Tuesday, 7 November 2017

4G routers

I've previously written about our adventures with 3g routers, first to provide backup for our (then) flaky home ADSL connection, and also to provide us with a portable network solution when we go bush.

Well, the need for a backup connection for our home network link is long gone, but we still use our little portable 3g network box quite extensively when we go travelling in Australia.

While some country motels offer decent quality wifi some don't, or if they do still charge silly money, and quite a few holiday cottages, unlike in Europe, come without a wifi connection.

Latterly, we've been buying 10GB of data with 365days expiry as the best offer around.

When we're away we average around 300MB a day, but we perhaps use this for 10 or 15 days year, ie while we've 10GB to play with we roughly use half.

As our use of the service is bursty, ie we might use it for three or four days in a row and then not at all for a month or so, having a long 'use it or lose it' period allowed us plenty of headroom without excess data charges.

Well, long story short, I went to renew our data service for the 3G unit, and, well, our provider no longer offered year long data packs, it was all by the month (actually 28 days to be exact) and the cheapest offer was for 1.5GB/28days for $15, ie a 5 day trip away with our average usage would just fit inside our allowance (excess data charges are still a thing), and yet we'd be paying twice as much as before for dead data.

So, first thought was to change providers. Unfortunately no one really does this any more - no one offers a long expiry prepaid broadband service, or if they do, it's not long for this world, and no one offers anything reasonable say 2.5GB/28days at an economic price.

Now just by chance, we'd just changed our phones from Virgin to Telstra, and Telstra had not only given us a silly monthly data allowance (15GB each) they'd put us in a family pool so we were sharing 30GB.

This meant that the cheapest option was to buy the cheapest data service (1GB/month) that Telstra allows you to add to a family pool, and that way we would end up with more than enough headroom.

Which is what we did.

Now as our portable 3G box is unlocked I could have simply replaced the SIM and left it at that, but given that 4G is widely available I decided to get us a 4G router so we could have faster network speeds where possible (Telstra really does have the fastest and most pervasive rural network).

Simplest solution was to go hunting on ebay and buy an unlocked Telstra MF910V 4G router made by ZTE - this being the previous model of the unit Telstra now sell.

I went for the older unit as it was a bit cheaper, and having an unlocked unit means we can always put a different SIM in it, like if we were overseas. Being about the size and weight of an iPhone 4 the unit's highly portable, and with an internal battery it can be used (for a limited time at least) somewhere without power - camping, or on the wifi-less V/line train from Wangaratta to the city.

I did some rough tests yesterday when the unit arrived and performance looks good - how well it performs in remote areas will have to wait until our next trip away ...

No comments: