3G router for fixed internet access

30 Aug 2010
Posted by Laptop Junction

Internet access over 3G cellular networks has exploded over the past 3 years. 3G technology made high speed internet access affordable for those on the move or living in rural locations. When 3G cellular internet access is there, sharing the internet connections indoors is the next step. Here's an impression of professional 3G routers.

Sharing 3G internet access with many

It began with the Mifi – sharing a 3G connection over WIFI. The Mifi is a small and portable box for those on the move allowing several to connect to 3G internet with laptops, notebooks, netbooks, smartphone, iphone or iPad.

Next came tethering, sharing a 3G connection (over WIFI) using a smartphone which has become quite popular in a very short time. Great solutions for casual, temporary connections in locations with a strong 3G signal, such as in a campervan, motorhome, RV or boat.

But what if the 3G signal is already weak or it’s the only affordable solution for home / office based internet access in rural regions? Hanging your Mifi in a tree or strapping your smartphone on a high pole to get a stronger signal works for a few happy hours and that’s it.

The need for a router with internal 3G modem, external antenna and the option for external (renewable) power from a battery is there. An impression of 3G router components:

3G router with external antenna and internal simcard
3G router with external antenna, internal simcard and battery connection - sharing internet over WIFI or LAN

Solutions are already there on the professional market, since 2009.

Professional fixed 3G internet access

It’s an emerging market with considerable potential – the 3G router with external antenna prepared for alternative / renewable power sources in rural indoor locations. Simply a normal network router distributing a 3G signal over WIFI or LAN.

Routers with the option for 3G and 4G access through external USB modems already exist on the market for some time now. These solutions assume a strong 3G / 4 G indoor signal  - usually this is not the case. 3G / 4G signal do not travel well indoors and specially not when the signal is already weak.

A few solutions on the market today:

GlobeSurfer 3G router with external antenna and internal simcard
Backside of the GlobeSurfer 3 router with external antenna
GlobeSurfer 3G router with external antenna and internal simcard - by Option.

The GlobeSurfer 3 by Option is based on the Qualcomm 7225 chipset. It supports 3G - UMTS - HSDPA / HSUPA on radio frequencies in the US (AWS spectrum / band IV) as well as Europe.

The display is a great feature providing easy and instant network feedback and control without having to logon through the internal network. Also an external handset connected for making phone calls. On top of that a 12 / 24 volt car adapter for those in motorhomes, campervans, RV's or boats.

Ericsson W21 3G router with external antenna
Backside of the Ericsson W21 3G router with external antenna
3G router with external antenna and internal simcard - the Ericsson W21

The Ericsson W21 is a normal router with 3G UMTS - HSPA modem distributing internet connectivity over WIFI / WLAN and LAN. This is a data only router - no handset can be connected. A nice optional feature is an internal rechargeable battery with a talk time of 3 hours when AC mains is not available.

The Ericsson W21 takes DC input power in the range of 10 up to 28 volts. This makes a direct connection to a car, truck, rv or boat battery possible.

Other 3G routers are also available, though either there is no external antenna jack or miss out on router functionality such as a simple LAN jack. Next to this a 12 Volt DC external power input for permanent (renewable) power and a internal battery in case power is discontinued.

Read about: Hands-on experience with the Option GlobeSurfer III

Weak 3G signal 

In the 3G signal is very weak have a look at professional solutions to get connected to cellular networks over large distances.

Other 3G routers with WIFI:


Have a look at the brochures:

GlobeSurfer 3 by Option.
Ericsson W21 by PowerTec