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New Modem/Router choice advice please

Dhansak
Grafter
Posts: 26
Thanks: 7
Registered: ‎16-02-2011

New Modem/Router choice advice please

Hi All

After a weird overnight power issue blew away our switch (that I then replaced with a spare I kept in the "emergency cupboard") I realised, that for the first time ever, I had not got round to getting a spare modem router (always had a spare in our ADSL days - but not since upgrading to fibre). If our modem/router had blown up too it would have had bad consequences in the lockdown work-from-home situation we are in.

So it's time to get a spare - though the new one would be the one in use, with our current one put in the cupboard as a "known working good" piece of kit.

Have googled this for awhile and I think there are 3 options that seem ok:

Billion 8800NL R2
BT Business Smart Hub 6
Plusnet & BT Smart Hub (Home Hub 6)

 

I did also look at Nighthawk, Tp-Link and Asus stuff but a lot of people seemed to have problems with them, so rightly or wrongly they are not on the shortlist.....

I would appreciate your feedback on those on the list re reliabilty etc.- or are there options I really should consider that I've missed? 

For context - am currently happy with our PN Hub One - though would like stronger WI-Fi signal (not a showstopper though)

Replacement would ideally:

allow me to set DNS server 

allow me to choose wifi channel freely

have better wifi strength

cost - no more than about  £100

 

I guess that the wifi channel selection is most impactful - we are surrounded by channels 1,6 and 11 so I only get good wifi performance when I select channel 10. Or would a stronger wifi signal mitigate the effect of being on the same channel(s) as all my neighbours?

Thanks for your help!

7 REPLIES 7
Dhansak
Grafter
Posts: 26
Thanks: 7
Registered: ‎16-02-2011

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

Minor update - the shortlist has shrunk to just the Business BT Hub or the Billion.

I am currently reading through Baldrick1's excellent thread on the BT device. Haven't got through all 38 pages yet but it certainly fits the bill re DNS options. Not sure about wifi channel choice - will continue reading.

All input appreciated Smiley

Protech
Rising Star
Posts: 69
Thanks: 32
Fixes: 3
Registered: ‎26-09-2017

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

The alternative router of choice on here seems to be the BT Business Smart Hub 6.
Works well with Plusnet both on ADSL & VDSL and gets firmware updates automatically.
You can check out but you can never leave ( easily)
Baldrick1
Seasoned Hero
Posts: 6,717
Thanks: 3,013
Fixes: 200
Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

@Dhansak 

I recommend a Business Smarthub 6 as they are cheap from auction sites and work.

There are some restrictions on the choice of WiFi channels. These are limited to channels 1, 6 and 11 at 2.4GHz and 36, 40, 44 and 48 at 5GHz.

Dhansak
Grafter
Posts: 26
Thanks: 7
Registered: ‎16-02-2011

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

Thank you both for your assistance!

 

The Business Smarthub looks favourite a the moment - my only stumbling block is the absence of choice for wifi channels other than 1/6/11 on 2.4GHz.

It may be that this does not matter if the wifi is strong enough - it's just that the current PN Hub One is fine up until the evening, when the street starts using their connections - I had trouble for ages (buffering etc). Then I remembered I had wifi analyser installed on my phone - checked and found that 1,6 and 11 were defaults for everyone around me. My wifi issues disappeared when I chose channel 10.

I honestly don't know if this actually a non-issue i.e. the real problem is a weak signal from the PN router?

Also I checked out the Billion website - the manual showed that the config options I was after were available. However the links to support pages on their uk website fail to find a target .... hmm ... not inspiring lol.

Off to check an auction site for the BT box now - there is one seller who offers on refurbished kit with a one year warranty that looks promising. Looked in a bit of a rush earlier - will have another look at a more sensible, considered pace!

Thanks again for your help - will keep you posted. BTW any comments re wifi strength vs channel contention would be welcome! Cheers for now Smiley

 

Baldrick1
Seasoned Hero
Posts: 6,717
Thanks: 3,013
Fixes: 200
Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

@Dhansak 

Unfortunately wireless bands don't just keep to the designated channel bandwidth but spread out over the adjacent bands, be at a lower level. Hence the practice of separating the channels in use. The Smarthub 6 has better WiFi performance especially at 5GHz band so you might well find that you can live happily without using the 2.4GHz one.

The other thing that I have found is that if you have a sniffer app you need to check the wireless signal at your hub location but also where your wireless devices are located. For example I pick up different transmissions at the front and rear of my property.

At the end of the day with all the wireless devices around I'm a firm believer in using Ethernet cable for fixed devices like TVs and desktop computers. It's a bit of a pain to install but it is guaranteed to reliably give you the best possible connection speeds.

I can only assumed that Smarthub 'refurbishers' simply wipe over the case and do a factory reset. To be honest I would just look at the price and if you are unlucky and have a failure within 12 months then just shrug you shoulders and move on, get another. I assume that this is all that these 'refurbisher' do.

Dhansak
Grafter
Posts: 26
Thanks: 7
Registered: ‎16-02-2011

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

Hi Baldrick1

Thanks for the wifi info - much appreciated.

 

Like you we have most of our devices cabled up - lawdy my wife does love those cables everywhere Smiley

Our main problem is streaming to android tablets upstairs. We have a modern house i.e. 1980s build with plasterboard walls everywhere but we have streaming issues at night as mentioned. My tablet is only a few years old but doesn't know about 5GHz!

 

Have checked out ebay - found a "New" Business Hub for £60 and other used ones from sellers with less rep for about £40 all in. Will do a bit more rummaging but I think we are nearly there!

 

 

Dhansak
Grafter
Posts: 26
Thanks: 7
Registered: ‎16-02-2011

Re: New Modem/Router choice advice please

Just a quick update - got a new BT Business Hub installed over the weekend. All good and straightforward thanks to Baldrick1's great instructions.

 

Thanks for all your help Smiley