So in pursuit of building my ‘home infrastructure‘. I wanted to open up some ports and DMZ my Internet connection from the MF910 router to my Mikrotik router.

Their website does not explain in a good way why they insist on using locked firmware. I have an ZTE MF910 LTE wireless router. So I wanted to unlock this firmware so I would gain access to certain setting, like changing my APN to “opengate” and making it DMZ my internal network (thus sharing my WAN IP to my main router).

My experience
I stroll into the shop, wait ~30-45min before I get some service and the place is not even full with customers. I explain my case to them and why I want to unlock it, the Sonera person is very kind, but is unable to help me because he doesn’t know how. He redirects me to their “Vikapalvelu”, which is the place supposed to contain the experts at Sonera. I call them and get a sales person, I can tell because she does not seem to be proficient enough to technically understand me fully. Imagine my reaction when I find out they have blocked certain ports on the ISP side, making it impossible for me to host my web servers online. I admittedly get pissed by this and move to end the call. You need to buy Sonera’s “opengate” service to get truly open internet. I however decide to swallow my hurt pride and go ahead to buy this service which cost me 3€ extra a month. The reason is that I have a discount on my 150/50 LTE account which makes it less than 17€ a month and the same account costs 20-25€ from other ISPs. When I get the opengate service I notice that I can’t change the APN settings to “opengate” to get the unblocked service.

So I call the ISP again, being bounced between a few sales persons and waiting in Que(s) until I finally get to the technical line. The technicians explains to me that understands stands my needs and what I’m after, which is a big relief, because most of the time my technical problems and knowhow are above the customer service persons knowhow. Though the caveat is that he doesn’t know how to fix it because he does not have access to those systems that can fix my problem. He kindly escalates the issue to their higher-ups. Takes them 3-4 business days to open up the firmware so I can change the available settings. Then I go and lock my self out of the MF910 router, which happens from time to time when I fiddle with new routers. I figure hitting the reset button will fix it and I’ll just start from scratch with my router configuring…. BUT no, it of-course loaded the old locked firmware, meaning I had to go through a 1-2H worth of phoning and bouncing between customer service persons, sales people etc. then wait 3-4 days for their higher up technicians to re-unlock my MF910. AND if I went and locked myself out again I would have to do this process a third time! Did I mention that these calls, waiting in line to be picked up by a customer service person etc. cost money per minute? Yes it does!

This process increases my phone bill, including taking time out of my day, when I could be doing something else. Overall I maybe spent 4-5H in this mess without concrete results, an increased phone bill, so I just snapped and I thought “F*** it!”. So I went and bought an unlocked USB LTE dongle for ~75€. Considering the cost of this process to me in terms of money, it was worth it! Calculating (4-5H*salary per hour)+(added euros on my phone bill for the received customer service)+(added hours of struggling with their customer service)+(business days waiting for Sonera to unlock their already stripped firmware, plus days of not having access to a cloud service)= much more than 75€. Oh and don’t forget the opengate service. This is not the first time I’ve had a bad customer experience with Sonera and all the Sonera people that I talked to where nice and polite. I have worked previously as an customer support agent and can appreciate the difficult customers these people has to deal with on a daily basis, it is not as easy as it might sound.

Sonera Open Gate cost just under 3€/month and their premium version just under 12€/month. I do speed tests frequently, and my download speed went from 27.56 to 46.81 Mbps, in other words Sonera is nerfing my Internet speeds. I tested my DNA equivalent phone sim, with no such issues, and no opengate added service, so I can recommend them.