Buying 500+ Devices for use in homes, Cheapest yet reliable

I'm involved in a project to buy 500+ devices that will be installed in houses and redirect all connected phones/tablets/computers to a captive portal showing a website (just marketing, no login etc).

Since we are giving away these devices (Routers or AP's?) for free the cost need to be as low as possible, yet we don't have much access to the devices after they are installed, so they still need to be reliable and work as expected for the daily wifi users. The houses already have their standard ISP issued router, so looking for the cheapest way to compliment or replace that router with ours.

Would be honored to hear your recommendations!

Contact GL.iNet

They have extensive OEM facilities there, and have what I consider excellent routers in the US$20 price range (single quantity, retail Amazon channel, delivered), such as the AR300M-Lite.

I haven't tried their MT-based units, but they just released the Vix Mini which is very tiny and also under US$20. I suspect the MT-300N-V2 may have a little better wireless antennas, but is a bit larger (comparable to the AR300M, but MediaTek, where the AR300M is Qualcomm Atheros).

Thank you Jeff Will check them out! I'm based in Thailand, so will most likely import directly from China, also since this is for households the device size does not matter, but the range needs to be on par with standard.

try Tenda F9

My low-cost workhorse is ZBT WE826. Have done various hotspot projects with it (incl. coova-chilli), for various companies. The good part is, the WE826 (standard version) has ample resources (128MB RAM) for low(est) price. Also SD-card is possible, for swap or mass storage.

I also used GLis for various projects. They are good, too, but a bit more upscale in price, especially when comparing the hardware (RAM !). openwrt is constantly growing, so 128MB gives you more freedom for the future or functionality, like remote firmware upgrades, VPN etc.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with ZBT :slight_smile:

That actually looks really good, will test it out, thanks

In case, you need some help with the ZBT, lemme know. I have some connections to them, as I was doing firmware for several of their customers, especially hotspots.

Thanks Reinerotto, the specs and price looks great on the ZBT, my only concern with them is that since this is for households, the looks of them does look very homebrew compared to a normal ISP type router.

Correct, the case is not very pretty. However, various serious WISPs use them this way, because of lowest cost. For (very) few dollars more, you can get a customized case from them. Price depends upon number of devices, of course, as ZBT is OEM.
openwrt on WE826 is officially supported for years already.

Look at the Super Mini OpenWRT WIFI Module.
Cost only few bucks for OEM for Model# OMY-7628N