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NetComm 3G18Wn 3G USB 11n Wi-Fi Router review: NetComm 3G18Wn 3G USB 11n Wi-Fi Router

The 3G18Wn provides good 802.11n performance, 3G USB modem compatibility and a great fall-back position for those using both wireless and wired internet connections.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
4 min read


The 3G18Wn is a mid-sized router that shares NetComm's recent obsession with small white boxes that feature front blue panels. The big visual difference between the 3G18Wn and other NetComm routers is the presence of a USB port at the front to accommodate a 3G modem. At the rear you'll find four 10/100 Ethernet ports and a single 10/100 WAN port for attaching a secondary internet source such as ADSL or cable. That does, as the box proudly proclaims, make the 3G18Wn a "five-Ethernet port" router, although we suspect anyone buying it on that selling point might expect it had five outbound ports rather than the more regular four plus one WAN port. Two antennas stick up from the rear of the 3G18Wn. Aside from the router and its power adapter, all you'll find in the box is a very slim set-up sheet, some advertising material for other NetComm products and a CD containing product manuals.


NetComm 3G18Wn 3G USB 11n Wi-Fi Router

The Good

Solid Wireless-N throughput. Works with multiple 3G USB modems. Can be used with 3G as your fallback connection method.

The Bad

Tweaking to get 3G working can be annoying. Firmware updates a little wonky.

The Bottom Line

The 3G18Wn provides good 802.11n performance, 3G USB modem compatibility and a great fall-back position for those using both wireless and wired internet connections.


Installation of the 3G18Wn is entirely web-based, via the set-up sheet that comes with the unit. Wireless security is enabled by default, which is a nice touch, although the standard password isn't that unique and should be changed by any user in short order, especially as it's only a WEP password. The interface is logical and easy enough for even first time users to configure, although the set-up sheet omits to mention that the router comes with the preconfigured APNs for most popular 3G wireless vendors. On the 3G modem side, NetComm maintains a list of compatible modems here.

On the wireless front, the 3G18Wn is 802.11n capable, albeit only in the 2.4GHz spectrum.

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The 3G18Wn sells itself as a 3G router, but it's also capable of acting as a router that uses 3G as its backup service if the Ethernet connection via the WAN port falls over. That's a handy provision if you absolutely must have net connectivity at all times, although you'd want to be careful in its usage if you're on a severely data-limited 3G plan, as you could potentially switch over to 3G while in the middle of a data intensive activity and rack up some serious charges, especially on Telstra's pricey Next-G network.


Our first test with the 3G18Wn encompassed our standard signal and throughput tests. As it's 2.4GHz locked and only features two stubby antennas, we suspected the 3G18Wn might be a bit of a fizzer, but we were pleasantly surprised.

Signal strength: 4.2GHz
Distance from router5m15m (minor walls)15m (multiple walls)
NetComm 3G18Wn83% 59% 59%
Belkin N+ Wireless Storage Router88% 63% 62%
Edimax nMax AR-7265Wn77% 58% 55%
NetComm NP802n72% 49% 52%
Linksys WRT610N79% 50% 53%
Netgear WNDR330085% 45% 44%
Netgear WNHDEB11184% 50% 55%
Linksys WAG160N70% 53% 48%
Billion BiPAC 7300N75% 59% 54%
Conceptronic 300Mbps92% 62% 60%

The NetComm 3G18Wn performed essentially identically to other 2.4GHz routers in terms of signal throughput in our test environment. As always, your figures may vary depending on the environment in which you're running the 3G18Wn.

Throughput: 2.4GHz
Distance between PCs2m, no barriers20m, multiple walls
NetComm 3G18Wn27.6Mbps 27.6Mbps
Belkin N+ Wireless Storage Router31.75Mbps 31.35Mbps
Edimax nMax AR-7265Wn2.95Mbps 3.09Mbps
NetComm NP802n18.2Mbps 16.4Mbps
Linksys WRT610N22.3Mbps 7.91Mbps
Netgear WNDR330011.8Mbps 9.81Mbps
Netgear WNHDEB11118.4Mbps 16.7Mbps
Linksys WAG160N19.8Mbps 15.2Mbps
Billion BiPAC 7300N21Mbps 13.3Mbps
Conceptronic 300Mbps15Mbps 7.7Mbps

While it didn't beat our absolute best performer in this category, the 3G18Wn acquitted itself very well, especially as it managed to maintain a solid throughput even through obstacles that do normally strain most wireless routers. Naturally, it doesn't live up to the over-hyped "300Mbps" claims of 802.11n's performance, but then nothing actually does.

The second part of assessing the 3G18Wn's performance was to hook it up to some 3G wireless devices. While you could use it as just a regular 802.11n router, nobody's going to buy it just for that purpose. We tested the 3G18Wn's performance with a Vodafone 3G USB K3715 Modem. The router comes preconfigured with the APN details for Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and 3 Mobile, at least with the current firmware.

Getting the 3G18Wn to actually connect with our chosen modem was something of a chore. At first, it recognised the modem, knew the correct APN settings but would resolutely fail to connect, and checking the modem itself in the same location plugged directly into a host PC strongly suggested this wasn't a signal strength/carrier issue. We then attempted to update the firmware downloaded from NetComm, but for whatever reason trying to do this via a MacBook caused the 3G18Wn to lock up — but thankfully not brick itself. Finally, updating from an MSI Wind running Windows 7 worked, and once we'd done that it finally connected cleanly. We did find that it tended to take a fair bit longer to negotiate the initial connection than you'd see if you just connected it on a single PC basis.