Category Archives: networking

Impact on Smartphone Data Usage of Getting a WiFi Router that Works

I upgraded to a Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (WNDR4500) on 11/23/2011 because my (not that) old WNR3500 simply couldn’t maintain connections on mobile clients and Apple products.  The effect on my 3G data usage via my Sprint phone was dramatic:

 

I did try two other routers first:

Back in May I had tried an ASUS Black Diamond Dual-Band Wireless-N 600 Router (RT-N56U) briefly, but it ran super-hot and the settings required to make it compatible with the IPSEC VPNs I use resulted in noticeably slow throughput over the WAN port.  That went back within the 30-day return window.

With the holidays on the horizon, and the attendant flood of Apple devices that inevitably brings, in early November I became desperate enough to try the ZyXEL ZyWALL USG20W 802.11n Wireless Internet Security Firewall with 4 Gigabit LAN/DMZ Ports, 2 IPSec VPN, SSL VPN , and 3G WAN Support.  That required me to re-develop a level of expertise in TCP/IP networking that I hadn’t exhibited in years.  As much fun as that was, even with the help of ZyXEL tech support neither I nor they were ever able to get the unit to function the way I wanted (a main sticking point being the impossibility of bridging the wired and wireless networks while continuing to support the other functions of the router, in particular NAT loopback).  But what finally made me take it back was the horrendous WiFi coverage.  Maybe I’m just spoiled by MIMO, but the ZyXEL was essentially useless at WiFi—it would have required me to run a separate access point just to cover the whole house, and that’s not evening addressing the low throughput from the main unit.

The WNR3500 had worked well until the arrival of smartphones and Apples products in the house, so I decided to give NetGear another chance.  I’ve been completely satisfied with the WNDR4500, and going by the graph so has my smartphone.