VDSL modem/router with VoIP capability

@bill888 Thanks for your advice. I am still able to retract my bid on the HH5A. I've found a Netgear DM200-100us (likely just a few euros cheaper, if anything) and a TPlink TD-W9970, a bit more expensive - however, it's a UK version with EU power adapter included, so it's no big improvement on the HH5A for my use case.

If, as I foresee, the device to fill this "modem slot" is to be used in pure bridge mode and supports this operation mode, I figure it doesn't make a big difference which one I pick, apart from a few euros of expense and/or convenience issues (power plug etc). Am I right in thinking so?

@moeller0 Thanks for chiming in with specific experience about the HH5A. I suppose I'm back to my original idea of getting a new router in addition to used equipment for external modem and ATA duties.

Can you give me a few router models that would fit the bill and would still be good with the increased traffic when my ISP eventually (hopefully soon) gets to provide Vplus/35?

If that is comparte to a pre-flashed BTHH5A and it's your best alternative then I'd get the BTHH5A. I mean even if it's not ideal for your requirement, you would still have it as a backup router and AP in car something happens to your other router, for the few euros difference.

Though, I am still not able to figure why you can't just get an ISP modem. Those are usually everywhere dirt cheap.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply, @mhegab.

It seems cheap VDSL2 modems aren't that easy to find on eBay right now. Maybe it's because of my uninformed searching, but I've been looking around for the last 2-3 days, and the real cheap ones are all ADSL/ADSL2 modem-routers. For the time being, I'm still going for that preflashed HH5A - it still seems the best that can be found on eBay in that price range (likely around 25-35 euros incl. shipping). I'll retract and bid on something new if I find a cheaper option, but I doubt I can shave much more than, say, 10€, so I'm not losing any sleep on this.

More importantly, I'm still hoping for a few suggestions about a reasonably powerful router that is OpenWRT friendly - as in, no special tinkering (especially no soldering) required for the first flash. The tentative specs are listed a few posts above ( VDSL modem/router with VoIP capability )

If you get the BTHH5A, and you have possibly a Raspberry Pi 4 lying around with a USB to ethernet adapter, you can use the BTHH5A as a modem connect it to the RPi4 to do the touring magic, then take it back to the BTHH5A on a different port to do switch/AP part. it could even be possible with just one port and one cable but I didn't try either.

Edit: the BTHH5A WiFi range isn't good, particularly if you live in a concrete building.

I don't have a spare Raspberry Pi 4 around though :laughing:

And actually, I don't mind shelling off for a dedicated router, as long as it stays useful for years as my trusty Buffalo WBMR-HP-G300H has.

So, I do own a turris omnia, and while it is a bit expensive and works best with team turris own version of OpenWrt (installing and using stock OpenWrt seems possible but not necessarily for the faint of heart) it allows traffic shaping and firewalling/NAT up to 500/500 Mbps bi-directional traffic, pretty nice for a small box. It uses ath10K radio's so will probably profit from the recent AQL airtime queueing limit work on that wifi driver once either the patches make it into OpenWrt 19 or turris OS is based on OpenWrt20 (which is neither ready nor announced yet). I happen to be quite impressed by the omnia, but others here have less happy experiences with it, so it really depends on what you want to do with it.

But, personally I am really tempted to go the RPI4B+USB3-Gigabit-Ethernet dongle route (I already bought an Ethernet-dongle :wink: )

There never have been "cheap VDSL2 modems" because ISPs never gave them out to customers*, they always went for a full IAD they could control remotely, lock down to their service, tie their VoIP lines into, and would free them from having to support random modem + router combinations.

For the "consumer" or "prosumer" market, there are just a handful of makers out there that even bother to produce VDSL2 modems (Draytek and Allnet come to mind.) And I'm pretty sure that internally they are also very much just stripped-down router hardware. In fact, the prime search result, the Allnet ALL-BM100VDSL2 "bridge modem" runs ... on the same Lantiq VRX268 as a HH5A.

Of course there are manufacturers for the professional telecommunications equipment market (Bintec for example), but their devices are well beyond what one would need (or want to pay for) for a home network.

*) That's not entirely true for the very, very early days of VDSL. I do remember Deutsche Telekom giving out VDSL2 modems at some point so their customer could supplement their existing Telekom IAD. Those were indeed cheap and plentiful, and are almost entirely useless nowadays because they can only deal with non-vectoring lines up to 50 mbit.

That's good input from all of you, thanks.

@moeller0 I looked up the Turris Omia and really like it. It's expensive, but I could go with that if it delivers and gives me years of service. My only issue is about the software. I really would prefer stock OpenWRT, which seems not able to support the hardware fully at the moment. Besides, the reports on flashing are a bit inconclusive: some people had trouble, some say it's quick and easy.

@Hegabo A Raspberry Pi 4 would be good too, but the single ethernet port is unsatisfactory. I'd have to use up at least one, (more likely two) of the BT HH5A's LAN ports for the loopback, which doesn't fit my use case. The Pi 4 could be my favorite choice if I could get 5 ports on it (1 WAN, 4 LAN). Is it possible that you know?

@takimata That it mostly my experience too.

While looking up the Turris, I ran across the Linksys WRT3200ACM-EU, which looks quite attractive. The Marvell chips seem to be supported by OpenWRT without problems. One doubt I have is its OpenWRT page ( https://openwrt.org/toh/linksys/linksys_wrt3200acm ). It says

While only 1 revision of the hardware is listed, silently (around Nov 2017) the flash chip was updated in production causing earlier firmwares to be incompatible with newer devices.

Does it mean that if I happen to get a later hardware revision, I'm stuck with the stock software and that's it, or that I can build a newer (not earlier) firmware image that will fit it nicely? I found a good used occasion on Amazon at under 180€, so I'm tempted to just buy it, and possibly return it if the hardware's not compatible.

Please advise. Your collective experience is really helping me.

You girls get yourself 4 USB-Ethernet adapters, but it makes more sense to get one, plus a switch/AP.

The big issue with the Linksys WRTs is with the Marvell/ NXP WLAN, which has quite a few interoperability issues (smarthome/ IoT stuff using the ESP8266/ ESP32 in particular, but not only) and other quite serious bugs (e.g. no functional WPA3/ IEEE 802.11W support and other nasty surprises). Since Marvell has sold their wireless division to NXP (respectively since the sale was announced, almost a year ago) there hasn't been any development happening on driver and (most importantly-) firmware for these chipsets and NXP doesn't seem to bother about the current 802.11ac chipsets either.

As it stands today, it's unlikely that the out-of-tree mwlwifi drivers will see substantial improvements (and most of the crucial functional is hidden in the proprietary firmware and not fixable by third parties). For the devices that cooperate well with the Marvell 88W8964/ mwlwifi chipsets, this is a very fast and good router (as long as you're aware that it won't do WPA3), but if you encounter any compatibility issues (and those are likely to increase with newer devices) with your devices, you're dead in the water.

Contrary to the Linksys WRTs, the Turris Omnia does use (well supported) QCA-Atheros chipsets for the wireless instead, combining the fast mvebu SOC with decent wireless instead of the problematic mwlwifi/ mwifiex.

Considering your current (and likely upcoming-) performance requirements (VDSL2 up to super-vectoring/ profile 35b), the QCA IPQ806x based devices (e.g. Netgear r7800 or ZyXEL NBG6817) which are good up to ~350-450 MBit/s WAN throughput might be an alternative (slightly faster CPU speed than mvebu, good QCA9984 WLAN) in roughly the same price range as the WRT3200ACM/ WRT32x.

After reading @slh's detailed post, I'm buying a Netgear R7800 Nighthawk X4S, new. It sports 2 x USB3 and 1 x eSATA ports. I guess it'll be able to perform small NAS duties too. The relevant OpenWRT page suggests initial flashing is as easy as using a pre-made factory image.

I am a happy camper. Thanks!

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Thanks to the replies offered by all the knowledgeable posters, I reached my own decision. I am summarizing here for future searchers.

At the moment, there isn't a single device that can run OpenWRT and offer all the functionalities I was looking for:

  1. VDSL2 modem (with VPlus/35b "supervectoring" if possible)
  2. Powerful router, 4 Gb LAN + WAN, plenty of RAM and flash. Top class WiFi not a priority in my use case.
  3. Telephony: ATA function (FXS ports)

So I had to go for a patchwork of devices. Here's what I opted for.

  1. BT Home Hub 5 Type A. I found it pre-owned and pre-flashed with OpenWRT (nice plus!). I will use it in pure modem mode (full bridge). Flashing from zero wouldn't be an easy task. It would require quite a bit of tinkering.
  2. Netgear R7800 Nighthawk X4S, new. This can be OpenWRT-ed out of the box, with an OpenWRT 'factory' image, then upgraded at will with a sysupgrade image.
  3. A used O2 Box 6431 to use as ATA only. I will flash OpenWRT+Asterisk, which is probably not going to be too easy, but apparently can be done without disassembling the unit or soldering; or even without serial port access, apparently.

I haven't any of these yet, but they're on their way. If unusual troubles or unexpected solutions to problems emerge during the process of flashing/configuring, I will point to them from this post.

This is a simple summary for the hurried. Reading the whole thread would be good: the posts are all high quality, and several workable alternatives have been suggested. Your use case could be different from mine, and it's worth considering some of the other suggestions.

Many thanks to all contributors.


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