If you are like me, residing close to the CBD and stuck on an archaic copper connection delivering subpar ADSL2+ speeds, then you will be glad to see D-Link’s latest connectivity product. D-Link have upped the ante with the DWR-921 4G LTE router. On paper, the DWR-921 promises excellent online connections in areas where fixed-line broadband services, like cable or ADSL, fail to deliver.
Capable of theoretical speeds of up to 150 Mbps down and 50 Mbps up, the D-Link DWR-921 was one router we were not going to pass up reviewing.
As far as hardware goes, nothing earth shattering but it is a compact and sleek unit. The rear of the unit caters for 4 x LAN and 1 x WAN 10/100Mbps connections. The push in/out standard sized SIM card slot and dual removable external LTE antennas are also located at the rear of the device. The following bands are supported by this router:
- LTE Bands: 3 / 7 / 8 / 20 (800 / 900 / 1800 / 2600 MHz)
- UMTS / HSDPA / HSUPA Bands: 1 / 8 (900 / 2100 MHz)
Just a note with the SIM card slot, if you are using a sim adapter to make your smaller SIM card fit, make sure it’s a good one as the last thing you want is to eject the adapter and not have the SIM card come out with it.
Configuring the router was made fairly easy with the use of the setup wizard. This included the configuration of the Wi-Fi network which supports the wireless 802.11 b/g/n standards. Once online, the DWR-921 allows you to share and access the 3G or 4G LTE mobile broadband connection. You can also send SMS messages from the web management tool.
In addition, the D-Link DWR-921 uses dual-active firewalls (NAT/SPI) to control traffic and prevent exploits and intrusions and WPA/WPA2 wireless encryption maintains the security and safety of wireless networks.
I was hoping to test this unit with a Vivid Wireless and Telstra 4G/LTE service. Unfortunately, despite the Optus network being found using the Vivid SIM card, I discovered that the SIM card is locked to the device it came with so wouldn’t work with the DWR-921. Fortunately, I also had the Telstra SIM card.
A couple of issues I ran into with the Telstra service:
- the APN didn’t auto configure correctly
- the router kept dropping back to 3G
If you aren’t within the range of a 4G LTE connection, the router will fall back to the closest 3G connection available on its own. After correcting the APN and forcing it to connect at 4G I was in business.
Firstly, the test was performed in an area of low reception, around 28% signal strength. The router dropping back to 3G before I forced the 4G connection makes sense when you look at how low the signal is. Even with the low signal, the speed was faster than my 3-4Mbps ADSL2+ fixed line connection.
Lastly, the test was performed in a different location of the same building. I went up a floor and placed the router near a window. The reception went up to 48%, still not great but the best I can do in our Telstra coverage area. The speed was considerably better and almost 6 – 7 times faster than my ADSL2+ connection.
However, a number of factors can contribute to slower mobile speeds. In my case, I topped out at 23Mbps because of my mobile coverage and cell tower congestion given the time I ran the tests. But the potential is there and if you have great coverage, the performance would be closer to the theoretical maximums.
In summary, we found the D-Link DWR-921 4G LTE router to be a great alternative for those in a 4G LTE coverage area that lack any form of decent fixed line broadband. Capable of up to 150 Mbps download speeds, it’s ideal for the home or those needing a portable hotspot connection such as construction sites or at conventions.
The installation process was easy as well. All you need to do is insert a SIM card and share the mobile internet connection via Ethernet or secure wireless. For those seeking a mobile broadband router to satisfy their current need for speed until the NBN arrives, add this to your list of routers to consider.