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Old 10-11-2011, 05:32 PM   #61
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I understand the reluctance based on reviews - but I'm also usually a bit skeptical about negative reviews on complicated products. I interviewed someone from a major electronics chain one time who told me that 70% (!!!) of their wifi hubs were returned by customers as "defective" when nothing was wrong with them - people just didn't have the skills to set them up and get them working properly.

I also believe that most of the people that bother to go to a vendor's site and provide a review are the ones that are unhappy. When you buy a data card and it works - you just use it - you don't go write a big review on the vendors' site...

My wife and I live a little over half-time in our Airstream on the road. We run an internet-based business and need good-quality internet connections every single day - usually for many hours. We have 3 cards - a Pantech UML 290 "4G" (LTE) Verizon card (which uses the Qualcomm chipset), a slightly older Franklin Wireless U301 "4G (WiMax) Sprint card (which also uses a Qualcomm chipset), and an even older Sierra Wireless USBConnect Mercury "3G" (HSPA) AT&T card (which also uses a Qualcomm chipset). Notice anything here? Just about every vendor - independent of 2G, 3G, 4G, or G-whiz - uses the same Qualcomm chips in these modems. There are almost no differences except the plastic case.

All three cards cost about the same thing when we bought them - almost nothing with a 2 year data plan commitment. All three data plans cost about the same - $60 for 5GB on AT&T, $60 for 5GB (but unlimited 4G if you can find it), on Sprint, and $80 for 10GB on Verizon.

As I've said a couple of times - the Verizon card/service/plan wins hands down. We probably end up using it as our connection 80% of the time. However, there are times when only the AT&T card will work or (Veeeeeery rarely) when only the Sprint card will work. To date, we've probably had any of the cards in any "4G" mode... 3% of the time? Almost never.

There are also issues with all 3 cards dropping connections. I suspect that these glitches are from a variety of sources that don't have much to do with the card. Weather conditions, trees blowing past antennae line-of-sight, driver software on the computer or modem that's managing the connection, issues with whatever cell tower we happen to be using at the time, sunspots - there are a host of things that can go wrong.

If, like you, I already had a 3G modem that was working fine - and I didn't want to work a lot in an area that already has 4G service - I'd stay with what I've got. There would be no advantage to the upgrade.

If I was getting a new modem, however, I'd get the latest and greatest 4G one from whatever service provider I chose. I think it would be a mistake to go out of the way looking for an older 3G modem with the idea that it might work better or be cheaper. It won't. Based on my personal experience on the West Coast - I'd pick Verizon as the carrier as well - but there are a lot of factors in that decision.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:54 PM   #62
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Ditto...my point on the 3G modem was this. If you go with a month to month, no contract plan you are likely going to have a 3G mifi option. So, if 96% of the time all you're gonna get on a contract 4G plan (pick a carrier) is 3G...why commit to the fools. I for one am tired of the marketing hype they are all spewing to justify a significant rate increase. To add fuel to my fire; my state of California charges sales tax on the suggested retail price of the device, not what you actually pay. Now, the smoke and mirrors they employ justifies it (even though you can buy the same unsubsidized phone on ebay for 1/2 of the msrp). But that doesn't stop the Golden State from padding the coffers with an illegal "use" tax, on top of the subsidized "plan" fees paid monthly (smells like triple taxation to me). And what if you cancel your plan within 30 days because the coverage they promised is non existant? Well...THIS great state will not refund the bloated tax you paid on a purchase you nevr made. That's why I went month to month...tired of the lies of the vendors and the greed of the state. Good luck with your purchase.
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Old 10-11-2011, 10:42 PM   #63
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IMO, 4 G will go down as a big marketing scam and possibly get sued by class action once customers complain in big numbers to their state attorney generals. Large amounts of data need really high frequency signals to work. That means you need towers every mile or so at a minimum and much closer in urban areas. No company is going to invest in that anywhere but high population areas. This is not going to work like 3G. Another technology needs to appear for non urban wireless internet that has decent bandwidth capabilities.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:39 AM   #64
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Not trying to have an uncomfortable debate here, but there is a lot of misinformation there. "4G" is certainly not a scam. It's a complex, industry-wide technology upgrade that costs tens of billions of dollars and will take years to complete.

LTE is what we should really be discussing - as that's the "4G" plan for Verizon, AT&T, and even probably Sprint/Clear - as well as most other major carriers in the world.

LTE will ultimately be cheaper for the carriers to deploy than any current "3G" or earlier technology. It does not require "more towers". Probably Kosm1o is thinking about WiMax, which was not really intended as a 4G technology at all - but rather a range- and performance- extended version of the type of WiFi networks most of us use at home. WiMax (802.16) extends the wifi range from a couple hundred feet to as much as six miles. That's practical for deploying broadband in urban areas (like Clear does) but not for a full-blown mobile wireless standard.

Lots of information (too much, really) about LTE can be found on the wikipedia page:

3GPP Long Term Evolution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Note that there is a lot of info there on build-out of towers and infrastructure in various regions of the world.

Note that cell sizes can be as small as 1KM, and as large as 100KM (which is a huge range) certainly not "towers every mile or so"

Note that a wide range of frequency bands can be used - lower frequencies like 900MHz can be used in rural areas for long-range connections. High frequencies like 2.4 GHz can be used in urban areas to pack more concurrent users into a single tower. in terms of the large amounts of data these systems provide - all of these are "very high frequencies" - and they're the same as was required for earlier standards like 3G.

Putting 4G support into modems and building out the towers and infrastructure is a chicken-and-egg problem. There is no point spending years and billions to put up LTE towers if nobody's modem even supports it. It's relatively simple to build new modems that include LTE support (in addition to support for all the legacy 3G and below standards). Those modems don't really cost any more to build than the older ones. If they are build on a newer chipset - they may even be cheaper.

Once there are a lot of people with LTE-capable equipment, it makes sense to spend the huge bucks to populate the world with towers. However, that creates the uncomfortable situation we now have - people are starting to buy LTE modems and phones, but there aren't that many places they can get LTE service, so their modems don't do anything more than 3G most of the time. That does lead to confusion - particularly when companies market the benefits of LTE when they sell the modems - not later when the world is covered with towers. It would have been nicer to just quietly start putting LTE support into equipment, and make the big marketing splash when the build-out was finished. That just doesn't work in a competitive market, though. If your competitor announces LTE support and you don't - people buy their products instead of yours. There is no prize for taking the high road in high-tech marketing.

A good thing about LTE is - as its name implies, it was at least conceived to give us a standard that can evolve over time and continue to offer better performance, lower cost, and lower power consumption - without us having to throw everything away and deploy a new infrastructure every five years. It remains to be seen whether LTE can live up to that vision, or whether a total re-work will still be needed as new technologies come along.
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Old 10-12-2011, 02:14 PM   #65
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So Zenarmy, what will you do?
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:24 PM   #66
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Tfmkevin; excellent summary. The issue I have though is the concept that "the infrastructure buildout" will cost millions and it's a chicken and egg scenario. There used to be a concept in this country whereby companies innovate to remain competitive, and they make investments in R&D to propel that innovation into the marketplace that rewards them by buying their improved offering...not anymore! The investments are diverted to marketing to sell the masses on a "future state", the real problem is that they fail to mention the fine print which is; you will now pay for something you wont be getting, but with all the newfound profits you are driving our way; we will begin to build it. Imagine if Bell had tried that in the beginning?!!!!
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:44 PM   #67
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So Zenarmy, what will you do?
Zenarmy started this thread two years ago and has not been active on the forum for more than a year, so I doubt you will get an answer to your question. . .
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:50 PM   #68
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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.
One company, Jitterbug, caters to the market for "just a cellular phone".

GreatCall - Official home of Jitterbug, easy-to-use cell phones, award-winning health and wellness apps, and affordable monthly plans

I got one for my mom (who is in her 90s) and she loves it.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:12 AM   #69
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My comments are mostly aimed at Sprint's "4G" system which will never be anywhere but high populations areas for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Nonetheless as mentioned, LTE , if ever deployed in rural areas to the extent to be useful still needs significant infrastructure to support it. Will technology be obsolete before deployment? For sure the phones they are hawking will. In anycase these carriers continue to mislead the public into buying expensive phones with technology only useful in a few select areas. Here in Michigan only 1 city has Sprint 4G, Grand Rapids. If it isn't a marketing scam, then its a really big mis-step for a big company. And really, they should stop calling it 4G, as it no way meets international standard for that. Maybe 3.1G would be more like it .
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Old 10-14-2011, 02:55 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Nuvite-F

Zenarmy started this thread two years ago and has not been active on the forum for more than a year, so I doubt you will get an answer to your question. . .
.
Ahhh so I see. I'll bet two years ago it was quite difficult to get service on the road.
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:21 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by zenarmy
so.... we are heading out on a year long tour and we MUST have internet access

Wireless cards will not provide enough coverage
so Satellite will have to be the way

BUT
I am having a hard time figuring out HOW to do it? we do not want to mount it and we have a tripod just need to figure out what service works and how to get it..

PLEASE advise Thanks!!!!!

For what is worth, we traveled from Texas to Alaska covering the central and west of the lower 48 and Canada with a Verizon USB modem hooked to a cheap antenna and we had coverage almost all the time. I areas with one bar...I tested by disconnecting the antenna, and sure enough...no bars and no connection. So an antenna is crucial if you are in remote areas ( Arizona and Utah dessert for us).
We recently updated to a Verizon 4g hot spot that has a port for an external antenna, so we can take advantage of better speeds in urban areas.

Hope this helps!
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Old 10-16-2011, 06:12 PM   #72
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Ahhh so I see. I'll bet two years ago it was quite difficult to get service on the road.
Oh, not really. If I remember correctly I got my Verizon wireless internet service in 2007 (nearly 5 years ago) and found I had "broadband access" (EVDO Rev A) coverage almost everywhere, back then. And you had what Verizon calls "national access", data sent in plain old CDMA voice packets, anywhere you had digital cell phone coverage.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:48 PM   #73
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We use a WiFiRanger Pro, and a WFRBoost. We have a 3G phone for when Public WiFi is not available, but 80% of the time we surf via the WFRBoost's connection to some open WiFi. www.wifiranger.com has info
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:00 PM   #74
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We use a WiFiRanger Pro, and a WFRBoost. We have a 3G phone for when Public WiFi is not available, but 80% of the time we surf via the WFRBoost's connection to some open WiFi. www.wifiranger.com has info
@Kshogan: We're looking at purchasing a similar setup. Was it a hassle to install the antenna on the roof? Where did you run the cable?
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Old 12-31-2011, 12:23 AM   #75
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We hooked to the Batwing. If you get the Pro Mobile kit, it has the hardware to install onto the batwing.

Cabling is a pain, but here's where I did mine. I have a 03 International. Next to the shoilet is a false wall where the vents go up. I snaked the cable down next to the vent pipe, and re-RTVd it. I then popped it out down my the desk. The WiFiRanger forum has some pictures here.

https://www.wifiranger.com/forum/vie...airstream#p872

There's also an OEM kit available that puts things all in the wall. You have to order that special, as it will only ship on new Airstreams in 2012.

Full disclosure! I've worked for WiFiRanger for some time, but have an airstream and needed the WiFiRanger for the miles we used it, so please filter appropriately.
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