An affordable 3G router let down by a lack of polish in the interface, although it does have some interesting and novel features.
3G modem; phone port; wired WAN capability; low cost; multiple SSID capability.
Poor interface; unattractive design; firmware bugs.
3G Wi-fi router, SIM card slot, 3G HSUPA tri-band modem, ReSMA 3G antenna connector, 4 x 10/100Mbps LAN ports (1 can be configured as WAN port); RJ-11 PSTN port, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 150 x 112 x 25mm, 274g
Routers with a built-in 3G modem are fairly thin on the ground, and when you can find one, such as the Billion 7800GZ, they are certainly not cheap.
There are many so-called 'travel routers' or 'Mi-Fi' devices for business users wanting to share a 3G connection over Wi-Fi, the Solwise 3g11nMRW for example, but they rarely have more than a single Ethernet port, and mostly require a USB 3G dongle at extra cost.
Routers with 3G dongle support are commonplace, but again there's always the problem of compatibility and lack of a decent antenna.
Compared to the Billion 7800GZ's price of well over £300, the Solwise NET-3G-434T appears to be a bargain, costing not much over £100 yet featuring a four-port 10/100Mbit/s router, wired WAN capability, 3G SIM slot and an 802.11n Wi-Fi access point.
It also has an analogue phone port that can be used to make voice calls using the cellular network if the SIM provider allows it.
We popped a Three 3G SIM from a USB dongle into the slot on the side, and within a couple of minutes the bright red, blue and purple status lights informed us that the 3G connection was working at HSUPA speeds.
We didn't even have to enter any 3G APN details as, impressively, the auto-APN feature correctly discovered them.
Connecting to our cable broadband modem was just as straightforward. One LAN port by default is designated as a WAN port, although it can be easily reconfigured as a LAN port if needed.
There is a 3G failover feature in the case of wired WAN failure but, despite help from Solwise, we were unable to get it to work correctly.
Solwise assured us that it successfully uses this router in this mode in a production environment, but for now our problem remains unresolved.