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Advice for Starlink based system

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daserra

Occasional Visitor
Hello, long time lurker here finally posting. Very nice to be acquainted with this well informed community.

I am currently using an Archer C7 with DDWRT and OpenVpn (NordVpn) which is using a Zyxel LTE7460 pole mounted modem for the WAN and some old ADSL routers as AP's (hardwired through an Asus switch) in the areas without Wifi in my thick masonry walled house and yard. The system runs with double NAT as the C7 drops the WAN regularly if connected with the Zyxel in bridged mode. Apparently this is due to the Atheros chipset.

On the network are the usual phones and laptops and some Rpi based home automation stuff (most of that is on Zwave and Zigbee) and Kodi with all the media on a 6Tb HDD connected to the C7. There are no gamers in the house and no ports exposed to the outside. I normally Torrent at night. I have a long list of static IP's.

Recently the LTE signal has dropped due to contention issues from 14Mb maximum download to about 3Mb and in the last 2 weeks the LTE signal has disappeared and the Zyxel is now operating in CDMA/3G mode.

So I bit the bullet and ordered the residential Starlink with a rented dish which arrived this week. The speeds seem to be up to around 300Mb. I am still waiting on the arrival of the LAN adaptor.

Which brings me to my question(s)...

I am considering upgrading the C7 to something more modern but still very much a budget solution. The Starlink can operate in bridge mode and has CGNAT but other than that the included router is pretty basic. I would also like to upgrade the wired AP's to Wifi6, ideally with POE. It would be nice to be able to keep my LTE connection as a fallback somehow but I can always manually do this.

The Asus RT-AX56U with Merlin firmware looks promising and I haven't yet fully researched the AP's.

There is always the option of different firmware for the C7. Any advice welcome as I am trying to minimise compatibility errors and it would be nice to hear of any recommended solutions.


20230618_134451.jpg
 
No, this model may not have further Asuswrt-Merlin updates due to no GPL provided by Asus for it.
Thanks for your rapid response.
I have to admit to not wanting to be updating constantly, rather i would prefer to find a fit and forget solution. If the current Merlin firmware is good I would be happy just sticking with that. I am always happy to find out I am mistaken though.
 
Recently the LTE signal has dropped due to contention issues from 14Mb maximum download to about 3Mb and in the last 2 weeks the LTE signal has disappeared and the Zyxel is now operating in CDMA/3G mode.

Just out of curiosity - where are you located? Don't have to be overly specific - country/region and the telecom carrier if you can share...

Here in the US - the 3G sunset has pretty much wrapped up - CDMA2000 is dead, UMTS is dead...

There's still some 2G-GSM/EDGE out there with T-Mobile which goes dark in late 2024...
 
Just out of curiosity - where are you located? Don't have to be overly specific - country/region and the telecom carrier if you can share...

Here in the US - the 3G sunset has pretty much wrapped up - CDMA2000 is dead, UMTS is dead...

There's still some 2G-GSM/EDGE out there with T-Mobile which goes dark in late 2024...
I'm in the hills in South Portugal. We have 2G, 3G (CDMA), LTE (800mhz) out here. In my nearest village, 2 valleys over there is 200Mb LTE but the signal doesn't carry to here very well. We have had an influx of new arrivals and I get the feeling they have started "cell breathing" to ease backhaul load. When LTE arrived in 2017 I could get consistent 14MB which was adequate. I am on Vodafone.
 
I'm in the hills in South Portugal. We have 2G, 3G (CDMA), LTE (800mhz) out here. In my nearest village, 2 valleys over there is 200Mb LTE but the signal doesn't carry to here very well. We have had an influx of new arrivals and I get the feeling they have started "cell breathing" to ease backhaul load. When LTE arrived in 2017 I could get consistent 14MB which was adequate. I am on Vodafone.

Could be... the network will usually allow UE's to register with priority to the best available RAT...

In the Zyxel docs I found - see section 5.6 - you might be able to lock the device to LTE in manual mode.

 
Could be... the network will usually allow UE's to register with priority to the best available RAT...

In the Zyxel docs I found - see section 5.6 - you might be able to lock the device to LTE in manual mode.

Thanks for the link. I had it locked like that for the last 5 years, it's only in the last month the LTE signal has degraded to the point that the only way to get connection is with auto/3G only setting. Apparently they will one day add a tower here but I am not holding my breath ; a carrier grade fibre line was brought through here in 2013 that nobody has been able to connect to. If they put in a tower I will switch to that. In the meantime Starlink it is despite being too expensive.
 
I am considering upgrading the C7 to something more modern but still very much a budget solution. The Starlink can operate in bridge mode and has CGNAT but other than that the included router is pretty basic.

I would stay with what you have on hand - the Archer C7 is solid hardware...

Not sure what the state of DD-WRT is, but over in OpenWRT land - ath79 is a solid branch, and the C7 is well supported over there...

For others - Starlink has two versions of the CPE - one has a discrete router they include with the dish, the newer CPE, it's embedded inside the dish, with ethernet on the mains adapter...
 
In the meantime Starlink it is despite being too expensive.

It's a bit spendy...

By any chance - do you have coverage with other operators, for example, Telefonica?

Doesn't hurt to stop by their stores and ask about fixed wireless options - you might have 5G-FWA services in your area...
 
I would stay with what you have on hand - the Archer C7 is solid hardware...

Not sure what the state of DD-WRT is, but over in OpenWRT land - ath79 is a solid branch, and the C7 is well supported over there...

For others - Starlink has two versions of the CPE - one has a discrete router they include with the dish, the newer CPE, it's embedded inside the dish, with ethernet on the mains adapter...
This is good to hear. I have found the DDWRT a little flakey, I have to add static IP's with the CLI, the GUI doesn't work. Do you know if OpenWRT+C7 has issues with bridging or is that just a DDWRT thing ?

I have the newer Starlink, the equipment is rented and I have no fixed term contract. It's 80e per month all inclusive.
 
It's a bit spendy...

By any chance - do you have coverage with other operators, for example, Telefonica?

Doesn't hurt to stop by their stores and ask about fixed wireless options - you might have 5G-FWA services in your area...
No other signal here, it really is the back of beyond, wild boar and deer everywhere. I have had ISDN and ADSL over ISDN (annex B ?) but at 5000m line length so it was next to useless (1.7Mb). When the LTE first arrived it was fabulous but has only degraded over time, first I added a dual antenna to the original Huawei E5186 before swapping to the Zyxel. They are not keen on investing here due to the low population density. I imagine we are prime Starlink territory. If I can find someone local to beam some bandwidth too I will, I was looking at Ubiquiti Nanostations a while back and this connection is way more than I need.
 
This is good to hear. I have found the DDWRT a little flakey, I have to add static IP's with the CLI, the GUI doesn't work. Do you know if OpenWRT+C7 has issues with bridging or is that just a DDWRT thing ?

Shouldn't be a problem - not sure about DD_WRT, but I do work on OpenWRT over in the ath79 side - I don't think it'll be a problem with bridging...

I have the newer Starlink, the equipment is rented and I have no fixed term contract. It's 80e per month all inclusive.

80e - yeah, that is a bit spendy as broadband access over in the EU is much more affordable than it is here in the US - I pay 104USD for cable (300/30) and a second 5G-FWA sub with T-Mobile at $50USD

My team members over in UK and DE, they're amazed at the costs we pay - and talking with members on the forum here - Canada can be even more...
 
Shouldn't be a problem - not sure about DD_WRT, but I do work on OpenWRT over in the ath79 side - I don't think it'll be a problem with bridging...



80e - yeah, that is a bit spendy as broadband access over in the EU is much more affordable than it is here in the US - I pay 104USD for cable (300/30) and a second 5G-FWA sub with T-Mobile at $50USD

My team members over in UK and DE, they're amazed at the costs we pay - and talking with members on the forum here - Canada can be even more...
OK, I shall give OpenWRT a try, thanks for the tip. I am a little out of my depth with the intricacies of custom router firmwares and I don't have much time to mess around experimenting so your advice is appreciated.
You are right that we pay a lot less here, if I lived 5km west I would be paying 30euros per month for 50/10Mb unlimited LTE ; totally adequate.
 
They are not keen on investing here due to the low population density. I imagine we are prime Starlink territory. If I can find someone local to beam some bandwidth too I will, I was looking at Ubiquiti Nanostations a while back and this connection is way more than I need.

heavy sigh... it's not just your local situation.

My dad was in very rural location, and there, his did have DSL, but being over 10km from the CO, the bandwidth was like you mentioned...

It's been a few years now - but since he had medical equipment, we ended up with HughesNet*, and that ain't cheap (or fast)...

* back in the day - it wasn't cheap, and it wasn't fast - but it was stable - and a small daily cap - I had to call him to stay off the YouTube as he would cap out and get slowed down to a crawl...
 
OK, I shall give OpenWRT a try, thanks for the tip. I am a little out of my depth with the intricacies of custom router firmwares and I don't have much time to mess around experimenting so your advice is appreciated.

Again - I caution - if you have something that works...

With the C7, there are HW variants, so check their docs before jumping in, as once there, it's a point of no return... on certain HW versions, the 5K radio can be problematic. 2.4 and the rest of the device are fine...
 
Again - I caution - if you have something that works...

With the C7, there are HW variants, so check their docs before jumping in, as once there, it's a point of no return... on certain HW versions, the 5K radio can be problematic. 2.4 and the rest of the device are fine...
I will certainly be careful although I don't use the 5k due to my thick walls. I am a hater of e-waste so re-using the C7 is appealing. Something to do in the dog days of summer I think.

I have heard of HughesNet before, lots of complaints in the Starlink forums, I imagine their business has been gutted now. I am also surprised you could get any ADSL at 10km ; amazing !
 
and if you have time to share experience with StarLink...

We're a global community, and starlink is fairly new
 
and if you have time to share experience with StarLink...

We're a global community, and starlink is fairly new
I only got it on Friday but my initial experiences... very fast, at least for me , 35Mb minimum, 312Mb maximum so far. The router is terrible though, no options at all (eg IP address, DHCP on or off) and no Ethernet sockets. I do get 220Mb to my laptop (Intel AC 8265) from it's Wifi though through my roof. The hardware is quite solid but the extras like pole mount adaptors and ethernet adaptors are very over priced. I will report back when I get it connected to a proper router, my ethernet adaptor won't arrive till mid next week.
It really is too expensive, I would be happier with a cheaper (maybe 40e/month) bandwidth limited version (but with sensible caps, 200GB - 1000GB would be OK). Tbh, 20Mb LTE would be fine for me.
 
Oh, FWIW - the router side of StarLink is OpenWRT based... they don't allow much anyways, so this could be...

So you can always use it for the routing side, and convert the C7 to AP mode...
 
Oh, FWIW - the router side of StarLink is OpenWRT based... they don't allow much anyways, so this could be...

So you can always use it for the routing side, and convert the C7 to AP mode...
The SL router doesn't let me turn off DHCP and I have a few static IP's so that's not going to work.

My LAN adaptor for the dish arrived yesterday, I have it connected to the WAN port and not in brdige mode yet. It functions well and passes through full speed (200-300 Mb) to my LAN, but none of my old wifi AP's can pass along the full speed, I am getting a maximum of about 70Mb with Wifi 5 so I will be looking into Wifi6 AP's for a couple of key locations.

I will certainly move over to OpenWRT when I have a free day, it comes highly recommended.
 

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