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Old 02-16-2021, 10:36 AM   #1
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What celluar router do you use and why ?

I'd like to have a discussion on the subject so people that aren't familiar with the features that make these buggers so useful for us wanderers can get a starting point. I know there is a lot to consider when looking at using a router over a phone or hotspot.

The Mobile Internet Resource Center is a great source of information and is highly recommended. Here's what they have to say on the subject:

https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/gui...s-wan-routers/

People need to be very aware of the possible consequences of just moving a sim from one device to another. You could be breaking your carrier's terms of service and lose your plan and any phone service attached to the account deactivated if mobile data was an add on. You could have your device black listed and have your ability to get future service from the provider impacted. Any risks and consequences are the responsibility of the individual. This should be considered information, not advice.

We should not have any discussion about illegal modifications or "magic" to change imei numbers to circumvent carrier restrictions.

I jumped to a router for a couple of reasons. I wanted to be able to lock to frequencies, commonly referred to as bands, that were not as congested as the ones my device and carrier automatically thought were best. I wanted the ability to switch between providers when I relocated for best performance. I wanted the ability to balance the internet load by using several sources at once. I wanted the ability to use multiple frequencies, or aggregate, at once for better performance. I wanted dual band 2.4ghz and 5ghz wifi bands on the router.



I used a MOFI 4500 Sim 7 at first. I could lock bands and even towers plus it was simple to use. It had band 71 for T-Mobile. But it was an old single cat 4 modem with no carrier aggregation. It only had 2.4ghz wifi band and the ethernet ports were 100 meg. This router runs around $300 and is pretty over priced in my opinion.


I'm currently using a Peplink Max Transit Duo with cat 12 modems. It has everything I wanted for features and more. It's commercial grade. And very likely expensive overkill for the majority of people at $1,000.
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Old 02-16-2021, 12:07 PM   #2
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I have a Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2. In hindsight I bought it a little too quickly. After we bought the RV and spent almost $60K I figured, "what's another $750 or so" and decided to leap in big and bought the "full time bundle" from MobileMustHave.

I now have the Poynting 5-in-1 mounted on the roof after much agonizing over how and where to mount it and drill the hole. Now I'm working on putting my "IT closet" together.

It's a nice device for sure. Since buying it I've used it with MobileMustHave's expensive reseller plan for one month (it was cheaper back then), AT&T and T-Mobile phone plans, and now a cheaper reseller plan. I've tested the Visible SIM I use for a phone and I've also used the ethernet WAN port to tether a phone via a Raspberry Pi to USB and used the WiFi as WAN. I'm using it now to post this.

I send most data through a "FusionHub" VPN I created on Digital Ocean which costs me $5 per month.

That's all good. The admin UI is quite nice, it has a ton of features and a nice community forum but ...

If I had spent more time researching and discovered LTEHacks sooner I probably would have built something using components from ltefix.com and running OpenWrt. To some extent that's just my personal preference but I do feel a little locked in with the Pepwave. It would be nice to have the ability to upgrade the modem while keeping the same router and open source firmware is more my thing.

The only real issue with the Pepwave MAX right now is that it doesn't do band 71 which is going to be an issue if I want to make full use of T-Mobile some time.

Deciding on a data plan and how much risk you want to take is one of the biggest issues with trying to use your own router. The whole business is a frustrating mess and seems to be getting worse.
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Old 02-16-2021, 12:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tetranz View Post
I have a Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2. In hindsight I bought it a little too quickly. After we bought the RV and spent almost $60K I figured, "what's another $750 or so" and decided to leap in big and bought the "full time bundle" from MobileMustHave.

I now have the Poynting 5-in-1 mounted on the roof after much agonizing over how and where to mount it and drill the hole. Now I'm putting my "IT closet" together.

It's a nice device for sure. Since buying it I've used it with MobileMustHave's expensive reseller plan for one month (it was cheaper back then), AT&T and T-Mobile phone plans, and now a cheaper reseller plan. I've tested the Visible SIM I use for a phone and I've also used the ethernet WAN port to tether a phone via a Raspberry Pi to USB and used the WiFi as WAN.

I send most data through a "FusionHub" VPN I created on Digital Ocean which costs me $5 per month.

That's all good. The admin UI is quite nice, it has a ton of features and a nice community forum but ...

If I had spent more time researching and discovered LTEHacks sooner I probably would have built something using components from ltefix.com and running OpenWrt. To some extent that's just my personal preference but I do feel a little locked in with the Pepwave. It would be nice to have the ability to upgrade the modem while keeping the same router and open source firmware is more my thing.

The only immediate issue with the Pepwave MAX is that it doesn't do band 71 which is going to be an issue if I want to make full use of T-Mobile some time.

I also used a bundle from mobile must have. I got the Parsec antenna for the potential additional 5G and band 71 reception. I'm keeping the MOFI for band 71 should the need arise. I fully expect to have at least a partially different setup a few years from now.

I hear you about the open source firmware, but after 35 years of IT work, I'd just as soon not mess with it anymore, even if I'm typing this on my Linux laptop. The Speedfusion options and load balancing have been an absolute pleasure for me. We are usually working full time so fiddling and AT command configuration is something I don't need. I would likely feel different if I was building a stationary solution.


I agree with the data plan mess. Maybe Starlink will be a real option in a few years.
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Old 02-16-2021, 12:29 PM   #4
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I became a full timer in 12/2020. I also worked from home.
I use a Peplink Max Transit CAT-18 for many of the same reasons Aquaadverse outlined.
As my work frequently involved traveling, I had previously installed a Sierra Wireless CAT 4 cellular modem in one of my laptop PCs. I also had cellular data available over my Samsung phone via tethering & hotspot. If available, and of sufficient quality, I utilized whatever WiFi signal was available. I soon discovered, this was not adequate for full timing.
LAN speed was important as all work files are stored on the NAS device which required an Ethernet connection. The CAT-18 internal xfer speed was comparable to the CISCO GB speed on the router & switches installed at my home.
Space is always at a premium on the RV. A small footprint was important as well as easy access to the SIMs (did not want to get on the roof to change SIMs).
I was torn between the the Peplink Max Transit with a single CAT-18 modem & the Peplink Max Transit Duo with 2 CAT-12 modems. In the end it came down to monthly out of pocket expense for service.. Simplistically the CAT-18 would require 2 SIMs to feed it, where as the CAT-12 would require 4 (actually it's a little more complicated than that). The HW price difference between the CAT-12 model & the CAT-18 is not that significant (my opinion).
The Peplink user interface is intuitive & the forum support is very good. The one knock I would give Peplink.... 1st level support is the responsibility of the entity from which you purchase your device. If you are looking to take advantage of some of the more technically challenging aspects of cellular networking, you may be on your own. I encountered this with accessing my NAS from outside my LAN (google carrier grade NAT).
Finding data plans at affordable price points can be problematic. Take that into consideration.
These are commercial grade devices utilized by 1st responders, the transportation industry, etc. & have many more features than you will not find in consumer grade devices. While my unit was very easy to setup, taking advantage of the advanced features takes a little effort.
I also purchased an external antenna (not yet installed). So far reception has exceeded expectations with just the paddle antennas. I have less than $1000.00 invested.
While I imagine this is a little bit of overkill, I have been more than pleased with the performance of the unit utilizing AT&T & Verizon data plans (device is certified for use on their networks). I would purchase this unit again.
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Old 02-16-2021, 12:52 PM   #5
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Aquaadverse,
On one of the other threads, you indicated you were using 750GB - 1TB monthly.
If you don't mind my asking, what are you doing to consume that amount of data?
If you had rather not say, I understand.
Thanks
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Old 02-16-2021, 01:17 PM   #6
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Aquaadverse,
On one of the other threads, you indicated you were using 750GB - 1TB monthly.
If you don't mind my asking, what are you doing to consume that amount of data?
If you had rather not say, I understand.
Thanks

It's primarily streaming HD video on 2 TVs (wife likes to sleep with the TV always on) and general surfing and video conferencing for work. I have 2 hour Zoom meetings a couple times a month. I just checked and I've run 740G so far this month. We travel the Country doing remodels for one of the big box retail chains. Covid put a halt to that last year in May and we aren't due to physically start again until this May. I still have meetings and other remote duties, but once we startup again our usage will drop dramatically. We are trying to isolate as much as we can as we are in the geezer class of risk. I could actually manage consumption a lot better by OTA TV or running SD video resolution, but I've been able to spread the load between 3 providers so far.
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Old 02-16-2021, 02:02 PM   #7
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Thanks for the response.
As indicated in a previous response, I tried to stress my setup back in June, Consumed a little over 650GB. However, I did not sleep while streaming. Understand how you were able to accomplish this now.

We are in the high risk age group also so we are sort of hunkered down close to Holden Beach, NC. Looking forward to getting on the road if this COVID mess ever settles down.
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Old 02-16-2021, 02:21 PM   #8
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I travel with different 3 routers that I have collected / tested over the years and none are LTE. I spend my $$ on the hotspot hardware, so I get the bands and LTE aggregation for the different providers. Once you have the hot spot hardware "I now have hardware coverage for all the major players" - I can change plans when something comes available, I just need a new SIM. Because the LTE Routers are trying to cover most of the cell providers, they are not the best options for performance unless you start spending $$$$ - then the cost difference to my hotspot cost get closer..

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4 Hotspots - 1 Cat 4 "My first T-Mobile for testing" - All others are CAT 16 and higher
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by lemodrop9344 View Post
Thanks for the response.
As indicated in a previous response, I tried to stress my setup back in June, Consumed a little over 650GB. However, I did not sleep while streaming. Understand how you were able to accomplish this now.

We are in the high risk age group also so we are sort of hunkered down close to Holden Beach, NC. Looking forward to getting on the road if this COVID mess ever settles down.

I think having 2 active modems connected from 2 different providers makes a difference as well. I know if I run a speed test with both modems as priority one it draws from both and is faster if I have another data stream running elsewhere. I believe it's a function of load balancing. I generally leave one on standby and use the fastest one as primary then switch them off to manage the amount of data each one uses per month if possible. I don't want to exceed 500G on any single account and lose a plan from an abuse flag being raised.
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:12 AM   #10
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I think having 2 active modems connected from 2 different providers makes a difference as well. I know if I run a speed test with both modems as priority one it draws from both and is faster if I have another data stream running elsewhere. I believe it's a function of load balancing. I generally leave one on standby and use the fastest one as primary then switch them off to manage the amount of data each one uses per month if possible. I don't want to exceed 500G on any single account and lose a plan from an abuse flag being raised.

I would be inclined to agree with you, in theory. Aside from running a speed test, is there any way you can quantify the increase in data transfer performance? Perhaps from the Status tab on the Peplink U/I or Task Manger in Windows (assuming you use Windows)?
I will say I was pleasantly surprised with the speed in which large files (relative statement) were transferred to and from remote locations with the CAT-18. Seems as fast as my 300GB 'sticks & bricks' connection when I had a cable ISP.
This has led me to believe 'speed tests' are an interesting exercise, but, have less bearing on actual real life transfer speeds in day to day use than the providers would lead you to believe.
Your thoughts?
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:28 AM   #11
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I think having 2 active modems connected from 2 different providers makes a difference as well.
The current power situation in TX demonstrates that even having two connections may not be enough. I maintain connections with all three major cellular carriers. At present in our location T-Mobile is not functioning; the MiFi can connect to the network but there's no internet available. My unlimited prepaid Verizon MiFi is so slow as to be useless. Even my post-paid Verizon phone was barely able to get a streamable connection last night. The only connection I've been able to count on for the past couple of days is my AT&T through Millenicom.

Normally I load balance two or more connections, but their erratic behavior over the past couple of days has made that too unstable to use.

The weather is supposed to get a lot warmer by the weekend so there's hope that the electric grid will be stabilized. In the meantime, we will continue to maintain some connectivity.
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:57 AM   #12
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Docj what was the draw to choose Millenicom for your Att data and what router do you use with it? I read the list but wondering if others will work also.
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Old 02-17-2021, 10:50 AM   #13
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I would be inclined to agree with you, in theory. Aside from running a speed test, is there any way you can quantify the increase in data transfer performance? Perhaps from the Status tab on the Peplink U/I or Task Manger in Windows (assuming you use Windows)?
I will say I was pleasantly surprised with the speed in which large files (relative statement) were transferred to and from remote locations with the CAT-18. Seems as fast as my 300GB 'sticks & bricks' connection when I had a cable ISP.
This has led me to believe 'speed tests' are an interesting exercise, but, have less bearing on actual real life transfer speeds in day to day use than the providers would lead you to believe.
Your thoughts?
I was checking using the real time status window to watch the cellular one and cellular two graphs. I was seeing both windows pegged near the same relative download speeds I was seeing when I speed tested them individually. That did not seem result in the download on speed test being the sum of the two added together, in other words a bonded stream, but was consistently faster by around 30%. I was also seeing higher CPU utilization on the Peplink during tests. This was consistent across 3 different speed test utilities.

An interesting side note is one modem was using my FMCA Sprint plan which is prepaid and the other was using a T-mobile post paid sim from a tablet plan. Both were reported as using the same band 41 with lte-a connections.

Obviously, this is all rather crude and anecdotal and far from scientific. I have noticed when the Sprint gets deprioritized I can drag the T-Mobile from standby status to shared priority one with the Sprint and I'm back to same relative speeds as above. That may be a similar situation as your 4X4 mimo cat 18 situation.since it's the same band and sort of the same provider. I have a grandfathered prepaid Verizon sim in the same modem, second slot as the T-Mobile sim but haven't been using it because the performance is wretched in the 1000 site RV park I'm at. I may try some file transfers when I get some place where the Verizon and T-Mobile service is similar. I've only had this particular setup a month and still need to setup a VPN and Speedfusion bonding configuration. Also interested in tinkering with the wifi-as-wan function when I hit a campground with decent free wifi. Interesting times.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:02 AM   #14
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The current power situation in TX demonstrates that even having two connections may not be enough. I maintain connections with all three major cellular carriers. At present in our location T-Mobile is not functioning; the MiFi can connect to the network but there's no internet available. My unlimited prepaid Verizon MiFi is so slow as to be useless. Even my post-paid Verizon phone was barely able to get a streamable connection last night. The only connection I've been able to count on for the past couple of days is my AT&T through Millenicom.

Normally I load balance two or more connections, but their erratic behavior over the past couple of days has made that too unstable to use.

The weather is supposed to get a lot warmer by the weekend so there's hope that the electric grid will be stabilized. In the meantime, we will continue to maintain some connectivity.
I really hate AT&T killed our Togo plan. Been without AT&T since October. Still looking for a relatively cheap plan so I can have the top 3 covered. Looks like I missed out on the $20 postpaid unlimited hotspot tablet plan.
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