implications of replacing old home broadband with new 4G Mifi

DelftBlue

Member
I've been thinking about changing ISP or to a better deal with current provider, as I'm not within contract any more, and my current broadband seems a bit slow and expensive.
However there are so many options and the market is shifting weekly, with new offers and bundles, that I have not jumped yet - and for all my research, I am no closer to a decision.

Suddenly, a whole new idea has just been thrown into the mix. I have just been offered a 30 day free trial of a 4G mifi modem/wi-fi router device.
From what I can understand, it would supply internet to up to 5 wi-fi devices in a 10m range. I think 4G would be faster than my current 2 to 6MB/s. It would be portable - useful for travelling and holidays (though my phone makes a pretty good 3G wi-fi hotspot and has unlimited mobile broadband so the portable aspect isn't a clincher) If I kept the mifi device after the trial, the monthly cost would be cheaper than my current deal and comparable to other deals. Would avoid the hassle of switching to another broadband ISP (which can result in days/weeks of no internet!)

All fine and good - but I like my current set-up of broadband modem/router, which offers wi-fi connections but also has a printer and 2TB drive connected to it by cable (for wi-fi easy access from all devices) and an Ethernet cable connection to a homeplug system which sends the broadband connection wired to the Humax HDR for iPlayer and all the hummy customised benefits. Also one of the distant homeplugs acts as a wireless access point which helpfully amplifies the signal into an awkward part of the house.

So I'm trying to figure it out, if I used the mifi device as the internet source - can I connect my router to it somehow and thus the homeplugs system and wi-fi signal amplifiers?

Are there any other implications of changing from telephone cable broadband supply to 4G mifi? Security issues?
I would be very grateful for your thoughts, Ye wise hummy Armsters.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
You could, something like the TP-Link 702 (as previously mentioned) would do the job nicely.

I use a 3G/HSDPA MiFi myself on 3, but only for out and about. They wanted to sell me a much bigger data allowance and couldn't understand why I would want to keep a broadband connection - easy: reliability. I enquired whether 3 offered broadband so I could bundle it, but the answer was no.
 

dandnsmith

Forum Supporter
Connection can be just an ethernet cable from your existing router to the mifi.
What is slightly more tricky (possibly) is routing and DHCP (if you use it).
A lot depends on the router capabilities - you can think of it as using the existing router as an Access Point.
 

dandnsmith

Forum Supporter
Interesting - the only MiFi units I've seen so far do have ethernet port(s), but are remarkably small (about the size of an electric portable razor)
 

dandnsmith

Forum Supporter
I have a ZTE MF10 which came from Vodafone Spain - has a removable dongle which can be used separately.
It's a remarkable router package.
 

Brian

Administrator
Staff member
I also have a ZTE MF10 wireless router from Three, you plug your mobile broadband dongle into it, there are two ethernet ports at the back, and it supports up to five WiFi devices.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
The advantage of the MiFi is that it is a mobile (rechargeable) 3G/HSDPA/4G-to-Wifi converter you can take out and about.
 

Brian

Administrator
Staff member
I also have a Huawei E586 MiFi wireless modem. This does not have an ethernet port, so the previously mentioned ZTE MF10 wireless router would be more suitable for the OP, as it has two.
 

dandnsmith

Forum Supporter
Additional thought - when I was looking for Documentation on the ZTE MF10 in English rather than Spanish, I found it was easy enough to buy them from independent sources (eg ebay), and they could be easily unlocked.
 

Brian

Administrator
Staff member
I wasn't aware that they were locked, I purchased mine from a Three store for just under £40, there was no dongle included so I used my existing one.
 

dandnsmith

Forum Supporter
It's not so much that they will be locked - I think it's like routers supplied by ISPs, where some are locked with a special set of firmware installed. The standard, unlocked firmware is readily available, together with instructions.
I don't know if mine is locked - I know it wouldn't work with an O2 dongle, but hadn't the time/effort to determine what the problem was.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I don't see why it should be locked, it is the dongle itself that would be locked (the dongle contains the data SIM). The only issue is whether the router's USB is able to interoperate with the particular dongle.

A MiFi is something different. It contains everything of a mobile phone except the voice path (it will even receive SMS, viewable via a web browser control panel), with the addition of a personal WiFi hot spot. A wired Ethernet port is not something I regard as a "core" competence for a MiFi, although a useful addition it would require a larger overall package and make the MiFi less pocketable. Just like a phone, the MiFi is locked to the network, but the Internet suggests it can be unlocked (like a phone) and I will investigate this if I ever want to move away from 3.

Using a dongle/router combo, one is tied to the home or to taking the dongle with you when out and only being able to use it on a computing device with a USB port and the right drivers to use the dongle. I can see the dongle idea being workable of one only wants to replace home broadband with a 4G contract, but personally I would worry about the reliability of the connection.

For out and about the MiFi is a much better idea: virtually every mobile device can connect to it by WiFi without being reliant on a dongle in a USB port, several devices can be connected at once (sharing one data contract), and if you really want to use it on the home network as well the TP-Link 702 (or something similar) can be used as a bridge.
 

dandnsmith

Forum Supporter
I don't see why it should be locked, it is the dongle itself that would be locked (the dongle contains the data SIM). The only issue is whether the router's USB is able to interoperate with the particular dongle.

That was my own perception - but I did find, on searching, the suggestion that the ZTE MF10 might be locked on occasion. I think I found that my ZTE MF10 thought that it was unable to co-operate with my O2 dongle (alas, I can't recheck this, as I am unable to locate the said dongle). Somewhere in the words, i found a list of 'modems' which the beast could utilise, and that O2 thing wasn't on the list (judging by the model number, it was more recent).

I concur with your situational analysis - as always, it's horses for courses.
The term MiFi seems to be flexible - certainly ZTE MF10 was being classed as a MiFi unit by some.
It reminds me of the occasional confusion as to what a router is and what a modem is - for a while, every reference to router meant modem+router facilities, but at least one site was using modem for that, and router for a modemless beast.
 
OP
DelftBlue

DelftBlue

Member
Hi there - I'm back with an update, after a month of experimentation.

Firstly, thank you to Black Hole, dandnsmith and Brian for your responses to my initial post. Very helpful.
Particular kudos to BH for pointing out the TP-Link 702... I bought one, excellent piece of kit - works well. Liked it so much, I bought a second one :)
(One tip for anyone else buying a TP-Link 702 - I found the online instructions for setting up much clearer than the printed guide from the box (http://uk.tp-link.com/products/details/?categoryid=&model=TL-WR702N#app)

So - my thoughts on using 4G Mifi for home broadband.
I trialled a Huawei E5776 4G Mobile WiFi device at home and away. (http://www.huaweidevice.com/worldwi...nfoId=3515&directoryId=5009&treeId=3619&tab=0)
It worked really well.
Easy to set up.
Connects up to 10 devices.
The 4G connection was faster than my home broadband - 4G download speed-tested 5.49 Mb/s at slowest, to 10.05 Mb/s at fastest, with an average of about 7.5 Mb/s whereas my current broadband averages about 2.5 Mb/s at the moment (this aspect is, of course, entirely dependant on individual location and ISP)
The connection was consistent and reliable - the signal good in all the places I needed it (but obviously responsive to the same weakening and interferences as mobile phones - i.e. poor in basements and inside thick walls.)
The device has a mini-USB port for charging and connecting and a slot for a micro-SD memory card for file sharing. It does not have an ethernet port.
I was able via Wifi and the TP-Link Nano device to connect all the computers, phones, printer and PVRs.
Being pocket-size it was very portable, and easy to go and about with.

I used the device happily for all things ... until I ran out of data allowance - and, for me, this is the show-stopper.

The basic Mifi package offers 1GB per month and this is cheaper than my current broadband deal - but 1GB is not enough for our home usage and I don't want to pay the monthly amount needed to upgrade to a much fatter allowance. I've already got unlimited 3G internet for out and about and would prefer unlimited data for home too. So the Mifi device will be returned and I'll now be shopping around for the best speed/price/data allowance package deal to replace our current broadband.

However for lowish data users 4G MiFi would work OK for home use instead of fixed broadband, and it would also be very useful as an adjunct to home broadband in some circumstances.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I recall some broadband routers also have a 3G (now presumably 4G) capability as a fall-back.
 

Scrat

Definitely contains acorns
The latest Toyota magazine advertises in-car WiFi. It's 3G, you supply your own 3G SIM and contract or PayG. It's available on selected models and, including fitting, it costs...£350!

It must be well fitted!

My feeling is that we will see a whole new breed of car crime, SIM theft. Presumably the thing has to be accessible enough for you to slot the SIM in, so I guess therefore you might want to take the SIM out every time you lock the car. But the thief won't know that. They will detect a WiFi signal as you drive up and park then break into the car when you leave it.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
My car has in-flight WiFi - if I take my MiFi with me. I can even charge it from the cigar socket.
 
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