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How fast is your broadband router?
Monday 01 February 2010 07:15:52 by John Hunt

Have you ever considered the impact your broadband router may have on the quality and speed of your broadband service? Not only do you have to pick the right router that supports the service you're subscribing to (e.g. an ADSL2+ router for an ADSL2+ service), you may find that there are significant variations between different manufacturers, models or the firmware (the software that runs on your router).

Fluidata is a wholesale provider that many will know for their L2TP broadband service which uniquely runs on the BE Unlimited LLU platform. They have carried out testing on BE LLU broadband connections to identify which routers perform the best.

This testing has identified that some of the most expensive Cisco ADSL routers perform quite poorly in comparison to more common brands, but even Linksys (now owned by Cisco) can very depending on the actual model.

The testing was carried out on a 1,550m BE LLU phone line capable of an 'up to 24 meg' service downstream with 1.3 meg upstream capacity. The speeds shown are in Kbps and represent the average sync speed rather than actual IP throughput over five tests per router.

Device Firmware Average Downstream Average Upstream
Netgear DM111P 3.64p 18,309 1,320
SpeedTouch 608WL 17,921 1,313
Netgear DG834 v4 5.01.01 17,719 1,329
Netgear DG834 v4 5.03.14 17,674 1,314
Linksys WAG160N 1.00.14 17,599 1,314
ZyXEL P-660R-D1 3.40(ANZ.6)G1 17,568 1,238
ZyXEL P-660R-D1 3.40(ANZ.6)G0 17,510 1,245
D-Link DSL-320B UK.1.10 17,220 1,304
D-Link DSL-2640B UK.4.00 17,076 1,303
ZyXEL P-660H-D1 3.40(AGD.3)C0 16,586 1,235
Netgear DG834v2 3.01.38 15,833 1,208
SpeedTouch 608WL 15,444 1,321
Cisco 1801-M/K9 3.0.33 15,099 1,187
Cisco 877-M-K9 3.0.14 14,976 1,176
Cisco HWIC-1ADSL-M 4.0.15 14,785 1,173
Cisco 857-K9 3.04 14,199 1,185
Cisco 877-K9 3.04 14,199 1,187
Cisco HWIC-1ADSL 4.0.15 14,199 1,188
Linksys WAG54G2 1.00.16 9,997 1,178

ADSL2+ sync speeds. Speeds recorded in Kbps

This data provides an interesting insight into the variations in speed that routers can provide. In particular, we would highlight the SpeedTouch 608WL which is one of the top performers at 17,921 Kbps using the firmware, but which only achieves 15,444 Kbps using the older firmware. Users should note that with a few exceptions (e.g. Cisco), firmware upgrades are free and simply take a few minutes to install.

Cisco routers are known to be among the most expensive for terminating DSL connections, but fare badly in comparison to its cheaper counterparts, so spending money on a router is not necessarily the answer. This certainly matches some of our own experience comparing Cisco 1801 and Netgear DG834 routers on BT Wholesale 21CN lines.

It is however important to note that whilst the above figures provide an insight into BE lines, this data may not be accurate for customers on other broadband services where wholesale operators use different equipment in the telephone exchange. Indeed, large providers such as BT have a policy of purchasing equipment from different vendors so speeds may vary based on your exchange/DSLAM.

The tests were repeated again with the line set to ADSL2+ with Annex M enabled (which allows lines to sync at an upstream speed of up to 2.5meg). Only routers which were Annex-M compatible were tested:

Device Firmware Average Downstream Average Upstream
Netgear DG834 v4 5.03.14 16,996 1,887
Netgear DG834 v4 5.01.01 16,908 1,902
SpeedTouch 608WL 16,791 1,882
Linksys WAG160N 1.00.14 16,481 1,882
D-Link DSL-320B UK.1.10 16,398 1,901
D-Link DSL-2640B UK.4.00 16,239 1,908
ZyXEL P-660R-D1 3.40(ANZ.6)G1 16,028 2,484
Linksys WAG54G2 1.00.16 16,001 2,162
ZyXEL P-660R-D1 3.40(ANZ.6)G0 15,821 2,479
ZyXEL P-660H-D1 3.40(AGD.3)C0 15,574 2,461
SpeedTouch 608WL 15,458 1,884
Netgear DG834v2 3.01.38 14,747 2,301
Cisco 1801-M/K9 3.0.33 14,394 2,239
Cisco HWIC-1ADSL-M 4.0.15 14,311 2,286
Cisco 877-M-K9 3.0.14 14,311 2,264

ADSL2+ with Annex M sync speeds. Speeds recorded in Kbps

A general trend shown here is that the higher the upstream speed, the lower the downstream. This is to be expected by the nature of the Annex M technology which makes use of some frequencies on the line for upstream that would have otherwise been used for downstream. We also note with interest that the ZyXEL routers negotiated the highest upstream speeds but also maintained a respectable downstream, impressive for such an inexpensive router.

So, if you're buying a BE based ADSL2+ Annex-M service from BE Unlimited or another company which uses this network via Fluidata, you should consider using a ZyXEL Router.


Posted by aircool over 7 years ago
No DG834GT testing : /

Pretty interesting distribution though.
Posted by bosie over 7 years ago
Noise figures would have been interesting. My Netgear syncs higher than Zyxel at 2.5Mbps on 6db profile. Wonder why they didn't test the modem on Annex M, it would probably win that as well.
Posted by TGVrecord over 7 years ago
It would have useful to have a comparison with the BeBox's supplied by Be!
Posted by bib1963 over 7 years ago
Yet again a broken test.

The cisco's have updated firmware, 4.0.18 which explicitly fixes problems when connecting into the BT network. You should see around 2.5Mb/s download increase.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
The test was on the BE LLU network, so any fixes for the DSLAM types BT use and their possible variations in config do not neccessarily apply.
Posted by Paul-B over 7 years ago
Interesting, but I'd like to see test results for all my modem/routers, which are all Draytek Vigor. I've used these for years because of their speed and reliability... expensive but good.
Posted by mitchbligh over 7 years ago
Hey, how about using BE's modem 585v6 for comparison?
Posted by mishminx over 7 years ago
Bebox comparison would have been interesting but I think it is universally recognised as crap. Even after you turn it upside down to stop it overheating.
Posted by ChristopherWoods over 7 years ago
The XyZEL P660R-D1 is also unique amongst its brethren for being one of the only XyZEL modems you can stick into half-bridge mode (which is essential if you're using it as an ethernet modem on any PPPoA network) - Be*, which uses EthoA, isn't affected, but it's nice to know you can still authenticate and get a sync with the P660R-D1 if you ever happen to use it on a BTW-based line. (cont...)
Posted by ChristopherWoods over 7 years ago
Real world usage for comparison: we have one at work on an Easynet line and it's rock solid :) Combined with a Tomato-running WRT54GL, it's far stabler, fast and more reliable than our BT Business Broadband line (which we only use for bulk traffic now).

On my home Be* line, I'm fortunately close to the exchange and I can get 24.5mbps down and 2.6mbps up (sync speed). I use a Bebox (TG585v7) in bridge mode with, again, a Tomato-based WRT54GL. Again, rock solid performance and great throughput.

Posted by ChristopherWoods over 7 years ago
Out of curiosity, I picked up an ex-Sky, v4 DG834GT from eBay, flashed it to the default Netgear firmware then flashed to DGTeam. When I plugged the modem into the line, I IMMEDIATELY got less than half my previous sync than when going through the TG585v7. No amount of tweaking could make it go any faster (at one point it dropped back to ADSL1!) so evidently the AR7 chipset is not very friendly with the Broadcom chipsets they have in their MSANs.
Posted by ChristopherWoods over 7 years ago
More testing is needed on that though because others have told me they can get full syncs with their DG834GTs (good job I only bought mine as a cheap backup router ;)

(Sorry for the four-comment monster!)
Posted by harrassed over 7 years ago
What about Belkin's N1 Vision- ADSL version? Expensive I know, but after several others who shall reamin nameless - this has worked flawlessly for me for me since Jan 2009 and produces excellent speed with BEthere, both down and upstream.
Posted by TGVrecord over 7 years ago
I use the Bebox (TG585v7)and it works well for me on Ethernet connection. I did test a DG834PN for a few weeks. There was no improvement via Ethernet but the wireless was much better. As I seldom use wireless and money is short I can see little advantage in getting another router.
Posted by nmg196 over 7 years ago
Yep, I concur with this - we're using the excellent SpeedTouch 608WL and we got an extra 4.0Mbps when we upgraded the firmware. We're now synced at 22.689Mbps down / 2.481 up. Compared to 18.6Mbps previously! Not bad for a free upgrade! A rock solid router too which never ever crashes despite a whole office load of people using it.
Posted by whatever2 over 7 years ago
Having a comparison with the Bebox TG585v7 would be so useful.
Posted by darkusmanus over 7 years ago
I have a speedtouch 608wl but have been unable to get it working on BE network without using a different model template which messes up the other features of the modem eg vpn and wireless. Could anyone point me in the direction of the latest firmware for this router
and also a template that allows the entry of the settings required for connection for BE as the templates I ot with the modem are for Zen adsl and not ADSL2+
Posted by LarryJB over 7 years ago
I am with Tiscali Broadband and have intermittent slow down problems sometimes dropping to 1.5mb. I have one of their provided routers a TG585v7 it would have been interesting to have had a link from you to check it out as you do not give this model on your example list!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Another great article :) very interesting read, quite shocking the differences between the top ranked and bottom ranked models. Some are throwing away more sync than NON-LLU users get on their services lol
Posted by JNeail over 7 years ago
I’m really interested to see that the Linksys WAG160N is in the top 5 - This router has been the worst ever for me:

> Needs a re-set almost every day (power cycle)
> IP conflict issues from the DHCP service – struggles with fixed IP e.g. for NAS drive
> Will re-set (drop connection) the WiFi if you try to move 500Mb or more in one hit e.g. Back-up to NAS

Posted by JNeail over 7 years ago
> Unexplainable (but noted on Linksys forum) will re-set WiFi connection every hour after 10pm at night especially under heavy use.
> Below par Wifi range
> Shockingly poor bundled software, broke Windows Vista & Windows 7 out the box.
> Poor support from Linksys/Cisco
> No longer listed on Linksys Web as a current product & support for this model well hidden
> Under warranty replacements made with refurbished 'older' stock – all shipping at my expense! (on my 4th unit after 3 swaps)
> Poor media streaming
> Laggy XBox360 gaming experience
> Gets very hot

Posted by JNeail over 7 years ago

Need I go on.... Obviously I'm in the process of replacing it for something reliable (suggestions?).
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
I'll echo the comments about not having the stick 585 listed. Mind you I recently got upgraded from their old 780 and it doesn't seem any worse. Very slightly better possibly.

I don't really understand the criticisms of it though. I have an atten. of 34db and it syncs around 13Mb/s with 9db margin. Throughput is usually around 11Mb/s. Perfectly satisfactory and it doesn't seem to get warm for me.
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
Pity my FritzBox isn't on the list, but I suppose it's a little used beast in this country even if it does have useful extra facilities.
My BeBox used to need rebooting pretty often and the WiFi had much more limited range than the FritzBox's mimo n WiFi
Posted by timmay over 7 years ago
All interesting but is there a good performing ADSL2+ Be/O2 compatible router with Gb Ethernet and 802.11n? if there is then I might be tempted to replace my Speedtouch 585(v6).
Posted by nredwood over 7 years ago
For Gigabit, there is the Billion 7800N which has a Broadcom chipset
Waiting for an update from someone on BE who has just bought one
Not cheap though
The 608WL is pretty much identical to the 780WL and not much different to the 585v6 and 585v7, so could be used in comparison to the BeBox
The latest BE firmware for the 585v7 has shown it to be more stable and a few have gotten slightly higher sync speeds
Very good, interesting and useful article
Posted by geardog over 7 years ago
Interesting that all the Netgear devices have all been superceded months ago. As such, Annex M is typically supported in all existing devices. In response to GT comment using AR7, it doesn't, It uses Brcm. Similarly, it would be even more interesting if the latest models were tested - DGN1000 and Gigabit Router DGN3500.
Posted by uniquename over 7 years ago
Just to agree with geardog about the comment from ChristopherWoods a long way back "DG834GT from eBay, flashed it to the default Netgear firmware then flashed to DGTeam. When I plugged the modem into the line, I IMMEDIATELY got less than half my previous sync than when going through the TG585v7. No amount of tweaking could make it go any faster (at one point it dropped back to ADSL1!) so evidently the AR7 chipset is not very friendly with the Broadcom chipsets they have in their MSANs".

All versions of the 834GT have Broadcom not AR7, but he is correct AR7 chipsets are not good on O2/Be.
Posted by uniquename over 7 years ago
It does seen very silly for Fluidata not to have included the BeBox 585v7. Accidental or deliberate? I find it sync's faster than Netgear 834N and 834PN.
Posted by uniquename over 7 years ago
There is also no comparison of throughput. The BeBox gives a 2% higher percentage of sync as observed download speed than most Netgears.

At the higher sync's that is significant.
Posted by Popa_Mintin over 7 years ago
Just a comment: My ISP had been Virgin Media (Up to 8Meg) via a BT landline for quite some time, I always leave my Netgear DG834 v4 running when I go away. On my return even after only 4 days, I always found that it lost sync. and had to be re-booted, often the IP profile was as low as 135 kbps and seldom above 3,000kpbs. As from the end of August '09 I was able to change my contract with Virgin and BT such that I now rent the landline directly from Virgin. Since that time my sync. hasn't dropped even after 3 weeks away, and the IP Profile is 6,400 kbps.
Posted by Popa_Mintin over 7 years ago
Recently my Netgear DG834 v4 router seemed to be faulty and I couldn't connect, the Power LED would go out as the Wireless LED lit, this kept repeating. So I purchased an Edimax AR7084g but I had to use the Ethernet connection to set it up which was a nuisance. Whilst I was doing this I just tried the Netgear router with the power supply from the Edimax to see if the fault was still there and found it was only the Netgear power supply which had failed… Result! I mention this for anyone that may have the same problem... and to note that the Edimax router doesn't feature in the lists either.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 7 years ago
@popa_martin quote As from the end of August '09 I was able to change my contract with Virgin and BT such that I now rent the landline directly from Virgin. Since that time my sync. hasn't dropped even after 3 weeks away, and the IP Profile is 6,400 kbps.

This is due to virgin migrating you to c&w llu ..the poor connection was down to BT wholesale ..I'd also fit a nte2000 faceplate bt your master socket and see if you can squeeze a bit more out of your line
Posted by Oddball over 7 years ago
I love my DG834 V4 I love being able to tweak the SNR to squeeze more speed from Be.

I have it connected to a Dlink gigabit router and it's a sweet combination.
Posted by asylum_seeker over 7 years ago
@ JNeail re: poor Linksys WAG160N
I also found the WAG160N very problematic despite having the latest firmware installed. I've now got the Netgear DGND3300 (wireless N but also dual band) and this is just superb. Holds connection better than the WAG160N and syncs slightly higher...granted it ain't cheaper (around 100 notes) but you get what you pay for. Highly recommended!
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
what would have been very useful is if the chipset of the router was listed alongside the name. I am guessing the top ones used a broadcom chipset.
Posted by JNeail over 7 years ago
@asylum_seeker - Thanks mate - all recommendations taken seriously ... The WAG160N must go... I have another ticket outstanding with Linksys will see if they replace and then e-bay it :-0 - should help towards the cost!
Posted by elevator over 7 years ago
would be nice if a similar study could be done with BT or can you compare to BE ?
Posted by Groovehound over 7 years ago
My router is a DIR-655, capable of 1Gbps WAN-side! Virgin are limiting the speed by refusing to sort out the modem's signal levels (100% clear-cut their fault) after MONTHS. I don't think my router's at fault, although when I switch to ADSL, I'm sure I'll have some fun testing such things. Fibre Optic Cable FTW, I'm sure! :-p
Posted by Groovehound over 7 years ago
I'm interested in O2 Boxs' performance and also whatever router Be provide. Any obvious things to know? I have a BT Homehub v1.0 as an alternative, or would use an ADSL modem with ethernet port alongside the DIR-655 (which has its own issues, DLink's execrable non-support and preference of GERMAN users being the least).
Posted by absent over 7 years ago have some very interesting test stats like this.
Posted by GoBBGlasgow over 5 years ago
After suffering drop outs for years,
found this chart and decided to buy a DG834G V4
and use the DGTeam firmware.
My connection has been solid.
Tried DGN1000, DG834GT, Linksys WAG120N, all dropped.
Not one of them use the broadcom chipset and they all continually dropped out.
ISP's using the LLU system should put a guide up about which routers
are actually compatible with LLU Broadband.

Am now using: Netgear DG834G V4 - Firmware Version V5.01.16 - DGTeam Rev. 1018
ISP: TalkTalk Plus - Syncin at 9115 kbps - Profile SI_9_24M / 9db

The V4 router has the most number of broadcom chips inside.
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