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2,862 Tutorials

How to: Set up a 3G failover

Create a broadband backup

Mobile broadband is a useful alternative for getting online when a connection via your usual means isn’t possible. We show you how to set up a 3G failover.

Mobile broadband is a useful alternative for getting online when a connection via your usual means isn’t possible.

ISPs often suffer outages as they perform network upgrades, during which time you won’t be able to get online using your usual cable or ADSL connection. For those of us who need to be able to access the web at all times, this is unacceptable. A 3G router, such as the Solwise 3G11nMRW, lets you plug in a 3G dongle and access the internet on your PC via ethernet or 802.11n Wi-Fi.

But 3G shouldn’t be reserved only for broadband blackouts. An ADSL broadband connection may typically operate at 4 megabits per second (Mbps), with a noticeable slowdown in the early evening and at weekends as everybody clamours to get online. When your regular connection is crawling along, a 7.2Mbps 3G connection looks appealing – provided that you keep an eye on the cost.

Ultimately, 3G broadband is ideal for getting online on the move. If you’re staying somewhere with expensive Wi-Fi charges or no access at all, it pays to carry a dongle with you and get online whenever you need. If you’re feeling generous, you could even use a 3G router to share the broadband with your friends or colleagues.

Use 3G as a failover for your web connection

Step 1. 3G routers come in a number of shapes and sizes. The Solwise 3G11nMRW (£39 inc VAT) is a tiny unit that’s mounted on a mains power plug. It has a single ethernet port and also supports 802.11n. Its two USB ports allow webcams, printers, external storage and a 3.5G dongle to be plugged in.

3G failover 1

Step 2. The Huawei E180 dongle (£59 inc VAT) supports GSM/GPRS/Edge and HSPA/UMTS for a maximum uplink speed of 5.76 megabits per second (Mbps) and download of 7.2Mbps, which is better than many ADSL connections. Crucially, it’s also supported by the Solwise 3G11nMRW for our router.

3G failover 2

Step 3. Plug in the Huawei dongle and open the Solwise configuration screen. The status page will confirm that the 3.5G dongle is present and correctly installed. We’ve connected a Solwise router to our cable router as a passthrough device, so the dongle isn’t involved in proceedings at present.

3G failover 3

Step 4. Each mobile network requires an access point name (APN), username and password, given in the router manual. Your network will now have the insurance of 3.5G ‘failover’, switching to 3.5G when the usual connection is lost. Check your tariff for data charges to avoid any nasty surprises on the bill, however.

3G failover 4

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