All home broadband networks need a router and an IP address to allow you to connect to the internet. If you're setting up or changing a broadband connection, you may have questions around what a router or IP address does within your network. You can find out more information below on the different parts of your router and where to find your IP address.

Diagram showing radio waves linking a router, laptop and mobile to form a wireless network

What is a wireless router used for?

A wireless router sends internet data to any device that is connected online, such as your laptop, phone or tablet. When you use your DSL cable to connect your wireless router to your phone router, the data then is sent through the router to your device. It works as a wireless access point, which means data is sent through radio signals. You don't have to connect your device to the router by cable in order to use the internet.

Diagram of ports on the back of an SSE router: (left to right) a grey port to connect to a phone socket, four yellow Ethernet ports and a black power port

Router ports

SSE's routers come with several ports at the back. The black port is the power port. which you use to plug in your router. The grey port lets you connect your Broadband DSL cable to your master phone socket through the wall.

There are also four yellow Ethernet ports which can be used to connect your devices directly to your internet router. These can include laptops, Smart TVs and gaming consoles. You may want to connect directly to get a faster connection, or if any of your devices aren't wi-fi enabled.

Gateways

A gateway is the point in a computer network which allows data to be sent back and forth through the internet. Your gateway at home is the router that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) provides so you can connect to their network.

Wireless routers can be gateways because they can control the path through which information is sent in and out. It does this by converting your internet data and figuring out where it needs to be sent. A gateway is one of the many ways you can connect to the internet. The gateway gives entry into different networks so you can send email, look at web pages, buy things online, and more.

What is a router's IP address?

Your IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique string of numbers separated by full stops that lets your devices connect with your wireless network. IP addresses allow all digital devices that are connected to the internet to be differentiated from other devices.

Your number is assigned by your ISP. Your IP address can be found in the files on your computer. The exact location will be different, depending on the type of computer you have.

Find your router's IP address in Windows

The fastest way to find your IP address is by using the ipconfig command. You can do this by following the steps below:

  1. Click the Start Menu, and select Run.
  2. Type “cmd” into the box and click the "OK'' button. A new prompt window will open up.
  3. Type “ipconfig” into the window and you'll be able to see your IP address. It'll be in the section marked either “Wireless LAN adapter” or “Local Area Connection”.

Find your router's IP address in Mac OS X

Finding your router on Mac is similar to Windows:

  1. Open your Applications folder.
  2. Select Utilities.
  3. Open the Terminal application.
  4. Type “ifconfig” into the window that appears. The IP address will be at the start of the inet field.

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