Why do I need a 3G WiFi router?
For a while I have been thinking of getting a 3G WiFi router to share my broadband connection wirelessly at my home. One of the main reasons is that my kids are always around my laptop and they tend to involuntarily (or not) knock the 3G dongle connected to my laptop. It has already taken a beating and has some battle scars on it, both structural and aesthetic. Hence dongle preservation was a major reason.
I also wanted to checkout my Western Digital TV Live HD player’s ability to play streaming video from the net. There are two ways of providing internet connection to the player, one using the Ethernet port at the back or the costlier approach of using a wireless USB adapter which does not come with the player.
Another reason to get a 3G WiFi router was to share my broadband with any other WiFi device that I may purchase in the future (did I hear Samsung Galaxy Tab)?
After scanning the market a bit I purchased a PROLiNK 3G Wireless router to share my broadband internet access using my 3G/HSPA dongle from Mobitel. The product priced at LKR 7290 is a tad higher than similar 3G Routers from other manufacturers such as ASUS, NetGear, DLink, TP-Link etc. In fact even LKR 7290 was a special discount since I bought it from the SALA enterprises stall at the Inco 2011 exhibition at BMICH. SALA seems to be the main (authorized?) dealers of PROLiNK products and provided a (standard) 1 year guarantee for my router.
The design and build quality of the router looks far better than others in the same category. It has a nice curved glossy body design with a USB port on the side for the 3G modem/dongle. Although its marketed as a 3G router it can also be used with a ADSL modem by connecting it to the blue WAN port at the back. Of course the router can only use either 3G modem or ASDL modem at a time. The box also mentions that the router is 4G /LTE ready.
Configuration: Ubuntu to the rescue (as usual)
I had problems configuring it since the manual says that to initially configure the router you should have a wired connection to it. Although the package contains a network cable, my laptop’s LAN port was not working (I had never tried it before this anyway)
So I tried to experiment and configure the router by connecting to it wirelessly. In order to configure the router you basically have to open a browser and connect to http://192.168.123.254 and follow the Setup wizard. I tried this in Windows Vista and probably did the mistake of setting up security at the first go. After setting it up the router tries to restart and after that it didn’t seem to work. After trying out many different things (restarting Windows, restarting the router, resetting etc) I gave up and tried to configure it on Ubuntu, again wirelessly.
The reset button at the back of the router is pretty handy to get back the factory settings after my Windows mishap. Not surprisingly the WiFi router configuration on Ubuntu went like a breeze. I also didn’t make the mistake of configuring security on the first go, I first tried to setup an unsecured network to see if my internet connection was working. It worked! then I went ahead and secured it using a password. And it worked again, I was disconnected from my previous unsecured connection then I used Ubuntu to reconnect by providing the the password.
I also connected the router (it has 4 LAN ports for wired connections) to my WD Live player using the Ethernet cable to tryout streaming video from the internet on my LCD. But was not happy since the streaming was very splotchy, well I guess Mobitel is to be blamed for that.