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Broadband Router Options for UK Superfast FTTC ISPs – 2015 UPDATE

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 (1:57 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 108,281)
broadband_router_modem

It’s been a year since ISPreview.co.uk published our first summary guide of home broadband routers with integrated VDSL2 (FTTC) modems (here), which are designed to be used with superfast ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable “fibre broadband” offering ISPs (BT, TalkTalk and Sky Broadband etc.). Since then the options have increased and so here’s our new selection for 2015.

Last year the market situation was very different, with most FTTC supporting ISPs still offering BTOpenreach’s standard engineer installation with a locked-down VDSL2 modem (e.g. Huawei EchoLife HG612 or ECI B-FOCuS). Unfortunately this meant that customers still required a router if they wanted to run a proper home network (i.e. two devices rather than the simplicity of an all-in-one).

At the time Openreach had only just launched their new Self-Install (PCP-only) solution for FTTC superfast broadband services, which gave ISPs the ability to offer a single router with an integrated VDSL2 modem instead of two separate pieces of kit (no engineer visit required). Since then most ISPs have started offering the self-install service and bundling their own budget routers with an integrated VDSL2 modem.

Meanwhile the options for consumers who’d rather use a faster and more capable device than the combined routers being offered by the largest ISPs, which tend to be based off cheaper and more restrictive kit, has also continued to grow. In last year’s guide – Broadband Router Options for UK FTTC ISPs – we covered some of the first third-party routers with an integrated VDSL2 modem (i.e. Technicolor/Thomson TG589vn v3, DrayTek Vigor 2760n (2860), Billion 8200N, FRITZ!Box 7390 – 7490 / 3390 and Asus DSL-N66U N900) and this year we’re adding to that list.

It’s important to stress that last year’s article is still valid (most of the listed hardware from 2014 continues to be considered “current generation” kit), so make sure to read both guides for a full summary of all the available options. Otherwise we’re going to be following the same rules as we did in 2014.

Integrated VDSL/FTTC Routers – 2015 Edition

As with the 2014 roundup, we’re sticking to our rule that this summary should only include routers that we consider to be within a sub-£200 bracket of consumer affordability. Anything more expensive than this is usually intended for business purposes or simply not affordable mass-market hardware and thus not a focus for us.

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23 Responses
  1. adslmax

    Billion 8800NL is very good VDSL2. I have that, connected for 72 days ongoing with full 80/20 with no DLM affect so far!

    • adslmax

      But, of course I just wish they also including 5 x gigabit lans and add 5GHz on the wifi side. Plus addition of 30a profile with vectoring support too.

    • Chris C

      Indeed, its very stable, when picking a replacement modem I would weight the chipset used heavily, the Billion uses a Broadcom chipset which is probably the best chipset to use on openreach based VDSL services.
      There is a higher model woth 5ghz etc. if you dont like the low router spec, currently I use the billion in bridged mode tho alongside my asus ac66 router.

    • Geekofbroadband

      Is that on an ECI or Huawei cabinet?

  2. TH

    Have these devices been through the Openreach testing process?

    • adslmax

      All these devices will work with FTTC. No need for Openreach testing!

    • Steve Jones

      Openreach don’t test 3rd party VDSL modems, but there’s a very extensive set of requirements that ISPs are meant to meet in order to maintain compatibility (see section 3). There must be some concern about network management if, for example, a lot of VDSL modem/routers are attached which don’t support vectoring for any future requirements. Also things like upstream PSD compatibility etc.

      http://www.sinet.bt.com/sinet/SINs/pdf/498v6p0.pdf

    • TH

      Thanks for hunting the SIN link out Steve. The contract between CPs and Openreach requires the device connected (either own branded or off the shelf) to have been tested to conform to this either by Openreach themselves or a 3rd party test facility with results provided to Openreach on request for verification. Given one of the SIN requirements is reporting vendor/firmware information to the DSLAM it’s not beyond possibility that Openreach may start disconnecting third party CPE (that either tells the DSLAM what it is, or doesn’t tell it anything) which hasn’t been through testing, especially if it causes interference issues as they roll out things like vectoring.

  3. No Clue

    The ASUS DSL-AC68U has serious stability issues i recommend people avoid that, there is a couple of threads some quite long about it on various forums including kitz.co.uk. It is a real shame because in terms of feature and functions of the bunch mentioned it is probably the best. Great wifi signal, more options in the interface that some pro devices, full gigabit port array and easy to use, all utterly pointless though when it will not hold onto a connection and curses you to DLM hell. I returned mine after a week to Amazon.

    The TP-Link TD-W9980 uses a similar chipset to the BT supplied ECI B-FOCuS modems and HH5 router and to all purposes is a reliable choice at a good price considering the 2x USB ports and the 4x gigabit ports. Great if you have a wired home network and the 600Mb wireless is a slight step up from typical 300Mb bottom end. I am considering one after my neighbour bought one to add to the media sharing side of my network. Seems superb for the money IMO

    The Billion 8800NL is also a great choice, let down by the single gigabit port and the 300Mb wireless, HOWEVER support from billion if past is anything to go by will be better than the TP-Link. Its also a reliable device with a good interface which will allow you to do a lot more than ISP supplied gear, at around £60 its the bargain of the bunch and having tried one for review purposes, id recommend it to anyone that just wants a cheap, reliable, basic functioning device with a rich interface offering good options. It will just sit there and do its job reliably (IE giving you a connection) with no fuss and is ideal if you do not need or want all the bells and whistles that £100-£200 devices have.

    The mentioned ZyXEL SBG3300-N i have no experience with. Some Zyxel devices use a broadcomm chipset which is superb. If you have a good line it sometimes even gives you a couple more Mbps. A model (briefly mentioned ) called ZyXel VMG8324 gets a lot of praise (see kitz again) but seems hard to find now (maybe discontinued?) If the above ZyXEL SBG3300-N is basically the same or similar guts then it should also be a decent device. The only thing that seems to be a little off puttin is the price some of the Zyxel range of VDSL devices are going for, they start off at around £90 all the way up to around £200, they are good but price may be a tad off putting. The naming also as mentioned is a bit confusing especially when they have about 6 or so different models of VDSL home device. They also have a new NBG-xxxx range out now some bond to have VDSL modems at some point argh!

    Thomson TG789Vn v3 likewise i have not used and purely based on prior experience of other Thomson devices i would not likely want to use or enjoy using it (if its like the rest of their range ive tried then… Interface is poor with little options, wireless is average at best and addition functionality like any print sharing, DLNA, USB file sharing and worrying for a device with VOIP support port forwarding is a nightmare). Of course the Thomson TG789Vn v3 may be a breath of fresh air but i doubt it especially with regards to the interface and the options it has compared to the others mentioned here. The old speedtouch 330 from the ADSL days before ADSLMAX was horrid (did not meet USB spec and drew more than the 500ma it should causing your computer to crash), routers supplied by O2 and Plusnet likewise are Thompson and to try to be kind are err basic at best. They would with the Asus be last on my list.

    Others for people to consider are….

    Billion BiPAC 8800AXL This is basically the Daddy of the 8800NL mentioned in this article. It has in addition to the 8800NL 1600Mbps AC wireless (300+1300Mbps), 4x Gigabit ports, 3G/4G support, 2x USB ports support printer sharing and DLNA functions, and what i like (saves timein the interface) physical buttons including… Power on/off, Wireless on/off, WPS button, Reset Button.
    The hardware is superb and the interface feature rich. Based on the one i had for review if i was starting fresh on VDSL and needed a device this would be what i would go for now. In terms of function for money it IMO is probably the best available at the moment, it has the odd quirk but ultimately is reliable and has more than what most will need, available at a reasonable £150, seems a lot compared to the NL version but compared to others in the market with similar spec its actually very fairly priced.

    Draytek are also in on the picture, the 2760 range cost around £120…
    draytek.co.uk/products/soho/vigor-2760

    If you want a step up in their range then the 2860 models
    draytek.co.uk/products/business/vigor-2860 are worth a look and cost around £180-£250.
    If anyone needs more than that then id argue its no longer home use.

    My personal feelings are go for one of the mentioned Billions, good brand, decent featured interface and reasonably priced and will likely be more than enough for most. NL for those wanting just basic reliability, AXL for those wanting higher spec.

    • adslmax

      Billion BiPAC 8800AXL is pretty very good too but for around £150 mark! I am ok with Billion 8800NL because I just use ethernet (1 lan gigabit) to my pc is fine for now. Will consider upgrade to Billion BiPAC 8800AXL one day because of wifi (more devices around household)

    • adslmax

      Found review for Billion BiPAC 8800AXL (not good review on wireless):

      Pros

      Reliable all-round performance
      Neat design
      Extra WAN port can become a fifth regular Gigabit Ethernet port

      Cons

      802.11ac speed was comparatively slow
      Range wasn’t great
      Media serving feature didn’t work for us

      http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/review/billion/bipac_8800axl/553978/

    • No Clue

      Would not listen to their review too much especially the wireless side of things. For starters they used a Intel Wireless AC-7260 wireless card only rated to 300/867Mbps http://ark.intel.com/products/75439/Intel-Dual-Band-Wireless-AC-7260?_ga=1.148065586.484998810.1419993320 so its no wonder on a device that is 300/1300Mbps it was slow. Testing via a laptop is also stupid unless it was a high end laptop, at those speeds the bus of the device would limit thru-put. Also testing AC for distance is pointless as NO wireless AC device will give the range of b,g,n. AC is for close range speed not distance. They mention it was poor compared to an Archer C7 router which managed 25.87MBps <<< That is also crap speed for a AC device, you only have to look at a site that knows what it is on about like smallnetbuilder to realise that.
      Hell they did not even know how to configure the USB devices on it as a proper network share. Their review was about as informative as a comic book.

    • No Clue

      EDIT:
      I wonder if in their review rather than Megabits they mean Megabytes as anything in the 20Mb range or lower for any wireless device nowadays is poor.

      Maybe they meant Megabytes? Would make more sense as their Archer D7 router that did according to them 25 odd Mbps its prior incarnation the Archer C7 scored over 200Mbps on its 5ghz AC bands over at smallnetbuilder… http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/32196-tp-link-archer-c7-ac1750-wireless-dual-band-gigabit-router-reviewed?showall=&start=3
      which would equate out to around 25MB (not bits but bytes).

      If thats the case then they like their stores are a joke not knowing the difference between bits and bytes.

  4. George Tracey

    The Billion 7800DXL is a sub £200 model that appears to meet said requirements but no mention!

    • The Billion 7800DXL does not have an integrated VDSL2 modem for FTTC (so far as I can see), so it’s obviously not something we’d look at for a list of devices where the core requirement is both ADSL2+ and VDSL2 support (integrated).

    • No Clue

      Yep from their current line it is only their 8200 and 8800 ranges that support VDSL. The 8800AXL which i mentioned IMO seems to be the best of the bunch feature wise and in the grand scheme for what you get compared to some not too badly priced.

  5. Darren

    I currently use the openreach modem with Asus RT-AC68U with a solid connection 80/20 and get 73 down 15 up ,ping 26, my question is basically if I changed to a single unit would I get a better performance,mainly for wired ps4 gaming.
    Thanks for any help

  6. AS2015

    The “Thomson” Technicolor TG789vn v3 is replaced for a few months now by the TG799vn v2 which is full Gigabit Ethernet LAN & WAN

  7. Naa

    From experience I can tell you that the Asus dsl AC68U is one of the worst routers I have ever used. Connection dropped every half hour and it was returned from where it came after a couple of weeks.

    I am now using the Billion Bipac 7800dxl which, although it has adequate but not brilliant wifi range, has been as steady as a rock and not one dropped connection in the two months I have been using it. It is triple-WAN – fibre ready so was hoping to continue to use it when/if I switch to fibre.

    Just learned that my exchange has been fibre enabled and am not sure I will venture into that territory. Providers seem pushy, have bad routers and from researching very iffy technical support. I am with a great ISP but they don’t provide fibre – really not sure what to do :S Any advice would be welcome.

  8. Alan

    If you swap out the BT provided ECI B-Focus modem does a 3rd party device auto configure it’s settings as we don’t know what they are and our customer’s ISP is rubbish and won’t tell us.

  9. mich

    Will there be an update to these tests and recommendations seeing as there are a few more out? I’m interested in reading some reviews on Netgears D6400 unit.

  10. SirB

    Hi guys

    Just wanted to put in my 2p worth. I’m on Plusnet Fibre, usually get about 74Mbps/16Mbps speeds.

    Had purchased a BT Home Hub 5 from eBay and it lasted 10 months and just failed – kept rebooting and nothing would fix it.

    So I went and bought the Netgear D6400 and whilst it was a simple-ish setup, the web interface was a bit too slow to respond at times. Maybe, because Netgear have an app call Netgear Genie, their focus was diverted towards that and they forgot the basic web interface ?

    Anyway, it was an OK device, the wifi wasn’t great, there were instances of buffering.

    So I returned it and once the Bipac 8800AXL came back in stock, I ordered one (as I had a 7800 before which was a good, solid device), set it up in minutes and it was pretty good for the 10 odd days that I had it.

    The only gripe I had was the wifi range and performance. the 2.4GHz range was slow when I was downstairs at the bottom of the stairs in our regular 3-bed house. the 5GHz range was quite poor, it would usually lose the connection by that point. But the speeds were really good on 5GHz.

    So I have just gone through the process of returning this back as well, and go back to my old Plusnet supplied 2-device setup.

  11. SirB

    Sorry guys, forgot to mention above.

    When I spoke to Billion customer support, the guy was really good and honest, and he said they are aware that the wifi performance in the 8800AXL is not very good, as the antennas are internal, and they have actually passed that information back to the design team, but nothing will change on this model, as there is no way to attach external antennas, and he referred to the older models with external antennas as being excellent for wifi, whereas this 8800AXL is superb at xDSL connection, but the wifi is not the greatest.

    Just thought it will be handy for anyone else to know before-hand.

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