Feature Request: WiFi as WAN for Balance 20X

I am looking to upgrade my SOHO MK3 and am leaning toward the Balance 20X. However, I was surprised to discover that the Balance 20X is not able to use a Wi-Fi connection as the WAN input even though the SOHO MK3 can do that. That feature is really useful during network outages because I can use a phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to the MK3. Please add the Wi-Fi as WAN capability to the Balance 20X.

(I realize the 20X has the capability of a direct connection to a cellular network, but in situations where paying for a dedicated device connection for the 20X doesn’t make sense, it is really useful to have the ad hoc WiFi as WAN feature.)

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I agree. I just posted an idea the other day about removing the Cat 4 from the B20x, having two flex module slots, maybe creating a WiFi flex module. For people that dont need WiFi WAN they can have two cellular modules. Also, would be cool to see two physical ethernet WAN ports… Heck making the flex modules or MAX adapter work over PoE or something could be another cool idea… even a proprietary interface using the module slot, so you can have remote modems close to external antennas and then use the B20x as the brain router.

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Have/Buy an Android device and you can tether it to your 20X right now today!

A little late to the party, but can’t agree more. I was seriously considering replacing my Surf SOHO HW2 with the 20x until I read this post. I recently upgraded the SOHO to FW 8.2.1 to add OpenVPN into the mix. However, the VPN performance of the SOHO is not satisfactory and the 20x would help somewhat with a faster processor to cope with encryption. WAN over WiFi is important for me since I have a small commercial office that is fed with Fiber, but accessible only thru a wireless AP (providing 200/200 speed). It just seems unreasonable that 20x is not a true SOHO replacement when the SOHO is being discontinued. Hey Peplink, there is a business case for WAN over WiFi – not just for boats and RVs!

It’s part of the 8.3.0 update.


Thanks for the quick update padoco-daniel. That’s great news! Sure hope 8.3.0 will be released soon.

Great work Peplink!!

To make sure everyone understands this is an included license with primecare.
The full list that I understand that is included with the 20x under primecare is:
1-Year PrimeCare
IC2 cloud subscription
Hardware Warranty
Standard (you ship first) hardware replacement
8/5 vendor e-mail support
5 pepvpn license, instead of 2
Speedfusion bonding
Included fusionhub connection
1 x virtual-wan-license

prime care plus adds:
Advanced hardware replacement
24/7 vendor e-mail support

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@Jonathan_Pitts @padaco-daniel So does this mean that WiFi-as-WAN will NOT be available to any Balance 20X customers who do not have paid PrimeCare subscriptions?

Correct, I have not seen any seperate license for this.

That’s unfortunate. That’s probably going to be a deal killer on my plans to upgrade from the Surf SOHO MK3 to the Balance 20X. It seems crazy to think that a customer would pay twice as much for the more expensive Balance 20X and not get a feature that is included without any subscription costs in the older/cheaper Surf SOHO MK3. @padaco-daniel @Jonathan_Pitts

I will recommend that peplink offers a feature pack like they do on their br1 mini hw3 prime care model.
If they were to offer this , it would likely be onetime $99 to enable Wi-Fi WAN, Hot Failover, WAN Smoothing.

@Keith / @Travis

Please consider adding this feature pack to be comparable to the br1 hw3

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@Jonathan_Pitts @Keith @Travis Thank you! A one-time purchase is certainly better than a subscription. But still, a $99 fee to get the WiFi-as-WAN feature amounts to a 25% increase in the cost of the Balance 20X, which is already twice as expensive as the Surf SOHO MK3, which includes the WiFi-as-WAN feature. … I’m hopeful that the new SOHO router that Peplink is developing will be a better fit for the small business and home userbase. Otherwise, as much as I like Peplink’s products, it will be hard for me (and the businesses I work with) to stick with Peplink.

Our region is getting a major fiber optic network rollout this year, and the we will be needing routers with faster throughput, but don’t need routers with integrated cellular capabilities, and most of us don’t need Hot Failover or WAN Smoothing–just an easy way to connect our routers to an external hotspot (e.g., a smartphone) to get back online if the primary hardwired WAN goes down.

For example, construction in our area recently resulted in the cutting of a cable line knocking out internet for many hours. But with my Surf SOHO MK3 and WiFi-as-WAN, it was easy to connect my iPhone to the router and use the unlimited hotspot data plan to get my entire network back online. But because the need for backup cellular internet doesn’t arise very often, I don’t pay for a separate mobile hotspot or cellular backup SIM.

The hardware difference are so vastly difference between the 20x vs the soho.
Tranditionally the balance series has never supported wifi-as-wan , so I’m just happy to have it.
I still support the $99 feature pack for these one-time unlocked features Wi-Fi WAN, Hot Failover, WAN Smoothing.The reason to include all these at the same time is they already have it builtinto the code bundle to unlock all these features at once. It should be easy to apply the same thing from the br1-mini to the 20x.
I still feel that it’s important to offer the ability to have advanced features like this unlocked, and with the feature pack , this offers options to folks that perhaps for other reasons they don’t like to use cloud services like icontrol2.
If they don’t offer this feature pack then perhaps the BR1 mini hw3 may be a better fit for you then the 20x as with the feature pack it already has the wifi-as-wan.

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$99 would be a good deal. $49 / year is not bad either for all those features.

As another option:
Does usb tethering work on the 20x?

With Android phones it should work yes. For iPhones you really need the Wi-Fi WAN feature.

With this update the Balance 20X is the only Balance series model with Wi-Fi WAN functionality, but Peplink is working hard to move to one firmware base, Max and Balance had really different features, 8.3.0 is a good step into consolidation.

As I see it, Hot Failover and WAN Smoothing are both clearly aimed at certain types of business customers–the types of customers that are likely to have a dedicated cellular backup connection and might use the cellular features of the Balance 20X. On the other hand, Wi-Fi-as-WAN is clearly a feature that is useful for smaller businesses and home users–that’s why it was in the Surf SOHO MK3. So bundling the features together forces smaller businesses and home customers to pay for features they will never use (Hot Failover and WAN Smoothing) to get a feature (Wi-Fi-as-WAN) they will use on an occasional, as needed basis. And doing so just raises the price of the entry level fast router for small businesses and home users who basically just want/need a faster version of the Surf SOHO MK3.

The UBR Plus runs on the same SoC as the Balance 20X and has Wi-Fi WAN as default, because it is part of the MAX firmware series. But the UBR Plus also has dual internal cellular, so because of that your price is higher again.

With most MAX based series they have Wi-Fi WAN as default option (without active care plan), but most are older models so have older SoC’s that can handle less throughput. The BR1 Pro 5G/CAT20 have a better/faster SoC and also have Wi-Fi 6 because of that, but all that adds to the cost again.

Currently the Balance 20X with Primecare for several years is still the cheapest option for what you want to achieve and also be ready for 1Gbps Fiber connections. We’re running several of them on 1Gbps Fiber connections and they perform well and have no problems to handle the 1Gbps throughput, even though the specifications say 900Mbps.

There is a new version of the Balance One on the way, one with builtin cellular and one without. The one without might be the one you’re looking for, depending on the pricing, but there is no release date yet.

The Primecare renewal on the balance 20x is very well priced, so I think Peplink have struck a good balance keeping the device cost low and the prime care cost low without nerfing the feature set to much without prime care.