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Old 05-19-2011, 09:00 PM   #43
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In our experience, the Verizon MiFi2200 works pretty well all over the country, handles Skype and You Tube, even Hulu. Especially with the amplifier we installed. Picture a big antenna on top of the rig, wired to a small one inside, through an amplifier. The Wilson 801201 Mobile Wireless Heavy Duty Repeater System Amplifier from Unwiredsignal dot com. $400. Turns a one-bar signal into 5. DO NOT use Virgin Mobile MiFi.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:53 PM   #44
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Late to this posting party, but thought I'd throw in our experience as well.

We have an online business and work from the road. Internet is also mandatory for us. We travel with 2 laptops, 2 iPhones, and 2 iPads.

Now, we have a WiFi in Motion setup (cradlepoint router, wilson cell booster amp, roof-mounted antenna), plus 3 datacards - Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. The router is a full-featured wifi router with all the bells, whistles, and security features. The amplifier and roof-mount antenna give a dramatic increase in range/signal strength. The 3 cards from different networks means we almost always have a decent connection from at least one of them. When we have good service on 2 cards, the router supports a "load sharing" feature that lets your total data rate be faster - by using both cards at once. Also, having 3 cards increases our total monthly bandwidth. AT&T = 5 GB, Sprint = 5 GB, and Verizon = 10 GB.

If I had to pick just one card, it would be the Verizon hands down. Every place we camp, I plug in all 3 and measure signal strength and connection speed. 9 times out of 10 the Verizon wins and/or is the only one that works at all. Since Verizon has launched their LTE network, we sometimes get a VERY fast connection. Also, the Verizon plan we have is 10 GB for $80/mo, and additional data is $10/GB. That means you don't pay the huge penalty for going over your monthy bandwidth that other networks charge.

With this system, we have never found a place where we couldn't get at least some internet connection.

Before this, we used Hughesnet extensively with a Dustyfoot tripod. NOT recommended. Here is a quick list of the reasons:

1) VERY hard to set up and aim - even if you are an expert. I am. It's still hard.
2) The majority of places we camped, we couldn't get a good line-of-site to the satellite, so it wouldn't work. Of course, we camp in the Pacific NW a lot where there are lots of big trees and mountains, but the satellites are low enough that this is a real problem. Overall, I can get internet in more campgrounds with a datacard than I did with HugesNet - even very remote boondocking locations.
3) There are significant DAILY limits on bandwidth that are much more severe than the 5GB limit most datacards have. When you hit your daily limit, your speed slows to a crawl
4) Speed is less than 3G or 4G data cards.
5) Cost is high - both initial and monthly.

I wrote a blog post about a year ago with more details on this if you're curious:
Getting Connected - Riveted
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:09 PM   #45
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Thanks. It looks like I am going to have to put together a system shortly myself. A Verizon air card. We only have 3G where we need it. So we plug this into a USB port and away we go except I think I am going to need an outside antenna and amp.

Have you any experience with the CellRanger STIX amplifier? It looks like it must be some kind of a repeater. It doesn't appear to be hardwired to the computer. Just give it 12 volts and stick it on the roof?
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:02 PM   #46
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Buy a Motorola Photon, Atrix or Droid Bionic and get the HD dock, bluetooth keyboard and connect via HDMI to your LCD tv in the AS. These phones all operate at 4G if available and auto switch to 3G if that's all you have at your location. Additionally, you can piggyback thru a campground wifi connection if one is available. Sign up to your preferred carrier on their month to month plan and they will all give you unlimited calling, text and some amount of data (usually 2-5gigs) per month for about 50-70bucks per month. I like this solution because it doesn't lock you into any one carrier, you get phone service and gps in addition to just data like the wifi cards for about the same cost. T-Mobile has 4G no contract unlimited for $35, and US Cellular just announced that they would offer a rebranded Motorola Photon on their no contract plan for $100, plus $45 monthly. The dock gives you full screen 720-1080p output to the tv and the bluetooth keyboard makes this phone which is a dual core phone a true computer. Check them out online.
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:04 AM   #47
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I was on Verizon site just now, and can't seem to find any 3G USB modems. Seems a waste to buy a 4G for a bunch of stuff that would never even get used.

I'm hoping to do this with a USB modem card, an external antenna, and an amp.
In our case, we have no need for any 4G devices at all. 10 gig is not enough. We are not interested in voice, phone service, or GPS. T-Mobile and US Cellular are not even options. We don't really care much about the monthly fees, within reason.

We just need the simplest solution for good internet in a remote area (30 miles from nearest town) that has no cable, no DSL,no campground WiFi to piggyback onto, and only Verizon 3g coverage. Period.
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:58 AM   #48
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There are 2 3G Verizon air cards on eBay. May check out if you can buy it and set up plan through Verizon.
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:57 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by blmitch5 View Post
There are 2 3G Verizon air cards on eBay. May check out if you can buy it and set up plan through Verizon.
Well, unfortunately if that's the case it sounds like the cards have gone the same route as cell phones. I had this same hassle the last time I walked into a cell phone store and wanted to buy.......a cell phone.

They didn't have any cell phones. They had cell phones embedded in other devices, like cameras and game consoles. At least, that's what the sales guy wanted to sell me. Games. GPS. Cameras.

I was mistaken. I thought they might be able to sell me a cell phone. I just wanted a cellular phone to make and receive phone calls. I have a bunch of GPS and camera equipment I like just fine already. I don't play the games. Or want to walk around with my cell phone plugged into my head. Or listen to music from it. I figured they might have a simple cell phone. Apparently they didn't.
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:42 AM   #50
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Verizon has apparently discontinued the 3G MiFi, for the newer 4G MiFi, which will drop down to 3G if it can't find a 4G signal. Having traveled in 33 states over the last year with the Verizon 3G MiFi, I can recommend it. I also have the Wilson amplifier, which cost about $400 installed, but because I am in the software business, definitely worth it.
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Old 10-09-2011, 01:00 AM   #51
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Yep, there is really no reason to avoid a "4G" (in the case of Verizon "LTE") modem. We have had a Verizon LTE modem for almost a year (we also carry an AT&T one and a Sprint one).

As the previous poster said - when LTE is available the "4G" modem will use it - getting very fast speeds. When LTE is not available it automatically falls back to 3G or whatever is available.

Also, on the "10 Gig is not enough" issue - in our case the Verizon plan was best as well. Their $80 plan includes 10 Gig, and overflow is $10/Gig - so there's no big penalty for using more than the monthly data budget. Some of the other plans kick into a much higher cost when you go over - so beware of that.

We've (thoroughly) tested the Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint cards all up and down the west coast. We use an external antenna, amplifier, and a Cradlepoint wifi hub (into which we plug whichever modem we're using). I measure the signal strength for all 3 cards in each place we camp - just for curiosity. The Verizon card has won hands-down for us. It got service in many places the others did not, and most often had the strongest signal of the three. The AT&T card was second, and the Sprint card a (distant) third.

Hope some of this helps.
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Old 10-09-2011, 07:29 AM   #52
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I wouldn't be too excited about 4G in rural areas ,at least with Sprint. Its non-existant. And it never will be so don't buy a fancy devise based on Sprint sales pitch. If you study how these carriers achieve their respective "4G" claims you will see why. My question about Verizon's network is how available is it in rural areas. Their LTE system appears superior to Sprint's as even Sprint reportedly has said they might switch from Clearwire's WiMax based 4G to LTE. The chief problem with WiMax in rural areas is, I believe, the large number of antennas you need to make it work as a mobile WiFi network. In wooded or hilly areas you have to be close to a tower , like a mile or so. And don't forget. 4Gdoesnt replace 3G. You can't make phone calls on 4G , you still ned 3G because 4G is data only.
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:11 PM   #53
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I don't understand the 4G reluctance. Bottom line is that all 4G devices are backwards compatible on 3G, which by the way is a huge boondoggle unless you are in a major metro area. Yes, the carriers all say they have 4G, yes, they have fancy maps, yes the plans are now more expensive and we all pay for the "blazing fast 4G that isn't really 4G...but it's what is currently out there folks. If you want cell service 3G only, you ain't gonna be paying a lower rate to get it...even though 9 outa 10 times that's all you are getting. Buy a 4G wifi and go prepaid or month to month. Thats your cheapest and most honest (on the part of the carrier) route. Yep, we really are getting the shaft just like the bundled cable, phone and internet (it all comes thru the same pipeline right?). Well all just have to suck it up till some enterprising company introduces a game changer that makes them all come clean.
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Old 10-10-2011, 07:11 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by Phrunes View Post
I don't understand the 4G reluctance. Bottom line is that all 4G devices are backwards compatible on 3G, which by the way is a huge boondoggle unless you are in a major metro area. Yes, the carriers all say they have 4G, yes, they have fancy maps, yes the plans are now more expensive and we all pay for the "blazing fast 4G that isn't really 4G...but it's what is currently out there folks. If you want cell service 3G only, you ain't gonna be paying a lower rate to get it...even though 9 outa 10 times that's all you are getting. Buy a 4G wifi and go prepaid or month to month. Thats your cheapest and most honest (on the part of the carrier) route. Yep, we really are getting the shaft just like the bundled cable, phone and internet (it all comes thru the same pipeline right?). Well all just have to suck it up till some enterprising company introduces a game changer that makes them all come clean.
You are correct and I am hoping some company comes up with something that gets these folks to be honest about what they are selling. The entire internet infra-structure is grossly underdeveloped and suppliers of this service can only limit its use to make it at least workable for ordinary usage. If they offer unlimited data, like Sprint, they have to throttle you down after the first few thousand kb, just look at download rates when you are downloading a big file after a few seconds. You could do it faster on dial up service than with Sprints 3G. If they don't throttle you, they charge you for extra usage. And the more cell phones they sell the worse it gets as users want to download movies, etc., on phones. Crazy. Even 4G will have this issue once too many people start using it. Its all about infrastructure and capacity. Too much hype and not enough infrastructure to ever support it. At home here in the country without cable or dsl internet, we have two choices, 3G or Hughesnet. My Hughesnet is about 10 times faster than my 3G when downloading big files. Too bad its so expensive and a pain to set up as a mobile solution when boondocking.
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:33 AM   #55
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My only objection to "4g" ( supposedly "4th Generation" right?) is that it doesn't exist in my world. Not where I live, and not where I will be using the Airstream.
I suspect "4G" will be obsolete before it ever would get there.

I was in high tech marketing, and I recognize marketing-driven hype. You can't have a bunch of designers sittiing around on the payroll not doing something, so the marketing people have to come up with something "new" on a regular basis to obsolete what they sold you last year. It happens in cameras, bicycles, computers... and it's not going to stop. It doesn't have much to do with what you need. It more about what you can be convinced you need.

As for the 4G....I don't particularly want to buy a modem that starts out looking for 4g, and then determines that it doesn't have 4G, and so it then reverts to 3G. there is NEVER going to be 4G signal. So why buy something to look for it? Why pay for the extra complexity? Why have something that constantly is trying to change itself from what I want to use (3G) to something that isn't there ( 4G)? Just doesn't make sense to me.

Like buying a Corvette in a country without paved roads, because Chevrolet's marketing department thought it would be a good idea to come out with a new Corvette. The problem with the 3G/4G seems to be that they 'dropped the pickup truck line' when they came out with the corvette.

I can't use the corvette. It won't run on my roads. But I need a vehicle....and thats the only one they sell these days?

crap.
I was born two hundred years too late.

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Old 10-10-2011, 03:00 PM   #56
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You are probably right Gringo. I live only 10 miles from Ann Arbor and I am pretty sure I won't ever have 4G either. On the Samsung phones 4G can be turned off so your phone isn't always looking. And I agree with you about the hype. In fact, here in Ann Arbor area we make a point of always asking our Sprint stores, "where's the 4G that comes with my fancy phone" . I paid extra for that phone and no 4G. Almost an embarrasment for them and some of them no longer put up the ridiculous "4G" advertising.
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