Third Party Wireless Router and USB Storage via WiFi


I currently use a WD 1 TB HD connected to my Airport Extreme as the Time Machine disc for my MBP. It works fine. When the NBN arrives (soon) I will be supplied with a Huawei HG 659 modem. Will I be able to use it in the same way as I use the Airport Extreme for my Time Machine disc? I saw in the Huawei HG specifications somewhere that using its USB port for network storage only supports FAT32 file format. Would that preclude me from using it as a Time Machine disc connection?
The NBN is coming soon and I want to be prepared beforehand to make sure I can make things work as they do now.


One option would be to connect the airport extreme to the Huawei modem via ethernet. Then set the airport to bridge mode via network settings in settings in Airport Utility. You can keep using the the WD HD connected to the Airport extreme as a time machine disc.


Thank you so much for that idea. I was wondering if I could still use the Airport Extreme somehow so I am grateful for your suggestion.
I am puzzled by the Huawei’s restriction to FAT32 file format for network storage purposes. I know very little about file transfer protocols etc so I don’t understand why the Huawei would be limited to FAT32. Perhaps someone can explain, in simple terms, why this restriction would exist.


What modem are you currently using and how are things configured?

You have two options:

  1. Using the Airport as a router.
  2. Using the Airport as a Wireless Access Point (WAP).

Long story short, whatever you are doing today you can (probably) continue doing after you get NBN.

The only thing to consider is what model AirPort and Mac’s you have. The new Huawei modem has Wireless AC which the older (big flat) AirPorts don’t have nor do older MBPs… so that could be something you do want to use. Even if you used the wireless in the new modem, you can still connect the AirPort Extreme to the network just to use for its TimeMachine capabilities.
(I’ve actually got a TimeCapsule connected via ethernet with it’s WiFi disabled to my own network at the moment).


Thank you Hawk for your advice.

My current set up has a Netgear DM 111P v2 modem connected by ethernet to an Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n (second generation). My iMac is connected to the AE via ethernet, and my MBP uses WiFi. The WD HD is connected to the AE USB port and is used as a Time Machine disc for my MBP. (The iMac has it’s own TM disc) Our iPad mini and iPhone use the WiFi. This set up works well, except the WiFi struggles a bit up in our bedroom.

I am hoping I can use the Huawei to replace the modem/router configuration I have at the moment. If that doesn’t work it seems I can still utilise my Airport Extreme/WD HD set up connected by ethernet to the Huawei. Have I read you correctly?


Yep, you can either use (or not) the routing functions of the AE.

That Netgear DM 111P v2 looks like it’s just a modem, so the AE is current performing routing duties.

When you get your new modem/router you get to make a couple of choices.

  1. You can only have one router in your network, so either the new modem/router does this or the AE does this. Configure as needed.

  2. You can have two wireless access points if you want, turn on/off the wireless either device.

Maybe it would be worth getting some extra cable put into the bedroom (or somewhere at the other end of the house) and moving the AE away from the new device to increase your coverage. While it’s possible to just use it as a wireless repeater with no cable I wouldn’t recommend this since you also want to use it for TimeMachine duties where speed is more important. While the AE is near enough to silent, you just need to be aware of where you’re putting it because of the lights it has and the noise the HDD would make … personally I couldn’t stand them in my bedroom.


I’ve got almost this exact setup (and have for a while) on Telstra Cable. I originally had just a Cable modem and a 2TB Time Capsule (the tall 802.11ac model) as my Router/wifi. Then I got the gateway max. I kept the Time Capsule in Bridge mode with networking off, but you are still able to access the drives. If you have any Mac’s that are connected via Ethernet, I actually plugged them into the ethernet ports on the Time Capsule rather than the Router.

Now however I’ve got the Frontier Gateway, and it actually will read HFS+ Disks off it’s USB port. A quick google reveals it’s relatively simple to create a Sparsebundle manually and put it on that disk and then point Time Machine to that. This would pretty much remove the need for the Time Capsule though I’m reticent to give it up just yet. Also accessing files is a bit slower via the modem than via the Time Capsule, but I could probably live with that if it meant removing an almost pointless device.


Thank you Hawk and mitty for your encouraging replies. It looks like I won’t have any troubles with the arrival of the NBN via HFC. I’ll save your posts for future reference. Actually, I’m looking forward to it with it’s faster speed.