NetComm N3G005W 3G Wi-Fi Router

Renters or those who want to mix and match broadband styles with a dab of 3G will do well with NetComm's N3G005W router, as long as you don't need lots of wired ports.


7.5
CNET Rating
5.7
User Rating

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Design
Like most router manufacturers, NetComm uses a standard body for its routers across most lines, so it should come as no shock that externally, you'd have a hard time picking this from the PCMCIA-based N3G001W unit. It's a small, light unit (129.1x124.3x32mm, 500g) in white and silver plastic with basic indicator lights on the front and four basic ports on the rear — one each for LAN and WAN access (so you could also use it with an external ADSL modem), as well as power and USB. USB in this case is used as the 3G modem connection point. A single standard antenna socket and reset button completes the rear of the unit.

Within the box, NetComm also bundles a standard antenna, installation CD, quick-start guide, length of Ethernet cable and a cradle to sit the router in sideways. Despite our best efforts, we could never get the router to sit comfortably within the cradle, as it always felt loose and tended to bump out very easily.

Features
If you were just assessing the N3G005W on its basic Wi-Fi specifications, you'd come away very unimpressed; it's a basic 802.11g router with a very standard set of application support features, from VPN to WPA2 security, based around a web configuration interface. In other words, exactly the same thing that everyone's been doing in the wireless space for years now.

Where the N3G005W marks itself out is by integrating 3G wireless capability, specifically via connecting a USB-based 3G modem to the rear of the unit. All of the current wireless providers are supported, as long as (essentially) you know your username and password. The N3G005W defaults to thinking that 3G is the way you'll supply internet access, although a WAN port is on-board for those who may wish to swap between 3G and other forms of connectivity.

As mentioned, the size of the unit means that it's really only practical to have a single wired Ethernet port, which might be limiting depending on how you plan to use the N3G005W.

Performance
Set-up with a 3G USB modem is relatively simple. To NetComm's credit, the wizard-based interface includes all the standard APN details for each of the major wireless providers, so all you should need is your username and password.

We tested with a Telstra Bigpond 7.2 Sierra Wireless USB modem, and had some difficulty getting a connection working, although whether this was at Telstra's end (authenticating our modem) or NetComm's (getting the router to send the right signals) is rather difficult to say.

It also took us some time to work out that, daftly, the wizard continually felt it hadn't been completed (although we were already online) and so kept wanting to be run each time we logged into the router interface. Eventually we worked out how to bypass it by just clicking on the "Advanced Setup" button at the top of the screen, rather than the "Advanced Setup" radio box in the middle. No, that doesn't make any logical sense, but when did routers ever do what you wanted them to?

Once we were past our initial set-up hiccups, we were mostly pleased with the N3G005W's performance, within certain limitations. Connection speed over 3G is always going to be dependent on signal quality — ours wavered between 50-70 per cent signal for the majority of our testing period, which equated to a rough line speed of around 2.8Mbps — but when you combine that with a relatively weak 802.11g signal, it's possible to hit dead spots every once in a while. The flip side of that weaker signal should be slightly improved security. If your signal doesn't go so far, fewer unwanted systems should be able to catch wind of it, which is an important consideration given that while wireless data prices have tumbled recently, they're still comparatively very expensive.

The router does measure the throughput of the 3G modem in bytes, but for most users that's going to be tough to reconcile back into accurate data usage figures, which could lead to some sticker shock when the 3G data bill comes in.

Full wireless security is naturally a better way to keep your wireless data for your own personal use. Here NetComm's done something that we wish every wireless manufacturer would make mandatory, namely pre-configuring wireless security as active from the moment the unit's plugged in. While the default password isn't the most complex in the world, it's a good step for reminding router buyers to configure their own wireless security afterwards.

If you're already using a USB data modem and want to share it easily, the N3G005W is a solid choice, although those in congested 802.11g wireless areas might find it a bit of a struggle getting signal through, and those with more than a single wired Ethernet device might want to look elsewhere.



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Huck posted a comment   

Was a great little unit, but the WiFi died just out of warranty. 'Tough Luck' said NetComm. The Wireless function under Basic Settings just disappeared after the latest firmware upgrade and this disabled the WiFi. The earlier firmware version is not available, so I am out of luck. There is a message there about buying NetComm products....

Blongsea
3
Rating
 

Blongsea posted a review   

The Good:Good around a sailing yachts where ther cabin is low

The Bad:Hideous set-up routines!!

I had so much grief setting up this thing that I was one breath away from stomping on it, no kidding. Finally a female Korean IT-genius manage to down-load new software from Netcomm and after a total of 4 hours struggle it suddenly did its business. GASP...

 

philg posted a comment   

The Good:performance on Telecom XT

The Bad:general operation

Have to plug in USB 3G Stick after unit is powered on. Unreliable connection setup and this looks like a router fault, not 3g.
Once connected, everthing pretty good. it would be good to have a usage applet that shows month to date usage from the routers rom!

 

Alleybells posted a comment   

The Good:Compact

The Bad:Installation was a nightmare

I am not happy with this product. The information brochure misses out a lot of information which is on the DVD. Even so, I could not get it to work. NOW as a result of installing it, I no longer have AUDIO OUTPUT where as I did have prior to. Have had to purchase other software to fix the problem which so far has cost me $75 and I still don't have Audio. I'm not sure how to get back to my previous IP address either, now that it is configured to the suggested IP address. Would not recommend to anyone, in particularly people that have Telstra 3G wireless USB. It will not work.

 

keith posted a comment   

The Good:setup ok

The Bad:speed

Has anyone tried to compare download speed through the router compared to direct connection to the PC.
I typically see only a third of the speed. (Bigpond 21 usb modem)
The shop tried with an optus modem and had much the same result. Everyone should try this everal times it is not good!

 

Quinco posted a comment   

The Good:Looks Good

The Bad:Support is lacking

Set it up for "3" and it connects OK, but reports it connects to Telstra, how do I force it to only connect to "3"? Otherwise I am going to get a huge "roaming" bill.

carkitter
9
Rating
 

carkitter posted a review   

The Good:Works well

The Bad:No so easy to setup

Once setup this router works great. I've used it with several different laptops and my iPhone 3G and no problems.
However, there are some inherent problems associated with not having my USB modem not dirctly plugged into my Laptop - these may account for the issues experienced by others. The manual gives info on how to get around these problems.
Overall, very happy!

Nine
9
Rating
 

Nine posted a review   

The Good:Compact size

The Bad:Port forwarding functionality is lacking. No way to map external ports to internal IP/Port ranges.

Awesome router, after a firmware upgrade to resolve an issue we were having with it not supporting a newer K3715 fully. The manufacturer's helpline was actually helpful, unlike most.

As for the rest of the bad comments here I sounds like those people didn't have their computers set up to automatically obtain IP address and DNS servers.

 

Been There posted a reply   

It is very difficult to get a static IP on a 3G service, so the port forwarding will have to be done with Dynamic servers

 

Nine posted a reply   

Not what I meant.

This router will not let you map a port to a different internal port with port forwarding.

ie. It is not possible to translate external port 123 to internal address 192.168.1.10 port 900 and external port 124 to internal 192.168.1.11 port 900.

Aside from that, its a great unit.


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User Reviews / Comments  NetComm N3G005W 3G Wi-Fi Router

  • Huck

    Huck

    "Was a great little unit, but the WiFi died just out of warranty. 'Tough Luck' said NetComm. The Wireless function under Basic Settings just disappeared after the latest firmware upgrade and this..."

  • Blongsea

    Blongsea

    Rating3

    "I had so much grief setting up this thing that I was one breath away from stomping on it, no kidding. Finally a female Korean IT-genius manage to down-load new software from Netcomm and after a tot..."

  • philg

    philg

    "Have to plug in USB 3G Stick after unit is powered on. Unreliable connection setup and this looks like a router fault, not 3g.
    Once connected, everthing pretty good. it would be good to have..."

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