What to look for when buying an LTE router

When signing up to an LTE data contract with one of South Africa’s leading mobile networks, if you are not planning on using the SIM card in your smartphone, you will need an LTE router to access your monthly data subscription.

Some packages come with a free router, while others allow you to choose a router for an additional fee.

While it is easy to gloss over the different routers and simply choose the cheapest option, there is value in investigating each of the routers before deciding on which hardware to select.

More expensive LTE routers offer a variety of benefits that could possibly be of value to you, and this could make a more expensive router a logical choice.

MyBroadband spoke to Huawei and ZTE about their different routers to unpack what each router offers to customers.


Huawei

Huawei told MyBroadband that it offers four routers in South Africa – two of which are available from all mainstream mobile networks.

The Huawei B315 is the entry-level LTE router offered by Huawei in the mainstream market and is supported by Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, and Rain.

It offers Cat.4 connectivity and speeds of up to 150Mbps and 50Mbps down and up respectively, but it does not offer carrier aggregation technology or multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology.

The Huawei B618 is the other LTE router that is offered by all five of South Africa’s mainstream LTE providers.

It uses Cat.11 technology and delivers download speeds of 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50Mbps.

It boasts 2CC carrier aggregation technology and 4×4 MIMO, and can support up to 64 users – double that of the B315.

Huawei also offers the B525 and the B612 LTE routers, which are only available from Telkom and MTN respectively. Both of these devices offer Cat.6 technology and speeds of 300Mbps/50Mbps.

Huawei Router

Huawei LTE routers
B315 B525 B612 B618
Speed 150Mbps/50Mbps 300Mbps/50Mbps 300Mbps/50Mbps 600Mbps/50Mbps
Connection 32 users 64 users 32 users 64 users
LTE Category Cat.4 Cat.6 Cat.6 Cat.11
MIMO No No 4×4 4×4

ZTE

ZTE told MyBroadband that it has two LTE router models which are geared towards different types of users – the MF283V and the MF286.

The ZTE MF283V is a router designed for SMEs and households. It sports Cat.4 connectivity and offers up to 150Mbps download speeds.

The MF286 is a premium router, offering Cat.6 and double the download speed. The MF286 also includes a built-in battery, which ZTE said is useful to have during load-shedding.

ZTE MF283V

ZTE LTE routers
MF283V MF286
Speed 150Mbps/50Mbps 300Mbps/50Mbps
Connection 32 connections 64 connections
LTE Category Cat.4 Cat.4
MIMO 2×2 3×3

Making a decision

While the B315 is the most affordable of Huawei’s LTE routers, it has its drawbacks. It only supports half the number of simultaneous users as the B618 and offers a quarter the download speeds.

It also does not include valuable technologies like carrier aggregation and MIMO, which render it inferior when compared to the Huawei B618.

While the B315 will still provide you with a good Internet connection, those who wish to maximise the speed of their connection would be advised to consider purchasing the more expensive Huawei B618.

Likewise, ZTE’s MF283V LTE router is designed for households and small businesses, offering reduced download speeds and supporting fewer simultaneous connections.

It also offers reduced MIMO capabilities when compared to the premium MF286 device – albeit at a more affordable price point.

For most home users, devices like Huawei’s B315 and ZTE’s MF283V will be sufficient, but for those looking for a premium connection, it can be worth spending the extra money for one of the high-end routers.

Now read: Afrihost launches Pure Fibre – No shaping, throttling, or usage limits

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What to look for when buying an LTE router