How to Choose the Best 5G Router

Tim Bailey
June 3, 2019

5G is here, and with it come to some incredible wireless connection speeds. The benefits for mobile use are significant – but what does it mean for businesses and individuals that are hoping to use 5G to power remote working? 5G routers are going to offer unprecedented speed – but, whether you’re looking this new tech, or looking to pick up a bargain 4G router; how can you be certain you’re buying a router that meets your needs perfectly? We’ve posed a series of questions and answers that’ll help you find the perfect type of 5G router for you.

What will you be using your 5G router for?

The first question to consider when you’re shopping for a 5G router is simply what you plan to use the device for. Are you buying a 5G router for business use – or will this be for pleasure only?

The question’s worth posing because there’s a big difference between 5G routers that are intended for business use – and those that are going to see slightly less intensive use in leisure applications. For instance, most leisure routers will use just one, internet dedicated SIM, where business standard routers will generally be able to carry multiple SIMs, allowing for more robust or speedy connections.

A leisure standard router might suffice for some individual user business applications – working remotely for instance – but it’ll fall short if you’re hoping to run multiple applications as part of a business network. If business use is what you’re looking for, you’re going to want to find a 5G router that is capable.

What kind of SIM technology do you need?

Although many 5G routers will hold more than one SIM, there’s a big difference between true multi-SIM ability and a router that simply has a slot that allows for SIM-failover. It’s a difference that’s important to understand to make sure you get the functionality you need.

If you want a router that’ll provide an outstanding level of speed and connection robustness, multi-SIM is a must – as this allows for more than one active internet connection. With SIM-failover, you simply have a backup SIM, kicking into action if the connection attached to your primary SIM fails. While this is a useful function, it’s nothing more than a back-up.

Multi-SIM 5G routers tend to be a little more costly, but they’ll deliver a connection that’s second to none when it comes to mobile internet. Generally speaking, multi-SIM routers will carry anywhere between 2-8 SIMs (although some can carry many more) – and connection speeds can be calculated by simply multiplying the speed of individual SIMs. With speeds that are anticipated, a multi-SIM 5G router is likely to comfortably match a fibre landline connection speed.

Understand the speeds you’re looking for – and purchase a router that’s capable of handling the number of SIMs you need – being careful not to mix up SIM-failover and multi-SIM technology.

If you’re shopping for multi-SIM, how will connections be managed?

Multi-SIM technology comes with a number of connection possibilities, the two most significant being ‘load balancing’ and ‘bonding’. There’s more to just plugging and playing with a router that’s going to be used for business connections – so it’s important to understand how you’ll configure your connections.

Load balancing will mean you keep your SIMs independent, managing its own connection. If it’s important for individual users to have their own connections, load balancing your SIMs might be the way to go – and running individual applications on individual SIMs is also possible. This can be a good strategy if you want to make sure one user never hinders another user’s data connection.

On the other side of the coin, you could look at bonding the connections you’re getting from different SIMs. In doing so, you’re creating one, higher-speed connection. In many instances, this connection will be made up with SIMs from different providers – so should one ISP have an issue (or you find yourself in an area where one signal is poor), it’ll be compensated for by other providers’ SIMs.

There’s no right or wrong way to manage your connections – but thinking about what’s going to be best for you in advance means you’ll be able to select a router that’s capable of the connection you’re hoping for to upgrade your router.

Will you be running applications that you cannot work without?

If you know some basics about business IT networks, you’ll know about traffic prioritisation – the idea that data being transferred to and from some applications may be more mission-critical than others, so it can be given priority over other data that are being handled by the router.

To some degree, you can create your own traffic prioritisation system by load-balancing your connections then attributing different connections to different applications – but it’s slightly risky, as you’re entrusting your most important data to one connection – one that’s not going to be as robust as a bonded set.

Traffic prioritisation tends to come on slightly higher-end routers – so you might find yourself paying a little more to make sure the most important data you’re handling arrives before anything else – but when you consider how much downtime can cost a company, it’s often a small price to pay.

Will you need to analyse your data use?

Finally, it’s useful to decide whether or not you’re going to need to delve into your data connections and explore how they’re being used. This is especially useful if you’re bonding SIMs from different providers – as bringing together the information they provide is otherwise going to have to be done manually – accessing a number of different accounts.

If you’re running your business with a 5G router and a series of SIMs, understanding how your data is being used can be an important part of forecasting costs and setting goals. So, while this is another feature that’s going to cost a little more (and probably won’t be present on leisure standard routers) – it may well be something that pays for itself over the long term, if your router is going to form an important part of how you do business.

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