Expert Insights: The Viability of Switches in Single-ISP Wired Home Networks


“As an expert, I seek your advice on networking hardware. I’m in the process of integrating a second Internet Service Provider into my home network. Given that all devices connected to this new ISP will be wired directly, I’m contemplating the feasibility of substituting a network switch for the standard router provided by the ISP. Is this a viable setup, or is it necessary to employ the router and simply deactivate its Wi-Fi functionality? Your guidance on this matter would be highly valued.”


When it comes to home networking, understanding the roles of different devices is crucial for creating an efficient and effective setup. The question at hand involves the possibility of using a network switch in place of a router provided by an ISP, particularly in a scenario where all devices will be hardwired and Wi-Fi is not required.

A router is a device that connects multiple networks together; in the context of home internet, it typically connects your home network to your ISP’s network. It assigns local IP addresses to your devices and manages traffic between them and the internet. Most importantly, it provides Network Address Translation (NAT), which allows multiple devices to share a single public IP address assigned by your ISP.

The Role of a Switch:

A switch, on the other hand, operates within a single network. It connects various devices together, allowing them to communicate with each other. Unlike a router, a switch does not assign IP addresses and does not have the capability to perform NAT.

Can a Switch Replace a Router?

In the scenario where all devices are hardwired, a switch can be used to connect them. However, without a router, you would lack the ability to perform NAT. This means each device would require a unique public IP address from your ISP, which is typically not feasible for residential customers due to the limited availability of IPv4 addresses and potential extra costs associated with multiple IPv6 addresses.

Moreover, a router provides essential security features like a firewall, which protects your devices from unwanted internet traffic. A switch lacks these security features.

The Verdict:

While it might seem tempting to use a switch for simplicity, it is not a viable substitute for a router in most cases. You would still need to use the router to connect to your ISP, perform NAT, and provide security for your network. If Wi-Fi is not needed, you can simply disable it in the router’s settings.

In conclusion, for a home network with a second ISP, it is advisable to use the ISP-provided router, even if all devices are hardwired. The router will manage your internet connection, provide security, and allow for proper network management. Disabling Wi-Fi is a straightforward process and does not negate the other essential functions that the router performs.

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