An embedded LTE modem ensures you stay online 24/7.
Having a backup internet connection used to be something only businesses making heaps of cash could justify. But with the popularity of cheap pre-paid 3G and 4G data plans, having a contingency plan for when your internet goes down at home or small business, is cheaper than ever. Billion’s latest BiPAC 8920NZ VDSL modem router makes implementing a secondary internet connection seamless.
From the outside, the BiPAC 8920NZ looks just like any other Wi-Fi modem router on the market. It supports VDSL, so it’ll work with FTTN/FTTC NBN and has a dedicated Ethernet WAN port, as well as 4-port gigabit Ethernet switch. A USB port on the back allows for an external HDD to be attached to act as network storage.
The core feature of the BiPAC 8920NZ is its tri-WAN configuration. In one box, there’s traditional Ethernet WAN, ADSL/VDSL modem WAN and an integrated 3G/4G modem with dual SIM card slots. When configured correctly, this allows for seamless failover. Just a warning though - just because there’s two SIM slots, doesn’t mean you can use both SIMs simultaneously. It’s there so you can set up failover between SIMs, not for link aggregation.
There’s no need to worry about USB 3G/4G modem compatibility like on other routers that claim have 3G/4G support, as the modem is built directly in to the router itself. No USB dongles required. As soon as the router detects that the primary WAN interface is down, it’ll move all traffic over to the 3G/4G modem and then move back to the primary interface once it starts working again.
The 3G/4G modem in our test unit is the MC7430 from Sierra Wireless, that supports the B1, B3, B5, B7, B8, B18, B19, B21, B28, and B38-B41 LTE bands and the B1, B5, B6, B8, B9, B19 WCDMA/3G bands. Basically, it’ll work on every network in Australia. Sierra claim the MC7430 supports 300 Mbps down and 50 Mbps up, but Billion’s documentation for the BiPAC 8920NZ state a maximum of 100 Mbps for downloads.
In testing, it was rare to achieve more than 60 Mbps on Optus or Telstra, but that’s likely to be the typical randomness of radio frequency communications, rather than a lack of effort from the modem. Compared with a standalone LTE modem, speeds were roughly identical.
Besides the tri-WAN setup, the BiPAC 8920NZ has all the other goodies you’d expect in such a high-end modem router. Detailed QoS options, 16 simultaneous IPSec VPN tunnels (L2TP client and server support), a deep packet inspection firewall and loads of other obscure networking features. For those who need to manage a fleet of these things, protocols like TR-069 and SNMP are supported.
The only sore point with the BiPAC 8920NZ is the lack of 802.11ac Wi-Fi. 802.11n is fine and all, but 802.11ac is standard on all but the cheapest Wi-Fi routers these days. There isn’t even support for 5 GHz 802.11n – something that may be important if you’re in a densely populated area that has poor 2.4 GHz spectrum availability.
Setup is not as friendly as say, Netgear or D-Link’s more consumer facing models, but is on-par with other enterprisey level devices from Cisco and Draytek. Billion’s support is excellent though, with regular firmware updates and a detailed user guide that’s written by someone with a solid knowledge of the English language, unlike some other manufacturers.
Unless you specifically need the 3G/4G modem feature, there’s much cheaper and equally capable VDSL Wi-Fi routers. The fact there’s a cellular modem built-in bumps up the price significantly. USB 4G modems are practically given away by telcos at supermarkets now, so is it worth the hundreds of dollars more for a feature that can be added on to a cheaper router with a $19 dongle?
If having one less thing sticking out of your router and an instant, seamless transition between the fixed and cellular connections is important to you, then the Billion BiPAC 8920NZ won’t disappoint.