Most SOHO (Small Office Home Office) routers in use today are relatively robust WiFi routers that are handling numerous devices with ever increasing demands. An open source firmware such as Tomato or DD-WRT will greatly expand some router's capabilities and performance and offer tools to diagnose traffic to better prioritize different types of applications. When VoIP is added to the network what happens is typically one or two large downloads or cloud storage uploads initiated by a user will take over the available bandwidth and everyone else suffers, which causes the quality of voice to deteriorate significantly. However, there are some routers, which happen to run Linux as a core operating system that can use Tomato, a free firmware (software) which will make a $125.00 to $400.00 good router into a professional business style router that could easily cost more than $1000.00. Some of the recently offered WiFi routers have much higher computing power, more RAM and better hardware than models made just a few years ago. And prices have dropped on several outstanding models. In all, a great choice a SOHO can make would be to get a router and flash it with Tomato, as it's open source and free to download. Or you can get routers preloaded with the latest version of Tomato at very reasonable prices. As more and more applications move to the cloud it will be increasingly important to control which applications, like VoIP, get priority so that conversations remain stable and of excellent quality.
For the budget conscious person choosing a router that can be flashed with Tomato makes excellent sense. The leading budget friendly Tomato flashed router is the Netgear Nighthawk.
Tomato routers have lots of distinct advantages, one of which they come with great QoS capabilities, for the ability to prioritize VoIP (voice) or troubleshoot sporadic issues, which will make for better quality calls. Additionally, Tomato firmware has features that only come with more expensive routers, many of which will make your small business better. Tomato firmware has the most effective and configurable QOS (Quality of Service) of any small business router available and has a web faced interface that can be easlily understood by most users. The graphical statistical information displays bandwidth use and that helps determine the best QoS settings. Furthermore it has built-in capabilities to boost the wireless signal improving connectivity. Settings also incorporate ways to limit Internet access by date and times.
In addition to monitoring your bandwidth in real time, you can monitor other local wireless networks to understand what you can adjust in your own tomato router's settings for the optimum performance.
Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Router.
Small businesses and home businesses can benefit from a low cost router flashed with Tomato firmware. The feature set included with Tomato software is robust and easy to configure and comes with lots of graphs and charts so you can see what might be using up most of your bandwidth. The QoS (Quality of Service) settings are better than many routers that would cost $800.00 or $10000.00, but you can get a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 router for well less than $200.00, making these some of the best low cost routers around for small business VoIP installations. Listed below are some of the advantages of Tomato Firmware:
Using a Tomato router will give you the ability to make your VoIP calls maintain a better quality when network conditions are less than ideal. Users tend to experience choppy voice, or bad quality calls when congestion occurs on the local network. With Tomato the voice traffic can be configured to have a higher priority over the other data and to move through the network without delays. This results in better quality conversations and also allows the SIP signaling to travel unhindered back to the VoIP provider, bypassing congestion. Typically, Internet service providers today have plans with larger bandwidth for lower costs than even two years ago and many people who are considering VoIP believe that is all that is needed. Having a large stable bandwidth pipe will certainly help prevent ongoing quality issues, but with applications like video streaming, online music feeds, etc. often a small business network will experience conditions that can affect the flow of voice traffic which will lower quality, including actually breaking up voice. Tomato can sort all the traffic out and ensure each call keeps its quality regardless of local network congestion, something typically only a $600.00 or more router would be able to do.
Looking for a robust WiFi router that will deliver performance through 2018 and beyond?