High-speed Internet connections, such as cable-modem and DSL lines, are becoming commonplace both at home and in small businesses. Unlike modems, which top out at 56 Kbps, these newer connection options run at multiple megabits per second. That’s far more bandwidth than one user needs on a continuous basis, making such connections perfect for sharing among several users. Vicomsoft’s Internet Gateway 6.5 and Sustainable Softworks’ IPNetRouter 1.4.2 allow sharing with no additional hardware. IPNetRouter does it on the cheap, whereas Internet Gateway offers access controls many small businesses need for managing their networks.
Each product can share dial-up connections (via modem or ISDN) or dedicated connections such as DSL. Both offer network-address translation, dynamic IP-address assignment via DHCP, multihomed Web serving, IP filtering, firewall protection, and dial-on-demand for nondedicated connections. You’ll find both products easy to set up and configure, although Internet Gateway’s comprehensive user manual is vastly superior to IPNetRouter’s primitive read-me files.
Internet Gateway goes far beyond these basic features, but you pay for its capabilities on a per-user basis. Sustainable Softworks charges one low price for an unlimited number of users, but Internet Gateway offers features that work well for medium to large user populations: Web caching, a TCP-server locator, remote administration, and dynamic DNS. Internet Gateway’s access-list feature lets you control who does what on the Internet, and CyberNot filtering prevents surfing to inappropriate sites. Telecommuters can dial in at the same time the gateway is routing traffic to the Internet; this capability lets you act as a private ISP for your employees.
Both products support MacIP-TCP/IP encapsulated in AppleTalk, so that non-Ethernet Macs can share Internet access; and both can operate as an invisible background application. IPNetRouter also passes Microsoft’s Point to Point Tunneling Protocol transparently, making virtual private networking practical; Internet Gateway lacks this feature.
In our tests, both products worked well, once installed and configured. Internet Gateway’s superior documentation eases administration chores, and its user interface is generally easier to understand.