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A router is a network switching device capable of routing network packets, based on their addresses, to other networks or devices. They are used, among other things, for Internet access, to link networks or connect branches to a central office via VPN (Virtual Private Network). Depending on the type, they communicate using different access protocols, such as Ethernet, ATM or DSL. In the OSI layer model, the switching of data packets through the router is based on the address at the network layer (Layer 3). In addition to routers that use the Internet Protocol (IP), there are multiprotocol routers, which also handle other network protocols.

How does a Router Work?

A router has multiple interfaces and receives data packets through them. It evaluates the network addresses of incoming packets and decides which interface to forward the packet to. It uses its local routing table for decision making. This can configure statically or calculated through dynamic routing protocols like OSPF or BGP.

The Different Types of Routers

Routers are optimized to serve a particular purpose, depending on their application. Backbone routers are high-performance, carrier-grade routers that route and forward packets at fast speeds of several gigabits per second. They house in data centres and can be the size of several 19-inch cabinets.

To interact with other providers’ networks, ISPs can use edge routers or edge routers, primarily using the BGP routing protocol. This routing protocol makes it possible to optimize the exchange of routes. Most of these routers also support traffic prioritization through QoS.

To connect to the Internet, access routers use, which allow devices on a local network to access the Internet via DSL, cable, wireless or ISDN.

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