Netgear releases two cellular wireless broadband routers

Netgear unveils two new wireless-N broadband routers for cellular Internet connections.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
3 min read

Netgear's new cellular broadband routers on display at CES 2010. Dong Ngo/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Anticipating the rapid implementation of cellular technologies, including 3G, 4G, and WiMax, Netgear unveiled two new broadband wireless-N routers at CES 2010 that gear toward cellular broadband markets.

The new routers include the 3G/4G Mobile Broadband Wireless-N router (MBRN300) and the Wireless-N 300 Router with DSL Modem-- Mobile Broadband Edition (DGN2200M).

Lengthy names aside, these two wireless-N routers combine 802.11n wireless with connectivity to a high-speed cellular network via an external 3G/4G/WiMAX modem. The two look identical in shape and size and share a common long list of features for broadband users, such as:

  • Autodetection capabilities that automatically detect the cellular service depending on the user's country and establish the connection's settings.
  • Live parental controls and content filtering for homes and small businesses. This feature was first introduced with the WNR2000 and worked very well.
  • Stateful packet inspection, Virtual Private Network (VPN) pass-through, and denial-of-service protection.
  • Guest networks (or multiple SSID) capability to enable customers to set up multiple wireless networks within a home or small business. This is especially useful for setting up a dedicated network for guests to give them access to the Internet, but not to other resources and files on the network.
  • Automatic quality of service (QoS) for reliable video, voice, and gaming.
  • A broadband usage meter to ensure accurate measurement of download Internet traffic (via DSL and/or cellular networks) with customized alerts when close to the monthly bandwidth threshold, to help avoid excess usage charges.
  • Support for Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) for securely connecting devices without having to manually type in the encryption key.
  • On/off switches for both power and Wi-Fi to help customers conserve energy.
  • Optional car power charger and a battery pack for complete mobile usage.

Other than that, the DGN2200M also includes a built-in ADSL2+ modem. This means it's able to offer DSL and cellular fail-over options in case one of the services is interrupted or not available. For now, it's the only wireless-N router on the market that offers this.

Both new mobile broadband routers can be used as a primary Internet connection in situations where traditional broadband services such as DSL, cable, fiber, or satellite network are not available. According to Netgear, the routers are designed for mobile professionals, emergency response teams, construction crews, satellite offices, and rural locations. Unfortunately, however, they are rather big--about the same size as regular wireless-N broadband routers--and not exactly easy to stash in your bag.

Note that both of these routers, for now, are only for the niche market and are not really intended for general consumers who just want to share their traditional broadband connection at home or in the office. While you can use the DGN2200M for a DSL connection, it's rather wasteful if you don't need to be online 24-7 and have a cellular service to use the fail-over option.

The cellular-DSL hybrid router DGN2200M will be available worldwide in April and will cost $179. The cellular-only router MBRN3000 will be available in March at cost $149.