If you are self-isolating (or just working from home) and
have lousy ADSL or no internet, then the D-Link DWR-956 4G LTE AC1200 router
may be just what the doctor ordered.
No, the D-Link DWR-956 4G LTE AC1200 is not a substitute for
NBN – if it passes your front door you should install it – but it could work
for remote workers, renters, holiday homes and ‘pop-up’ working.
Wi-Fi AC1200 dual-band 2.4GHz (300Mbps) and 5GHz
3/4G/LTE with standard SIM – LTE 1, 3, 7, 8, 20,
28 with signal strength meter
1 WAN port (connect to a gateway/router as well)
4 Gigabit LAN ports
RJ-11 port for VoIP/QoS calls (SIP – it is not a
landline with a public directory number)
WPS, Mac Address Filter, NAT/SPI Firewall, VPN
Passthrough, Parental Control and most typical router tasks
170 x 180 x 80 mm x 400g
Requires power from a 240V plug pack
We expect that maximum 2.4GHz range (100mW) to be about 30
metres and 5Ghz (200mW) about 15 metres in a typical home. It is for smaller,
Speeds – read this
The D-Link DWR-956 4G LTE AC1200 works on 4G bands 1, 3, 7,
8, 23 and 28. The latter is called Telstra 4GX or Optus4G Plus (700Mhz LTE) and
offers higher speeds and in-building connectivity – if you can get it. It also falls
back to snail’s pace 3G if your reception is poor.
But you need to know that 4GX/Plus requires a Telstra/Optus direct data SIM – not offered via most MNVO (Telstra/Optus/Vodafone resellers) that use the standard 4G network.
To be clear the MVNO smartphone sim (non 4GX/Plus may get slower download/upload speeds. However, there is no harm trying your MVNO phone SIM first to see if it is enough for your use.
4GX ranges between 50-100Mbps DL with 5-10Mbps UL
and sub-20ms lag – D-Link claims it is 150Mbps DL capable in ideal conditions.
4G ranges between 20-50Mbps DL with a 1-10Mbps UL
and lag times can be a lot longer.
3G is sub-2Mbps
So the moral of this is to test your current speeds using the free Google Play app called Network Cell Info Light before you invest in the D-Link DWR-956 4G LTE AC1200 router. It will tell you the band your smartphone is currently on and importantly the signal strength. It should be a maximum of -100dBM (lower is better).
And also use OOKLA Speed Test on your mobile (turn Wi-Fi off and leave mobile data on) and it will tell you what speed you are likely to get. If you have crappy phone reception/speed, don’t even think of buying it as it will not magically improve.
Data costs – not cheap
Not surprisingly Telstra and Optus gouge you on data costs
ranging from Telstra ($1.67-4.00) and Optus ($0.66-3) per GB (1000MB). By
comparison, NBN plans start around $50 per month for unlimited data.
Alternate use – add 4G to your existing home Wi-Fi network.
If you have super slow ADSL or unreliable FTTN NBN and you
are sure that this will deliver better speeds, then you can use it to access
the internet. Then run an Ethernet cable from its LAN port to your existing
ADSL WAN Port to hook up the existing home network.
Or just add it for fall-over mode.
We understand that you may be able to buy third-party 4G antennas to boost signal strength or even install an external aerial – talk to a licensed antenna professional and make sure it is Australian compliant.
GadgetGuy’s take – D-Link DWR-956 4G LTE AC1200 is perfect for the right use in the right place.
Hardware-wise its perfect, as we expect from D-Link. While you may want more Wi-F 5 AC speed, AC1200 is well matched to 4G DL/UL speeds. It should support up to ten devices but avoid heavy data use applications.
It is perfect for remote workers using MS Office and
browsing. Here upload speeds are more important, and 10Mbps at under 20ms is fine
for this use.
It is not for video or music steaming unless you can afford
huge data bills.
However, and we must take some points off as it is not like the press release states, “Superb Speeds – you can quickly create a high-speed wireless network at home”. This is a personal and small apartment device.
We won’t be reviewing this device as we know enough about 4G LTE routers to know what it does and does not do. Our strongest advice is to buy it on the condition that you can test it in your home/workplace and return it if it does not perform as you expect.
Our assessment is that hardware is at least 4/5, and all other caveats reduce it from there.
D-Link quality and support
Ready to go with a data SIM from Telstra or Optus
Not a powerful router – for smaller areas only
4G LTE depends on Telstra or Optus data SIM
Expensive data costs
Telstra has an HTC 4/5G modem that has similar characteristics.