Searching for a sim-card router

Hi all,

I'm going to take a 2nd SIM card on my cell phone subscription (usually I use 45 GB tops out of 80 GB) at french ISP Sosh/Orange.

I want to use this SIM card in a router. Here are my criteria. Who would have the ideal (or almost ideal) equipment to recommend? :slight_smile:

  • 4G / LTE

  • Optimal frequency bands for Sosh/Orange in France (for 4G/LTE, they can be within: B1 (2100 mHz), B3 (1800 MHz), B7 (2600Mhz), B20 (800 MHz), B28 (700 MHz))

  • Possibility to make a guest network

    • with limited bandwidth so that they don't suck up my data plan

    • also, maybe with some ports blocked (like opening only HTTPS, HTTP, IMAP and SMTP ports)

  • Possibility to access the LAN remotely

    • so, VPN ideally included

    • and/or redirection of incoming ports

    • and/or DYNDNS

  • With potential for home automation with remote control (I don't know anything about it at the moment, I imagine that opening ports and VPN are sufficient conditions, but feel free to disabuse me of this)

  • Run by OpenWRT or convertible to it, of course :slight_smile:

  • I'm not afraid of a little hacking (for example, years ago I turned a Meraki access point I was given into a pretty cool router, run by OpenWRT).

  • Why not: availability on second hand market

  • Ideally, future-proof:

    • with an esim chip

    • 5G compatible, if it exists at all

  • Ideally, choice of 2 and 5 GHz wifi

  • Ability to mesh and/or connect to distant wifi access point through an ethernet
    output (and maybe PLC) would be a plus

  • Cheap (let's say < 100 € would be fine but if I am seduced, or the device has a reputation of durability, I wan go to 150-200 €).

Specifically, I can get my hands on a D-Link DWR-921 for 50 €, and I especially wonder if it'll be able to broadcast on 2 SSIDs.

You can use your phone by tethering to an OpenWrt router like the RT3200 with a usb port. It works really well.

Or @patrakov may help with suggesting one or two inexpensive 4g routers.

I originally used a Huwaei B818-263 in bridge mode and even though that cannot run OpenWrt that was fantastic and I'd highly recommend it but it may be a little too expensive for you. Now I use the NR7101 which can run OpenWrt but that's even more expensive.

I assume that for the "incoming connections" requirement, you can get a public IP address directly on the modem. Note: last time I have seen this outside of a "business" subscription (which is not available to a private person) was in 2011. Or you will have to use IPv6, or something like PureVPN (for the external IP, not for privacy).

Without the 5G, I would recommend a cheap Huawei E3372s stick and any OpenWRT compatible router with a USB port. Note that there is also Huawei E3372h model on sale (and it's more popular) - but it fails the "incoming connections" requirement, because it is a NAT router. Fortunately, it can be reflashed to the stick firmware.

Failing that, there is also ZTE MF286R, which is an OpenWRT compatible router.

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I think people have issues with the R, and openwrt, the 286D might be a better buy.

Thanks guys!

That could have been a nice scenario, but I want this to work even if me and my phone are not present. Hence the 2nd SIM card.

A bit pricey indeed. Especially all the 5G routers I saw mean a huge price bump. I guess they're gonna be cheaper in a couple of years. It makes me consider seriously taking a 2nd-hand, cheap 4G router and enjoy it as long as I'm happy with the 4G bandwidth.

If by "public IP address" you mean a static one, then no, I definitely won't have it. Hence the DynDNS requirement in my list (there may be other solutions, but as far as my limited networking knowledge goes, that's the only solution that comes to mind).

Do you mean IPv6 provides us with static IP addresses?

I don't get you. Even with a NAT router, we can redirect incoming ports, can't we? (that's exactly what I had in mind)

Thanks for these advices. So, pardon my noobish question, but does it mean that my requirement "guest network with limited bandwidth so that they don't suck up my data plan, and also, maybe with some ports blocked (like opening only HTTPS, HTTP, IMAP and SMTP ports)" can be met with any OpenWRT-compatible router? If not, what do I have to look for in a spec sheet such as the one regarding the device I can easily buy?

Elsewhere, I was advised the Cirrus GL-AP1300LTE, what do you think of it, guys?

Apart from that, a router with an external SIM-card stick may be a nice idea, if in the future I can replace the 4G stick by a 5G one. However, don't they have limited connectivity since they seem to have no external antenna?

I mean "public". What I get here in the Philippines is 100.107.191.38, which is from RFC 6598. Back in Russia, it was something from another private range, e.g. 10.142.0.102. Both of them are not connectable from the outside, even with DynDNS, because this is behind a provider NAT where you can't forward any ports.

Note: to check if you are getting a public or a private IP, you cannot use services like https://myip.ws/, because they show the IP address of the provider's NAT equipment, not of your phone. Please use something like Network Info II on Android, turn of WiFi, and look for the rmnetX interface.

does it mean that my requirement "guest network with limited bandwidth so that they don't suck up my data plan, and also, maybe with some ports blocked (like opening only HTTPS, HTTP, IMAP and SMTP ports)" can be met with any OpenWRT-compatible router?

Yes, exactly.

Cirrus GL-AP1300LTE

Well, yes, it will work, it is listed in the table of hardware.

The DWR-921 will also work.

Regarding sticks, Huawei E3372 (both s and h versions) has connectors for external antennas. Here is my setup:

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They can, assuming your ISP doesn't block them for you.
The IPv4 NAT will also be an issue, unless you use IPv6.

Have a look at the ZBT devices, they have replaceable modems.
Currently there are close to zero USB 5G modems out there, some for mPCI/NGFF,
but the prices start at roughly $200.

Hi @mll,

If my 2 cents can help ...
For some months, I had a subscription for the 5G box from the French internet provider B....... , the hardware was a TCL Linkhub 5G (I do not recall the model, and I could not quickly find it in its webpage).
Although advertised for up to 1.1 Gbits down and 58 Mbits up, I had (of course) less than that, where I lived. Consider about 150 Mbits down and 35 Mbits up, ping about 40 ms. Overall, better than the ADSL subscription I had some years ago, but not worth a basic fiber subscription you can buy nowadays. Some pros and cons anyway, I can give more feedback if you are interested

Some ISPs will assign you a public (dynamic) IP upon request. My mobile provider has a setting for that in its customer portal (they call it "Open Internet").

OK, thanks to you guys, it looks like I've learned something new today (that's probably obvious to you:) ): on a 4G subscription, you can't make servers on your LAN accessible from the outside as easily as on an ADSL/fiber subscription. That makes the Cirrus device I mentioned above even more interesting, for someone who's very moderately a network geek:

  • native OpenWRT (so no hassle trying to install it)
  • integrated Wireguard + their GoodCloud service: they make me think it's quite easy to remotely access my LAN, remotely diagnose the device (even more with their watchdog feature), etc.

Thanks for these very interesting details. May I ask to what you plug your USB-SIM key? Or what is your router of choice that's both OpenWRT-compatible, and USB-SIM key-compatible?

You mean, that kind of device would do the job (with a SIM-card USB stick if I understand correctly)? Is it OpenWRT-compatible? (Edit: even better, it seems like it's natively OpenWRT since the product page mentions it!) I can't believe how cheap this is.

Your link doesn't work for me (might be the corp firewall), but the WE826 can be bought or equipped
with a build in modem, see pic at https://ireland.apollo.olxcdn.com/v1/files/u8s2jsip2xq33-PT/image;s=1000x700. If the prices is very low, you're probably not getting the modem.
There's no USB port for an external modem on the 826.

If you want built in modem capability, and usb port, look at the other ZBT units, like the WE1326.

All supported ZBT devices.

99% of all devices run openwrt, but a vendor version, you still need/want to flash official openwrt to it.

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This is what I linked to:


Price: 20ish euros. Even with one of the huawei USB 4G modems quoted above, the price mark would be about 70 €. To good to be true, isn't it?

50€ for the E3372 ?
You're getting ripped off ....

if you don't want/need the build in modem slot, you can pick pretty much any (supported) router out there, with an USB port ...

Well, as per the link in

I get:

And on the same website, for the E3372, I get: (coming in next post since the forum doesn't allow more than 1 pic per post for newcomers)

The h model would be cheaper, and can be converted, if you're up to the task.
I guess you're paying extra for the s.

Not really cheaper, it seems:


The misfits of inflation?