Most people carry a 5G router in their pocket. The comparison reveals what it is and when it makes sense to invest in a “real” 5G router.
The 5G network is slowly conquering Germany. It is the hope for all suffering country dwellers to finally be able to enjoy fast Internet. Unfortunately, a look at Telekom’s network coverage reveals that 5G has mainly arrived in urban areas. There are still huge dead spots, especially in the east and in rural regions. So it might be. In theory, 5G offers enormous speed advantages and better latencies compared to the LTE network: The LTE network transfers a maximum of between 300 and 500 megabits per second (MBit/s). In comparison, 5G delivers twice the speed in the first phase with 1 gigabit per second (GBit/s). And that’s not the end of it: in the further expansion phases, up to 20 Gbit/s should be possible.
5G router for home
Unfortunately, all theory is gray in life, because network operators usually throttle the speed of their 5G contracts and set them at around 300 to 500 Mbit/s, which in many places is significantly faster than the copper cables in the ground, which is why 5G is a veritable choice for many people alternative to the DSL connection. Are you looking for a 5G router as the central access point for your home network, make sure it offers Wifi 6 and is mesh-enabled.
Higher data transfer rates are possible via Wifi 6. If you rely on the older radio standard in the lower frequency range, this slows down the speed that is theoretically received via 5G and that is exactly what you want to avoid. Don’t worry: Wifi 6 is backward compatible. So if you have older devices that can’t hook into Wifi 6 yet, that’s not a problem.
A mesh network provides different access points for your devices. This works via mesh repeaters that you place in the different rooms. The special thing about it is that a mesh router automatically detects the best access point for the devices, for example if you walk from the attic to the basement with your smartphone, without having to constantly reconnect to a repeater. Unfortunately, this usually only works with routers and repeaters of the same brand.
Most people already know Fritzboxes from their cable or DSL connection. Of course, the German manufacturer also has a 5G router on offer, namely the AVM FRITZ!Box 6850 5G International. It’s worth it if you use other AVM accessories in your home, because of course this also works with the manufacturer’s mobile router and saves you the annoying reconfiguration of the home network. Nice: The Fritzbox is of course downward compatible. Means that you can also use it to connect to the LTE network if 5G is not yet available where you live. To do this, the AVM FRITZ!Box 6850 5G transmits a maximum of 1.3 Gbit/s via Wifi 6 to smartphones and televisions
The speed is sufficient for the next few years. Also positive: It offers a feature to find the optimal position for the router to the next mobile antenna. Assuming there is an electrical outlet at that location. Unfortunately, the Fritzbox does not have a battery, which is why it is only partially suitable for camping trips. Of course, it is also mesh-enabled. Means that you set up a network with the appropriate mesh repeaters that automatically select the best access point for smartphones, laptops
The ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G is cheaper and significantly slimmer. It’s worth it for people who don’t need a mesh network and are looking for an easy way into the 5G network. The 5G router supports transmission rates of up to 1.7 GBit/s. Unfortunately, ZTE also does without a battery. So you have to find a suitable place close to an outlet when you rely on the ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G. Of course, the 5G router is also backwards compatible and can connect to the LTE network. Nice: The ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G also works with the Wifi 6 standard.
Compared to the Fritzbox, however, it only offers two LAN ports. It’s a shame if you want to connect several computers to the 5G router via cable. Also, you cannot manage house phones with the router. The Fritzbox is required for this. And the ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G has another major shortcoming up its sleeve: for some inexplicable reason, the Telekom firmware is working on it. This can make setting up the router much more difficult, which is why inexperienced buyers should refrain from the ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G. Unless you have a contract with Telekom.
5G router for on the go is in your pocket
Corona caused a real camper boom and now several couples are touring through the republic in converted diesel bombers. That’s only half as much fun without the internet, after all every meal, every “spontaneous” snapshot and every event wants to be shared. Should anyone say that you go on vacation to relax. Most people who love to travel already have the 5G router responsible for this in their pocket. At least if you bought a 5G-enabled smartphone in the last year.
Because the chips that connect the smartphones and routers to the 5G network are usually the same (often the Qualcomm X55). The smartphone mutates into a 5G router via the tethering function. Tethering is the sharing of mobile internet from a smartphone with other devices such as a laptop or television. This works either via a cable connection such as USB. Alternatively, a smartphone can also serve as a WiFi hotspot. At the hotspot, the smartphone creates a WLAN network into which the other devices can connect.
One might think that a mobile 5G router is a waste of money when a 5G-enabled smartphone can perform the same service. The answer to that is unequivocal: yes. Although the smartphone and router are united, for example, in the chips with which they connect to the 5G network, problems can still arise with the smartphone. Let’s take a look at the iPhone 13 as an example. This offers the possibility of connecting the laptop to the Internet via a USB connection while on the go.
Unfortunately, Apple now uses USB 2.0 for the USB Lightning cable. USB 2.0 offers a maximum transmission rate of 480 MBit/s upstream and downstream, i.e. 240 MBit/s in one direction and the other. This results in a maximum transfer rate of 240 Mbit/s, which the smartphone passes on to the computer. It’s stupid when the 5G connection is 1 gigabit fast, for example, because 760 Mbits/s fizzle out in the insufficient data throughput of the USB cable.
With the iPhone 13 it is better to create a WiFi hotspot and connect to the WiFi 6 network with the laptop. Important: You still have to activate the faster Wifi 6 connection on the iPhone. By default, it uses the slower WLAN in the low frequency range. The Google Pixel 4a paints a different picture. Although the mid-range smartphone is compatible with WiFi 6, it cannot create a hotspot with the new and faster WiFi standard itself.
When used as an access point to share the internet with other devices, the zippy 5G speed is drowned out by the slow standard Wi-Fi, which is also annoying. You should find out beforehand whether your smartphone can set up a Wifi 6 network. Finally, a smartphone can only serve as an access point for a limited number of devices. Usually there are four to five, but the manufacturers are silent about the exact number. Annoying if you are traveling in groups. Besides, sharing the mobile internet also eats up a lot of power.
Tip: With this voucher you save at Saturn. Of course, the consumer electronics store also has LTE and 5G routers on offer.
If you want to connect several devices to a 5G router while traveling or even want to set up a small smart home in the camper, it is better not to use a smartphone, but a mobile 5G router. The advantage of them is that they can easily provide internet to multiple devices. The battery should last a day.
If you want to connect up to 16 devices to the 5G router, use the ZyXEL 5G NR. According to the manufacturer, it forwards up to 2.3 GBit/s and of course via Wifi 6. Tethering – i.e. the wired part of the Internet – works via USB-C or Ethernet connection. Unfortunately, the ZyXEL 5G NR only offers one of the sockets at a time. Incidentally, you can use a QR code to connect your devices to the router if you don’t feel like entering the WiFi password manually. The router’s battery has a capacity of 5,300 mAh and, according to the manufacturer, lasts about a day. Nice: The touchscreen on the front shows how many devices are in the network, the signal strength in the 5G network and the battery charge level. And of course the 5G router also connects to the LTE network if there is no 5G antenna in range.
If you’re traveling in large groups and want to connect even more devices to the internet, the Netgear Nighthawk M5 is the right choice for you. Up to 32 devices can be connected to it. According to the manufacturer, its maximum data transfer rate is 1.8 GBit/s and of course via Wifi 6. Unfortunately, there is only one Ethernet connection on the router. It’s a shame if you’re looking for a stable cable connection. According to the manufacturer, the router’s battery lasts up to 13 hours and of course the Nighthawk M5 also has a display that shows you the charge level, reception and data consumption.
Note: This article was first published in June 2022.
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