Internet for the summer resident. Part 3. The Russians are coming

    Some time ago I wrote a comparative test of 4G routers for a summer residence . The topic was in demand and I was approached by a Russian manufacturer of devices for working in 2G / 3G / 4G networks. The more interesting it was to test the Russian router and compare it with the winner of the previous test - Zyxel 3316. I must say that I try my best to support the domestic manufacturer, especially if it is not inferior to foreign competitors in quality and functionally. But I will not keep silent about the shortcomings. In addition, I will share my own experience of turning an ordinary car into a mobile Internet access point for a camp or a summer residence.


    The issue of remote work or simply living outside the city is somehow related to technical issues: emergency or autonomous power supply, normal Internet connection. The latter is especially important, due to the fact that many of my friends and acquaintances choose to work in summer cottages for the summer, and many have moved to live in private houses. At the same time, only those houses that are located in the city are equipped with normal Internet. But they are often connected only via fiber for 15-40 thousand rubles. So it remains to sit on the mobile Internet, looking for the fastest and cheapest provider from those that are on the market. But it’s not about choosing a provider, but about choosing a router. In the last test, the Zyxel LTE3316-M604 router honestly defeateddemonstrating the maximum speed ceteris paribus: time, provider, external antenna.

    This time with the last winner I will compare the Tandem-4GR router and the TANDEM-4G + modem manufactured by Microdrive. There was an idea to simply supplement the previous material, but the addition turned out to be massive, so I decided to post a separate article.



    So, Tandem routers are motherboards made in Russia, but with a foreign element base. And what else to expect with destroyed own production of radioelements? But a really serious approach was used. Just look at the stern and sturdy metal case - this is more of an industrial solution than a plastic soap dish-router, which many people have in the hallway. It’s all the more interesting, because the operating conditions will be harsh: I decided not only to test it as a home router in the attic, next to the antenna, where it can reach -35 in winter, and in the summer it’s all 50 degrees, but also in the car, as a mobile access point. The fact is that over the past 10 years a laptop has been traveling with me and it is impossible to predict where I will find work.

    The circuitry is simple and reliable. The manufacturer claims that the devices were tested in a heat chamber at temperatures from -40 to +60. For a winter cold start, there are a couple of thermocouples that heat the board before starting - a good application for working in harsh conditions. The router and modem look as follows.



    What is the difference? The TANDEM-4G + modem works via USB and is designed to replace obsolete USB "whistles" that work in ready-made systems. Its advantage is that it provides reliable fastening of cable assemblies, unlike pigtails, which are extremely weakly attached to modems. In addition, it does not overheat under heavy load, as is the case with conventional modems. Well, MIMO diversity receiver technology is supported, which should add speed.

    The Tandem-4GR router is a separate device with an Ethernet port and a Wi-Fi module, in which it is enough to insert a SIM card to start working. A machine with a Linux modification is spinning on it, that is, those who wish can twist the parameters and configure all the chips inherent in this * nix system. In addition, the router supports power in a wide voltage range: from 9 to 36V. You can provide this same power by PoE by connecting an external power adapter to 12 or 24V, as well as picking up the router to the car's on-board network. That is why such a wide voltage range is supported: during the start of the motor, voltage drops to 9-10V, and during generator operation the voltage in the on-board network rises to 14-15V. This is not to mention the trucks, whose on-board network is designed for 24V. That is, it is a fairly strong industrial router,

    I am interested in a router, since the local information system at home is already well-established and only Internet access is needed. All connection is reduced to installing a SIM card and connecting a cable: all the settings of Russian providers are already included in the database, and if necessary, you can tweak the connection configuration yourself. You can also select or hard-fix the type of network you’re working with. I did this taking into account the fact that for me work is more important in LTE networks. And then the fun begins - we are testing!



    Tests Zyxel LTE3316 vs Tandem-4GR

    The testing methodology has not changed since the big comparative test of routers: all measurements are carried out with one SIM-card in the daytime on a weekday to minimize the effect of load on the BS. For the test, a PRISMA 3G / 4G MIMO antenna is used.from this review , which is mounted and oriented directly to the operator’s BS. Each test was carried out three times, and the final value was obtained by averaging the results. But the test did not end there. I decided to compare how much the MIMO technology and the use of such antennas greatly affect the speed characteristics, so I disconnected one of the cables from the router and repeated the tests.





    The test results were pleasantly surprised. The Russian router turned out to be no worse than its foreign counterpart and showed similar results, 2% behind in reception speed when using MIMO and 8% when working with a single antenna. But when sending data, the Tandem-4GR router outperformed the Zyxel LTE3316 by 6%, and when working without MIMO support, it lagged 4%. Given the measurement errors, the system data can be leveled. But I promised to talk about the shortcomings, so let's move on to them.

    If Zyxel LTE3316 is a ready-made router that you can connect to and work with, then the Tandem-4GR will require some attention before you begin. To begin with, Zyxel has 4 Ethernet ports and the ability to talk on an installed SIM card using an analog phone. In addition, Zyxel LTE3316 supports the CAT6 standard, which means the ability to aggregate channels to increase speed, and Tandem-4GR supports the CAT4 standard without aggregation. But this function only works if the base station itself supports aggregation. In my case, the BS worked in CAT4 mode. Tandem-4GR also boasts only one Ethernet port. That is, to connect several computers, a switch is required. In addition, Tandem-4GR does not have built-in antennas for communication with mobile operators. But there are significant advantages: The router can be placed in the attic of a house, in a metal box of a rack in a shopping center, mounted in a car and supplied with power via PoE or from the nearest battery. In addition, the router can work with USSD requests, which will allow you to work with a SIM card without having to get it and a router. Thus, a draw is obtained. Therefore, the tests continue. Now it is time to install the router in the car and continue the experiment.

    The router in the car. What could be easier?

    So, the idea of ​​equipping a vehicle with Internet access has been around for a long time. At first, the Internet was heard from a smartphone, then I got a mobile router with a battery. But it also requires recharging, and the cigarette lighter can be busy with a charging smartphone or something else. Well, I wanted to distribute the Internet not only to those who are in the car, but also in the country or in the camp. At the same time, I wanted to get rid of the need to carry with me some kind of “suitcase for communication”, that is, where the car is — there should be communication. Here the Tandem-4GR router tested above came in handy: compact, with a built-in Wi-Fi adapter, with the ability to power in a wide voltage range. Next will be the manual for installing the router in the car, and at the end of the test and a comparison with the smartphone.

    Instructions for installing the Tandem-4GR router in a Kia Sportage car

    I installed it in the tunnel between the front seats and brought all the wires there, including the external 3G / 4G antenna.



    Plus took from an unused element in the fuse box. Naturally, I connected everything through a fuse. To connect to the fuse box, he took one chip and broke the circuit, closing the terminals on the battery. Then, a remote fuse block was soldered to one of the terminals.





    Then he brought out a backlit button on the panel so that the router did not plant the battery around the clock, but turned on by the external button. The button itself is equipped with a light bulb that needs power. Minus threw at the nearest mass.



    Then he put on the roof a magnetic antenna GSM / 3G / 4G Magnita-1. This is a circular antenna with a gain of 3/6 dB and operates in the frequency range 700-2700 MHz, so that the router will be able to work in all frequencies of cellular networks. What was all this for?

    Firstly, the signal level with an external antenna is higher than when receiving a telephone antenna. Secondly, the metal casing of the machine shields the signal strongly and this is all the more noticeable the farther you are from the cell operator’s tower. Thirdly, the capacity of a car battery is many times higher than the capacity of the phone’s battery. In addition, it recharges while riding.

    So, I will go directly to the tests. I found a place where the signal strength in LTE was minimal on the phone. I got out of the car, because the Speedtest service did not load at all in the car and took measurements.



    Then he launched the router and connected via Wi-Fi from the same phone to it. Sim cards of one operator were used. First conducted a test with one external antenna. Speedtest has already shown acceptable results for surfing the net.



    Finally, I connected a second external antenna to the router to check if there is really an effect of MIMO technology with such a weak signal. Surprisingly, the reception speed increased by more than one and a half times. Although the transmission rate remained the same. This is due to the features of MIMO technology, which is focused on improving the characteristics of the incoming signal.



    Conclusion

    It's time to take stock. The Tandem-4GR router and the TANDEM-4G + modem have a sensitive radio module that allows you to get good speed with a poor signal level - this is a fact. The Tandem-4GR router can compete in performance with the winner of previous Zyxel 3316 tests, and the TANDEM-4G + modem can replace any USB modem in the existing infrastructure with an antenna and an existing ordinary router / computer. The price difference between the Tandem-4GR and Zyxel 3316 is about 500 rubles in favor of the first, which is enough to buy a gigabit switch. But the Tandem-4GR device has no built-in antennas, but the Zyxel 3316 can not be easily powered from the car network, and it takes up much more space.
    As a result, I can recognize the Tandem series as productive and worthy of placement both as an Internet source for a country house, and as a router for specialized points or mobile objects.

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