Product selection

I have an unstable Optimum FIOS connection at home, it disconnects as many as 20 times a day but sometimes it never. Disruption can be from a few minutes to half an hour. T-Mobile 5G Home Internet does not have coverage in my area therefore Optimum is the only choice. There is an Optimumwifi hotspot nearby with very weak signal that I have to bring my laptop to the window to receive 6Mb/3Mb reception. Yet, when out of the main door around 50 ft closer to the hotspot transmitter, I can get 50/10 connection. My apartment does not allow outdoor antenna therefore the most I can do is to put a better antenna near the window. When connected to the hotspot, I need to input my user ID and password to get a connection. The hotspot is not always available when my FIOS is down but sometimes it works.

The unstable internet connection creates a lot of problem when I’m working from home and my kids are having remote classes. All of us have to go to the same window to get the hotspot connection. I’ve tried SIM tethering but data ran like water when we are having video class and conference.

I wish to find a product with failover connection in the following sequence - FIOS, Optimum hotspot then LTE bearing in mind that it should have very good hotspot reception. The device can come without a WiFi because I already have an AX wifi router while Peplink is only having AC wifi - please correct me if I’m wrong. Which Peplink product would have this ability?

Hi, welcome to the forum. I feel your pain. I know a good number of people that upgraded to Fiber from DSL only to be suffering like you are with outages and poor quality links.

I’d suggest you buy a UBR LTE.

It can use its wifi radio as a WAN link, so cable it up to a mimo wifi antenna (eg something like this) that sticks on the window(or get two like these if you can’t find a mimo one), and you’ll be able to use the Optimumwifi.

In fact before you buy any more antennas, just get some good quality SMA wifi antenna extension cables and tape the included wifi antennas to the window and see what speeds you get.

The other option is to get a directional wifi client AP. Peplink have the device connector ip 55 - which is a great bit of kit. Ubiqutii have the nanostation range which is also great especially since you can get a window mount for it. (here is a guy setting up a nanostation to connect to a RV park wifi which is in fact similar to what you want to do).

In fact, my advice would likely be to buy the nanostation and stick it on your window and find out what speeds you can get from the Optimumwifi, then if it works well, buy a Peplink to load balance between the LTE, nanostation and your FIOS. (likely a Balance 20X with a USB ethernet for the nanostation to connect to).

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Thank you Martin for your inputs, they are very informative.

After browsing the product pages of Peplink, I’m not sure what are the differences between UBR LTE and Balance 20X, which would be a better choice for me?

I can see the Balance 20X seems able to meet my needs and have a lower price tag. In my mind, the 300M FIOS will plug into the WAN port, the nanostation/IP55 will be connected to the USB WAN port using a ethernet to USB adaptor and these two WANs will be configured as load balancing. The SIM card will be configured as failover.

Yet, I have question on how to login the hotspot. It has an open connection and once connected; when using my PC, it will popup a web browser connected to Optimum page asking for my user ID and password. The Nanostation has only the field to input the connecting WPA password that in this open connection, it should be left empty. My question is, how do I access the popup page to input my user ID and password?

I am expecting that I can disconnect both FIOS and SIM in the first instance, connect a PC to the LAN side of the Balance 20X before configuring the hotspot connection. When connected to the hotspot, then I can go to the Optimum page on my PC to input user ID and password. Please let me know if this is a correct expectation or otherwise.

Another question pops up in my mind. The Optimum hotspot will disconnect my connection after a certain period of idle time. How to stay connected at all time?

I have a lot of questions because of limited networking knowledge and investing in all these equipment; although for the benefit of work from home, would be out of my pocket that I hope they really work for me before spending. Thanks

With a 300m FIOS you want the Balance 20x as its the best value and can support 900Mbps of throughput (compared to the 120mbps of the UBR LTE). Your suggested setup is fine.

This will require a manual process. I would setup a dedicated SSID called ‘hotspot-login’ and force all traffic from that SSID via the USB WAN connected to the nanostation.
The nanostation will be set to connect to the hotspot, so it will be associated to the open SSID. Then when you connect a device to the hotspot-login SSID when you go to browse the internet the optimum login page will appear and you can login with a username / password.

Once you have done this, all further traffic from the Balance 20 that goes via the USB WAN will be authorised (until the login times out whatever that is). IN which case you would login to the hotspot-login SSID again and then login again.

Actually I have a better idea. Instead of different SSIDs lets do it with a single SSID and a target DNS name instead. So setup an outbound policy for martinlangmaid.com (or whatever domain you like) and force that to go via the USB WAN. Then with all your WANs connected in load balancing mode of your choice you can then just visit martinlangmaid.com in any browser and it will be sent via the USB WAN so you can login.

If you use Peplinks router utility on your phone you can tell the connection status of your USB WAN from there and even get notified when the timeout happens.

Ask as many questions as you like :slight_smile:
I would still recommend you buy the nanostation first since its a cheap way to test the idea and prove you can get the WIFI access you want. If you can get good speeds with a laptop connected to the nanostation then hitting the buy now button on the Balance 20x is less of a risk. Although to be fair, I expect you’d still want the B20x to do FOIS and cellular load balancing and later SpeedFusion Cloud.

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Thank you again for your generous information. The optimum wifi is a 5GHz transmission, what is the best Nanostation that you can suggest? Does a single frequency Nanostation have better performance than a dual frequency Nanostation?

If its a 5Ghz service I would suggest the Nanostation M5 Ubiquiti - NanoStation® M

Remember to get a POE injector to power it - they don’t always come in the box.

[Edited : changed from AC to M5 as AC only supports proprietary Airmax protocol).

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What a great idea.

As for constantly forcing some activity to the Optimum hotspot so that you remain logged in, this can probably be done with the Health Check feature of the Peplink router. Probably Ping checking won’t work but either DNS or HTTP based checking should work. If they fail, then simply load balance and give the hotspot 10 percent (a guess) of your bandwidth so that some traffic is sent there.

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Configuring to force; for example, 10% of traffic via a WAN would be an idea. If FIOS is disconnected, will Balance 20X automatically route all traffic to that particular WAN?

I saw some pre-owned Balance 20 (not 20X) in eBay, do they have GE WAN? Tried to contact seller but most of them don’t know.

Yeah. You can define the outbound policy in a way which can automatically failover and fail-back.

Short answer: No.

Router throughput of the 20 varies with the hardware revision

Balance 20:

HW1: 100Mbps
HW2: 150Mbps
HW3: 150Mbps
HW4: 150Mbps
HW5: 150Mbps
HW6: 150Mbps
HW7: 150Mbps

The specs for currently selling version:

The switch (LAN) is GE, of course.

Cheers,

Z

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Make sure that you get the M5 Line… the Airmax AC line in the link is not 802.11.
Take a close look at the data-sheets, you must see /a /g /n etc… Airmax AC is their own protocol.

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Paul is right. that AC is only airmax compatible. Should have recommend the M5 line.

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Thank you. Will surely look for M5.

By the way, can anyone tell me what is the price to unlock the third WAN port of Peplink Balance 20? It is because I think if I can load balance the FIOS and Hot Spot, the chance of outage would fall into a light occurrence. If such happens very often, then we can use our cell phone’s tethering for a while. In case of very bad situation, I can purchase an external LTE modem then plug into the optional WAN.

About 70USD I think likely a bit less.

Its hard to recommend the Balance 20 though when the much more capable 20x is only 100USD or so more…

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Thank you for your information. Yes, it is not worthwhile.