Netgear Nighthawk 5G first impressions

The Netgear Nighthawk 5G is the newest version of the venerable Nighthawk hotspot line. I've had one for a bit over a month, and have some first impressions and thoughts.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://seabits.com/netgear-nighthawk-5g/

Hi Steve, regarding the Netgear Nighthawk-- price is relative; perhaps features justify the price but that seems really expensive. T Mobile is making some real headway in Whatcom County coverage; I signed my mother up for their Internet Access Device (Tall Cylinder) at $50 per month for data and device with a free two week trial. Unlimited, unthrottled data, I was stunned at the performance in Lynden: 250-300 MB/S down, 20-30 up. I can’t help but wonder how this device might perform on a boat, although that would limit you to T Mobile.

Hi @Perry_Stanfield,
It is very expensive for what it is. If you need a hotspot, and need 5G and the speeds that come with it, maybe it is worth it for that particular use case. If you look on the costs for Peplink routers that support 5G, they are quite expensive as well, but there is a lot more flexibility with those products.

Thanks for the performance report on T-Mobile. They are quite fast in the north sound!

Hi Steve,
I came across your review whilst researching my own Netgear Nighthawk setup, which is… shall we say, still in development! As I’m pulling my hair out (what’s left of it) I wonder if you could offer me some tips on completing the setup of my boat home network. I currently have a Nighthawk M1 4G router which has been working as a LAN wifi hotspot for our devices on board. I recently purchased a Ubiquity Bullet M2HP Wifi booster, which runs on POE. My hope was to plug in the Ethernet end of the Bullet into the Nighthawk and use the Data Offloading function to limit our 4G data usage when there are public wifi networks available. However, the two devices do not seem to agree who is boss, and both want to act as routers. I’ve tried a number of different solutions, but none seem to work smoothly. Do you have any experience with these products and do you have any general thoughts about how to approach this? Would it be preferable to use a separate dedicated router as the hub for my LAN and plug the Nighthawk and Bullet into this router instead? It’s all very confusing I’m afraid.

Hi @Hans_Ericsson,

Have you tried using the Bullet M2HP standalone? UniFi/UI/Ubiquiti got out of producing the Bullet series in the traditional form a few years ago, and the ones that still exist aren’t usable for anything other than point-to-point connections to other Ubiquiti products. Perhaps that is what you’re using it for? If you aren’t and intended on grabbing remote WiFi signals, it’s possible you have one of the newer units that won’t do that…

A Bullet or similar device should work if connected to the Nighthawk LAN port and with offloading enabled. Even though the Bullet might be doing normal router functions, it’s only client is the Nighthawk, and not your end clients directly.

There’s also an option to turn things like the Bullet into “bridge” mode where they act as a client, and not a full fledged router, which I’ve done with devices connected into the Nighthawk, but it does take a bit more networking skill.

I personally would go the route you brought up - a central router for your local network, and have the Bullet and Nighthawk plugged into that router as WAN sources. That way you can upgrade your Nighthawk at some point down the road, or add a second one, and not have to reconfigure or mess with things.

Hi Steve,

I haven’t tried using the Bullet as a stand alone router. It was sold to me as a Wifi booster for marine use, and there is software integration in the product that allows me to connect to whatever Wifi signal I can pick up with the antenna. I have verified that it is possible to transmit data over the Bullet in bridge mode, but the problem is getting the system to operate smoothly without having to do major reconfigurations every time I want to connect to a Wifi network. The Nighthawk settings need to be changed via the web client every time I want to try to connect to a new wifi network and can’t be changed from within the Netgear app itself. For some reason I have to first turn off the Data Offloading, then access the Bullet and establish a connection, and then turn the Data Offloading back on. Overall it is super annoying. I think I’ll try to go the route you suggested and purchase a central WAN router and see how that goes.

Thanks again,
Hans

That sounds pretty normal - having to do machinations to configure the Bullet in bridge, then turning data offloading off, etc. Definitely not a unified, simple management solution.

Hope a central router makes that easier!

I did some additional testing with T-Mobile in the last couple of days. I was in a very high signal strength area with excellent 5G coverage.

As you can see from the speedtest screenshot, it worked pretty well! One of the highest results I’ve ever seen from any cellular device.