Which router is compatible with YOU Broadband

Should you replace the router supplied by the provider?

By Rita Deutschbein | December 03, 2020, 11:29 pm

When taking out a new Internet tariff, customers can request a router from their provider. But are the devices really good, or is it advisable to swap for a free router from the trade? TECHBOOK reveals when a swap can be worthwhile.

In August 2016, the federal government abolished the router requirement. Since then, customers have been able to decide for themselves which router to use on their connection. Most Internet providers - regardless of whether they are for cable, (V) DSL or other connections - still offer their customers a router when they sign a contract. However, there are seldom free models. Instead, customers can rent selected models with different functional ranges for a monthly surcharge. Or you can buy your own router straight away. Which path is the better choice for whom?

Router from the provider - there are a few things to consider!

If we take a look at the routers that the major Internet providers are currently offering for (V) DSL contracts, one thing quickly becomes clear: In some cases it is not clear which manufacturer the basic router comes from and which model it is acts. Because instead of naming them precisely, they are generally called HomeBox, DSL-Modem or EasyBox. Telekom, on the other hand, offers its Speedport routers that have been specially developed for the provider. That makes comparability difficult.

The rental routers of the providers

The basic routers often only offer a minimal range of functions. If customers want more, they have to pay more. The rental model of a reasonably well-equipped router can quickly become expensive with a monthly price of an average of 5 euros with a longer contract term.

For a better overview, you will find the current routers that the major providers Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, O2 and 1 & 1 are currently marketing in the (V) DSL area:

The table shows that especially 1 & 1 obscures the actual router names heavily. Although the manufacturer relies on the popular Fritzbox from AVM, which model it is exactly, customers only find out in the product details. 1 & 1 is also the only one of the four major Internet providers that still offers a router at no extra charge. With all others, users have to pay a monthly surcharge for the hardware - Telekom also offers its Speedport routers for sale.

Also read: The best internet and landline providers

In terms of price, the basic routers are particularly eye-catching. They are the cheapest with rental costs of two to three euros (with the exception of the free router from 1 & 1). However, the models are only really recommendable for very few users.

Basic router usually with less power

The EasyBox 804 from Vodafone has been around since 2015, the HomeBox 2 from O2, like the Fritzbox 7412, has been on the market since 2014. The three basic routers from Vodafone, O2 and 1 & 1 have all been around for a few years. With regard to developments in recent years, this point is not insignificant. What was still good equipment some time ago is no longer sufficient for current Internet connections. And not all manufacturers provide information about this. For example, 1 & 1 delivered the DSL modem (aka Fritzbox 7412) to a VDSL 250 connection, although this was not at all suitable for the tariff. Because it does not support the technical maximum speed of the connection at all. As the telecommunications portal "teltarif.de" reports, the customer concerned only found out about this when asked by support.

The basic routers from Vodafone and O2, on the other hand, are custom-made. It is not known whether they are also marketed directly by the respective provider under a different name. What is certain, however, is that their equipment no longer does justice to many connections. The EasyBox 804 from Vodafone, for example, does not allow you to control hard drives or printers. It also works without a DECT base and offers only a few connection options. The WiFi range is poor. The HomeBox 2 from O2 also only has a moderate WLAN supply, few connections and is also not compatible with supervectoring - it is therefore not suitable for fast connections. At least it offers an integrated DECT station. Overall, however, the colleagues from "ComputerBILD" describe the range of functions as rather poor.

Blocked functions, weak WLAN - provider software can become a burden

However, the providers provide alternatives to the basic routers. Also included is the current Fritzbox 7590. With O2 and Vodafone it is available for 5.99 euros a month, with 1 & 1 - disguised as HomeServer Speed ​​+ - it costs a whopping 8.99 euros a month. Over a contract period of 24 months, that makes 119.76 euros or 215.76 euros. For comparison: The Fritzbox 7590 is available from around 181 euros on the free market. A purchase from 1 & 1 is therefore already worthwhile when concluding a contract. In the case of Vodafone and O2, the price is when the contract has been in place for at least three years.

In addition to the actual price point, customers should also consider something. Similar to the smartphone manufacturers, many Internet providers adapt their rental routers with their own user interface. It focuses on the company's internal services and is intended to enable simple maintenance and troubleshooting on the part of the provider. In addition, the technicians can maintain the devices remotely and install new software - an advantage, especially for less technically experienced users. Remote access can also be harmful in the wrong hands. It may be a gateway for hackers. It can therefore be deactivated for free routers. Provider routers often do not allow this.

Free routers are also often the better choice for those who are familiar with the technical field or who would like to leave it open to expand their home network independently. Because sometimes not all functions are freely accessible on rental routers. Many block Internet, telephony and / or smart home functions. Users then have no way of making special settings. We know cases in which VoIP providers (Voice over IP - telephony over the Internet) were blocked or the DNS server could not be adjusted. The latter is sometimes relevant in the home office for connections to the company network or to improve internet stability. Manufacturer's own router interfaces can also affect updates. They may have to be approved by the provider and cannot be easily installed. This is annoying with the Fritzbox, which very often receives new functions and improvements via updates.

Free trade routers - the alternative?

All major Internet providers meanwhile enable their customers to operate their own router on the connection. During the tariff agreement, you can usually enter whether you have your own router or would like to order a rental router. Compared to the devices from the provider, routers from the free trade have some advantages, but also demand more from their users.

Find a suitable router

There is a large selection of suitable (V) DSL and cable routers. For some, this is the first hurdle. Because which router is the right one for the selected connection? Customers can, for example, use the models offered by the provider for orientation, or seek advice from specialist retailers and on the Internet. Also, ask yourself what you want to do with your router.

  • On which connection do you want to operate the router? (Cable, (V) DSL with / without supervectoring, fiber optics)
  • What internet speed does it have to support?
  • How big does the WiFi range have to be? (small apartment, whole house?)
  • Do you want to connect multiple devices to the router?
  • Do you need a DECT station for telephones?
  • Do you need extras like a NAS, parental controls, a home network etc.

Also read: Only one router receives a "very good" rating from Stiftung Warentest

Most modern routers now offer such extensive equipment. The Fritzbox from AVM is known, for example, for its simple interface, its smart home properties and frequent updates. Acer and D-Link, on the other hand, have routers on offer that particularly appeal to gamers with their strong WLAN performance and high power. Netgear, on the other hand, offers a good selection of routers and suitable repeaters that are well suited for the general public.

With prices of mostly 175 to 250 euros, the top models are not exactly cheap either. As already mentioned, customers should calculate whether renting over a certain period of time might not be cheaper. The purchase of the premium models usually pays off if the Internet contract has been in place for at least three years.

Full control, but also responsibility

With free routers, users have to take care of the setup and administration themselves. This gives you full control over your device, but also full responsibility that everything runs correctly. It is not so easy to call the support of the Internet provider if you have any questions about hardware. Those who do not trust themselves to do this are better off using the provider device.

Conclusion: It is usually worth buying

Even if the providers don't like to hear it, we recommend that most Internet users buy their own router. Fast updates, the full range of functions and absolute control over the device simply surpass the few advantages of a rental router. In addition, the purchase is often cheaper. Although customers have to dig deeper into their pockets, depending on the model, their own device pays for itself after 24 months. The router remains in the customer's possession and can also be operated on the new connection when the contract is changed - provided the connection type does not change.

We can only recommend the rental model to those Internet users who do not trust themselves to manage their routers themselves. It also makes sense if the purchase of a good router is not financially feasible.

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