- Compact, metal-constructed unit
- simple to set up
- NAT provides some security.
- You'll need to run additional firewall software for full network protection.
Connecting your home or small office network to a shared broadband Internet connection doesn't come much simpler if you use Netgear's RT314 Gateway Router. The box itself is compact, metal-constructed and equipped with status lights to show you the condition of the four 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet switched ports and the Internet uplink.
Installing the RT314 to our NTL cable connection was simplicity itself. Having made sure that each PC had its TCP/IP properties set to auto-configure, we just plugged the router into the cable modem and the PCs into ports on the router and powered everything up.
If you power the cable modem down first, when it powers up it is forced into a diagnostic check that renews the MAC data used by NTL. The cable modem will then talk to the router. Then, when you power up each PC, it is configured from the DHCP server in the router and allocated a TCP/IP address in the 192,168.0.2 - 192.168.0.31 range -- in other words, a private address. These addresses are presented to the ISP as your single dynamically allocated IP address using NAT (Network Address Translation) in the router. NAT also gives some security protection to the network, but it's still a good idea to run a software firewall like ZoneAlarm or BlackICE Defender.
Basically, by following a few simple steps, the RT314 just worked -- first time and faultlessly.
Running a small network through a cable connection is something that NTL does not support, but has no objection to. This is not always the case with broadband connections, however, with some providers specifically banning it and enforcing this by locking the connection to the MAC address of the PC's Ethernet card. The RT314 gets round this by 'spoofing' the MAC address in the router, making it appear to be the card itself.
Netgear supplies Ethernet routers either as a simple one-up/one-down box, or with either a four- or eight-port switched hub built in. We connected a 10/100Mbit/s switched hub to one port and a simple fast hub to another, with several PCs connected to each. Although the RT314 is only designed to service small networks, and is limited to a maximum of 30 PCs, it handled this configuration comfortably.