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Aimed at users that can't afford to be offline for more than a moment the BiGuard 7300GX from Billion niftily combines an ADSL2/2+ modem and CardBus slot that accepts a range of 3G data cards. A great idea but certainly not new as we saw one of the first examples of this teamwork over a year ago from Linksys with its Wireless-G Router for 3G/UMTS Broadband. The main differences here are Linksys only supports Vodafone's Mobile Connect data cards whereas Billion's alternative can also handle T-Mobile web'n'walk cards, which impressed us enough to earn them a Recommended award.
The router can play a number of useful roles as the data card can be used as an Internet backup link if your ADSL connection goes belly up. With the data card as the primary link the router can deliver an Internet connection from anywhere where there's a power socket but Billion goes a step further as it also bundles a 12V car adapter as well so making the router even more versatile. Along with the integral ADSL modem, the 7300GX delivers the standard quartet of switched Fast Ethernet ports and also includes a basic 802.11g access point.
You don't get any utilities to help with initial installation but we found the router easy enough to set up. From the web interface you run a quick start routine which asks you to select your primary Internet connection and then steps through a questionnaire about your account details. Next, you move on to the wireless access point where, unlike Linksys, you can leave it disabled if you wish. If not, then you can pick from WEP or WPA/WPA2 encryption although we were surprised the router doesn't have an auto-detect function for the wireless channel, which you are required to set manually.
The router provides a standard SPI firewall and you can enable or disable NAT on the ADSL link. Selecting the advanced option in the side menu enables you to access the firewall settings where we found plenty to play with. The firewall can be customised with up to six packet filters allowing you some control over what applications and services users are allowed to access. These can include ranges of IP addresses and ports, inbound or outbound traffic and schedules which decide during what days and times they are active on. MAC address filters can be applied although these can only be used to block specific systems from Internet access.