As businesses expand technology offerings and extend their reach with various network devices, reliance on Wi-Fi reduces expandability and connectivity options. Devices must have Wi-Fi available to perform their designated tasks, which limits their range and functionality.
Instead of relying on a Wi-Fi connection that limits devices to a specific location, 2021 might be a good time to investigate MiFi (short for mobile Wi-Fi). A MiFi router is a mobile hotspot that uses a 4G LTE SIM card to receive data and transmit that data as a Wi-Fi signal to connected devices.
A SIM card operates the same way a cell phone operates, so the range of MiFi routers mimics that of a cell phone carrier's range.
MiFi routers are becoming popular as a means to connect remote devices that are part of the internet of things (IoT) network. These types of devices include sensors, smart lockers, digital signage, unmanned kiosks, and security cameras.
No two IoT organizational implementations are the same, so routers come with a wide variety of features. Here are a few points to consider when choosing the right equipment for your business.
Some routers cater to worldwide business needs, and others operate solely in North America or the United States. If your organization has global business needs, you will want to make sure your router choice supports that option.
All routers provide some level of security. In some specific business scenarios, you may want to invest in routers with higher levels of security. For example, if you are providing health-related kiosks or processing payments, you will want increased security options.
Number of IoT Devices
Some routers have caps on the number of devices that can connect to their Wi-Fi. Depending on business needs, you may need to consider future scalability when choosing equipment.
If you are operating sensors or equipment in areas with extreme temperatures or humidity levels, you need equipment that is designed to work in those environments. Some MiFi routers are made for extreme conditions, and others are meant to stay inside climate-controlled areas.
Certain routers are designed to have multiple network failover options. If your organization needs consistent uptime, you will want to take a close look at a dual SIM mixed with Ethernet options.
What is the best 4G/LTE Cellular Router?
For an LTE router comparison, we compared 5 of the best 4G LTE routers for 2021.
Digi Transport WR11 XT
Digi Transport WR11 XT
The Digi TransPort WR11 XT is a router with cost-optimized 4G LTE connectivity. It operates globally and supports multiple cellular networks.
The device is small at 3 inches by 4 inches and 1 inch tall. Its aluminum enclosure makes for sturdy and rugged construction, and the combination of flanges, and an optional DIN rail clip, provides flexible mounting.
The WR11 will work in temperatures ranging from -30 to 70 Celsius (-22 to 158 F), although they note that reduced cellular performance may occur above 60 C (140 F). It will also work in humidity ranges from 5% to 95%.
For most regions of the world, the WR11 supports LTE Cat 1 router connectivity, although, in some areas, it uses LTE Cat 3. Data transfer rates vary between Cat 1 and Cat 3 implementations with Cat 1 speeds running 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload and Cat 3 speeds at 100 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.
The WR11 has dual mini-SIM slots for cellular failover. It does not have a USB port, which could affect certain deployment strategies. In addition to 4G/LTE connectivity, the WR11 can also use 3G.
The WR11 does not support Wi-Fi, so it requires separate Wi-Fi equipment for a true MiFi experience.
The WR11's security features include logging, redundancy, firewall protections, and VPN. For these functionalities, no annual enterprise software license is required which provides companies with additional flexibility.
Security is managed through the Digi Remote Manager (Digi RM), the cloud-based platform for security management. This system allows managers to update firmware, monitor traffic, edit configurations, and automate tasks remotely.
Digi RM can facilitate mass configurations, support, and maintenance for easy management of hundreds or thousands of remote devices.
The Digi TransPort WR11 XT is an excellent choice for organizations needing global deployments or operations in extreme temperatures. The WR11 offers extensive security options, and it could be a serious candidate for the best 4G router for worldwide implementations.
Sierra Wireless AirLink LX40
Sierra Wireless LX60
The AirLink LX40 is a compact router with both LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity that is simple to install. It can connect to a wide variety of equipment from video to low-power IoT devices like various kinds of temperature or pressure sensors.
The LX40 is about 4 inches by 3 inches and an inch thick, so it is quite compact. However, it is still a capable router that can facilitate multiple applications like:
- Surveillance cameras
- Smart lockers
- Digital signage
- Small business connectivity
- Customer service terminals
- Distance learning
The LX40 offers hardline connections for Ethernet and USB 2.0 and can connect to LTE. The LTE-M/NB-IoT version of the LX40 has extended coverage, and it is a good option for reaching challenging locations.
The LX40's optional Wi-Fi can support up to 10 connections with WPA2 Enterprise security. The Wi-Fi is capable of 150 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.
AirLink also provides a cloud-based device management solution called AirLink Management Services (ALMS). This platform supports configuration, software updates, and over-the-air registration.
The LX40 offers secure booting and firmware updates as well as remote authentication. It also supports inbound and outbound trusted IPs which blocks unauthorized access.
The AirLink LX40 is priced about average for a MiFi device, but it is simple to install and easy to manage.
The LX40 is a good option for certain types of applications. However, due to the limit of 10 Wi-Fi connections, certain types of business applications would require multiple routers.
Cradlepoint's IBR200 is a semi-rugged, compact LTE router that can operate in extreme temperatures ranging from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius (-4 to 140 F). It can also operate in humidity levels from 5% to 95%.
For all the extremes it can withstand, the IBR200 is a small device measuring 3 inches by 3.7 inches and 1 inch tall. These measurements do not include antennas, however, which increase range and size.
The IBR200 is designed for powering cloud-managed IoT networks and enables the use of low-cost M2M (machine to machine) and IoT data plans. The IBR200 is frequently sold as part of a NetCloud Package for IoT networks that provides equipment, training, support, and a limited lifetime warranty.
The IBR200 meets cellular standards such as PTCRB and GCF. It is certified to work with network carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile/Sprint, but it will also support other networks like Rogers, Bell, TELUS, Vodafone, and Telstra.
The IBR200 will work in most places around the world including North American, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
This router provides LTE connectivity as well as embedded Cat 1 Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. The typical throughput is 60 Mbps. The IBR200 has one SIM slot.
This router comes with NetCloud Perimeter that assists companies with managing network security. This platform allows for secure remote management as well as dynamic routing protocols and traffic steering. Additional security features include a zone-based firewall and VPN.
Managers can also set a variety of filtering options for increased security like:
- MAC address
- IP access
- Basic content
With the optional Advanced NetCloud Perimeter package, users can manage in-bound and out-bound traffic, enable location services, and view dashboards for cellular health and data usage.
The IBR200 is one of the best LTE modems for extended global applications. The combination of the security features along with the variety of supported locations worldwide gives this device a significant level of flexibility.
InHand Networks InRouter 302
InHand InRouter 302
The InRouter 302 (IR302) is a compact and powerful router that integrates 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, and VPN technologies. The IR302 has built-in functionalities for strong security measures that can be used in commercial and industrial scenarios.
The IR302 truly embodies the concept of a compact router, measuring in at only 3.5 inches squared and an inch thick. However, it does have two antennas for extended range. Its temperature range of -20 to 70 degrees Celsius (-4 to 158 F) also makes it a good candidate for operating in harsh conditions.
Despite being so small, this router gets high marks for accessibility and uptime. The IR302 comes with multiple choices for ensuring network access by combing wired access, high-speed LTE CAT4, NB-IoT, middle and lower speed CAT1, and Wi-Fi.
The IR302 features two SIM card slots for 4G LTE failover. The IR302 also offers failover between wired, cellular LTE, and Wi-Fi to ensure uninterrupted network access.
The Wi-Fi access operates at 150 MBps, and the router can easily scale for multiple devices. The IR302 is a great candidate for supporting unattended network needs, for example, unmanned kiosks, city utility and traffic management, and retail stands.
For security, the InRouter302 supports multiple types of VPN connections and firewall functions as well as user authorization management. Users can leverage the InHand Device Manager cloud platform to efficiently manage the network from afar.
The IR302 is a strong candidate for the overall best LTE router. It is a cost-effective option that provides users with consistent and reliable connectivity. This router provides an excellent array of connection flexibility without losing any security features.
Teltonika's RUT240 mobile router is compact, cost-effective, and secure. It has digital input/output for remote monitoring and easily integrates with IoT implementations.
It also provides connectivity for devices in hazardous or harsh environments with extreme temperature changes. The RUT240 can operate in temperatures from -40 to 75 degrees Celsius (-40 to 167 F) and humidity ranging from 10% to 90%.
The RUT240 measures 3.2 inches by 2.9 inches and is an inch tall. It has a rugged aluminum housing with bottom and sideways DIN rail mounting options.
The RUT240 has two Ethernet ports, one SIM slot, and two antenna ports. It is a bit faster than most other routers with 4G LTE Cat 4 speeds up to 150 Mbps. It can also utilize 3G & 2G.
To ensure continual connectivity, the RUT240 has an automatic WAN failover option.
The Wi-Fi connection can support 50 users and a variety of Wi-Fi security setups. The RUT240 Wi-Fi can function as an access point and work in station mode at the same time.
The RUT240 also has the ability to send and receive SMS messages. This option is excellent for IT professionals to be able to monitor and manage their networks without logging in to traditional computers.
The RUT240 has many security options for DDOS prevention, VPN connections, web filtering (black and white lists), authentication, and firewall configurations.
The router is compatible with Teltonika's Remote Management System (RMS), the cloud-based platform for monitoring and managing device deployment.
The RUT240 is used for many purposes including 4G backup, advanced VPN solutions, remote connections, and tunneling services in IoT solutions. It offers excellent connection speeds and a large number of Wi-Fi connections.
The ability to send and receive SMS messages makes this device unique among routers, so that is something to consider when planning IoT and MiFi implementations.
How to Choose?
It is always important to do your own research when choosing equipment. However, we have a few quick "best of" winners for matching routers with business needs:
- Best overall high speed 4G router: InHand Networks InRouter 302
- Best for global implementation: Digi TransPort WR11 XT
- Best for IT & gadget nerds: Teltonika RUT240
- Best for low-cost data plans: Cradlepoint IBR200
- Best for simple, straightforward installation: AirLink LX40
MiFi can take your business in new directions for supporting IoT solutions. When you are ready to discuss your IoT business requirements, contact us at Novotech. We can assist in choosing the right equipment for your organization to succeed.