Recommend LTE routers to run OpenWrt?

Hi there,

I hope this is in the right area of the forum, I just signed up today.

I am currently running an Asus 4G-AC68U

I have just found out it cannot run openwrt technology

I am not able to run broadband in my area of the city.

Is there any 4G LTE router that anyone could recommend that is capable of running openwrt.

built-in 4G with Sim slot
good range of Australian bands
connectors for an external 4G antenna
2.4G & 5G bands
802.11ax-2021 or 802.11ax
USB socket(s) and/or memory card slot
decent processor / ram etc
stable OpenWRT support for wireguard

Thanks again guys

get whatever fitting (openwrt) supported router with a USB port, add a USB 4G dongle ?

Would that work the same speed as a dedicated 4G router?

Also what is a usb 4G dongle?

usually, yes.

4g modem on a (usb) stick.
like https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00C9TF13Q/

edit: new example

So i have a simcard modem, can you put the simcard into that thing?

Yup, there's a simcard and a microSD slot, but I don't know what the capacity limit is.

There're obviously other brands too, but I'm not in AU, it was just an example.

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hey thanks i didnt know you could do that.

So buying any openwrt with usb 3.0 port and it would work ?

Don't even need USB3, since the modems are maxing out at 150mbps (theoretical, max I've seen is around 85-90, in down town areas, again, not in AU), USB2 would do too, but it never hurts to have USB3 :wink:

Don't assume the microSD slot can be used when the modem's working with openwrt, depending on the mode it's running in, the slot might be inaccessible.

Try to get a modem with external antenna connectors, if you'd like to try to get better signal down the road.

The E3276 has got it, others do too.

Before you buy a modem, make a search here, the forum might have relevant info about it, working / not working, hacks, issues, workarounds, etc.

There's a ton of relevant info at https://www.ofmodemsandmen.com/, it's not an official openwrt build, but the modem support might be better.

Oh! and you can use an old cell phone as modem as well, wirelessly, or via USB cable.
It's called thether:ing.

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So the modem I have is attached below, I was really impressed with the speed for our apartment, I put it far away and it has to travel through almost 3 cement (thick apartment built in the 80's like the good old days) and the speed is phenominal.

But I wanted to get it running on openwrt and aparently its not supported. I tried to flash the firmware but i dont think it would work.

To be honest I would really prefer a dedicated 4G LTE router as I think the speeds would be faster and more steady, I think I used one of those dongle things before and it was a bit slow, although what would I know I'm probably wrong.

It's a Broadcom device, which isn't very well supported by Openwrt due to closed source drivers.

http://en.techinfodepot.shoutwiki.com/wiki/ASUS_4G-AC68U

Feel free to elaborate on the necessity of openwrt, maybe you can keep your 4G-AC68U, and the problem can be solved with another device connected to it.

So I want to use the wireguard vpn protocol and our provider has recommended openwrt routers.

I am stuck with openvpn and it is a bit slow at times. I use a dedicated client on one of our systems on Fedora and it runs very very fast. so the comparison to openvpn and wireguard is second to none,

Put another (openwrt capable) device between the 4G and the clients, and set up the VPN there.
Depending on the configuration capabilities of the 4G, you might lose it's wifi, unless you're not forcing all devices to use the VPN.

VPN doesn't really do anything for privacy, so unless you're trying to access geo blocked sites, there's no real use case - you're not living in a dictatorship, where they hunt down people for having an (different) opinion about things.

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right like another router? You mean hook up a normal openwrt wireless broadband router (not 4G) to my router with a cable.

VPN's dont do anything for privacy? How should we best stay more secure online, do you have any suggestions. How about running TOR protocol through the network, that would be very slow though.

To be honest I am just trying to avoid ads, trackers and I want to keep our network more safe, privacy and security is important too.

Yup, LAN -> WAN.

Best solution is not to go online :stuck_out_tongue:
Tor should really be just as bad as VPN, it masks your location, nothing else.
I haven't been reading up on Tor, so I might be wrong.

Install adblock on your future secondary openwrt router device, until then, swap DNSes on your clients for adguard DNSes, today. If not doable in the 4G, hardcode them in your devices.
Will not stop everything, but some. https://adguard.com/en/adguard-dns/overview.html#instruction

If you use adblock with a lot of blocked domains, get a router with plenty of RAM, it can be a real memory hog. Adblock support thread

Since your current device is fast enough for you, why not just get a normal router supported by OpenWrt and connect its WAN port on the LAN port of the existing device (and disable the wifi on it too)? This would work fine for your needs and it's very quick and simple to do.

In my experience, setting up an LTE modem in OpenWrt isn't very intuitive and requires learning many things about the modem technical details and LTE technical details and doing tests and tune the settings to actually have good speed.

In a consumer LTE router this job has been done by the manufacturer, and you just need to add user/password and a SIM for it to work. It "just works".

Speed of LTE usually depends from the "Category" grading of the LTE modem used and the antennas it is using (and of course from the support of specific features in the LTE providers around you). USB 2.0 port "real world" bandwith is around 30 MB/s which translated in network speeds becomes 240 Mbit/s so it's fine for a lot of LTE modems. In fact many slower LTE modems (probably your device's LTE modem as well given its specs) are actually connected with USB data lines inside the device.
Higher speed modems are using USB 3.0 data lines.

Your current device is a "Category 6" https://www.asus.com/Networking-IoT-Servers/Modem-Routers/All-series/4G-AC68U/ "ASUS 4G-AC68U features the latest LTE Category 6 mobile broadband, "

Modems with higher "Category" like Cat 7 or Cat 11 or whatever can go faster, but mostly because they use "Carrier Aggregation" aka they connect to the ISP's LTE tower using multiple LTE bands at the same time. The higher the number, the higher the number of LTE channels they can aggregate.
There are also other features like "4x4 MIMO" and so on, but in my experience most of the difference comes from Carrier Aggregation.

This "carrier aggregation" feature (as "4x4 MIMO" and most others) must be supported by the LTE towers around you to work, though. So you can go out and buy some ridiculously overpowered (and very expensive) devices, like a Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G https://www.netgear.com/home/mobile-wifi/hotspots/mr5200/ that has a Cat 20 modem that can do carrier aggregation with 6 bands, it has 4x4 MIMO and all the bells and whistles of the LTE modem world. But if the LTE towers around you don't support these feature it will still run like your current device.

If your ISP does not tell you this information (they usually don't, why would they) you need to check LTE groups and communities in your area that have collected the information about the antennas. For example I use "lteitaly" community data (which is only for Italy) and they provide maps that tell you where the LTE towers are, and what features they have. Here for example the map showing the LTE towers of one of the providers. https://lteitaly.it/public/map.php#15/44.798966/10.326461

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Hi.
Using huawei E3372s, ( external antennas connector are available ) for more than 3 years, as backup connection ( failover mode ) with openwrt ( working at 1st shoot with NCM modules ).
Just upgraded my e3372s with a huawei B315s, bridge mode, and 2 outdoor external LTE antenna, connected to my openwrt router.
Any decent router with 16/128, usb port and some CPU are just fine to run it.
Made some tests with WE826 T 16M, with nice results, working like a charm with openwrt.

A low-cost device, using integrated modem (Quectel EC-25, good choice), having reasonable resources, with good support for official openwrt is the
WE826-T from ZBT. (There is also a WE826 in plastic case available.)
My 'workhorse' for certain apps.
Check alibaba.

Sorry for late reply, this is so helpful. Its a lot to unpack here, I guess the speed could be better but I'm not too concerned about speed at this point. What I would love is to use wireguard and also a way to keep the speed of our home internet faster during peak times.

Could you give me an example setup or recommended product for this idea?

Thanks again so much.

With a VPN server in your home you can access the devices in your home LAN from outside, and protect the connection of your devices outside the home that are using free or untrusted wifi networks, plus probably bypass some firewalls.

To do this, the VPN server needs to be accessible from outside your LAN, which means your Internet Service Provider has to provide you a public IP or at least a dynamic but non-shared IP. This is a question you can ask to your provider. Static IPs are usually a paid service, it's uncommon to just hand them out to everyone because they are a finite resource, and are not enough for everyone.

If you have this, then you can install a Wireguard server on a device in the local LAN and then to a port-forward in the existing Asus device for the Wireguard default port number (they are shown in most tutorials, and you can also change them to custom port numbers) so that all your devices that want to connect to the VPN server will be redirected to the device in the LAN.

Internet speed during peak times is lower because the LTE tower you are connecting to is experiencing more traffic from other people, and the cable between the tower and the rest of the Internet is not big enough to handle that.
Even with a faster CATxx modem you can't change this. Yes your speed between the home and the tower is faster but then everyone goes to the same cable anyway, and in places where "net neutrality" laws exist (more or less everyone that is not in the USA), the available speed is split equally between all users. The speed you pay for in the contract is a upper limit. So you will get UP TO 100 Mbit up and 20 Mbit down, for example, but everyone will go at same speed if the tower has to split available speed between users.

This is a problem also for people with wired internet if the local infrastructure is overbooked and overloaded (in my place it is), as DSL or fiber also work in a similar way. The cable from your home is going to a "local aggregator substation" that takes the traffic of all homes in an area to then send their traffic through a single bigger wire to other network infrastructure.

There is not much you can do about it with a single device and a single Internet Provider contract, because that single device will connect to the closest tower to give you the best speed already, and the provider cannot make you "go faster" due to net neutrality laws (note that to make you go faster everyone else is going slower, because the total amount of speed available does not change even if someone has VIP access).

If you get more than one internet contract, possibly using a different internet service provider (either on LTE or DSL or whatever else), then you can do some basic traffic aggregation from a Openwrt router connected to both modem devices over ethernet with mwan3 package to spread your internet access through more than one modem (and internet contract). So that when a line is full the other requests can be done over the other line.

Or you can go all-in and use true bonding, which is actually doing a sum of the speeds of the connections you are using together. But this is non-standard network traffic so it requires you to use a specially modified OpenWrt called OpenMPTCProuter, that runs on fewer devices than OpenWrt (also because they need a good CPU to do this job), and requires also to rent a cloud server (can be done for cheap) to act as aggregator that will receive the non-standard network traffic and convert it back into normal traffic that can be received by other services on the Internet.
I'm actually doing this for my home network, because I live far from the city so land-based internet sucks, and LTE speeds vary depending on time of day as you have also noticed.

So you can see the solution to this second question will probably cost you more money (multiple Internet contracts and modems, maybe a cloud server) and is a bit more complex than the average setup.