Basic Facts About the Cisco Router Brand Family

Cisco has moved on from consumer-level routers

Cisco Systems produces a wide range of computer network equipment including network routers for homes and businesses. Cisco routers remain popular and have gained a reputation over many years for quality and high performance.

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Cisco Routers for Home

From 2003 to 2013, Cisco Systems owned the Linksys business and brand name. Linksys wired and wireless router models became an extremely popular choice for home networking during this period. In 2010, Cisco also produced its Valet line of home network routers.

Since Cisco discontinued Valet and Linksys sold to Belkin, Cisco does not directly market any of its newer routers to homeowners. Some of their older products remain available through secondhand auction or resale outlets.

Cisco Routers and the Internet

Service providers predominantly used Cisco's routers to build out the long-distance connections of the early Internet during the 1980s and 1990s. Many corporations have also adopted Cisco routers to support their intranet networks.

Cisco CRS — Carrier Routing System

Core routers like the CRS family function as the heart of a large enterprise network into which other routers and switches can be connected. First introduced in 2004, the CRS-1 offered 40 Gbps connections with aggregate network bandwidth scalable up to 92 terabits per second. The newer CRS-X supports 400 Gbps connections.

Cisco ASR — Aggregation Service Routers

Edge routers like the Cisco ASR series of products directly interface an enterprise network to the Internet or other wide area networks (WANs). ASR 9000 Series routers are for communication carriers and service providers, while businesses can also use the more affordable ASR 1000 Series.

Cisco ISR — Integrated Services Routers

Cisco offers several tiers of ISRs for various sizes of businesses. The model lines are:

  • 800: smaller routers with wireless, voice, and security capabilities
  • 900: entry-level devices for small businesses
  • 1000: routing and wireless for small and medium businesses
  • 1800: up to eight 10/100 Mbps ports
  • 1900: supports up to four routers using 25 Mbps of bandwidth
  • 4000: high-bandwidth — up to 7 Gbps

Other Types of Cisco Routers

Cisco has developed and marketed a wide range of other router products over the years, including:

  • Cisco 1000 and 2000 Series Connected Grid: indoor/outdoor routers, primarily for use with energy substations and power grid utility networks.
  • Cisco 500, 800, and 900 Series Industrial: support the integration of wireless sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices in outdoor and construction environments.
  • Cisco Mobile Wireless Routers: support cellular backhaul network environments.

About Cisco IOS

IOS (Internetwork Operating System) is the low-level network software that runs on Cisco routers (and some other Cisco devices). IOS supports a command-line user interface shell and underlying logic for controlling the router's hardware (including memory and power management, plus control over the Ethernet and other physical connection types). It also enables the many standard network routing protocols Cisco routers support like BGP and EIGRP.

Cisco offers two variations called IOS XE and IOS XR that each run on certain classes of Cisco routers and offer additional capabilities beyond the core functions of IOS.