Author: Chris Bulbulian // Last updated: Feb 24, 2020
What equipment does Ting provide?
Our hardware setup involves two separate pieces of equipment: an indoor fiber modem (technical name Optical Network Terminal or "ONT") paired with an optional AC2200 Gigabit-class wireless router, specifically the ZyXEL EMG3425-Q10A.
The ONT has fiber in, Ethernet out. You will always receive the ONT (borrowed from Ting, at no additional cost) as it is a necessary piece of equipment. The decision of what to attach to the ONT -- our router or your own — is what will be covered here.
This is the Adtran 401. It is the most common ONT we deploy.
It can be wall-mounted, and measures 7cm x 7cm x 2.5cm (2.75" x 2.75" x 1").
The fiber connector is on the top, with power and Ethernet on the bottom.
How it works
Ting doesn't do "all in one gateways", which forces customers to have the modem and router in a single unit. By separating it into two pieces, you borrow our ONT for free and then you've got flexibility for what router you connect to it, as well as where you place it. This way the small ONT can be wall-mounted off in a corner, but the router can be placed elsewhere in the room, or even elsewhere in your home—as long as you run an Ethernet cable between A and B.
Our ZyXEL wireless router is designed for residential use and typically works well in most homes up to about 2500 sq ft, although this is an estimate depending on building materials and router placement.
But you're not required to use our router. We provide a Bring Your Own Router ("BYOR") option to provide you with that flexibility—buy ours, rent ours, or supply your own.
For residential addresses, this gives you the option to deploy more powerful routers with external antennas, high-end mesh kits, or a router you may already own. For commercial addresses, it depends on the size of your business space. You may be better served with a business/enterprise hardware solution such as a firewall or other security-focused device managed by your IT team.
If you select the BYOR option, we will supply you with the ONT and you would run an Ethernet cable from that to your wireless router—a standard Cat5e cable is fine if it will be a short run. If over 25 ft, we'd recommend using Cat6 or better.
If you choose to go down the BYOR path, you should be aware of the limitations that creates for our customer service team. Our support representatives will not have visibility to any routers attached to our ONT, and as such assist with setup or troubleshooting issues related to customer-supplied equipment. We will be able to confirm if the service is working up to the ONT only.
Options for a wireless router with Ting are:
- $199 one-time purchase (plus sales tax)
- $9/month ongoing rental fee (plus sales tax)
- $0 "Bring Your Own Router" option
When should you use your own hardware vs ours
Before you choose to supply your own hardware, it is important that you confirm it is capable of handling the speed you choose. We have a list (found here) of highly rated 3rd party routers that are well-reviewed. Customers have noted they work well with our Gigabit service.
Next up is to check the "specs". At a minimum, the packaging should say either "Gigabit" or "10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet" (or both), if it is capable of handling gigabit speeds. It is best to check for the actual throughput rating of your hardware before finalizing your decision as many devices (particularly business-grade firewalls) with gigabit ports are limited to actual throughput below 1000 Mbps (sometimes as low as 200 Mbps per port). This info should be included in the spec sheet of the hardware. If you no longer have the packaging, you can likely look up your device's specs online and determine if it is gigabit-capable.
If you're using Wi-Fi, it's also a good idea to check what Wi-Fi standards your router supports. 802.11ac will provide you with the best wireless speeds, on compatible devices.
If you're still unsure if the router you have would work well, get in touch.
Coverage Considerations: Wi-Fi vs Wired
Ting's crazy fast fiber will not change the limitations of Wi-Fi. That is, the speed feeding into the ONT may be Gigabit, but the performance you can achieve over wireless is still limited by the Wi-Fi technology's real-world limits, as well as everyday factors like signal interference, distance, and the Wi-Fi chip in each device. If you have a large home or receive a weak signal in certain parts of your property, our router could potentially be insufficient.
To that point: it is become increasingly common to forego a single access point and go with a mesh network, which usually comes with 2 or 3 pieces. In short, these create an internal wireless network across each 'node' which blankets your home with more wireless access points. It's almost like owning 2 or 3 routers, minimizing poor reception pockets in your Wi-Fi coverage. The internet is seamlessly handed off node-to-node as you move around your home. Mesh kits are typically controlled from an iOS or Android app. These have numerous benefits over a more basic solution like a "range extender", in that they have additional network backhaul for faster possible speeds.
That being said, we always recommend connecting your devices via Ethernet if at all possible, as this will almost always give you the fastest possible speeds. Ethernet eliminates virtually all Wi-Fi limitations such as distance, interference, or barriers. It is also generally "plug and play" with zero configuration needed.
For best performance, we only recommend that you deploy our equipment in networks with less than 100 LAN connected hosts, and less than 40 wireless connected devices. If your network exceeds these numbers then it is recommended that you supply your own business / enterprise-grade networking hardware.
If you have a firewall or existing capable router in your network environment or an otherwise complex network architecture, you should consider forgoing the use of our router and connecting that business-grade gear directly to the ONT.
If you have a very large office or many thick walls in your space, then you may want to consider supplementing the hardware with an additional access point solution to ensure proper wired and wireless coverage. Consult your IT team if applicable.
Other things to consider when making the decision
- The speed you are selecting
If you are selecting Ting's slower residential speed, the specifics of the router are less important as almost every router made since 2010 can handle <10 Mbps speeds without issue. They are typically a fraction of the cost, too.
- Your level of technical knowledge
As we will not be able to troubleshoot issues if they relate to your own hardware, you may want to base your decision on your comfort level diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. If you do not feel comfortable modifying settings within the router's configuration menus, consider using our hardware so we can support it more capably.
- The hardware warranty
Most routers come with a manufacturer's 12-month warranty and require you as the end-user to pay to ship the defective unit back if it needs servicing or replacement. Meanwhile, our router comes with an 18-month warranty if purchased (or an ongoing warranty for as long as you are renting it) and if it needs replacement, we can have a technician swing by and assist with this, including setting up the replacement router with your preferred wireless name and password.
- Is your router... actually a router?
A typical router will have 5 Ethernet ports in the back. Four of them are side-by-side usually labeled LAN (to hard-wire local devices, such as computers or printers) and one is separate or maybe color-coded differently, usually labeled either Internet or WAN (meant to be connected to a modem, such as our ONT). If your router has the 4 LAN ports but the other connector is a small phone plug or coaxial cable, then this is not a traditional "router" but instead, a Cable or DSL Gateway likely supplied by your previous internet service provider, and would not work with Ting.
If you look at the ports on the router, you should be able to determine this fairly easily: