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Old 05-27-2014, 11:46 AM   #1
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Verizon Razr w/FoxFi in Wilson Sleek 4G-V problems

Hi!

Here's my set-up: Verizon (grandfathered unlimited data plan) Razr on Jelly Bean (4.1.2) w/FoxFi (paid version) in Wilson Sleek 4G-V amplifier cradle supplying internet throught WiFi as WAN to Cradlepoint MBR95 router.

The router supplies internet at various times to my laptop, the wife's iPad, a PS3, a Roku (just got it from a friend for the bedroom TV) and cell phones.

As crazy as this all looks written down, it works pretty good sometimes. The Razr is not used for anything else, it's dedicated to internet access.

Here are the problems I'm experiencing and if anyone has suggestions I'm listening.

Phone gets warm when using a fair amount of data, like streaming video for a while through Netflix or Hulu plus.

The 4G service in our area is inconsistent so we don't always use the Wilson cradle. The weird (to me) thing I've noticed that while the signal strength goes up (as in more bars AND using a signal strength app) when in the Sleek, data speeds (using an internet speed test app) go down???

Everything works fine sometimes but at other times it drops or disconnects frequently. Sometimes the disconnect is shown by the green checkmark going away in FoxFi and you can reconnect by just tapping again, other times FoxFi still shows the green checkmark but the router is not getting internet access. When that happens you have to restart the phone and start FoxFi again. The other night, I had to do that a half dozen times to get through one show on Hulu and the PS3 signed me out each time . . . quite annoying.

I'm willing to try a USB connection to the router if that's better but can't find instructions on how to do that.

I tried buying a Jetpack but Verizon wouldn't sell me one on the unlimited plan. I've heard that you can get one elsewhere and take the 4G card from the phone and put it into a Jetpack or Mifi but I don't want to spend the $$$ if it won't work or if Verizon can see it and charge me more for using it.

Thanks!
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:56 PM   #2
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Sorry can't answer all your questions but. The Cradlepoint (I use a 1400) will not connect via usb to any phones I know of, Cradlepoint seems to only support usb cell sticks and some of the mifi devices. If you call Cradlepoint they will probably try and sell you their service plan if you want a question answered (grrrr). I chose to add the tethering option to my unlimited data plan so I would not have to worry about issues with third party software. It is an extra 20 or so dollars a month but still a good deal for unlimited data.

Speed going down with signal strength going up could be from a variety of conditions including errors in transmission due to noise on the line from too much signal. A cell tower, like a WiFi hotspot, has a limited amount of bandwidth it can support, when a great number of users are pinging that tower for data you are sharing that bandwidth with other users.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:21 PM   #3
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Why are you using a router? You can hotspot all that stuff right off the phone itself. But by using the router, you are slowing down the speed because the data has to go through the router first. Also, multiple devices using data at the same time will also slow your data from the phone. Whatever device is strongest will hog the data and make other devices super slow. My macbook will make my iPad mini almost useless if both are trying to consume a good amount of data at same time.

Also it sounds as if your 4g signal isn't very good to begin with. I have awesome signal at home, and not many users on my tower, but I still get booted off slowed down briefly every once in a while.

I would probably look for a jet pack or whatever they are called if I were you. They are probably better at broadcasting signal than the phones are. You can get a used one of Craigslist, EBay, or Swappa.com. Do your research and make sure the SIM card sizes are the same. No need to involve VZW with anything. As long as it's a 4g jet pack and the SIM card slot sizes are the same it will work. But you won't be able to change your plan to drop the voice and text. You will still have to pay monthly the same as you are paying now for the line.
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srt20 View Post
Why are you using a router? You can hotspot all that stuff right off the phone itself. But by using the router, you are slowing down the speed because the data has to go through the router first. Also, multiple devices using data at the same time will also slow your data from the phone. Whatever device is strongest will hog the data and make other devices super slow. My macbook will make my iPad mini almost useless if both are trying to consume a good amount of data at same time.

Also it sounds as if your 4g signal isn't very good to begin with. I have awesome signal at home, and not many users on my tower, but I still get booted off slowed down briefly every once in a while.

I would probably look for a jet pack or whatever they are called if I were you. They are probably better at broadcasting signal than the phones are. You can get a used one of Craigslist, EBay, or Swappa.com. Do your research and make sure the SIM card sizes are the same. No need to involve VZW with anything. As long as it's a 4g jet pack and the SIM card slot sizes are the same it will work. But you won't be able to change your plan to drop the voice and text. You will still have to pay monthly the same as you are paying now for the line.
I went with the Cradlepoint router because I also have a network drive and Samsung Network Extender that both require wired internet service. I haven't hooked them up yet. I probably can get by without the network extender for now but wanted that capability when we camped where the Sleek was the only way to get service.

I see your point about multiple devices competing for bandwidth. My personal phone (not the dedicated one in the Sleek) also has unlimited data. I have to shut off it's wifi so it goes to the tower on it's own instead of grabbing it from the router. I'm trying to keep the data usage on the dedicated line from getting too outrageous.

I can take the router out of the loop for some devices and see if that helps but the problem seems to be at it's worst when we're streaming Netflix or especially Hulu and not doing much else.

I don't mind buying a JetPack /MiFi if it won't tip Verizon off. I don't mind paying for voice & text that I'm not using, I just can't come to terms with paying them another $30/month to actually use my unlimited data. I'll have to see which ones use the same size 4G Sim as the Razr???

Anyone have experience doing that? (putting a phone sim in a mifi)??

Thanks!
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Old 05-27-2014, 05:14 PM   #5
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Not sure what Cradle point router you have but, on my CP MBR1400 I pull the Sim card from my VZW Motorola Droid Maxx and pop it into a refurbished Pantech UML290 using a Sim card adapter. The Pantech works with the Wilson Sleek and connects to my router. Unlimited data plan. Have most of what you have and more. The router manages the bandwidth. I also have a Millenicom Jetpack as backup and for work.

Hope this helps some-
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Old 05-27-2014, 06:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken-55 View Post
Hi!

As crazy as this all looks written down, it works pretty good sometimes. The Razr is not used for anything else, it's dedicated to internet access.

Here are the problems I'm experiencing and if anyone has suggestions I'm listening.

Phone gets warm when using a fair amount of data, like streaming video for a while through Netflix or Hulu plus.
Why is this a concern? We have nearly the same network configuration with a different phone and yes, it does get warm. It uses a lot of power when operating in hot spot mode which is why you should always keep it plugged into a charger.

Quote:
The 4G service in our area is inconsistent so we don't always use the Wilson cradle. The weird (to me) thing I've noticed that while the signal strength goes up (as in more bars AND using a signal strength app) when in the Sleek, data speeds (using an internet speed test app) go down???
I don't understand why you don't use the Sleek all the time. For the past two months we have been in a situation in which the signal varies quite a bit and we just leave the phone in the Sleek all the time.

As for your speed variations, you may not be noticing it, but I'll bet that the phone is periodically switching from 4G to 3G and back again. If the signal strength varies this can be fairly frequent. The best 3G speed will be a significant reduction from normal 4G speeds.

Quote:
Everything works fine sometimes but at other times it drops or disconnects frequently. Sometimes the disconnect is shown by the green checkmark going away in FoxFi and you can reconnect by just tapping again, other times FoxFi still shows the green checkmark but the router is not getting internet access. When that happens you have to restart the phone and start FoxFi again. The other night, I had to do that a half dozen times to get through one show on Hulu and the PS3 signed me out each time . . . quite annoying.
Your Cradlepoint is probably several years old and I don't know if you've kept up with software updates, etc. I happen to work for WiFiRanger, a Cradlepoint competitor, and we've had a number of firmware updates in the several years since your router would have been new and I suspect Cradlepoint has, also.
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Old 05-27-2014, 06:47 PM   #7
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I'd set certain devices to grab Internet from one phone, and other devices to grab from the other phone if you are worried about sending flags. I'm not sure how much data you use, but it takes a very substantial amount to get throttled on most towers. Top 5%.

If both phones have unlimited, why would you have the wifi on? I have two lines of unlimited also, and the only time I ever would use wifi, would be where there is wifi but I had very weak to no signal. Like in a hospital or something. Otherwise, generally VZW 4G is faster than wifi off of someone else's router anyway. Searching for wifi uses battery life as well.
I don't know much about routers, I never had a need for one so I can't help out at all with that.

I agree I would just leave the razr in the sleek all the time, since it sounds like you have a pretty weak signal.

Make sure your razr can get as much air as you can. My razr will get smoking hot if I have it stuffed between the seat and the center console in my truck. But sitting on the table plugged in to the charger it doesn't get hot at all. Usually I have foxfi on all the time during my awake hours.
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Old 05-27-2014, 06:54 PM   #8
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Your router and phone are password protected, right? Just making sure that nobody else is piggybacking off your network.

Also, if you are watching movies off your router, which is off your phone, you aren't going to be able to do much else if anything, off that phones data anyway. Vids take a lot of data.
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:22 PM   #9
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srt20, everything is password protected. I actually have 3 phones, the dedicated to hotspot Razr that usually lives in the Sleek with unlimited data, my S4 with unlimited data and the wife's S3 with a 2 GB data plan. I wants the wife's S3 to use the wifi to keep her data usage down.

I'm fine with my S4 not using wifi it's just that on occasion the cell service gets worse and I have trouble connecting . . . that's why I bought the Sleek in the first place. I think I'll have to play around with the S4 some more, I turn the wifi off and it turns itself back on sometimes.

I've tried leaving the Razr on the Sleek. The trouble is that several times when streaming shows buffer I've just reached up and taken the Razr out of the Sleek and the buffering goes away. I've done speedtests with the Razr in vs. out of the Sleek minutes apart and frequently the speeds are faster without the Sleek even though the signal shows as weaker. Very frustrating.

docj, The Razr getting hot concerns me because it seems to drop connection more when it's hot. I do keep it plugged in at all times.

As I just mentioned above, I'd love to leave it in the Sleek all the time it's just that it doesn't work well that way sometimes. I get the 3G vs. 4G difference it's just that my speed tests are done minutes apart and I can see that I'm getting 4G during them.

My Cradlepoint is just a few months old and I checked for updates when I installed it. I really don't think the Cradlepoint is the problem since the Razr is what's dropping the signal or freezing up requiring a power down.

spinn, Thanks for the info about a USB connection not working with the router. I've also read about the noise issue with to strong a signal . . . frustrating when you go from to weak to to strong??

01zeosix, I have the Cradlepoint MBR95. I'm going to try something similar to your set-up. I'm thinking that the Razr and FoxFi might be the weak link. I just ordered a Verizon Jetpack MiFi 4G LTE MHS291L off eBay. I should be able to take the sim out of the Razr and get it working, I hope!


Thanks to everyone for suggestions and help. I'm also going to try having the devices that don't need a wired connection go direct to the Jetpack.

Keeping my fingers crossed that it will get better!
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:10 AM   #10
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Update:

The Jetpack came in Saturday. It took about a half hour to swap sim cards and change the network name and password. By the time I had that done, "My Verizon" was showing the Jetpack on my account. I did have to grind down a little of the clamp arm on the Sleek so I could fit the charging cable in easily but that was it. We've watched shows, surfed the web and had no issues at all since the switch! The laptop, iPad, wife's phone, PS3 and Roku are all connected direct to the Jetpack.
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