4G (5G?) router with Power over ethernet for rural location

Looking for advice for my parents. As I might be doing a "christmas installation" if i can find the right kit.

Situation...
  • 1Mbit (average) broadband supplied via BT (about 11KM from local exchange)
  • Very poor (if any) mobile signal in the house (next to a river). Not enough houses nearby to be on any list for bringing in fibre cheaply.  Mum often goes into garden to get a signal.
  • Not willing to pay for starlink (that was my first recommendation), but might be persauded to go up to £20/month for a data SIM (lower more likely to be acceptable)
  • I'm happy to pay for and install something (£100-200 total)
I've been thinking about installing a 4G/5G router. I've looked carefully at the coverage maps, and analysed the property myself a few months ago, wandering round the house and garden with my Vodafone service. They use BT - which according to the maps is the 3rd or 4th worse service in their area (becuase it saved them a few quid on their rubbish broadband supply a few years ago!)
my results on Vodafone reveal that i get an intermittent 3G signal in the lower part of the house which improves as i go to the second story. I get a pretty solid 4G signal outside in the higher parts of the garden (around 10mbit if i hold my phone above head-high)

So what i think would work hardware-wise is:
  • 3G/4G/5G mobile router.  i don't care about its wifi capability as it would probably be installed at the top of the attic, or maybe even attached to one of the chimneys (the one without the TV Antenna).
  • I would want the router to be powered over ethernet (for simplicity...) and to allow the main wifi broadcast to be from within the house... maybe on a mesh service as it's got walls over 45cm thick in places. 
  • i don't want a mobile microcell/type amplifier (for various reasons... including licensing and legality)
  • total cost (including internal wifi broadcaster, which would also power the external router over ethernet) £100-£200, excluding data SIM.
I've been searching, but my search is full of microcell stuff on one hand, fancy wifi routers on the other (having wifi is a bonus, I'm not hostile to it, i just don't want to rely on it, and i don't want to pay for a really good one if it's going to be installed somewhere we don't benefit from it), with a smattering of "junk/magic boosters" thrown in for good measure!

I'm sure that what I'm looking for must be a reasonably common usecase in the few parts of the country that are digital not-spots... but maybe I'm wrong.
Please advise, and maybe link to a few specific equipments...but remember it needs to be "cheap", as starlink would be the most convenient option.  Thanks for your help.

Also is there any broadband provider who would effectively do what I'm looking for "for free" if they were on their service? (from what I've seen so far, the ones that make this offer rely on you having a good mobile service as a backup to the wired service, that's not the case here)
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Comments

  • Is it not possible to buy a 5G router which has the option for an external antenna?

    I’m not sure if there are limits on the cable run length for these but could be an option?

    It would mean the router could still be based in the house and PoE wouldn’t be required?
  • Nic60
    Nic60 Posts: 18
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    My house is similar, though not nearly as bad, so interested in any suggestions. 
    Following BeerSavesMoney’s suggestion, I googled routers with external aerials. You can get them but they aren’t cheap:
    https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/store/wifi-routers/?t=6562&sort=1
  • Is it not possible to buy a 5G router which has the option for an external antenna?
    I’m not sure if there are limits on the cable run length for these but could be an option?
    It would mean the router could still be based in the house and PoE wouldn’t be required?
    There are plenty of these... but they are expensive. Also i don't need an external antenna as long as i place my unit high enough.
    Power over ethernet is good for 100M i think.
    TBH the PoE is a "nice to have"... but it makes getting power to the device a lot easier, and means i wouldn't need the external antenna.  I do understand what you're saying though... my thinking has evolved with some recent research.
  • Nic60 said:
    My house is similar, though not nearly as bad, so interested in any suggestions. 
    Following BeerSavesMoney’s suggestion, I googled routers with external aerials. You can get them but they aren’t cheap:
    https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/store/wifi-routers/?t=6562&sort=1
    yeah... expensive, but i started my research with these sort of things a few weeks ago.  I think they're unnecessarily expensive for what I'm trying to do.
    to make things cheaper i wanted to separate the 4G (or 3G or 5G) router from the wifi... it's not the wifi I have a problem with. Or the basic concepts.
    Just trying to find a device like this Tenda at £43, but with Power over internet (this one has LAN/WAN ports, but i don't think it does PoE?
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tenda-4G03-Unlocked-Configuration-Connectivity/dp/B08R7JYNSM

  • Cisco001
    Cisco001 Posts: 4,000
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    Used Huawei B535 4G router is £35 + delivery at CEX. Easy to return within 2 weeks if not suitable.
    The spec is better than Tenda above.
    used 5G router are under £200 at CEX, but I don't expect any 5G in rural area.

    I am not sure about the PoE bit you mention. router are not waterproof. You can't place outside.
    I expect you need a weatherproof external antenna place in the garden. Then connect to router indoor, possibly with additional mesh wifi.


  • @Cisco001 that could be the way to go.
    I have an old huawei 5330 lying around (tho' that's only 3G), and requires microUSB.  If i can get a decent signal at the top of the loft (internally), It could probably be made to do the job, and as you say, i could get better ones cheap 2nd Hand.
    I could chain together a cheap mesh wifi too, particularly if i stick with 2.4GHz.  
    the problem with jury rigging stuff is that i'm also looking for reliability (as I'm far away from my parents)
  • moneysaver1978
    moneysaver1978 Posts: 320
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    edited 22 November 2023 at 12:44PM
    A couple of years ago, we had terrible broadband so switched to 4G hub (with Three), CAT5 cable to a D-Link router (funnily enough, I am currently selling this on eBay!) for LAN and Wifi. Worked really well.

    We hadn't considered PoE as it was overkill for us and we wanted to MSE-ed it so the above set up was brilliant.

    Since we have moved, we have a decent landline broadband so the set up is no longer necessary.
  • Cisco001
    Cisco001 Posts: 4,000
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    3G will shut down soon.

    After a bit of googling, I spot an external 4G router @ £170
    https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/store/4g-routers/?t=1081,218&sort=1#content

    Someone sell used one on ebay for £90 + 8.5 delivery. I am not sure if this worth gambling. 

  • Thanks @Cisco001 that looks perfect.
    PoE too.
    I need to research what "License level 3" implies... some of these devices are not legal in some circumstances... but if that doesn't do the job, then really i think my parents can wait for infrastructure to improve (their current plan!), or else it's Starlink at £90/month including £15 equipment hire
  • Nic60 said:
    My house is similar, though not nearly as bad, so interested in any suggestions. 
    Following BeerSavesMoney’s suggestion, I googled routers with external aerials. You can get them but they aren’t cheap:
    https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/store/wifi-routers/?t=6562&sort=1
    The Tp-link one for £155 could work? https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/products/43235-tp-link-tl-mr6400-5g-xpol-1-v2-21/

    I’ve no experience with these but I guess if you have good enough reception high up indoors then there might not be a need for an external antenna and instead having a 4G modem/router and running Ethernet or a mesh network might be easier.
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