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Westell Wirespeed Pro 36R570 Review

Although not a big name, Westell are a large player in the DSL arena. If you have a Fujitsu modem, you are likely to have something that licenses Westell’s technology. I was sent a Wirespeed Pro 36R570 which is just one of several ADSL devices that they offer.

The package provided is complete, with all relevant cabling to get you running from out of the box on a single machine. If you are setting it up for a network you will need either a hub with an uplink port or a crossover cable, as the 36R570 has no such uplink facility and comes only with a patch cable (not pictured).

The rear panel of the router looks like this:

ADSL line port, power-switch, power connector, network port

This is a NAT only router and does NOT have any functionality to perform routing or connections with multiple IP addresses. In fact Westell have a hole in their product range with a lack of any of their ADSL modems / routers that support users with more than one IP address.

The router comes in a default state of an IP address of assigned to it. To get in to the router you simply just browse to it on that IP address in a web browser and you have full access to the web interface. If your network is set up differently or you aren’t sure how to change your TCP/IP settings to be compatible, the CD provided can detect the router and change your local settings to the relevant ones to work with the IP address it has.

The web interface is easy to browse through and is thoughtfully laid out. A large criticism is that making any changes to settings such as NAT or the LAN set up requires the router to be rebooted which can get tiresome when wanting to change port forwarding rules and then test them.

Initial configuration should be easy enough provided the router arrives correctly configured for PPPoA. The one I received was set to PPPoE and this is only changeable by going to a special configuration / diagnostics page in the router that gives you the option to change. It also details information of line loss and data rates which are interesting and could prove useful; however this page is hidden away and would only be accessible if your provider gives details on how to access it. The diagnostics page that is provided for use on the web interface is much more basic than this, and just shows basic tests to check the state of a few things such as the PPP or the IP connection. As with many routers a lack of decent logging makes it hard to actually determine where problems may lie.

Changing the setup of IP address for the router is simple on the LAN advanced page. It also allows you to configure the DHCP scope and DNS servers so that you can set the Wirespeed up as a DNS relay avoiding. You cannot however assign more than one IP to the router so as to enable it accessible from different subnets.

One of the features described of the router is that of an integrated firewall. This is perhaps not the best description. Being a NAT only router, this means that the internal network is pretty protected from attacks on the outside unless port-forwarding rules are set up. The way the ‘firewall’ function actually works is by giving you several options of how the internal network is allowed to access out. There are some default settings to allow general ports through and a list of these is provided in the manual. There is also a custom setting to enable you to allow certain services through for certain IP’s or IP ranges. This gives you the option to allow certain users to do some things, and to block certain users from doing other things. This facility may be particularly useful in a working environment to stop employees using certain Internet services.

The port forwarding rules allow you to assign certain ports to go to certain IP addresses, however there is no function to map all ports to one IP address, which is another significant feature missing from the router. I am unsure as to how many port forwarding rules you can add, and the manual does not state a limit so it may be worth enquiring with Westell if you plan to point a lot of ports to various servers.

Another intriguing feature of the router was a telnet interface. This presented a password prompt. When I questioned Westell about this, they informed me that this is a feature that was planned for the router but never properly implemented, and hence a password prompt that you cannot get in to!

All in all the router performed as good as most under usage. Pings were reduced by about 5ms through the router compared with the Alcatel Speed Touch USB, and maximum throughput was available although it suffered, as do all other routers when maxing out the bandwidth in both directions. It supports up to 8Mbps downstream and 800Kbps upstream so capability is available for faster speeds if they come available.

A big pro for the router is its ease of use. You can be up and running in 5minutes and the majority of that time is waiting for the router or your computer to reboot! This is a big plus if you are just looking to share the connection easily between users and aren’t looking at a fully routed solution. The manual provided on the CD is also comprehensive and details all the features well. However a drawback of the over simplification of the interface has meant that some basic features are missing (notably password protection of the router). Also the specifications are slightly misleading in so much as reference to an Integrated Firewall and VPN support (the router gives the ability to forward relevant ports).

Price: £190 - Wirespeed Pro 570
Contact: Westell
Westell UK Sales: 01256 843311,
Specs: Westell Wirespeed Products

John Hunt

The contents of this review should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision—You should always discuss your requirements with your service provider and hardware supplier.