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The Billion BiPAC 7800N is a wireless router supporting 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless. Its notable feature is two WAN interfaces: an ethernet port for connection to, for example, a cable (or VDSL) modem and also a built-in ADSL2+ modem.
In the box are:
- Billion BiPAC 7800N router
- Three 2dBi antennae
- Ethernet patch cable
- RJ11 cable
- Mains power supply, 12V 1.5A DC output
- Paperwork: UK quick install guide, quick start guide
- CD, containing the quick start guide and a full (108 page) manual
The router sits on rubber feet; although there are what appear to be
wallmounting slots on the bottom of the router none of the literature provided
makes any reference to them. For ventilation there are holes in the top, bottom
and sides of the router for ventilation and through these the front LEDs on the
router are visible, especially in the dark (e.g., at night).
After a few hours' use the top of the router gets quite hot, though far from uncomfortably so.
On the front of the router are the usual status LEDs (picture below), from left to right:
- Status and activity of the four ethernet switch ports
- Status and activity of the ethernet WAN interface
- Wireless activity and status (including that of WiFi Protected Setup)
- Status of the ADSL modem
- Status of the "internet connection", i.e. whether either the ethernet or ADSL interfaces are up and have a public IP address
On the back, from left to right:
- RJ11 port for ADSL
- Ethernet WAN interface
- 4 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet ports
- Reset button (top)
- WiFi Protected Setup button (bottom)
- DC power connector
- Power button
The router ships with a DHCP server enabled so any equipment connected to it should be given an IP address. Upon opening a web browser the router will, by default, automatically redirect traffic to the router's IP for initial setup and (at least in theory) this should get the router to the point that there is a working internet connection. In the case of cable, the router should be able to connect, obtain an IP address, and work with zero configuration (besides the usual steps of switching the modem off and back on before connecting the new device to a Virgin Media cable modem).
The UK quick install guide includes specific instructions for setting up an ADSL connection with O2/Be and whatever connection is setup the next step is to configure the wireless network with some sort of security.
At this point the setup process should be complete, however if there is some issue with the internet connection, such as the user forgetting to connect it to the router, then the router will restart into a less than useful state:
No option is given to "retry" or to change the setting but instead what is initially a step-by-step setup terminates. A simple option to go back to the beginning or to retry checking the connection would have improved matters considerably!
To return to the settings later, the router's IP address is 192.168.1.254 and the default username and password are 'admin' and 'admin' respectively. It would have been nice to see these settings printed on the router somewhere, something noted as a good feature in previous reviews.
The router support 802.11n and has three external antennae which can be replaced if needed. However, it only operates on the 2.4GHz band. This may or may not be an issue but in some cases this band is heavily populated with nearby devices (neighbour's routers, for example) so performance may suffer. Other routers (for example the Netgear WNDR3700) reviewed previously offer the choice of either switching to the generally sparsely-populated 5GHz band or using both.
The ADSL modem supports ADSL2+ (backwards compatible with ADSL as always) as well as the Annex M extension, which will give an increased upload speed on short lines at the expense of some download speed. The modem functions about as well as any other modem although one notable error is in the status page - the values for SNR margin and line attenuation are ten times too large, as shown.
Under the same testing as in previous reviews (iperf with a large window
size, 10 iterations, average and standard deviation calculated) throughput fell
in some cases below that expected, especially when close to the router.
The most interesting deviation was that switching from 20MHz to 40MHz mode typically produces a substantial increase in throughput - in previous reviews the increase was around double as you would expect. In this case the increase was small at close range (less than 10%) and larger but still lower than expected at distance (66%).
|Distance||Bandwidth configured||Measured speed|
|Close range||130Mbps (20MHz)||82.4 � 0.2 Mbps|
|300Mbps (40MHz)||90 � 1 Mbps|
|Far range||130Mbps (20MHz)||32.0 � 0.9 Mbps|
|300Mbps (40MHz)||53 � 2 Mbps|
Using the same approach as above for testing the wireless network, throughput over the router's ethernet WAN interface was tested. Although the port connects at 1 Gbps the router can handle around 95 Mbps; this drops further if the router web interface is accessed (and at the same time the interface is slow to load).
Port forwarding options are buried, relatively, in the menu system:
Configuration -> Virtual Server -> Port Mapping. The router does support
Universal Plug and Play, however, so in most cases it shouldn't be necessary to
use this feature. This seems to be a continuing trend - in the review of the
Zyxel NBG419N it was also noted that port forwarding settings were hidden in
Once there, the options are nothing unusual. One nice feature is that it is possible to select from a list of the IP addresses of devices connected to the router but this selection does not follow the device currently assigned that IP; if the device is assigned a different IP address by the router's DHCP server then the forwarding rule will fail.
This router's unique selling point is its two WAN interfaces. One missed opportunity is the lack of an option to use both connections at once, for example to use one connection for latency-sensitive applications (games, VoIP etc.) and the other for heavy traffic.
As shown, there are a number of options to control how and when the router detects that the "primary" internet connection has failed and when the router should assume the connection is restored.
Quality of Service
There is also a Quality of Service feature although it would have been nice to see pre-defined applications provided.
The router supports IPv6 and we have tested that it works using software version 1.05c.dc1. There is dual stack support, so if your provider supports both IPv4 and IPv6 you can decide what to use on your computers. When IPv6 is configured correctly you will see the routers IPv6 address on the status page.
Enabling IPv6 on the WAN interface is actually very simple, and is done on the same page as where you enter your ADSL accounts username and passoword. Enabling the IPv6 checkbox, and setting the other fields to obtain their values automatically is the simplest. On clicking apply the ADSL interface will drop, resync and re-authenticate obtaining your IPv6 configuration from your broadband provider.
There is one more page of options for those that want to have tighter control over the IPv6 address assignement for computers on their local network. This is under the advanced options, and is the LAN IPv6 AutoConfig page.
This allows you to choose whether to allow IPv6 auto configuration to assign the IPv6 address to devices connected to the 7800N router, or use the router to serve them via a DHCPv6 server running on the router.
This router retails for around the same price as the Netgear WNDR3700 and for a lot more than the ZyXEL NBG-419N which were both reviewed previously. The ZyXEL, other than the addition of gigabit ethernet switch ports and dual WAN, is a fairly close match for the feature set of this router and the Netgear arguably does more (e.g. dual band wireless and the USB media server).
When choosing between the three you would need to decide which features are more important and in a consumer market that probably means the other two routers will win out.
With broadband evolving and the increasing availability of FTTC services, if in the market for an ADSL/ADSL2+ router then electing for one that offers an Ethernet WAN does give you more options, and thus better value for money over a few years.
Stability of ADSL and ADSL2+ modems can be very subjective, but the router performs well on a fast ADSL2+ line, and a line that sits in the problematic 42 to 50dB attenuation window, where some routers are constantly flipping between the various ADSL modes. The Billion 7800N performed very well, and handled the drop in noise margin in the evenings in its stride.