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Huawei 528 / Vodafone Gigacube 4G networking

Firstly, I'm close to being a networking illiterate so some of my questions will strike some as naive...

I'm moving house to a location where the best fixed line broadband is 1-3Mbps so I'm investigating mobile broadband options. Mobile coverage in the new location is also poorish. Vodafone offers 4G whereas Three and O2 have only 3G (this has been verified with mobile phones). I'm never likely to have 5G in this location so my search for mobile broadband has resolved itself down to the Huawei 528, either branded as the Vodafone 4G Gigacube on a contract or as an eBay purchase into which I'll put a Vodafone SIM card.

As far as internet is concerned this seems my best bet. However, I'm concerned about the device's networking capabilities. It will be replacing a BT Smart Hub to which I currently connect two NAS drives on which I have stored all kind of media. Just looking at the back of the two devices (Gigacube and Smart Hub 6) one looks like a proper router and the other looks like a 'lifestyle' product.

Does the 528/Gigacube do all (or most) of the router-y things that the Smart Hub does? Can I simply connect two NAS drives and a PC to the Gigacube via a gigabit switch and the Gigacube will give me an instant home network the way the Smart Hub does? Or would I be better taking a step backwards in time in the Huawei range and buy a used 525 which looks like a more capable router? There's precious little information available online about what router capabilities the 528/Gigacube has. I found one German comparison site which makes it look very basic. In comparing the 528 networking capabilities to the 525 it says the 528 has 'IPv4 /IPv6 dual stack' alone whereas the 525 has 'NAT, DHCP, VPN, SMS, VoIP, CS Voice, Firewall, DMZ, UPnP, ALG, IPv4 /IPv6 dual stack'. This makes me think that the 528 can't serve as a replacement for a wired internet router except in the simplest of installations whereas a 525 can. Or put another way the 528/Gigacube is little more than a more powerful dongle.
 

Narbz

Member
ok, im with you, my knowledge is limited, but my experience is as follows.
I have tried the 528 and the 535. Both acquired second hand, from a high street tech exchange store, by post! Both under £90.

I'm not sure its form over function, but the 528 looks a lot nicer in the lounge than the 535! But the spare bedroom is the best location by far, as that is where i get the best reception for both devices!

The device i find easier to use, and tinker with was the 535 , by far. I think it is similar to the 525 you mention above.

I've got a NAS thingy wired into the back, it works fine.

I've set up a VPN, that was really easy. I've tried L2TP and PPTP providers, it does not do Open VPN , i think. I have read this is an issue for some people, as their VPN provider only does Open VPN.

I've even done a few zoom calls on it, and not had any issues.

I get 24m down and 8 up at the best times and 14 down and 2 up at the worst times. This suites all my needs.

If you get the 525, you also need a hub/switch to add more devices as it only has one ethernet port.

I prefer the 535, it on the three network, I know there is a lot of complaints on here about three, but i get my best service from them in my location. As i said it the easiest for me to "administer"
 

Buggerlugz

ULTIMATE Member
I wouldn't recommend the B535, its a cheap quality router with limited bands/antenna with a poor processor which easily gets overwhelmed.
 

Narbz

Member
My application is simple, and im a relative noob to all this stuff.
What would be the recommendation Buggerlugz?
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
The B535 is not so bad, it's cat 7, so 1 cat higher than the b528 and the b525.
You could do much better (ie B818 or 5G), but you could also do worse.
I use it as my main router and dhcp server.

It can definitely be plug and play, has plenty of gigabit ports so no need for an external switch and I really like the connection fallback from WAN to LTE.
(mine is WAN uplinked in an outdoors 5G router, but has a GiffGaff internal SIM to fallback to in case the WAN goes down).

It's also pretty nice looking and the WIFI performance is rather good. Sometimes I use it with the AAisp l2tp vpn tunnel, so this feature is also quite handy.
 

Buggerlugz

ULTIMATE Member
With the B535 being my first venture into home 4g I'd not recommend 4g at all for home broadband personally. The problem isn't so much the routers but the lack of mast tech/ front/back-haul bandwidth and spectrum within the UK. My testing with the B535 across all the networks showed very little difference in performance with my CAT12 mobile showing little noticeable improvement also.

Add to this the other variables associated with radio access networks its more akin to voodoo than science what download speeds you end up with.

The problem with all of the UK's carriers is they halfheartedly installed first edge, then 3g and then 4g and never even attempted to get the most out of it, because they planned spending on the next best thing each time. As time has ticked by and more customers hit each mast and end up sharing the available bandwidth It's left us with an oversubscribed mobile network across most of the country.

You could spend £300+ on a "all singing all dancing" top of the line 4g/5g router (with tons of bands and you could still easily end up seeing no improvement, likewise to spending the same on an elaborate external mobile antenna.

If BT actually offered "real" FTTP or you could stomach Virgin's "appalling customer service" to get it's cable, they would be a far better and faster solution currently for home broadband IMHO. (Then you have to pay twice as much for it too of course)

(I can get Virgin but I'm not prepared to pay double for the shocking level of customer service and inevitable billing issues which will come my way if I go back to them, and I can't get FTTP, so I'm left with no real options personally. The entire UK broadband market stinks with little or no competition at all IMHO.)

Still looking back, I would not have leaped into a 2 year contract with three.
 
Last edited:

GaryW

Regular Member
With the B535 being my first venture into home 4g I'd not recommend 4g at all for home broadband personally. The problem isn't so much the routers but the lack of mast tech/ front/back-haul bandwidth and spectrum within the UK. My testing with the B535 across all the networks showed very little difference in performance with my CAT12 mobile showing little noticeable improvement also.

Add to this the other variables associated with radio access networks its more akin to voodoo than science what download speeds you end up with.

The problem with all of the UK's carriers is they halfheartedly installed first edge, then 3g and then 4g and never even attempted to get the most out of it, because they planned spending on the next best thing each time. As time has ticked by and more customers hit each mast and end up sharing the available bandwidth It's left us with an oversubscribed mobile network across most of the country.

You could spend £300+ on a "all singing all dancing" top of the line 4g/5g router (with tons of bands and you could still easily end up seeing no improvement, likewise to spending the same on an elaborate external mobile antenna.

If BT actually offered "real" FTTP or you could stomach Virgin's "appalling customer service" to get it's cable, they would be a far better and faster solution currently for home broadband IMHO. (Then you have to pay twice as much for it too of course)

(I can get Virgin but I'm not prepared to pay double for the shocking level of customer service and inevitable billing issues which will come my way if I go back to them, and I can't get FTTP, so I'm left with no real options personally. The entire UK broadband market stinks with little or no competition at all IMHO.)

Still looking back, I would not have leaped into a 2 year contract with three.
It really depends on your location. I've been on EE 4G for my home broadband for over 2 years, and it's fast and reliable. With a B818 I get up to 195 Mbps down, more usually 90-130, and worst case 40+ at certain peak times. Upload is 10-15, ping is 20ms or so. And with a decent router with SQM that's plenty for 2 adults and 1 teenager working/schooling from home, watching 4K HDR streaming video, etc. For comparison, my only fixed line option is VDSL at 15 down, 0.5 (yes, not a typo) up and interleaving so not brilliant latency either. 4G is absolutely a viable option if you live in the right place, just as VDSL would be a viable option for me if I could see the cabinet from my front door!
 

Buggerlugz

ULTIMATE Member
I think you must be an exception to the rule, location is important though.

(As is, a mast with new tech installed, with enough back haul, few users connected to the mast, spectrum, lack of tree's/houses/wind/rain/snow, the topography of the location of the mast, distance from it and the quality of the router connecting to it.)
 
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