4G/LTE home network help

Hello. I have been hearing about OpenWRT for a long time and always wanted to try it, but I didn't have a single device that supported it. In this week I was improving my internet connection (mainly removing the download limit size that I had previously) and my old router may be not sufficient anymore (or just be an annoyance to deal with).

So right now I have these devices:

  1. Mi-Fi Router TP-Link M7350 (EU v5) - Yeah, I know it isn't top shelf, but it was actually and improvement from my old huawei Mi-Fi and it was actually on good price so I just rolled with it. The biggest problem I have with it right now is that it doesn't have any internet blocking tool - there is a "deny" list, but I want only to block the internet connection not the whole device. There was also issue with WPA2 password. It's just Wi-Fi 4 and it would be good to have better statistics because I will soon have 2 LTE sim cards with different internet plans and it would be good to distinct them in statistics automatically. I know it's not supported by OpenWRT, but maybe it can just act as a modem for another router.
  2. Plain smartphone with Wi-Fi 4 - not anything special so whatever goes. I use it exclusively to watch youtube and maybe I'll start using it to watch netflix when my 2nd card arrives.
  3. Main PC - it doesn't have any Wi-Fi card and I connect to internet by connecting my M7350 by USB. It used to work decently I mean, I didn't download anything heavy because of my limit, but recently it started to not charge my battery and it just died so I started looking into wi-fi cards for that so I can just keep my Mi-Fi router on the wall charger all the time. I learned about Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 and it seems perfect, but my PC doesn't have any M2 slots so I would need to buy some PCI-e card (maybe TP-Link Archer TX3000E or some cheaper card like fenvi FV102). I plan to upgrade my PC in next year so maybe it will have already m2 slot, but having a PCI-e card won't hurt anyway right?

And that's all devices that connect to internet here, occasionally I have some guests so it would be good to have a decent Wi-Fi. And before you ask "Why not use cable internet" - It's just not possible for the moment where I live. So here are my questions.

  1. What device to buy to install OpenWRT. I'd like to finally test it after hearing so many good things about it. It needs to have 4G/LTE connectivity or if it's possible USB modem passthrough (I've seen some ASUS routers that had USB port that you could connect your modem into, IDK what's that called). Otherwise I have no requirements other than maybe being at least Wi-Fi 4 and having 1 LAN port so I can connect my PC to the internet before I get PCI-e card or upgrade my PC.
  2. I also want to have PiHole installed so I can have a good adblocker on every device. Is it even possible on 4G/LTE connectivity to add it to network? And is it better to use Raspberry Pi Zero or Raspberry Pi 4B?
  3. Is it extremely hard to flash your own device? My Mi-Fi router isn't supported by OpenWRT, but last I checked it has a sufficient hardware and you can flash updates yourself by downloading zip update so maybe you can replace the files.
  4. Does OpenWRT have good statistics page? My 1st card would have still a limit, and other would have no limits but only on certain hours. Would I need to manually keep track of that or can it detect which card is plugged in?

That's all. Hopefully my questions are not too stupid and we can find a way to improve my weird network setup.

If you prefer to have all features in one device, the search will be very painfull.

Think about to divide the features to two or three devices.

As two-device solution I recommend to split the LTE part from the remaining features. Get a LTE router/modem, which can be operated in bridge mode. Then you have the free choice of hundreds of routers, depending on your needs for line speed, wifi and other requirements.

I'm using a Zyxel LTE3301 (CAT4, about 75€) and a RPI4B, I don't need wifi. The Zyxel is running stock firmware, the RPI4B OpenWRT.

If you take a LTE router without bridge mode, you'll have double NAT.

  1. I would highly recommend something that uses ARMv7 or newer although I guess you could use MIPS platforms but they're slowly being deprecated. Look for a IPQ40xx device that's supported.

From here you basically have two choices, either get a separate modem/gateway and but it in bridge mode. I would recommend Huawei gateways for best performance despite the controversy about the company simply because because they work by far best however finding one that can do bridge mode can be a bit of a challenge.

Another (cheaper) solution would to use a USB stick, the Huawei e3372(h) is a pretty good one that's cheap however if you want bridge mode you either need to flash it (which is a bit of a pain) or get a "stick" version e3372(s).

  1. No, get a SBC for that. RPi (despite not being very good at ethernet) will probably do fine in general. It looks like Arch(arm)linux have it packaged so if you want to something else I'd assume that anything that Arch(arm)linux supports would be fine if you want something else than RPi such as an Allwinner based SBC. Keep in mind that I haven't tried this personally.

  2. Depends, some devices need hardware modifications etc.

  3. Not builtin as there's no permanent storage but you can use a USB-stick although the amout of software available is limited depending what and how detailed statistics you're looking for.

Do you know a Huawei LTE modem/router, which supports bridge mode with stock firmware?

He gave you models: E3372h,s. You should use 'Stick' firmware. However I recommend Hilink, it works 'out-of-the-box' with installing couple of packets.

Huawei E5186 but bridge mode doesn't necessarily need to work for your provider, you might need to flash your device (use Google). B2368-66 might also be worth looking at, your best bet regarding information about this excluding Google seems to be https://www.lteforum.at/forum/datenmodems-lte-router-antennen.35/ in my experience. Apparently some Netgear/Zyxel modems also support bridge mode but you need to consult the manual for specific models to confirm.

Hilink adds NAT however :-/

B315, B525. You may need to use a specific firmware version.