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Old 01-26-2021, 03:57 PM   #1
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RV Internet Decisions

Hi all, I'm a newbie getting ready to take my new trailer on a road trip cross country for several months. I will need to work remote throughout the trip and am stressing about staying connected. I've so far spent countless hours researching and was hoping to get some opinions and advice because I'm crippled at this point by options/indecision/fear for my wallet.

Here are some of my thoughts on some options and would love your feedback! :
  • Get sims for multiple carriers
    • Google FI (my current provider)
    • ATT
    • Verizon
    I'm hoping to do prepaid cell plans for Att/verizon, I have spare phones to activate them, but does anyone know if after they're activated would I get cut off I put them in a cellular router? Would I need data only plans?

    Has anyone used the Harmon Spark with the ATT connected car unlimited data plan for $20? It says it slows speeds at 22gb, but if it works seems like it could be a worthwhile backup option
  • Get a cellular router, this is where I'm the most stuck
    • mofi4500, or
    • Pepwave br1 mk2, or
    • Pepwave transit duo
    The pepwaves start getting expensive, and the more the device, the more the antennas seem to be. But I see these mentioned a lot and having dual sim slots seems useful. But, when it comes to two sims, is there much appreciable benefit to getting a device that can load balance like the duo? Or would something like the mk2 probably be enough? I frequently have to share my screen during meetings and sometimes video call but that's mostly the worst of it. Big concern is just keeping connected and don't know enough about the technologies to fully understand it all.

    Or, are the pepwaves overkill and is it possible to get by on something lesser like a mofi with an external antenna?
    Or, suck it up and get the hotspots from the providers?

Any other recommendations on routers/plans, or things I should be considering?

Appreciate any feedback or experiences you're willing to share! Thank you!!
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Old 01-26-2021, 04:28 PM   #2
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I have a MoFi 4500 with an ATT SIM card and find that I rarely ever have to use an external antenna. The dual antennas that are on it work very well if you have halfway decent cell reception. I've been using it for a couple of years and it has worked very well.
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Old 01-26-2021, 04:34 PM   #3
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Since you are still exploring hardware options take a look at Wifiranger Aspen. I have had it about 3 months and it works well with a sim from an ATT MVNO. Aspen does round robin load balancing. This past weekend I was at a RV park with useable wifi and set up load balancing with the ATT sim. Worked very well. My needs are relatively low, but it looks like the Aspen and ATT work well. I have also tethered my VZW cell phone and that works well. All on all the Aspen seems to work better than I expected. The cat6 modem that I bought more than meets my current needs.
YMMV.
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:34 PM   #4
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I have a MoFi 4500 with an ATT SIM card and find that I rarely ever have to use an external antenna. The dual antennas that are on it work very well if you have halfway decent cell reception. I've been using it for a couple of years and it has worked very well.
Thank you! Is the ATT sim you use setup with a phone data plan or data only?
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:39 PM   #5
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Since you are still exploring hardware options take a look at Wifiranger Aspen. I have had it about 3 months and it works well with a sim from an ATT MVNO. Aspen does round robin load balancing. This past weekend I was at a RV park with useable wifi and set up load balancing with the ATT sim. Worked very well. My needs are relatively low, but it looks like the Aspen and ATT work well. I have also tethered my VZW cell phone and that works well. All on all the Aspen seems to work better than I expected. The cat6 modem that I bought more than meets my current needs.
YMMV.
Thank you for sharing! Do you use the Aspen with one of the wifi ranger external antennas?
Is your sim data only? Could I ask which mvno you use?
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:45 PM   #6
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You'll get lots of advice on spending way more money, but my MOFI 4500 works well for me.
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:03 PM   #7
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Thank you for sharing! Do you use the Aspen with one of the wifi ranger external antennas?
Is your sim data only? Could I ask which mvno you use?


‘Mvno’??
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:22 PM   #8
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‘Mvno’??
MVNO is Mobil virtual network operator like Visible Wireless, OTR or Boost Mobile. They use cell towers from the big 3 and provide cell service or data on mostly a prepaid no contact basis.
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:43 PM   #9
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I'm hoping to do prepaid cell plans for Att/verizon, I have spare phones to activate them, but does anyone know if after they're activated would I get cut off I put them in a cellular router? Would I need data only plans?
That last question depends on what you mean by "need". The self-righteous "correct" answer is of course, the only SIM you should put in a router is one approved for that device which probably means a data only plan.

The realistic practical answer is more complicated. Rightly or wrongly, plenty of people put phone SIMs in routers and seem to get away with it even though it's almost certainly violating terms of service. I'm sure some people do it on someone else's advice and never give it another thought.

The anecdotal evidence that I've read on various sites is that postpaid is less likely to have a problem than prepaid. I'm not sure why but the carriers seem to look at prepaid activity more closely and be less tolerant of "device mismatch" issues on prepaid than postpaid. I'm probably talking mostly about AT&T and T-Mobile here. I haven't heard so much about Verizon. It also seems that the more expensive postpaid plans are less likely to be hassled than the cheaper plans. I used the AT&T Unlimited Elite phone plan in my Pepwave for a couple of months and it worked nicely.

The reason people do this of course is that the options for reasonably priced data only plans that you can put it a router are quite limited, especially if you want lots of data. The only two I know of that you can get direct from a carrier is the 100 GB for $90 from Cricket (owned by AT&T) and the new 100 GB for $50 from T-Mobile. If 100 GB is enough then those are both good choices or maybe two of the T-Mobile plans to get 200 GB for $100.

If you need or want more data than that and don't want to pay a fortune each month then about the only other choice is a reseller. They're a mixed bag. Some are probably good, many are not so good and there always seems to be some doubt about what the plans really are in the eyes of the carrier. I have a reseller plan in my Pepwave which gives me 400 GB for $79 per month which I'm reasonably happy with. It's actually a little cheaper than I was paying for the Unlimited Elite phone plan. The price is now $89 but I guess I'm grandfathered in at $79. I'm happy to share who it's with if you or anyone else sends me a private message. The only reason I'm not putting a link here is because they seem to go out of stock every few days and then have more a few days later so they seem to be selling all they can so probably don't need more promotion. I have no clue if they're really any different from any other reseller but they assured me it's a "legit data plan" so I'm sticking with them for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekka77 View Post
Or, are the pepwaves overkill and is it possible to get by on something lesser like a mofi with an external antenna?
Or, suck it up and get the hotspots from the providers?
I have a Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2. It's a nice device and I'm happy with it. I'm a bit of a techie nerd so I like all the advanced features but it's probably overkill for most people.

I don't know about the MoFi but people seem to be happy with them. The option of using an external antenna is quite important to me.

If you think you might want to use a lot of T-Mobile in future you might want to look for something that does band 71. Unfortunately, my Pepwave does not do B71.
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:54 PM   #10
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I use the Aspen w/o external antenna. Currently use OTR Mobile but will probably change soon - lots of discussion on this forum regarding OTR. With my ATT hotspot, signal in my current location was about -100 db. With Aspen, I am seeing about -70 db. We are full timers. In last two years on the road, ATT has provided better signal and download vs VZW - just my empiracal results, nothing scientific.
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:06 AM   #11
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Thank you for sharing! Do you use the Aspen with one of the wifi ranger external antennas?
Is your sim data only? Could I ask which mvno you use?
To clarify one thing, the Aspen doesn't work with an "external antenna." The rooftop devices sold by WiFiRanger are complete, self-contained routers that work with the indoor unit in a "master-slave" configuration.
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:32 AM   #12
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To clarify one thing, the Aspen doesn't work with an "external antenna." The rooftop devices sold by WiFiRanger are complete, self-contained routers that work with the indoor unit in a "master-slave" configuration.
Ohh interesting, thank you for clarifying that, I hadn't realized. Do you know if the Aspen allows for an external antenna at all? Have you also used it and had success?
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:39 AM   #13
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Maybe I haven't traveled enough in my 66 years of life, but somehow, this thread lost me completely. I have no clue what you all are talking about. I successfully work on the road with my company issued laptop as does my wife. We work an 8 hour day and both of us are in Information Technology software development for our respective companies.

We use our Galaxy smart phones and the hot spot with an AT&T unlimited data plan. Never had a problem getting connected, unless we were at a campground that had no phone service at all. (dead spot). In that case, nothing would work in those locations anyway.

Don't over complicate it. Keep it simple.
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:56 AM   #14
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We use our Galaxy smart phones and the hot spot with an AT&T unlimited data plan. Never had a problem getting connected, unless we were at a campground that had no phone service at all. (dead spot). In that case, nothing would work in those locations anyway.

Don't over complicate it. Keep it simple.
How much hotspot data do you get? If those are normal phone plans then they are only "unlimited" on the phone itself.

You only get 30 GB with the top consumer plan AT&T Unlimited Elite. That's nowhere near enough for most people if they stream TV etc.

It looks like it's 100 GB if you have the equivalent business plan which is better but still not enough for most and in theory not available to an ordinary person in their RV.

There are ways to tether a phone to a router and trick the carrier into thinking it's phone data instead of hotspot data. That can be an option if you want to go that way.

You also can't use an external antenna which is important for some people. A "dead spot" on your phone might well be usable with a yagi on a pole.
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