Modems - are some better i.e. faster than others?

We were browsing the standard retail stores computer departments over the weekend with the intent of buying a new computer sometime soon. Were in several and can't remember which one it was that the salesperson told us the most important thing to speed up our computer for internet use was to have a "proper" router rather than the ones the ISP provides. He was trying to sell us something that was going to cost $4-600.
We currently have a Spark provided Huawei HG630b wireless modem. Would buying something else actually show an improvement in our speed for internet browsing. We don't do movies or gaming so it really is basically only browsing and TM of course.

geek_g14us, May 26, 2:36 pm

Nothing wrong with the networking on the Huawei routers/ modems
But . their wireless SUCK.

All 3 domestic ADSL+2 / Std Fiber BB & business class fiber routers are all the same.
Good ethernet, suck on wireless

geek_mrfxit, May 26, 3:02 pm

That's beginning to throw some light on it.
OK, we have the desk top wired in - pretty sure we on ADSL and can't get anything else at our address - and run two tablets wirelessly, also one Canon inkjet printer. The Brother laser printer is not wireless, the smartphone only rarely accessing the wireless and the Kindle does about once a fortnight. We have noticed both tablets dropping the connection once or twice a day over the last 2-3 months. They were OK before that.
So if I read correctly what you are saying, if we bought a different modem we'd get a more secure wireless connection but would it be any faster?

geek_g14us, May 26, 3:22 pm

You can only go as fast as 1 device on your connection to your ISP AND that device will allow.
Having said that, there are modems around with better wireless systems but are a fair bit dearer.

geek_mrfxit, May 26, 3:49 pm

I know it is tricky recommending brands but are you prepared to say what will give us better wireless speed and what price range they fall into. If we buy a new computer everything else should speedup so seems a bit silly to have the tablets running slow just because we haven't changed the modem.

geek_g14us, May 26, 3:57 pm



They are appliance salesmen. None of them them would have the first clue about real tech.
It's all about making as much commission as they can get.
Speed is not a factor with your modem - nless it's ancient.
Quality is though.
However go to a real store where they know what they are talking about.
Computer Lounge for instance.

geek_lythande1, May 26, 4:17 pm

Short answer: No.

Long answer: If you are only using a wired connection, then no, any compatible modem works just fine. But it gets complicated when you are using wireless, because not every brand of router/AP and adapter will play nicely with another brand, and some brands have proprietary optimizations and tweaks that only work with certain products of their own. Most "generic" Wi-Fi adapters you get on eBay (etc.) should work with any router, but they are not the best quality or have the best signal reception, so expect higher overhead and latency.

geek_tail_red, May 26, 5:16 pm

Tplink seems to have a few good models recently.
Linksy (budget Cisco) can be really good but can also be a bit picky about location & line noise.
Cisco is of course good but pricey
Google reviews for different brands AND models.

geek_mrfxit, May 26, 5:19 pm

Many thanks to the two helpful posters above. 'mrfixit' I'll follow through with Google on those suggestions.
To 'lythande1' yes I know the salesfolk in the retail stores are much about what commission they can get - do you really blame them - but I don't agree that they all come into the category of not having the first clue about real tech. They may not all be as knowledgeable as the people at Computer Lounge but in the stores that have dedicated computer sales folk rather than people who have to sell every type of ware in the shop. they can be useful as long as the buyer isn't totally gullible and if they are then sales folk at computer lounge would just totally bamboozle them.
Besides remember not everyone on NZ lives near Computer Lounge !

geek_g14us, May 26, 6:36 pm

Just use the modem supplied by your ISP for wired connections and buy a unifi AP for wireless. https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ap/

geek_loud_37, May 26, 6:57 pm

I have that Spark issued Huawei HG630b and it works fine. Although it only has a max wifi speed of 150Mbps, it is rock solid stable. Even with 10 wifi devices, it hasn't missed a beat. Given ADSL2+ has a max rate of 24Mbps, average is around 16Mbps. 150Mbps divided by 10 is 15Mbps so you'll see little to no difference with a router capable of anything faster.

Your internet connection dictates the speed, no point getting a new router if you can't get above ADSL2+ speeds, unless you want fast wifi transfer rates locally between your devices.

BTW, Spark have a released a firmware update for that modem/router. If you're having issues with yours, I highly recommend updating it.

geek_lostdude, May 26, 10:04 pm

Thanks 'lostdude' I shall certainly be on to Spark in the morning to check out that update. Wouldn't be nicer though if they had let those of us whom they supplied that modem to know that there was an update - nah I guess that would be too much to expect. How did you find out about it?

geek_g14us, May 26, 10:09 pm

As with anything these days, through google. ;)

I'm a System Administrator by trade so I tinker a lot and always try to keep my gear at the cutting edge. even if they are freebies lol

Oh BTW, you don't need to ring Spark, just follow the guide here: http://www.spark.co.nz/help/internet-data/equipment/huawei/hg630b-gateway/updating-your-huawei-hg630b-gateway/

geek_lostdude, May 26, 10:15 pm


The problem we have had with several Huawei modems/routers is wireless signal strength.
The 3 different & all brand new units we have had here, don't like our walls & loose signal strength in a very short distance, even 1 wall can be too much for the wireless.

The old Telecom supplied D-link & Technicolor modems used to be a lot better on wireless in the same exact house & modem location.

geek_mrfxit, May 27, 8:31 am

@14: Maybe it's a router/adapter compatibility problem rather than the signal strength. We had a Linksys 802.11N router sometime ago, which would only connect properly with Linksys branded adapters at 270~300 Mbps; all other brands (Netgear, TP-Link, Intel, generic) could only get 1 or 2 bars, and connect at or below 150 Mbps, even within the same room.

geek_tail_red, May 27, 8:58 am

Thanks again 'lostdude'. That'll be much easier than going through the normal rigmarole talking to Spark. Most of their help staff are very good but last time I rang I got someone who rushed through all the steps for what I wanted to do and when I asked a question I was treated like a complete idiot who really shouldn't own any electronic device computer! . Not keen to chance that encounter again.

geek_g14us, May 27, 9:54 am

The Spark HG659b is a decent upgrade over the HG630 if you can find one on TradeMe or something. They support 5GHz N/AC WiFi but you're devices obviously have to support this to have any benefit.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, May 27, 11:20 am



The vodafone supplied ( Huawei HG659 ) ones also work fine on Spark, and yes they're a very good unit.

geek_ross1970, May 27, 12:16 pm

I had heard of a few firmware issues with the Vodafone ones, but apparently you can install the Spark firmware pretty easily.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, May 27, 2:56 pm



Mines still on the firmware it came with, no Spark firmware update. Just needed the login details for the hidden "master" admin acc to be able to add the Spark internet account settings.

geek_ross1970, May 27, 4:39 pm

Don't shoot this messenger but something I think is worth considering is what your ISP's attitude towards your choice of router over the one they may have supplied you (we are UFB , NetComm router supplied to us), we were told that we could choose a router instead of theirs but this would negate any contractual obligation on their part to provide optimum speeds because we would not be using the router configured by them to their particular required specs. In our case we don't need to consider changing as we are getting what we signed up for .We had looked at routers in a few retail stores but of course no salesperson would have planted that seed of doubt in our head .

geek_swallowstitch, May 28, 6:22 pm

I think it's pretty unreasonable to expect an ISP to support all routers. The solution is pretty simple if you want to use a 3rd party router, keep your ISP router on hand in case you ever need to do some fault finding with them.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, Oct 7, 9:01 am

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