Because I am moving into rental accommodation whilst our new home is being built, I needed a solution that would enable me to connect my ‘home’ network (which is mainly wired) to the mobile broadband network for the period we will renting, and until the NBN is connected to our new home.
I am hoping our home will be complete by mid year, but from talking to the NBN people, it appears that the NBN will not be available until the end of the year, as we are building in a ‘greenfield’ estate. I didn’t want to go to the effort of connecting to ADSL while renting, so mobile broadband is the answer.
I have been looking round for a while and was not able to find anything suitable to my needs until I came across the 4G capable Comset CM685T-W (Comset’s Website). It is quite a compact unit 110 x 55 x 20 mm but very capable. It runs Linux as the base software, with specific software on top to make it a very good specs. I would have preferred to buy the non wifi version, but that model was not available when I wanted to get going, so for $ 20.00 more I bought the wifi version. It comes with two antennas for the mobile broadband, and one antenna for wifi, plus a CAT5 LAN cable, an RS232 cable (more on that later), and a 12 Volt plug pack.
Getting the basic setup done is very simple, there is even a good video on youtube showing how to do it as well as an excellent 117 page manual for reference. I missed one step my first time through, and had to think a little until I got it right (Don’t blame me just coz I was in a rush). Once I had the mobile broadband going, I connected the CM685 to my current ADSL router, and configured that port up also.
As part of the configuration the router has settings that enable automatic failover should your chosen WAN port fail. I have set my CM685T have the wired WAN port as my primary port, and the mobile broadband as the backup. Once setup and working via the wired WAN, I pulled out the plug WAN cable and waited. After waiting 7 or 8 minutes and changeover hadn’t occurred, I looked at how I had set up the changeover, and realised that the changeover would take 30 minutes, as I had set the times somewhat longer than necessary. Once I had updated the settings, the mobile broadband channel came up and all was working. I plugged the WAN cable back in, and as expected, the active channel swapped back to the wired WAN after a short delay.
There are lots of other functions available, more than I can go over here, however a couple of available options are:- VPN you are able to setup a VPN session using PPTP, IPSec, and L2TP and everyone on your network, which can be very handy at times. The other option allows you to connect an RS232 device to the CM685T. I haven’t had the opportunity to try this yet, but I am sure it will be pressed into service once our new home is ready. The RS232 cable does not plug directly into the CM685T directly, you need to wire up a DB9 connector with Tx, Rx and ground which you screw into the terminals at the back.
Overall I think it is a great unit, it has plenty of built in options, and is easy to set up. It is a bit exey when compared to the normal domestic routers, but it is aimed at the industrial market. On the other side, it is a lot lower cost than a Cisco router with 4G capability. I would give it 5/5.