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ZTE MC801A Review

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
I'm sorely tempted with the ZTE but there's one thing stopping me. The Amazon page says that the external antenna sockets only work with 5G, and I don't have 5G yet, at least not from Three.
I don't even have TWB's Three Pole of Wonder lined up so for now at least the B818 will have to continue to serve. It could be worse, Virgin Media for instance (shudders). Good luck with it Dabigm.
 

The Wee Bear

ULTIMATE Member
I'm sorely tempted with the ZTE but there's one thing stopping me. The Amazon page says that the external antenna sockets only work with 5G, and I don't have 5G yet, at least not from Three.
I don't even have TWB's Three Pole of Wonder lined up so for now at least the B818 will have to continue to serve. It could be worse, Virgin Media for instance (shudders). Good luck with it Dabigm.
What pole of wonder is that eccles?:oops:

Someone else has it, I want it back.😤

The router does seem to be great for the pennies though.(y)
 

Bob2002

ULTIMATE Member
Don't think there's much point in spending £250 on a 5G router if you're using the Three 5G router and getting good speeds. Most people can live with double NAT as opposed to proper bridge mode. Also 5G routers are only going to drop in price and improve, Three are charging £21/month over a two year contract and the ZTE is basically one year of Three charges.
 

dabigm

ULTIMATE Member
Don't think there's much point in spending £250 on a 5G router if you're using the Three 5G router and getting good speeds. Most people can live with double NAT as opposed to proper bridge mode. Also 5G routers are only going to drop in price and improve, Three are charging £21/month over a two year contract and the ZTE is basically one year of Three charges.

Three one is locked isn't it ? Mine isn't from thee, so I dunno. And I'm not quite sure what their stance is on who actually owns it.
 

Bob2002

ULTIMATE Member
I'm on Three 5G and getting good speeds, when my Three 5G contract ends in two years 5G routers will be a heck of a lot cheaper(assuming they want their router back).
 

dabigm

ULTIMATE Member
There's an italian guy on Youtube I follow who reviewed the same router a couple of weeks ago. Even if you don't speak italian you can understand a few things and this guy takes it for a serious spin. His whole channel is actually pretty nice.


Not too good with Italian myself, but it was interesting to see the teardown and antennae placement. Looks like a pretty well designed little box.
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
Today I received my ZTE MC801A purchased for around £250 on Amazon shipped by a company called Sotel in Germany. The package took 3 days and arrived via Fedex with no additional import/customs charges.

TLDR; Speed:

5b59cd28-02b7-46f5-8a7d-08336111407c.png


and for comparison, after the testing I ran a test with ONLY my Huawei CPE Pro 2 so just a few minutes later, and on the same speedtest server

12739392536.png


Upload was better, but due to the nature of mobile internet, I don't know if this is due to the Huawei maybe being better, or if it was just down to 3's network when I tested it. I will be running more tests as time goes on and i'll let you know.

Images:
zte-mc801a.jpg
zte-mc801a-2.jpg




They were even kind enough to stick this horrible adaptor on the end of the power supply.
View attachment 2123

Which I immediately decided not to use, and opted for the power supply from an old EE router which has a massive long cable on it, and is the same voltage/amperage (12V , 1.5 A if anyone is wondering)

Mine appeared to be running T-Mobile firmware. Not sure if this is good or bad. But bridge mode works as expected:


View attachment 2124

Menus

menu1.png


menu2.png

Hidden menus:
menu3.png


and my favourite hidden menu

menu5.png



menu6.png



menu7.png



It has WiFi 6 , and that gives me full speed, but I don't use it. I have my two 5G modems hooked up to a managed Zyxel 10G switch that gives each 5G modem a VLAN and then trunks them down to my router downstairs over 1 Cat5e cable (running at 10Gig just fine lol)

I can also confirm the above hidden menus/locking bands does work. There is an SMS feature too if you need to be able to read messages sent to the SIM. I can also confirm the two antennae connectors are TS9 and my Panorama antenna fits in there just fine.

Overall, very impressive unit, and for me , where I live it's on par with the king of 5G routers the CPE Pro 2 but it costs like half the amount.

I will be doing some more tests, but if anyone wants to know something about it, feel free to ask.

And lastly to give you all a giggle, here they are in their natural habitat (don't judge, it works)
P_20220209_181857.jpg


The ZTE is the smaller white thing on the left. Initially I tried it in the same place as the CPE Pro 2 because that was the best spot I found for that, but it did not give as good results. Presumably because of the antennae ? Not sure, but where it is now gets between 500-600 mbit so it seems to be about as good as it gets (the best i've seen on the CPE Pro 2 is 700)
How do you access the hidden menus on ZTE routers? Couldn’t seem to find this easily online.

Wondering if this would allow me to fix the DNS issue on Three’s 4G Hub where the DNS appears to be manually set to Three’s, meaning it doesn’t work with other suppliers.
 

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
How do you access the hidden menus on ZTE routers? Couldn’t seem to find this easily online.

Wondering if this would allow me to fix the DNS issue on Three’s 4G Hub where the DNS appears to be manually set to Three’s, meaning it doesn’t work with other suppliers.
Check Dabigm's post on the previous page of this thread.

I've been doing a bit of investigation with my B818. It looks like there is a spot in the bathroom that is well away from the shower that has a convenient shelf and signal is actually significantly better than from the Poynting antenna stuck to the window, which I could do away with. It would mean running the ethernet cable and a 20 foot 12v PSU extension cable along the bathroom skirting board. I have the cash for the MC801A but should I put a router in a bathroom. Is it any worse than a damp old loft. :)
@dabigm, have you checked out the 4g performance of your device?
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
Ah - I missed that.

They don't seem to be working on the ZTE 4G Hub from Three though.

Could really do with finding a non-Three firmware and finding out how to put that on there.
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
Check Dabigm's post on the previous page of this thread.

I've been doing a bit of investigation with my B818. It looks like there is a spot in the bathroom that is well away from the shower that has a convenient shelf and signal is actually significantly better than from the Poynting antenna stuck to the window, which I could do away with. It would mean running the ethernet cable and a 20 foot 12v PSU extension cable along the bathroom skirting board. I have the cash for the MC801A but should I put a router in a bathroom. Is it any worse than a damp old loft. :)
@dabigm, have you checked out the 4g performance of your device?
If you have a working exhaust fan in your bathroom I don't think it should be a problem. My bathroom is probably one of the driest rooms in my home apart for the moments we have a bath/shower.
 

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
Thanks. It had better be ok as I've just ordered the ZTE MC801A. I was never going to resist a new toy at the price. I live alone and my showers are perfunctory, get wet, apply soap, rinse, all done in less than ten minutes. If it looks like being a problem I can unplug the device and remove it for the duration.
 

dabigm

ULTIMATE Member
Thanks. It had better be ok as I've just ordered the ZTE MC801A. I was never going to resist a new toy at the price. I live alone and my showers are perfunctory, get wet, apply soap, rinse, all done in less than ten minutes. If it looks like being a problem I can unplug the device and remove it for the duration.
nice one. Let us know how you get on. Mine is still going strong. A few movements around the loft and I've gotten it up beyond 600/60 now.

12751623750.png

12750117487.png
 

garbagerich

Casual Member
was looking at getting one of these to stick that spare 3 cheap data sim in . currently have a hauwei cpe pro H112-372
 

Roguee

Regular Member
Today I received my ZTE MC801A purchased for around £250 on Amazon shipped by a company called Sotel in Germany. The package took 3 days and arrived via Fedex with no additional import/customs charges.

TLDR; Speed:

5b59cd28-02b7-46f5-8a7d-08336111407c.png


and for comparison, after the testing I ran a test with ONLY my Huawei CPE Pro 2 so just a few minutes later, and on the same speedtest server

12739392536.png


Upload was better, but due to the nature of mobile internet, I don't know if this is due to the Huawei maybe being better, or if it was just down to 3's network when I tested it. I will be running more tests as time goes on and i'll let you know.

Images:
zte-mc801a.jpg
zte-mc801a-2.jpg




They were even kind enough to stick this horrible adaptor on the end of the power supply.
View attachment 2123

Which I immediately decided not to use, and opted for the power supply from an old EE router which has a massive long cable on it, and is the same voltage/amperage (12V , 1.5 A if anyone is wondering)

Mine appeared to be running T-Mobile firmware. Not sure if this is good or bad. But bridge mode works as expected:


View attachment 2124

Menus

menu1.png


menu2.png

Hidden menus:
menu3.png


and my favourite hidden menu

menu5.png



menu6.png



menu7.png



It has WiFi 6 , and that gives me full speed, but I don't use it. I have my two 5G modems hooked up to a managed Zyxel 10G switch that gives each 5G modem a VLAN and then trunks them down to my router downstairs over 1 Cat5e cable (running at 10Gig just fine lol)

I can also confirm the above hidden menus/locking bands does work. There is an SMS feature too if you need to be able to read messages sent to the SIM. I can also confirm the two antennae connectors are TS9 and my Panorama antenna fits in there just fine.

Overall, very impressive unit, and for me , where I live it's on par with the king of 5G routers the CPE Pro 2 but it costs like half the amount.

I will be doing some more tests, but if anyone wants to know something about it, feel free to ask.

And lastly to give you all a giggle, here they are in their natural habitat (don't judge, it works)
P_20220209_181857.jpg


The ZTE is the smaller white thing on the left. Initially I tried it in the same place as the CPE Pro 2 because that was the best spot I found for that, but it did not give as good results. Presumably because of the antennae ? Not sure, but where it is now gets between 500-600 mbit so it seems to be about as good as it gets (the best i've seen on the CPE Pro 2 is 700)
many people on a middle eastern forum ( this router is very popular over there ) have reported big improvements on reception and speeds after they upgraded to a 12v 3 amps or even a 12v 4 amps main charger.
one more thing: I have noticed lots of videos on youtube about repairing the dc port on this router ,something to keep in mind as the dc port could be fragile .
 

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
The MC801A has arrived and I'm playing with it now. First impressions on 4G suggests that download is comparable to the B818 but upload is slower. I cannot get 5G.
The Italian guy in the video above pastes a string of commands which adds debug menus to the basic screens. Does anyone have that string?

I've tried a 3a PSU and AFAICT there's no difference in performance, for 4G at least.
 

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
The string is a javascript that adds headers to the MC801A screens plus an active list of signal parameters. It works as shown in the Youtube video with Chrome but not with Firefox because the address page doubles as a search window.
To get it to work with firefox it has to be run from the web console:
Go to the xchris.net link and copy the script to notepad and save it.
Open the device webpage 192.168.0.1
Hit F12 to bring up the console and select the console menu option.
Copy the notepad contents and paste them to the console. You may need to ok the paste option first.
Hit enter. Once the new menu is up you can close the console by clicking on the (X).
 
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