On paper Smartphone users might think that the purchase of a separate 4G wireless router was a complete waste of time .... because ...
Well your Smartphone can act as an Internet Hotspot. However we have currently been delighted with our ASUS 4G-N12 4G wireless router
What is it
This is a wireless router with 4 Ethernet (WAN/LAN) ports which has an integrated SIM slot into which you put a data enabled mobile phone SIM.
Using that SIM you connect to the Internet.
Optionally you could use a wired Internet connection by connecting one of the 4 Ethernet ports at the back, but that's not the main purpose.
Normally you might connect to the router using a wireless B/G/N network. Since your LTE mobile phone SIM will be less than 100Mbps in speed I think a N class mobile network connection is sufficient.
The cost is about 200 CHF ( about 130 GBP).
4 Ethernet ports, once can be switched to be a WAN port if you use a Wired Internet connection, but then this rather misses the whole point of this 4G router!
Regular SIM slot and it comes with converters for nano and micro SIMs
Really decent display of Mobile phone parameters like IMEI and can select particular Mobile networks to join. Also you may send and recieve SMS, but you can't make or receive a call via dialtones. So it your PAYG (Pay as You Go) mobile SIM needs some #code entry to setup you'll need to put the SIM first into a mobile phone.
Our Polish test of the Orange Poland SIM for example does NOT require this and I think this is a trend for most modern SIM setups. They realise you might be using the SIM in a non phone device.
System Log, because of course it's running UNIX under the covers.
Our previous attempts at testing a mobile only home 4G Internet used a ASUS RT-N56U wireless router. This did work but was fiddly:
- In this scheme you connect a MiFi hotspot to the USB port of the RT-56U router
- You manipulate the ASUS screens to connect to the Internet only thru that MiFi Hotspot
- I documented this here in 2014
Replacing your Wired
You may wish to replace your Wired Internet connection on the grounds of efficiency and cost (i.e. have only a single Mobile Internet subscription).
Secondly in Switzerland you may live in remote Country districts which don't have a fast (say more than copper 20Mb/sec) Internet connection.
In both these cases the ASUS router and a two SIM plan from your mobile operator can help
- We have a 2 SIM unlimited plan
- We use Salt Switzerland
- One SIM is used for Marcus's phone
- The second SIM can be used in the ASUS router, or any other data device like a second Smartphone (no calls just Internet, oh and SMS)
What Does not Work
In Switzerland Marcus and Agata make full use of Salt (formerly Orange) 4G telephony and Internet. It's reasonably priced and unlimited i.e. not capped.
But they use a double NAT scheme which uses both a Internet facing 213.x.y.z address but within the Orange network also a 10.x.y.z address.
In our tests this prevents our Apache Webserver from working.
Therefore, in Switzerland, with Salt 4G and ASUS 4G-N12
- Surfing works fine
- VOIP works fine (I tested our UK VOIP and CH Voip subscriptions without issue)
- UK IP remapping services - fine
- Torrents OK
Speeds really do vary with position
In my tests the position of the router really counts! And it's orientation i.e. I think facing towards a particular cell tower.
It may be helpful to use the Android LTE Discovery application from the Play store to find the exact GPS coordinates of your closest LTE cell tower.
It should be possible to power this from a 12V supply (since it uses a 12V DC adapter) but in Switzerland finding shops that sell such adapter cables or raw components seems impossible. Oh, the benefits of Maplins or other similar UK stores!
We are absolutely delighted with our 4G router. It's already proved really useful in Switzerland and it will be on the take list for any holiday in a home to use with a local data SIM.
ASUS 4G-N12 router official