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Mini review of low cost TP-Link W9970 VDSL2 modem/router
Sunday 21 February 2016 11:26:04 by Andrew Ferguson

TP-Link appears to have a little gem hidden away in its broadband hardware link-up, the TP-Link W9970 modem/router may only have single band 802.11n wireless support, but at £33 to £44 it is one of the cheapest devices we know that supports VDSL2 (and ADSL2+) and includes support for G.INP and vectoring.

The availability of a low cost modem/router is important as in March 2016 Openreach stops supplying its ECI or Huawei and providing replacement ones for ones that break. For the bulk of the market this change is irrelevant as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and PlusNet already use all-in-one devices.

VDSL2 device with router and bridge modes
Naked TP-Link W9970 showing Broadcom chipset
Picture showing LAN/WAN Ethernet port and other connectors on TP-Link W9970

So rather than our old 3,000 to 4,000 word length reviews we will try and round up this little device in a couple of hundred. For those with an existing ECI modem and looking for something with a Broadcom chipset with G.INP and vectoring support the W9970 is ideal, and its firmware supports a bridge mode, so once you turn the wireless off you effectively have a direct replacement for an existing VDSL2 modem. In full modem/router mode the firmware and feature set is the fairly standard TP-Link feature set and unlike some provider supplied hardware (e.g. BT HomeHub) you can configure it to respond to Internet pings and thus will work with our Broadband Quality Monitor. You also get to see the VDSL2 connection statistics with more detail available via telnet.

The wireless is not going to set any speed records, but seems to have the usual sort of range and speeds for a basic 2.4 GHz device, for those using the W9970 in modem mode the antenna will only detach if you open up the case and remove the fly leads and apply some judicious use of pliers will allow the antenna to be removed.

Stability is important and in the week of running the modem both in full router mode and bridge mode it has been stable with no flapping of the VDSL2 side and this is on a line that does have some issues and the bigger brother the W9980 (which is not a Broadcom chipset) would lose sync perhaps once every 48 hours. The W9970 also seems to sync up and authenticate in a shorter timeframe.


Posted by movie about 1 year ago
Can you Telnet to it?
Does it return the full range of Broadcom stats?
Does it support PoE?
Posted by baby_frogmella about 1 year ago
I've noticed that the TP Link W9970 gives a slightly higher max VDSL2 attainable rate compared to my HG612 - 83meg v 81 meg. However in bridge mode it drove my TBB BQM nuts, perhaps that was due to me making a pigs ear when hacking off the antennas, as shown here LOL
Anyway i've ordered another one from Amazon but will the antennas intact this time :)
Posted by baby_frogmella about 1 year ago
Anyway i've ordered another one from Amazon @ £33 but will leave the antennas intact this time :)
Posted by ian007jen about 1 year ago
Yes you can telnet into it

Very cut down telnet interface so not the full set of broadcom stats and commands.

Do you mean is it a poe powered device...No
Posted by movie about 1 year ago
did you use the correct tool?
Posted by movie about 1 year ago
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@baby_frogmella If you open case, 2 screws and lots of catches to defeat, you can use pliers to squeeze antenna and remove, and de-solder the wires in a neat way.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
On BQM behaving fine bridged to Asus router here.
Posted by zyborg47 about 1 year ago
2.4 GHz is fine, in fact 5Ghz seems to be more hassle than it is worth.
Posted by gt94sss2 about 1 year ago
"in March 2016 Openreach stops supplying its ECI or Huawei and providing replacement ones"

Am not sure that is quite correct. They stop supplying new ones next month but have said they will provide replacements + support until March 2017
Posted by phil_w_lee about 1 year ago
Will it support routing for a /29 subnet?
This should be standard for anything describing itself as a router rather than simply a NAT gateway, however, I've discovered to my cost that not all do.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Don't have a /29 to actually test it, but can look to see if in theory possible
Posted by rtho782 about 1 year ago
No replacement modems? But surely that is the demarcation point for people with one, how can they suddenly not replace them where they have been supplied?!

I don't want to use an ISP router and like having a separate modem. I would not be happy if I were suddenly told I had to use a homehub.
Posted by acpsd775 about 1 year ago
@rtho782 considering the openreach modems are in fact not modems at all and just routers switched into bridged mode then locked down to give the appearance of being a modem to the average users, nothing is stopping you buying your own VDSL modem or cheap router that supports bridged mode, the talktalk super router for example is a huawei router that indeed supports bridged mode and can give users exactly what they had with the huawei Or "modem" being able to use their own more capable "cable routers"
Posted by movie about 1 year ago
The demarcation point is now the master socket. The modem belongs to you.
Posted by mlmclaren about 1 year ago
I have and used to a W8968v3 on a v.long ADSL line with G.DMT set manually and it performed astonishingly well, I used to be able to telnet fairly easy both inner LAN and Ext. to WAN...

I used to use it with DSLstats program too, so this is basically and updated one of those... I would probably recommend it to somebody not requiring much from wireless and inner LAN...

A wee bit dissapointing the attenna's are fixed unlike mine where they where removable but I assume every little keeps the cost down.
Posted by baby_frogmella about 1 year ago
Do you have to enable WAN pings in bridge mode on the tp link in order to get it working with the TBB BQM?
Posted by dparnell about 1 year ago
I've had one of these for a couple of months, using it on fttc plusnet and have been very impressed. It removes the need for two boxes (the BT openreach and the plusnet router). However with the stock firmware it doesn't support youview. I had to contact tp-link directly and they gave me a beta firmware that does work, but it's not on the download page yet.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Not as far as am aware, the IP layer is hidden in the PPPoE tunnel.
Posted by dsf58 about 1 year ago
This would be more attractive if you could down load open source firmware for it.
It's not in the databases at:
Posted by rtho782 about 1 year ago
How can they retrospectively change the demarcation point?

Next year, could they retrospectively change it to be the exchange itself, and the line is owned by me, so if there is a fault on the line it's my problem to repair?!
Posted by nadger about 1 year ago
Ordered one yesterday from Dabs as spare in case Plusnet Hub One plays about.
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