Mikrotik is a network hardware company out of Latvia founded in 1996 to provide carrier grade hardware and software to compete globally. Mikrotik hardware has been deployed across the world from small data centers to regional ISPs and beyond. Mikrotik is best known for their routing and switching platforms, but they do provide connectivity devices for enterprise wireless, point-to-point wireless solutions, point-to-multipoint last mile connectivity solutions, CWDM equipment and more.
Mikrotik is a solid performer in the micro-pop arena and has been a consistent driver in innovation and performance at a price point that is hard to beat. Regardless if you are a large enterprise driven datacenter or a small office, Mikrotik’s performance and price lends to a consistent recommended platform by our professional network engineering staff.
Mikrotik LTE: The Good
While consistently providing innovation in the datacenter space, Mikrotik has not been slacking in the LTE department. Personally, I used a Mikrotik LTE with integrated WiFi when we go on vacation and as a backup internet solution for my personal use. The Class 6 LTE modem has full features of devices that are 4 times as expensive. The interface, as typical with most Mikrotik platforms, requires a lot of knowledge of networking to get functional, but the community is always very responsive to help. Depending on the coverage from my mobile provider, speeds vary from 5Mb/s down to 50Mb/s down. This limitation is typically a result of the carrier’s coverage and not the performance of the device.
Mikrotik platforms come in a variety of form factors, all run RouterOS. Depending on the model you could leverage a device with integrated GPS, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet or a combination. All with the ability to run IPSec and other VPN technologies as well as advanced firewall rulesets and policy-based routing. At a price of $250 or less for 4G platforms and no cloud support fees.
Mikrotik LTE: The Bad
Its hard to find a fault with the software (RouterOS) or the hardware, but one issue that is almost immediately apparent from the datasheet is the lack of support on higher bandwidth channels. Unfortunately, this is due to Mikrotik’s focus on the European market. However, most 4G carriers today support at least 2 bands that work on the Mikrotik LTE platforms, this will be a problem as more sites get modernized to 5G or if the FCC limits band usage in a given area. I can tell you from experience that within the North Texas area, when my cell phone had signal, the Mikrotik had a good connection, but your area may differ.
Mikrotik LTE: The Ugly
In a recent meetup event, Mikrotik was asked point blank about North American support of 5G bands and extending support on 4G bands. Mikrotik’s official response did not outright indicate they were not going to expand features and functions for the North American market, but that they were focused on the European market at the moment. While this did not expressly close the door, it does mean that without a clear roadmap, it is hard for us to recommend a pivot away from existing platforms even if the price is much cheaper in all scenarios. For non-critical infrastructure like out-of-band access however, or temporary connectivity to a remote site, price may be the biggest factor in the decision making process.
Mikrotik LTE platforms have a use case where it is cost prohibitive to use a more traditional methodology like CradlePoint or Teltonika. Examples would include point-of-sales systems in mobile retail environments like food trucks, mobile vendors, taxi or ride sharing services, temporary construction offices etc. Mikrotik’s LTE products can offer a similar function and feature set at 50% cost reduction or more. It is always best to make an informed decision by understanding the pros and cons, BytePoint Solutions engineers are ready to help you make an informed decision when considering a LTE connection model and we leverage multiple vendors to ensure your solution fits your needs and budget. If you have any questions or want us to help with your next project please contact us.