ADSL2+ Modems with VOIP: Netcomm NB9WMaXXn vs Billion 7404VNPX (Review)

Buying an ADSL modem is not an easy choice because some modems are best if you live close to the local phone exchange and others are better if you live far away, as well as their prices, features and capabilities varying a lot.

Many Australians have ADSL or ADSL2+ broadband internet access. This requires an ADSL modem plugged into your phone line to connect to the internet and then share the connection via network cables or WiFi to all the devices in your home which access the internet.

I’ve been testing 2 ADSL2+ Modems with VOIP internet phone call capability for the last few months: the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn and Billion 7404VNPX.

Billion 7404VNPX adsl 2+ modem with VOIP

Netcomm NB9WMaXXn adsl 2+ modem with VOIP

More Features Doesn’t Neccessarily = Better Product

Comparing the specifications alone it would seem that the Billion 7404VNPX ($270+ at time of writing) has extra features (ADSL2+ with auto failover switch to 3G data, 3 WiFi antennas and Gigabit ethernet) that the slightly cheaper Netcomm NB9WMaXXn lacks ($200+ at time of writing).

However sometimes its better to chose a product which has less features that all work reliably rather than a product which is a packed with as many features as a swiss-army-knife but some of them don’t work all the time.

This is one of those situations. I tested the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn vs Billion 7404VNPX at 2 locations in Sydney which have Internode ADSL2+ broadband internet connections.

The first one was close to the local phone exchange with a top quality phoneline underground, the second place was in an apartment far from the local phone exchange with a phone line cable that is open to the rain and weather in parts.

Both modems could hold a solid ADSL connection at the location close to the local phone exchange with a top quality phoneline. The Billion 7404VNPX seemed more aggressive in trying to get top speed, achieving an ADSL2+ connection speed about 10% faster than the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn (10mbit vs 9mbit).

However the tables were turned at the apartment far from the local phone exchange with a dodgy phone line cable. The Netcomm NB9WMaXXn was able to hold a solid reliable ADSL2+ connection at 6mbit for over a week compared to the Billion 7404VNPX which connected at a faster rate 7-7.5mbit but was very unstable, disconnecting at random intervals every day.

This is because the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn uses a Broadcom chipset which is generally recognised as one of the best options for people with dodgy phone lines who want a modem that provides a stable ADSL/ADSL2+ connection without needing manual configuration to make it reliable.

Both modems were used with Internode’s Nodephone VOIP phone call via the internet service. The Netcomm NB9WMaXXn VOIP quality was reliable, with clear voice quality indistinguishable from a real landline phone whereas VOIP conversations using the Billion 7404VNPX were regularly spoilt by crackly sounds and echoes.

Really fast Wireless N WiFi speeds are supported by both modems at the 2.4ghz frequency and both performed admirably, providing WiFi coverage for laptops and mobile phones in all parts of both testing locations.

Both modems have administrator interfaces which haven’t really evolved or become more user friendly in the last 10 years and could do with being reworded and made more user friendly eg: the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn requires the IP address of your VOIP SIP server which is very silly and Billion sometimes needs you to save settings twice before they stay saved. Unfortunately this isn’t unique to Netcomm or Billion because it applies to all the modem brands I’ve ever tested.

Verdict – Netcomm NB9WMaXXn is the Safe Reliable Option

Neither modem is particularly fantastic looking but the sleeker Netcomm NB9WMaXXn looks slightly better in my opinion if you have it positioned in your lounge room to connect to a NAS, TiVo, internet connected TV etc. A black case option would be good as most home theatre equipment is black.

If you want an ADSL2+ modem which is going to be solid and reliable for a budget price, are going to use VOIP for cheap phone calls or live far from your phone exchange or have a bad quality phone line, than the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn is far more likely to provide a trouble free internet experience.

On the other hand if you live close to your phone exchange, have a reliable good quality phone line and won’t use VOIP than the Billion 7404VNPX is more likely to give you a faster ADSL2+ connection speed as well providing the benefit of Gigabit ethernet networking.

I live in the 2nd testing location with a bad phone line and bought the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn after I reviewed it because I need clear voice quality since I use VOIP phone calls all the time and would rather have a reliable rock steady 6mbit connection to the internet rather than the slightly faster but very frustrating unstable connection the Billion 7404VNPX provided.

Other Options – Router with Dual Wireless N and Gigabit Ethernet

If you already have an ADSL modem you’re happy with but want fast Wireless N WiFi access with dual 2.4ghz and 5Ghz bands as well as Gigabit ethernet networking you may be considering buying a separate Router/Wifi solution that plugs into your modem like the Netgear WNDR3700 or Belkin Play Max.

I’ve tried both and would suggest buying the Netgear WNDR3700 which looks boring but worked flawlessly during my tests. Belkin’s Play Max promised more features but proved to quite be frustrating when trying to actually use them in real life.


11 comments on “ADSL2+ Modems with VOIP: Netcomm NB9WMaXXn vs Billion 7404VNPX (Review)

  1. Ewen on said:

    I have no experience with the Netgear router so I can’t comment on it. I have had the Billion for over a year now. I live close to the exchange (18.8MB down, 1.25MB up) so I can’t comment much in its distance capabilities. I had a 7404VGPM for a few years before that. Both have been reliable, consistently holding their connections for weeks, months even at pretty tight ADSL profiles.

    Speaking of which, did you try tweaking Internode’s profile selector at the place with the bad connection? The chosen profile makes a big difference. Also, most modems have a few very-geeky tweaks for gain controls which are beyond most non-tech people. I do agree with your assessment that Billions tend to be a bit more aggressive about their syncing, if you let them. The firmware version also makes a pretty big difference, at times. It’s a shame tey don’t update themselves in a more user-friendly fashion.

    I have found the VOIP with my modem to be fine, after some tweaking of volume levels to get rid of echoes. It also works fine with dial-up modems such as the Foxtel return path and (I presume) faxes.

    Dodgy filters, stray endless phone leads and all sorts of other interference can make a difference too. My current installation is naked so I have no filters and I also disconnected all the extensions from the main socket except to the modem. This can make a considerable difference – they act as antennas and also introduce standing-wave reflections (the signal goes up the dead-end line & bounces back, like a wave on a rock wall)

    EDITOR: on the long bad quality line the Billion still couldn’t hold a solid connection even when I manually chose a very conservative Internode ADSL2+ connection profile.

    Yes I know how to adjust gain and VOIP volume but a consumer device must be able to auto-magically be able to handle that via it’s firmware to become more/less conservative. Most “mum and dad” type buyers don’t know those settings exist let alone how to change them

  2. shane on said:

    Last year I started to look around at N Routers, with ADSL2 +, and voip, thinking rightly at the time Billion was the only company that had one available at the time, but the $500 price tag was just too much. Billion still needs to bring out another Adsl2/modem router with voip and with out 3g, not everyone wants 3g.

    I wanted a modem to replace my Billion 7401vgp, which had really paid for it self, this modem is around 4 to 5 years old and still going strong. Its now working at my partners place.

    I purchased a Netgear DGN2000 last year and a netcomm 210p ATA. Trying to get the ATA to work was a nightmare, numerous of emails to Netcomm left unanswered. It alright if you live in Sydney or Melbourne, but not Hobart, as You have to make long distance calls, and can be on hold for hours.

    Netcomm tech support used to be excellent when I used to live in Sydney back in 2003, but these days they cannot be really bothered and are less helpful, which is a tad turn off. At least Netgear has 24 hour support and a 1300 call.

    Now Billion, My parents moved this year, and some reason my father turned the wireless off on my mother’s laptop lol, she did not know why would not work. She had a telstra siemens modem and a netgear router, I brought her a Billion wireless modem/adsl2 router, so she had one thing to set up. One setting was not correct she made one phone call to Billion and was so impressed with their customer service.

    All modems have issues, Billion works on theirs constantly, with some taking months to apply any sort of fixes. Another thing is that Billion tech staff are more willing to help, that netcomm.

    I had to fix the ata myself in the end with no support what so ever from netcomm, when netcomm tech staff decided to call few weeks later, when it was too late, honestly I was not impressed at all, and told them i will never recommend them ever again, and also said they are hopeless comparing back to 2003.

  3. devvicky on said:

    Have seen Billion 7404VNPX working in y friend’s office. It works great. And nice post.

  4. Stan Schubridge on said:

    My linksys works just fine with one simple antenna. I let the neighbor’s kid play his PS on it and the guy across the street asks to get in every once in awhile. Of course, I change my web key every month or so just to keep people honest.

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  6. Paul on said:

    Would you be able to provide me with the VOIP settings for Internode for the Netcomm NB9WMaXXn? Thanks.

    EDITOR:
    Use SIP Proxy. TICK
    SIP Proxy: 203.2.134.1
    SIP Proxy port: 5060
    Registration Expire Timeout : 120
    SIP domain name: 203.2.134.1

    Use SIP Outbound Proxy. TICK
    SIP Outbound Proxy: 203.2.134.1
    SIP Outbound Proxy port: 5060

    Line Enabled 1: TICK
    Extension: your nodephone number
    Display Name: your nodephone number
    Authentication Name: your nodephone number
    Password: your nodephone password

  7. Hi
    I tried the settings and still no voip.
    Is there something else I am doing wrong

  8. Avedis on said:

    I got this product

    It worked fine for 5 month then suddenly the VOIP died, Tech support couldn’t fix it and told me to send the modem back for replacement, but they returned the faulty one back saying its ok.
    very disappointed,
    Not recommended at all, very bad customer support, incompetent Tech Support

  9. Fred Max on said:

    Thanks for this review I’m the second too and the Billion has performed quite poorly needing constant resets, so I’ve reverted to my old 7402, rock solid.

  10. 7404 VNPX is terrible.
    Used to own a 7404VGP which was rock solid.

    The 7404VNPX works for some users, but for me it cannot maintain a decent sync with my ISP.
    The old Billion was fine.

    Google dynamic stops working (the router even black listed it!).
    Intrusion Detection has to be turned off.
    Torrents kill the router quickly.
    Wireless n is more susceptible to noise than wireless g, resulting in router only working in g mode.

  11. UnhappyBillionOwner on said:

    I own a Billion 7404VGP and have had it for a about two years now. I keep the firmware up-to-date with every release and more and more I am finding I need to reset the device when it decides to ‘disable’ websites/IP access. Now I know where people are going so I’ll jump in early to say I have all the firewall and intrusion turned off so obviously it is nothing to do with that. I will be in the middle of a SFTP file transfer to a server hosted in Internode and occasionally it will deny access halting the transfer, same with building an online shopping cart of items then the site is unavailable (yet it is not when I jump on my iPhone through 3G so it is not the website). This is when some websites work whilst others suddenly DON’T! …I reset the modem and everything is fine again. The problem has been quite frequent that I am now finally at the point of being so frustrated at the number of restarts I’ve had to do that I can no longer promote Billion to my friends, family or anyone for that matter. I just looked up a price list for modems and was searching for reviews on Netcomm modems and came across this blog. In the other comments it is nice to know that others are having the same problem with their Billion that it is not just my modem but a problem with their firmware/software on most of their modems causing the problems I’ve been experiencing. So thankyou everyone for sharing your ideas and to the blogger for the review, I will now be buying a Netcomm.

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