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Which 4G router Huawei B525 or B618?

robyht

Member
Hello
I have been looking into getting a 4G set-up, but struggling to see which router is going to deliver the fastest speed and most reliable signal. I feel it should be a Huawei as I have not read any bad things about this brand, but I am confused as to which model to invest in.

Should it be the B525, at 300mbs or the new B618, that claims to have all the bells and whistles as well as a 600mbs?
Can anyone shed some light as to the advantages of the B618 as it is a £100 more expensive than the B525.

I live in rural Northamptonshire, the 4G is good outdoors, not so good indoors, so will any of the extra features of the B618 help in getting a better signal/speed?

Thanks in advance
Rob
 

ZX3

Member
Hi Rob. I work in this industry, and use LTE in both UK and Europe. I am involved with support of Huawei LTE kit, but forgive me if my post seems like I'm some kind of expert (I'm not) - just giving my honest observations!
There are several variants of the B525, both handle MORE than you can realistically pull through any of the UK mobile networks:
  • B525s-23a: Cat.6 2x2 MIMO | WiFi AC | 100 LAN | Micro SIM
  • B525s-65a: as above, but adds several more bands (good for Europe!)
The B618 also has several variants, but the only one I've seen is:
  • B618s-22d: Cat.11 4x4 MIMO | WiFi AC | 1000 LAN | Micro SIM
There are some obvious comments in your post that leaped out at me:
  • "4G is good outdoors, not so good indoor"
  • "I live in rural Northamptonshire"
Antenna: Before investing wasting money on an external antenna (the added cabling can often 'leak' your signal DOWN rather than improve it), why not try a cheap (c.£20) INDOOR window-mounted antenna? The cable is often nice and short, and the cross-plate design (most common type) will induct nicely through the glass (compared to stone walls). Place upstairs, and give each window a 15 minute test, then compare results to find the best spot.
Rural: The further away from the mast, the weaker the high-frequency signals are. An unforeseen "advantage" that H3G ("Three") stumbled upon during the 4G bandwidth lottery was that they ended up with the 800 Mhz range - this ironically outperforms their competitors who "won" the 2100 Mhz range; what I'm saying is that "Three" are ideal for long-range (rural) 4G. It's science, not opinion.

My (opinionated!) opinion:
[1]
The B525 with Cat.6 2x2 MIMO is PERFECT for you, and money thrown at the B618 will yield no improvement in speed; put the saving towards an antenna.
[2] Get an indoor window-mounted antenna, and go with a "Three" SIM (the Three retail website and shops are not the only source of these*)
[3] Make sure you connect using AC WiFi (if your device has WiFi N, you'll struggle to get more than 50 Mbps in speed tests)

Thanks for considering my observations and opinion! Happy LTE!
Feel free to message me (https://www.ispreview.co.uk/talk/members/zx3.31704/) here if you have some serious interest in coverage tools, and the like; I may be able to share some links with you.
* Other source for H3G ("Three") SIMs. I'm not sure of the forum rules, so I will refrain from listing a known source of UNLIMITED data 4G "H3G" SIMs that are sold to IoT developers for under £50 pm.
 

robyht

Member
Wow! Thank you ZX3 so much for the info dump! it is exactly the type of information I need to investigate further, I will seriously look at the B525
Thanks once again, I will let you know how I get on.
 
Hi Rob. I work in this industry, and use LTE in both UK and Europe. I am involved with support of Huawei LTE kit, but forgive me if my post seems like I'm some kind of expert (I'm not) - just giving my honest observations!
There are several variants of the B525, both handle MORE than you can realistically pull through any of the UK mobile networks:
  • B525s-23a: Cat.6 2x2 MIMO | WiFi AC | 100 LAN | Micro SIM
  • B525s-65a: as above, but adds several more bands (good for Europe!)
The B618 also has several variants, but the only one I've seen is:
  • B618s-22d: Cat.11 4x4 MIMO | WiFi AC | 1000 LAN | Micro SIM
There are some obvious comments in your post that leaped out at me:
  • "4G is good outdoors, not so good indoor"
  • "I live in rural Northamptonshire"
Antenna: Before investing wasting money on an external antenna (the added cabling can often 'leak' your signal DOWN rather than improve it), why not try a cheap (c.£20) INDOOR window-mounted antenna? The cable is often nice and short, and the cross-plate design (most common type) will induct nicely through the glass (compared to stone walls). Place upstairs, and give each window a 15 minute test, then compare results to find the best spot.
Rural: The further away from the mast, the weaker the high-frequency signals are. An unforeseen "advantage" that H3G ("Three") stumbled upon during the 4G bandwidth lottery was that they ended up with the 800 Mhz range - this ironically outperforms their competitors who "won" the 2100 Mhz range; what I'm saying is that "Three" are ideal for long-range (rural) 4G. It's science, not opinion.

My (opinionated!) opinion:
[1]
The B525 with Cat.6 2x2 MIMO is PERFECT for you, and money thrown at the B618 will yield no improvement in speed; put the saving towards an antenna.
[2] Get an indoor window-mounted antenna, and go with a "Three" SIM (the Three retail website and shops are not the only source of these*)
[3] Make sure you connect using AC WiFi (if your device has WiFi N, you'll struggle to get more than 50 Mbps in speed tests)

Thanks for considering my observations and opinion! Happy LTE!
Feel free to message me (https://www.ispreview.co.uk/talk/members/zx3.31704/) here if you have some serious interest in coverage tools, and the like; I may be able to share some links with you.
* Other source for H3G ("Three") SIMs. I'm not sure of the forum rules, so I will refrain from listing a known source of UNLIMITED data 4G "H3G" SIMs that are sold to IoT developers for under £50 pm.
What’s AC WiFi?
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
AC means 802.11ac (aka - Wi-Fi 5) and is the current primary WiFi standard, although later this year you'll start to see more kit using the next generation 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) specification that's even faster.
 

nickcal

Casual Member
I would agree re: the antenna and cable leak. I bought an external antenna with 5m cable, thinking it would help get a 5 bars signal (I get 3 using inbuilt antenna). Connecting the external attena as a quick test dropped the signal down to 1 bar! For this test the antenna was indoors - but I am now wondering if it is worth the effort of mounting it externally!
 

Jim Weir

Casual Member
Comparing signal strength isn't very helpful with LTE - you could be getting 5 bars on 1 band but switching to an external antenna you could be receiving lower RSSI but on a different band.

To make comparisions you need to know the available bands for the operator and then look at RSRP signal and SINR rather than signal strength (RSSI)

Very rarely will an indoor antenna, even with good quality low loss cable, provide much improvement as any close object will adversely effect the fresnel zone of the LTE signal, even roof joints or roof tiles. Far better performance will come from mounting an external antenna and experimenting with location - even a small change (few inches) can have a major impact on performance - which will in turn provide the best possible throughput.

In simple terms - find the best RSRP on the most suitable band, then adjust location for best SINR.
 

nickcal

Casual Member
thanks for the advice...

I have been using the LTEWatch tool to try and figure out what 'good looks like' as I am new to all this.

The only band I can get anything better than -100 for RSRP is 20 (800MHz). I am using Three UK.

I think I need to get the external antenna setup and then cycle through the bands as you suggest.
 

fraggit

Member
Hi all
Just my tuppence worth. I'm on the Isle of Man on a 500gb 4G service, I get this for £24.99, which is a deal when looking at EE's offering, mind blowing price for 500gb. I live in the central valley and in a forest. My nearest LTE cell is over 1km away. I get about 3/4 bars with a Poynting Xpol-A001 up at about 3m and reasonable RSRP, but I also get 3 bars without the external aerial with bad RSRP , it definitely impacts the speed, so I concur with Jim. What I'm going to do is put the 4G router in a waterproof box and put it up with my TV aerial which is up at approx 40ft and use cat 6 cable and POE to the router costing about £30. If it works I'll Ebay the Poynting. I know it's a bit over the top, but I like to experiment and the trees around me keep on growing. I get these results at the moment:-
79
 

Mark8253

Casual Member
If you know where your mast is and you have reasonable line of sight, a pair of frequency-specific Yagi antennas will give by far the best result. I made mine from 15mm plastic water pipe, galvanised fence wire for the straight elements and 3mm copper wire for the dipoles. Instructions online, half a day of time and about £20-30 material costs total.

These are mounted inside a wooden outbuilding, which gets me round an inconvenient line of trees just behind the house. Reliably 75-80 Mb/s from the EE mast 4.3 km away with an old Huawei B593, even now at the peak time of 8pm.
 

MrM83

Member
If I can add my 2 pence here. I own a B525 router. I settled on it after ordering an Asus variant (wouldnt recognise my sim) and have been pleased with it. I recently signed up for a 300GB and received a free Alcatel EE router with the package so was able to compare the two. The B525 receives better 4G signal and offers greater wifi coverage than the EE router

Furthermore I added an external aerial to the B525 which is situated in my loft space (I live in a listed property so outside wall not an option, plus, its not that attractive) and I saw a spead increase of approx 50%, from a rough average 30Mbps to 45Mbps which is fantastic. Even in the corners of my house furthest from the router, the wifi coverage is great and at worse I will see 20Mps down.

So an endorsement in that regard, but, and theres always a but...

The flexibility the settings and options allowed is not great, compared to other DSL routers Ive had in the past from the likes of Billion and Netgear. I am struggling to setup my own VPN server via my Synology NAS via LT2P because Huawei block port 1701 for the routers own LT2P support, which is a little frustrating. It also lacks some other features of bandwidth management and so forth.

Which lead me back to this forum, as yesterday I purchased a TP Link MR400 in the hope this would offer me everything the B525 would, plus a better and more flexible settings list. Alas, it didnt make it that far, as the newer models dont allow for external aerials (seems crazy) and the performance on the internal aerials was 22Mbps at best. Will be returned and the hunt goes on.....

But in terms of speed and wifi coverage I cannot fault the B525.
 

filmguyuk

Member
I run a marketing company and moving from an inner city location with 350mbps cable to a rural setting with anecdotally rubbish FTTC.

Fearing my children cutting my throat whilst I sleep due to laggy Fortnite connections - I decided to pit Huawei again Huawei to see if the B618's Cat11 would make much of a difference compared to the B525's Cat6 rating.

So I ran a speed test on my mobile phone externally of the new property and got a pretty impressive 69mbps with EE. So armed with a Huawei B525 and a Huawei B618, I embraced my inner geek and ran side by side tests this time from inside the house. It was obviously all conducted under controlled conditions with clipboards, lab coats and everything.

This was what I found using an EE sim.113

I did 5 tests with both units in the same identical position. The Huawei B618 is consistently smoking the B525 in every category. Adding a pretty decent 12.61mpbs on average to my download speeds.

Obviously, I know the shortcomings of these kinds of tests but thought it was worth a share for anyone considering paying the extra for the B618. If I get a spare hour tomorrow, I'll potentially stick in a Three sim and see if the 800hz makes any difference to the two units comparison.
 

Storyline

Casual Member
Thanks filmguyuk for the above post as it prompted me to also get a B618 to compare with a B525 which arrived earlier this week. The 525 was itself a replacement for a Tp-Link router which arrived last week. A week ago I had not even realised that LTE may be a viable alternative to our ADSL BT connection which I had become to hate with a passion. Because of this I did not realise the signicance that the Tp-Link was Cat4 but soon discovered that Cat6 may be better.

To cut a long story (and a very steep learning curve) short the B525 gave higher download speeds. I have got a sim card from each of the 4 main providers to see which works best and with the Voxi (Vodafone) one I can get LTE/4G+ which is much faster than the others. Unfortunately at the moment there is no AYCE available from them so I have been concentrating on Three which has to be the only realistic choice at the moment for us. However when 5G arrives properly, even with my miniscule knowledge of this marketplace it seems likely there will be aggressive competition in the 4G LTE sector.

Anyway, apologies for drifting off topic but I started my post to say I also have seen significantly higher download speeds using the B618 compared with the B525. I used the same Poynting omni directional antenna stuck to an upstairs bedroom window (I had to add SMA to TS-9 adapters) and so far have just tried Three. I am not even sure where my nearest mast is but I think from using signal strength apps on a Three equipped phone that I am at least on the right side of the house ! The increase in speed is variable but I guess it is around 20-30%. I should add that although I am in the suburbs of a city the signals here are not very good and the side of the house where I have been testing has a lot of huge Beech trees that are all in leaf at the moment which may not help. Also on one side of the house the River Mersey is close by and is very wide so no masts there.

I have so much to learn and I am enjoying the voyage of discovery hugely. I am no spring chicken and it is not often that I am lucky enough to come across a subject I know virtually nothing about. To add to the mix I have a Teltonika Cat6 'industrial' type modem/router (RUTX09) arriving tomorrow. This has 2 sim card slots and I also like the idea of not having a superfluous WiFi as I am using a Mesh type system.

I look forward to reading about how filmguyuk gets on with his Three sim. I have sims from EE, Voxi (Vodafone) & Giffgaff (O2) yet to test and lots of experimentation with different locations - oh, and lots and lots of reading :)
 
To add to the mix I have a Teltonika Cat6 'industrial' type modem/router (RUTX09) arriving tomorrow. This has 2 sim card slots and I also like the idea of not having a superfluous WiFi as I am using a Mesh type system.
Have you had a chance to test out the RUTX09 yet? I'm in a similar situation and was wondering about the more 'industrial' style routers as I alread have my own wifi infrastructure.
 

Storyline

Casual Member
Hi 8r... I have not yet had the time to do anything like a comparative test but I have tried it with a variety of antennas including the two it was supplied with. It does not seem to be particularly fast using a Voxi (Vodafone) sim. In fact it seemed slower than the two mifi devices I am testing - the Huawei E5785 and Netgear AirCard AC790. I get the feeling it's strengths lie elsewhere - it seems very robust, can be operated remotely and the operating system allows it to be configured in many ways. It is easy to get it going and delivering the Internet onto a wired network but to go any further is going to require some serious reading for me ! It may well be that it could be tuned in some way to be faster.

There is no way I can really justify having it but there is something very attractive about it - it is the exact opposite of all the slick dumbed down consumer products and I will be keeping it.
 

filmguyuk

Member
Hi all.

Just wanted to say that despite my best efforts I was unable to test the Three sims. Their customer service was atrocious and despite several attempts and many hours - I was unable to test the Three service. I plan on having another go in a few weeks time.
 

kommando828

Casual Member
I am using a 525 with firmware for bridging and VOIP on a 3 sim card, getting 55mb download with external antenna and 2m of SMA cable. The router sites in a shed with a cat 5 cable running into the house to a draytek router as well as a phoneline for handset, if the router is in the house it reverts to 3G and a max of 25mb download and nowhere to hang the antenna from.
 

Storyline

Casual Member
As I am a a bit a dunce when it comes to networking I am a bit confused about bridging. I remember doing it years ago when I connected two routers together but when I set up the B618 last week I just connected a cable from one of it's LAN ports to the WAN port of the new Huawei Mesh wifi. I then switched off the wireless on the B618 and it all seems to be working fine. Should I have done it another way ?

Edit: I forgot to say. One problem I thought I might have is that both the B618 and the Q2 Mesh wifi use the same IP address (192.168.1.8) by default and I wondered how I could access them individually. However the Huawei apps (Hi-Link & Smart home) seem to sort it all out and I can configure them individually. I am not sure whether to change one of their IP's or just leave well alone ;) .....
 
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