Jan-Lukas Else

Thoughts of an IT expert

5G chaos in my head

Published on in 💭 Thoughts
Short link: https://b.jlel.se/s/6f7
AI generated summary: The author discusses their frustration with finding a 5G router that meets their needs and their decision to order a GL.iNet Beryl AX to use as a router alongside their existing MC801A, hoping it will solve their connectivity and configuration issues.

One of the reasons I like blogging is that it sometimes helps me organize my thoughts. There’s a lot of chaos in my head before I write them down, and after, my head is sometimes calm.

So, what’s going on today?

I thought I was done with the topic of finding the perfect 5G router, but Telefonica Germany’s announcement to enable 5G Standalone (SA) (they call it “5G Plus”) next week caught my attention again after I tweaked some other things in my “mobile data/telephony configuration” (I switched my main “backup” SIM to another MVNO – yes, I’m a bit paranoid about having no Internet connection).

I noticed that the version of the ZTE MC801A I bought doesn’t support 5G SA because the firmware (a modified version from Deutsche Telekom – I didn’t think this would be a problem when I received it) disables it and it’s not possible to flash an alternative firmware.

And then I got annoyed again that it’s also not possible to change the DNS servers, that the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz WiFi need different SSIDs, and so on. But I’m also too cheap to buy another 5G router, they’re all really expensive, 190€ for the MC801A was already the most budget friendly option I could get. And a cheap 5G smartphone wouldn’t be a great solution either, as I’ve heard that permanent USB tethering isn’t reliable, and most budget phones are limited by USB 2.0. A great device would be the GL.iNet Spitz AX, but that’s about 400€.

After several days of researching (too much) and thinking (too much) about building a custom OpenWRT router, I came to the (hopefully) final solution: I ordered a GL.iNet Beryl AX (with a discount code for about 75€), which will arrive in a few days. My plan is to put the MC801A in bridge mode and then use the Beryl AX as a router to handle WiFi, DNS, etc. Since it’s using OpenWRT, it also has some other nice features like Wireguard. I will have to live with the lack of 5G SA, but I doubt LTE will be shut down anytime soon and 5G NSA (Non-Standalone) could be even faster due to carrier aggregation and more available bandwidth?

Why the Beryl AX and not the existing AVM FRITZ!Box 7490 that I currently use for VDSL2? That FRITZ!Box is great, but unfortunately I couldn’t get IPv6 to work when it was behind the MC801A, even when it was in bridge mode. But I’ve seen that the Beryl AX has an option to select different IPv6 modes, like NAT6.

So I will be able to use the existing MC801A, but still have custom DNS, more configuration options for the WiFi settings, and the ability to connect the networks of both households using Wireguard. That should be it for now. 5G SA can come when 5G routers are finally cheaper (in a few years?).

Let’s just hope that IPv6 really works with Beryl AX and doesn’t create new chaos in my head…

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Jan-Lukas Else
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