Millions of people currently are trying to work from home as worldwide lockdowns or self-isolation means to shelter in place.
We’ve seen a rush on PCs as folks realise this new normal could last many months. With it comes a scramble for internet bandwidth as the majority will be binging on Netflix, trying to get their kids do online schooling and getting some meaningful social and work contact happening via the same digital pipeline as well.
Coming to the rescue as a very welcome mobile broadband alternative is the D-Link DWR-956 4G LTE Router.
Read on why we recommend it.
Being in a rural area with no ADSL or NBN we’ve been at the mercy of Big T’s spotty mobile phone coverage and paying through the nose for that privilege. We used the Nighthawk M1 until recently which on its own doesn’t have enough Wi-Fi oompf to bring that signal to our whole house. So we hooked it up to D-Link’s COVR (reviewed here) and voila! Problem solved.
But how about a good all-in-one box that is both able to pick up the LTE signals better and cast the Wi-Fi across a decent area?
The DWR-956 Router proposes to do that and may be everything you’ll need if you work from home.
Let’s hear some specs, you say?
Okay: The DWR-956 is a wireless AC1200 3G/4G LTE Router with Gigabit Ethernet Ports and VoIP capability.
It sports downlink speeds of up to 150Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 50Mbps.
The fast AC1200 Wireless network provides Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1167Mbps. That’s the marketing take on this unit.
The theoretical max speeds sound impressive but it’s a bit like saying my car’s speedometer says it can go 200kph...
The reality is less spectacular but these numbers do give a good indication this unit is no slouch but the critical factor is always: how good is your mobile reception?
All the advanced security standards are in place as you’d expect.
Handy is also a button for simply switching the Wi-Fi network off and on if needed. So you can switch the wireless LAN off yet still allowing devices connected to the physical Gigabit LAN ports of the Router to stay connected.
Of course there’s also a facility to create a guest Wi-Fi network with individual security settings.
To finish off the security aspects: the DWR-956 also includes a built-in firewall and with support of IPsec you can create secure VPN tunnels back to your corporate or school network.
With all its possibilities there are a multitude of configuration options. Fortunately, there’s a wizard option for a quick setup. That’s always my preferred way of installing. So I figured that just plopping in the SIM card from the Nighthawk would do the trick. (Note: this unit needs to have a full-scale SIM rather than the smaller sizes in current devices. So hopefully you haven’t thrown out the 3-in-1 SIM card from your ISP!).
The unit did not automatically recognise the SIM card so we had to configure that manually.
After that it was all sweet. The DWR-956 has better reception than the Nighthawk and the Signal Strength indicator is a great help in knowing where to place the device for optimum strength.
We know the D-Link hardware is excellent. No problems there. After all, they brought out a very similar model earlier, the DWR-953, so any bugs would have been well and truly ironed out. What will determine whether this is a good unit for you is: how is your mobile reception and what your expectations of Wi-Fi coverage is.
This unit is ideal for small homes or offices. Or really anywhere a quick hotspot is needed without massive data streaming.
This unit is also great as a failover device in case your broadband gives up the ghost.
In other words the DWR-956 is not for everyone but folks that need to work from home will find this an excellent solution.
The DWR-956 Wireless AC1200 4G LTE Router is available now from D-Link (RRP AUD$349.95). Cheaper if you hunt around of course.