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Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Fri 15-Jan-21 10:25:12
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4G router as wired router replacement


[link to this post]
 
Firstly, I'm close to being a networking illiterate so some of my questions will strike some as naive...

I'm moving house to a location where the best fixed line broadband is 1-3Mbps. I've checked speeds of 3 mobile providers in the area and Vodafone has decent 4G speeds. I'm never likely to have 5G in this location so my search has resolved itself down to the Vodafone 4G Gigacube on a contract or as a Huawei B528 eBay purchase into which I'll put a Vodafone SIM card. However, I'm concerned about the device's networking capabilities. It will be replacing a BT Smart Hub to which I currently connect two NAS drives. Just looking at the back of the two devices (Gigacube vs Smart Hub 6) one looks like a proper router and the other looks like a 'lifestyle' product.

Does the 528/Gigacube do all (or most important) of the router-y things that the Smart Hub does?

1. Can I simply connect two NAS drives and a PC to the Gigacube via a gigabit switch and the Gigacube will give me an instant home network the way the Smart Hub does? There's precious little information available online about what router capabilities the 528/Gigacube has. I found one German comparison site which makes it look very basic. In comparing the 528 networking capabilities to the 525 it says the 528 has 'IPv4 /IPv6 dual stack' alone whereas the 525 has 'NAT, DHCP, VPN, SMS, VoIP, CS Voice, Firewall, DMZ, UPnP, ALG, IPv4 /IPv6 dual stack'. This makes it sound like the 528/Gigacube is little more than a more powerful dongle.

2. Would I be better not taking a Vodafone contract and looking at other devices which are better at networking and then just installing a Vodafone SIM card? The other devices that I'm thinking of are Huawei B535 (the one Three offers but I can't use the Three network), TP-Link Archer MR600 and maybe most interesting of all Mikrotik Chateau LTE12?

3. Would I be better off just using the 528/Gigacube as an internet source and connect it to a proper router to handle networking?

Any advice welcomed.
Standard User Anonymous1337
(newbie) Fri 15-Jan-21 17:40:35
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: butidontcare] [link to this post]
 
My 2c - Getting a Gigacube seems like a waste of money if you're never going to have 5G. Might as well get the best value 4G router with an ethernet jack.

1. Yes
2. Comes down to cost. Add up the total cost of a 24 months contract vs. 30 pound a month on say VOXI (Vodafone) for unlimited data
3. If you're going down the contract route, might as well get a Gigacube, if not, get a 525/535 huawei device. Again, do the math as to the overall cost.

Edited by Anonymous1337 (Fri 15-Jan-21 17:42:03)

Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Fri 15-Jan-21 18:39:10
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Anonymous1337] [link to this post]
 
Thanks.

It was the 4G Gigacube I was thinking of... although I now see that oddly they offer the 5G one for about the same price as the 4G version so I might just get the 5G one.

I particularly liked your answer to question 1. We networking novices love answers like 'yes' and 'no'.


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Standard User Isaacie
(newbie) Fri 15-Jan-21 22:41:20
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: butidontcare] [link to this post]
 
I have just done the same as a possible replacement for my terrible virgin connection

Only 2 companies offer "mobile broadband" Three and Vodafone. The Vodafone one has speed restrictions on it unless you buy the 5g option so went for a 1 month Three sim.
I also got a TP link MR6400. Its a pretty basic spec but good enough with 4 lan ports and all the usual router options.
Standard User DanielCoffey67
(member) Sat 16-Jan-21 07:15:30
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: butidontcare] [link to this post]
 
Can you get an EE signal in your area? EE do a £25pm 12 month Unlimited 4G only SIM and they usually have good speeds available if you can get a signal.

The B525 will allow an external antenna which may help your reception and speeds. I got 15-20Mbps from my B525 indoors, 20-35 from an Omni antenna outdoors and now get 40-70 from a directional Poynting. The trick with an external antenna is to keep the distance between the antenna and modem as short as possible as the signal is still analogue at that point.

If you would like a recommendation for a directional antenna, the Poynting XPOL2-5G-V3 with 5m SMA leads is the one I would suggest. I know you said you didn't get 5G (and a lot of rural folks won't) but the 5G antenna from Poynting is new tech inside and receives 4G better than the old V2 version did.
Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Sat 16-Jan-21 08:23:14
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: DanielCoffey67] [link to this post]
 
Thanks. Good suggestion. EE reception is probably as good as Vodafone's. Their tower is shown as being in the same location a Vodafone's and their coverage map claims good 4G coverage. I just haven't tested it. Between my wife and I we have Vodafone, Three and O2 phones but no EE.

Something to think about. I may still go for the Vodafone device. I'm fully expecting whatever solution I choose to not always work as well as it should and I'd rather have a call with a support team that owns every link in the chain.
Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Sat 16-Jan-21 08:27:25
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Isaacie] [link to this post]
 
Thanks. I see that Vodafone applies data volume restrictions to the 4G Gigacube whereas the 5G has an unlimited contract. Whatever I choose in the end it will have to be unlimited as I have a large and continually growing collection of media files and I use Backblaze as backup.
Standard User Anonymous1337
(newbie) Sat 16-Jan-21 09:04:49
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: butidontcare] [link to this post]
 
Go buy a 10 quid EE prepaid sim and do a speed test at 12PM.

If it's good, then get that deal DanielCoffey67 was speaking about.
Standard User rian
(member) Sat 16-Jan-21 09:11:58
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: butidontcare] [link to this post]
 
I was doing the same test for the past one year.

Huawei B535 +Vodafone unlimited 4G sim.

My experience is:

1. Speed is good in my location (30-50Mbps).

2. If you have any game console (XBOX, PS5, etc) or VPN or DDNS services, better consider Three mobile sim. All other networks are running on Strict NAT protocal, which means many services will be restricted.
Standard User Pheasant
(committed) Sat 16-Jan-21 10:57:49
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Anonymous1337] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Anonymous1337:
Go buy a 10 quid EE prepaid sim and do a speed test at 12PM.

If it's good, then get that deal DanielCoffey67 was speaking about.

Would he only propose to use the internet once a day at 12pm wink

My Broadband Speed Test
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sat 16-Jan-21 11:23:56
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Isaacie] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Isaacie:
Only 2 companies offer "mobile broadband" Three and Vodafone.
Not sure you're reading into this what you think. They all sell data services, in fact EE has a service for rural areas where they will install an external antenna.

21 years of broadband connectivity since 1999 trial - Live BQM
Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Sat 16-Jan-21 11:24:05
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Anonymous1337] [link to this post]
 
Unless I'm mistaken that deal is now gone. The unlimited data deal is now £37. I can't find a 4G-only deal.
Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Sat 16-Jan-21 11:25:50
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: rian] [link to this post]
 
Unfortunately Three is the one network that doesn't work in my location. The other three carriers at least offer 4G but poor old Three only has 3G.
Standard User FarmerStuart
(newbie) Sat 16-Jan-21 13:40:52
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: butidontcare] [link to this post]
 
I'm using a Vodafone Unlimited Max SIM in a Mikrotik SXT LTE6 but was using it in a TP link MR200 before that.
If you've already got a Vodafone contract already they'll knock £3 a month off and if you talk to the right people they will discount too (like all the providers I assume). I doubt I'm that special to them and they still knocked almost a third off so worth a phonecall.

Hardware wise the MR200 worked ok and proved the idea but if I was buying again I'd get one further up the model range. I ended up with it because I could bring it home from town that day and it solved the immediate problem but I was never 100% happy with it. Whichever router you get assume that the best 4G signal and best place for router location for WiFi are 2 very different places!
Can’t comment directly on the Chateau but my SXT has been very reliable even after I got round to mounting it outside. There is a bit more of a learning curve with the Mikrotik devices but they seem well regarded as routers and are powerful and flexible at the expense of the type of out of the box ease of setup you get with something like the TP Link.

Option 3 is basically what I did but in your case you wouldn’t need a second router just a switch. Stick the 4G router wherever the signal is best and then run a cable to where your NAS drives live. Connect it all together with a switch and fit WiFi of your choice to cover the whole house. As you’ve described yourself as “a network illiterate” I’d steer you away from this option and towards a drop in solution like the MR600.
Standard User richi
(member) Mon 18-Jan-21 13:50:30
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Anonymous1337] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Anonymous1337:
Go buy a 10 quid EE prepaid sim and do a speed test at 12PM.
I reckon doing it at midnight would be a better plan.

70/30 Three unlimited SIMO, replacing 3 km ADSL line.
Previously: BT ISDN, Nildram, Plusnet, 186k, EFH, Be*, Plusnet (again), Pulse8, Sky, Plusnet Business, TalkTalk Retail.
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Mon 18-Jan-21 14:21:08
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: richi] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by richi:
I reckon doing it at midnight would be a better plan.
Fastest speeds here are around 2am.

21 years of broadband connectivity since 1999 trial - Live BQM
Standard User butidontcare
(newbie) Mon 18-Jan-21 16:48:58
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: FarmerStuart] [link to this post]
 
Thanks. Very useful comments.
Standard User Anonymous1337
(newbie) Mon 18-Jan-21 18:15:42
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: richi] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by richi:
In reply to a post by Anonymous1337:
Go buy a 10 quid EE prepaid sim and do a speed test at 12PM.
I reckon doing it at midnight would be a better plan.


True. But it's best to gauge performance at peak usage times like 12PM, 6PM and 8PM etc.
Standard User planetf1
(experienced) Mon 25-Jan-21 15:37:55
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Re: 4G router as wired router replacement


[re: Anonymous1337] [link to this post]
 
On the BB speeds in particular - it really is SO location dependent.

We've been moving house over the last year, via a temporary flat, so ...

I tried out the B535 on Three (1 month contract) in two locations. It was mediocre speed (up to 30Mbps / 8 Mbps ish) but crucially was unreliable. stalled connections ie pages not loading. ethernet and wifi. I eventually canceled but didn't raise any issues about box (I'd paid upfront) and kept it

I switched to vodafone and found we got typically 140-150 Mbps, which rarely dropped below 120 Mbps,. and peaked as high as 250 Mbps. Upstream was in the 30-50 Mbps range. Pings about 32ms. Excellent. Same router. We switched to a voxi unlimited sim. Exactly the same.

I then moved location and speeds were erratic. Sometimes 5, sometimes 50. I twigger it was Band 20 kicking in slow so used a tool to disable B20. I managed to get an ok connection, often around 20, but it would still dip below 20, and peak up to 70. Local load and perhaps still flipping bands. The signal levels were weak and there was plenty of CA going on.

Not good enough for work, video calls/voice, but fortunately this was our final stop - new home, so back to fibre broadband...

There's 5G coming on a local antenna so I'm intrigued to see how that may perform in future - but local topology (flat but too many buildings) may mean signal not great either..

So I guess the point is be prepared to try it out. Ensure you take advantage of any trial period/cancelation option.
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