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Will Wi-Fi printer slow down my broadband network?

Understanding Gigabit Wi-Fi printer compatibility

Dual band wireless router

Will adding a wireless printer to your home network slow down the broadband connection? Our Helproom Editor explains.

QUESTION I am currently using a wireless connection between by Dell desktop PC and my printer. This is set up using an only Netgear router and a print server device which doesn't work to my satisfaction under Windows 7.

I am planning to buy a Canon Pixma printer with built-in wireless networking and I was also intending to get a new Netgear 802.11ac router that runs dual bandwidths simultaneously.

The question is that as the Canon printer runs on 802.11 b/g/n will it force the router to run at the lower bandwidth and will this impact at all on my the internet connection speed?

HELPROOM ANSWER As you're aware, 802.11ac routers use a 5GHz frequency, whereas 802.11/n can operate over 5GHz or 2.4GHz, with 2.4GHz being by far the most common.

The key feature of Netgear's 802.11ac router is its support for "dual-band" operation, which means it can operate at both 5GHz and 2.4GHz at the same time. In practical terms, this means the router can create two entirely separate wireless networks, one for 802.11ac and another for 802.11n. Because they use different frequency bands which don't overlap, these two networks won't interfere with each other and therefore 802.11n devices on one network won't slow down 802.11ac devices on the other.  They will however be able to communicate with each other – and this is the job of your router, to route data from one network to another whether it be between networks in your own house (including the wired network) or between your PC and the Internet.

Theoretically, the choice of Wi-Fi network type should have no impact on your Internet connection speed, because your home network should be capable of much higher speeds than your broadband connection.

However, if you have a super-fast broadband connection and poor Wi-Fi signals in your house, it may be possible that your home network is holding back your broadband speed a little. This should only happen with the very fastest broadband speeds available and very poor wireless connections between your devices. In this case a faster router is likely to improve, rather than reduce, your broadband speeds.

You don't say what sort of broadband service you use, but if your router incorporates a modem, it's worth checking before you buy to make sure the new router works well with your broadband service (note that the Netgear R6300 doesn't have a built-in modem, but the D6300 does). The performance and connections speeds of a broadband connection can vary depending on the router you use – quite independently of any wireless configuration. If possible, take a look in any user forums your broadband service may provide and make sure. If your modem is in a separate external box, then you shouldn't need to worry about this aspect.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.

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