that think that being able to
communicate with China and Russia outweighs the security issues. You are
of course welcome to make a list of all Russian and Chinese ASNs and block
their prefixes at your border.

Let’s just cut off the entirety of the third world instead of having a tangible mitigation plan in place.

While you thing you are making a snarky response, it would be handy for end users to be able to turn on and off access to other countries retail. If *they* don't need access to certain third world countries, it would be their decision, not the operator's decision.

For example, here on my little network we have no need for connectivity to much of Asia, Africa, or India. We do have need to talk to Europe, Australia, and some countries in South America.

I am afraid people are already doing this. Every time I bring a new IP
series into production, my users will complain that they are locked out
from sites including many government sites. This is because people will
load IP location lists into their firewall and drop packets at the border.
Of course they will not update said lists and load year old lists into
their firewalls.

So now my users can not access government sites because the IP ranges were
owned by a company in a different country two years ago.

Take a guess on how responsive site owners are when we complain about their
firewall. Most refuse to acknowledge they do any blocking and insist the
problem is at our end. That is if they respond at all.



Hmm, has anyone at all kept count of the number of times such a discussion has started up in just the last year, and how many more times in the past 16 or so years?

Mind you, back in say 2004, this discussion would have run to 50 or 60 emails at a bare minimum, in no time at all.


Yes… Balkanization has been such a wonderful and useful strategy in the physical world, let’s bring it to cyberspace and we should be able to expect the same level of success…

Oh, wait, that wouldn’t be so good. Maybe this should be rethought.

One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. This would seem to me to fit that particular definition.


Yes… Isn’t it impressive just how persistent the bad idea fairy can be?


Well, at least she's here rather than sprinkling eggnog and brandy flavoured pixie dust on our gear over the Christmas break.