Pre-Sales: Peplink Balance One Core/Balance 30 (LTE vs Pro) Questions and Product Recommendations

I am setting up my home network to have a backup 4G/LTE ISP.

I’m considering an EdgeRouter (likely 4) or Peplink Balance One Core + LTE/4G Modem. Or a Balance 30 LTE or Pro with a Verizon SIM card.

I want to ensure a solid network for some degree of VoIP, web conferencing, etc. I don’t have any individual massive throughput needs, but would like keep throughput on the router reasonably high, currently 600/24 Mbps internet.

Peplink Balance One Core
Where does the Peplink Balance One Core outperform the EdgeRouter products, such as EdgeRouter 4?
What is the practical throughput of this device, with and without QoS enabled?
How long can I expect to receive security updates for the Balance One Core, if purchased in the next month?
Do I understand I can connect from a device on the public internet using OpenVPN? if so, is OpenVPN configurable via Gui?

Peplink Balance 30 (LTE or Pro)
How does Performance of the Balance 30 LTE or Balance 30 Pro compare to the Balance One Core?
What are the practical throughput figures for these devices, with and without QoS enabled?
How long can I expect to receive security updates for the Balance 30 LTE or Pro, if purchased in the next month?
Do I understand I can connect from a device on the public internet using OpenVPN? if so, is OpenVPN configurable via Gui?
Can an exterior antenna be attached and mounted remotely (outside)? Any limitations here?

If using WAN failover/failback features without any load balancing, does one of these products perform better than the other?

Any other product recommendations?

Thanks!

Firstly I would suggest you find a local partner to point your questions at, as if you end up going for something like a B30 LTE/Pro you will probably be buying it from one of them anyway :slight_smile:

Do you already have an LTE modem, or are you looking for something embedded? If you have an existing modem is this an LTE USB Dongle type thing or something that presents the connection as ethernet?

The data sheets for the various models are all public, so for throughput considerations that’s pretty easy to see where it comes to straight up internet bound traffic, are you planning on making use of SpeedFusion for failover, or just using basic policy routing for failover, if the former you may need to be mindful of the PepVPN performance.

Consider the following side by side comparison for the models you are interested in:

If your ISP delivers your main connection using PPPoE that is also something to bear in mind - PPPoE is a fair overhead on the Peplink hardware and will drive the CPU a lot harder than a straight ethernet handoff. I don’t have any high bandwidth PPPoE connections but there are a few posts on here recently of users complaining of poor PPPoE performance with high bandwidth (think GigE FTTP type circuits).

QoS is a reasonable CPU overhead too, but I’ve generally found it to not be much of a problem if working within the rated throughput of a router, frankly whilst Peplink provides reasonably honest figures on their data sheets I take the same approach in most respects as I do with other vendors - halve the numbers they give you and choose the nearest model to that that meets your needs. Depending on how complex your QoS requirements are you may find the Peplink a bit lacking here compared to something like the Edgerouter though.

OpenVPN is configured via GUI, and yes the router can act as an OVPN server for remote users, pretty sure both models you are looking at there support it (should be on the data sheets may be a difference in number of remote peers though so check that).

On the subject of GUIs the Peplink one is quite nice and easy to work with IMHO, they do not really offer any kind of functional CLI to end users for config tasks, you can do some stuff using the IC2 APIs though if programability if important to you.

Peplink are pretty good here, I have hardware purchased in 2014 that is still getting updates (Max BR1) so I’d say they do better than some vendors in that area but in line with the 5ish years I normally expect from “enterprise” products. A partner could probably advise you on the expected life cycle / roadmap of a product.

Yes, you could use an externally mounted antenna - Peplink sells their “mobility” (formerly Puma series) line of anteanns, they have proven to be pretty good in our testing. Other vendors we use such as Panorama and Taoglass are also very good - you just need to find what is best for your given location / mounting options - a bit out of scope for this post here.

Policy routing / load balancing are quite intertwined in how Peplink makes forwarding decisions, the two are not mutually exclusive so not sure what you mean by this. Throughput capability is that of the given hardware platform, using a load balancing algorithm vs a single WAN at a time is not really something I’ve noticed cause much overhead.

Yeah, look at the 20X with PrimeCare.

A lower cost of entry vs the two units above and generally good performance as a router.

Single ethernet WAN but you can use a USB-Eth dongle for a second low speed link (capped to 100mbps due to USB).

The onboard CAT4 LTE is probably the only part of the 20X I find a bit disappointing (wish it was CAT6 or an option for CAT12 by default without needing a module but hey ho).

PrimeCare has some ongoing costs, but they are very low on the 20X year to year and it gives you access to IC2 and also the use of the SpeedFusion bonding capability which may be of interest if combined with a FusionHub (free licence for a Primecare peer).

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Wow - Will, you are awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to field all these questions and for the recommendation. I genuinely appreciate it.

To answer some of your questions, I don’t have an LTE modem yet, and was leaning towards a separate device (just in case there is a hardware failure I’m not buying ‘two’ new things). However, at the right price point, an all-in one would also be welcome.

I am on comcast/xfinity cable internet (600Mbps) in the states and think it is dynamic ip, not PPPoE.

In terms of QoS, the only applications I would have for it are to prioritize any mobile/VoIP and video conferencing.

Your recommendation on the 20X is a really good one! I don’t know why I had passed on it earlier… I must have misread something. Yes, Cat6/12 would be great, though in reality I truly hope this is for rare failover, where 15+Mb is practically OK. Are you saying that if in the future I have a second ethernet WAN, I cannot use one of the other LAN ports as a second WAN (I think some devices offer that)?

If so, that is a little less attractive, though in reality, my backup will probably be 4G/LTE

I spoke to a vendor (5gstore.com), and they were very helpful. I think it is likely the right fit.

However… I have run into an issue. To begin with, I don’t have an IMEI to put into the website or provide to the Verizon agent. When they worked with their supervisor to look up the device, they came back and told me that while the device is compatible with the network, it isn’t compatible with my personal plan. Apparently they only allow use of this device with a business plan, which is particularly frustrating to hear. It really makes no sense… I should be able to add the device and use it, even if it is labeled as SMB device.

Any thoughts on this?

Ok, so basically DHCP from the cable modem so nothing to worry about there then.

Shouldn’t have too much trouble implementing that, main thing will be how you match the outgoing traffic to a QoS queue. Peplink are also working on implementing fq_Codel for bufferbloat management which on its own can make a big difference - think it’s there for upstream at the moment.

At the moment there is no way to use a LAN port as a WAN on the 20X, I cannot honestly see Peplink adding this as a feature or even a paid for licence key. The USB-Eth dongle works quite well within its limits though, so don’t discount it.

If 2x “real” Ethernet WANs is important unfortunately that tends to push you onto something like the Balance 2, but that gets expensive if you want to licence it for the more advanced features of SpeedFusion, and factor in the cost of some kind of LTE router on top.

As such we tend to skip over the Balance 2 and go straight to the Balance 310X, but again you are into a different price range but that does get you a good CAT-18 embedded LTE modem, 2 Ethernet WAN ports and 2 USB ports that can also be pushed into service if needed along with a significant jump in throughput capability - especially if you are making heavy use of SpeedFusion.

Neither the Balance 2 or 310X though can be bought as Primecare parts so the ongoing support upkeep is higher too for them - and at least on the 310X if you want to make use of IC2 then you need to keep the device under warranty.

RE Verizon I see there is another thread going for that - I am based in the UK, but we have equipment in the US too and have 20X and Transit Duo being used on all of the main carriers (AT&T / T-Mo / VZW) without issue. I do know though that we are not on off the shelf plans for any of them as we have a large-ish number of SIMs on each one with a very large, shared pool of data on each carrier (we use multiple terabytes of data a month on all of them).

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@RossA We are a peplink partner and can help you out.
We can provide you with the devices, plans and after sales support.
@WillJones gave a lot of great advise thanks!
I have a few follow up questions.
What speed do you want each wan to be?
If you are doing two wired wans you can always do a usb-ethernet dongle on the 20x.
The 20x is really a great unit for home use.
We setup Tony with one and he has three cellulars on it.
Built-in, flex module and usb max adapter.
See this forum post.
https://forum.peplink.com/t/best-solution-for-multi-wan-4g-lte-backup-for-rural-location/6159db21ed47ec2a5f65a21e/18
Let me know if you need help with plans and equipment.

The onboard Cat 4 on the 20x is indeed disappointing. To me it seems like a waste if you are not going to use it. It would be great to see a device like the 20x without the embedded cellular and instead an empty module slot (heck maybe even two slots), maybe 2 usb, 2 wired WAN ports, that does not cost an arm and a leg. That way you can select your modules/max adapters. Heck even a module for WiFi WAN could be very cool.

Right now there are lots of folks that have wired WAN via cable internet/fiber and are adding starlink, so that would take up two ethernet WANs. Then many also want a cellular WAN or two (or three). WiFi WAN in some cases, so if there is no built-in WiFi, then that would take up a third ethernet WAN.

Thanks @WillJones and @Jonathan_Pitts for all the good information!

Along with your USB comment, I did find a post in this forum yesterday by peplink staff that mentioned the USB as a secondary WAN with an ethernet adapter. I think that is A-OK. While I think 90% chance my backup connectivity will be LTE, I didn’t want to box myself in to preventing other means of redundancy.

My vision for the use of the redundancy as backup to my cable ISP is that

  1. it is rare (let’s say a couple blips a day, a maintenance event for an hour once a month, and a major outage for a partial day once a year)
  2. it’s primarily life support for working from home for my wife and I - which would involve general internet connectivity and 1-2 video conferences (Webex, MS teams, etc)
  3. access to emergency information (we recently had a natural disaster where we were at risk and our internet was out about 4 days)
  4. far lower priority would be for entertainment, and lower video quality could always be selected in conjunction with QoS setup for those work features

Cable internet was just upgraded to 600Mbps/24Mbps. I’d love to se 20Mbps download on a redundant internet provider, 50Mbps would be amazing, but practically speaking - if I can hit 10Mbps that should be ‘good enough’. Let me know if you all think I’m off.

I’m not particularly familiar with bandwidth on LTE. In fact, I just ran a few bandwidth tests on my old Iphone 7 for the first time the other day. Due to metal roof and general construction (brick exterior, orientation of home relative to the cell tower, etc) my reception inside is garbage. Outside - OK at best.

Download speeds on iPhone 7:
Inside the home: 1-3 Mbps
Outside (seems to vary quite a bit): 10-22 Mbps, most typically 18-20Mbps

I think I read that the iPhone 7 is cat9?

Given the above scenario, with the 20x built-in Cat4 module and a good exterior antenna, any thoughts on what type of download bandwidth I can expect?

Note - For typical monthly utilization, I am seeing 250-400GB/mo with my ISP. That can definitely be minimized during times of ISP failure. On my current Verizon shared data plan, I usually have about 6-8GB left over each month, which I suspect will be sufficient for my use case.

Will - unrelated: you’ll appreciate that I learned the saying “kettle of fish” from a UK co-worker today

Jonathan - Appreciate the forum support, and I did spend probably 45 mins with a vendor on a call yesterday, so i want to respect their helping me by supporting them, but in the event they are not able to support me in the sale or something else - I would be happy to work with you. Feel free to PM me (not sure if that is possible in this forum) your contact info.

Depends on the carrier, tower congestion,tower bands supported.
CAT4 in a lab has a max of 150mbps.
Typically I see t-mobile provide faster speeds where they have coverage.
I don’t think it would be unreasonable to get 20/20.
We have some pay per gb, mutli-carrier sims if that helps.

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