Airtel 4G Huawei E5573 Hotspot Portable WiFi Router : A review
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Whenever we come to Chennai for our months-long visit, our first order of business is to secure a Internet connection. Our needs are simple: a shareable connection that’s fast, reliable, and reasonably priced.
My father-in-law’s house in Nanganallur lacks a broadband Internet connection. He feels he has no use for postpaid Internet. He’s happy and content with this Tata Sky TV connection. He gets all his Tamil movies and soaps from it. When he has to use Skype to chat with relatives scattered all over India, he enables his mobile phone’s data service and he’s good to go.
Over the years, we’ve only used WiFi dongles on prepaid plans to connect to the Internet whenever we’re home in Chennai. Unlike postpaid broadband connections, prepaid Internet has no installation charges, does not tie the customer down to a contract, and is easier to terminate for whatever reason. Therefore, prepaid Internet via a 4G dongle makes the most sense for short-term daily use.
For our use during our 2016 visit, we went for an Airtel 4G Hotspot Portable WiFi Router. The choice of Airtel was a no-brainer, since it has the widest and most reliable coverage of India.
We purchased the WiFi router and a prepaid SIM from an authorized Airtel store in Nanganallur. The device’s packaging indicated an MRP of Rs3900, but we paid only Rs1900 because it was on offer. We were told the device would be activated within 48 hours. The Airtel representative gave us a number we could call for any troubleshooting concerns. After filling the necessary forms and paying the fees, we went home with our new 4G device.
Inside the box are the portable WiFi router, a Li-ion battery, a USB charging cable, and a quick-start guide. The router is a Huawei E5573 model. It’s the same model used by Smart and Globe in the Philippines.
The Airtel 4G Huawei E5573 WiFi router has the following specifications:
- LTE Category 4 Mobile Hotspot
- DL 150Mbps/UL 50Mbps
- Support up to 10 WiFi-enabled devices
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Frequency: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz
- Support double external antenna interface
- Battery: 1500mH (Maximum LTE 6 hours working time and 300 hours stand-by time)
When turned on, the router should show two LED indicator lights. The left light is for the WiFi signal (red = not connected or error; yellow = 3G; green = 4G0. The right light indicates the battery status (blinking green = charging; red = low battery; steady green = charged and working).
When you first connect the device to a PC or laptop. a pop-up window will appear showing the device driver file. Double-clicking on the file will install the driver/software.
I made the rookie mistake of installing the prepaid Airtel SIM right away. When I turned on the device, I was disappointed to see the WiFi light yellow (not connected), instead of green (connected). I thought activation should fix it. Forty-eight hours later, the WiFi connection light was still showing yellow. I tried multiple times to connect to the Internet, but kept getting an error message.
Finally, I called the number that I’d been given by the Airtel representative. After explaining the problem to technical support, I came to know that my prepaid SIM had not been activated yet. I was supposed to insert the SIM in my mobile and wait for Airtel customer care to verify the personal information I’d written on the customer form. Only after this confirmation would my SIM be verified.
This was my first time buying a prepaid SIM and having it activated on my own. Previously, I’d had my father-in-law arrange my mobile needs, so I was completely clueless about the activation process.
So with the matter cleared, I did as instructed and received the activation call on the same day. To check, I sent text messages and made a few calls. Finally satisfied that my SIM was indeed activated, I removed the SIM from my mobile and installed it in the Airtel prepaid router. Eureka! The WiFi connection light turned green!
The next task was to change the default SSID and password. This was easy to do thanks to quick start guide.
Airtel’s prepaid data plans tend to be on the pricier side. Rs450 gives you a 4GB 4G/3G benefit, Rs550 gives you 5GB, Rs650 gets you 6GB, and so on. You can track your data usage through the Airtel Router Management page.
The speed is very satisfactory. On average, we are getting 12Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. You’ll need to watch your data consumption, though. We are moderate data users. We use the Internet for web surfing, gaming, watching YouTube videos, gaming, and the occasional movie downloads.
On a full charge, the battery gives about five hours of continuous use. Whenever the battery indicator turns red (low battery), I simply connect the router to my laptop to recharge.
I love the device’s portability. We take it anywhere we go: to the mall, the beach, the temples, etc. Because we took the Airtel WiFi router with us on our trip to Bangalore, we didn’t have to suffer the hotel’s spotty Internet connection.
My only complaint is that the router has a short range. When the router is on the ground floor of the house, the signal doesn’t reach the first floor, and vice versa. But since it’s portable, we’ve made it a point to keep the router within range of the connected devices.
All in all, the Airtel 4G Huawei E5573 WiFi router is a very able device for portable Internet connectivity. Airtel’s prepaid data plans are pricier than their competitors’, but the network’s reliability and wide connectivity more than makes up for the cost.
For a more detailed technical rundown, read Abhishek Ghosh’s review of the Airtel 4G Huawei E5573 Router WiFi Hotspot.