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Old 09-20-2015, 10:12 AM   #1
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Pepwave MAX BR1 / MobileMark / weBoost install

I finally got round to installing a cellular router in my AS. It comprises the following:-

Pepwave MAX BR1 router
MobileMark LTM401antenna (white)
weBoost Signal 4G direct connect amplifier

I got it all from the 3gstore - they were great, answered my many emails and set up a cart for me with the all items added. Very easy and helpful.

I have a Verizon unlimited data SIM installed in the router which is the primary connection. The router will also do WiFi as WAN which I have used to connect to my WiFi network at home when parked on the drive.

The Pepwave MAX BR1 is a US/Canada/South America cellular router that can be set up to use either Cellular (2 SIM slots), WiFi as WAN (allows you to connect to and use any available WiFi network such as at a campsite) or Ethernet. You can set up each in priority order. It will check if #1 is available and then pick the #2 source, check that and so on based on the priority you set until it gets a connection. If you want the changeover to be seamless, leave each source "active" and it will jump from source to source as required to keep you connected. I have WiFi as WAN as the primary then cellular. You can also disable sources if you know you will not have it present (Ethernet for me).
The BR1 generates a local WiFi network which you can then connect your various phones, tablets etc to. You have a choice of various security protocols with password protection.
Initial setup is done using a laptop hooked up to the BR1 via an ethernet cable. Once that is done and the default admin/admin logon has been fixed
you can do configuration via WiFi using a web browser after you have logged onto the WiFi network created by the BR1. Setup is pretty straight forward if you have set up routers previously. If you have not you could get confused pretty quickly since your are dealing with 3 potential sources for WAN (cellular, WiFi and Ethernet) and then your LAN (BR1's WiFi). I have spent days learning by trial and error some of the basics relative to router setup (various systems at home) so it only took me about 20 minutes to change passwords for admin logon and setup the WiFi network SSID and password how I wanted it. There is a manual online you can read prior to purchase if you want to see what might be involved. I'm pretty sure the 3gstore would walk you through setup on the phone also if you could not figure it out.
There are many, many options with setup on the BR1 for those that like to tinker. This is intended as an enterprise router so it can be configured in many different ways (Dynamic DNS, port forwarding etc, etc). Looks like you can even connect multiple BR1s together to use their full bandwidth combined for big, data hungry jobs. Not sure any Streamer would need this unless a fleet of AS's is in the plan.
For keeping an eye on things quickly once set up, there is a handy (free) app PeplinkPepwave you can download to your iPad to see most of the main parameters of the router (connected clients, signal strength, bandwidth etc).

The 4 wire MobileMark antenna has a MIMO cellular antenna, a GPS antenna and dual band WiFi antenna. This connects directly to the BR1 without any adapters.

I also opted for a booster in the form of a weBoost 4G direct connect amplifier which sits on the "main" cellular antenna line.

I wired this all into the AS 12V system so that it is available without the inverter when not on ac. An added bonus of powering it this way is that the WiFi network created by the BR1 can be used whilst driving down the road to save data on our phones which are not on the same plan as the unlimited SIM . The BR1 can be powered using AC or 10 to 30V DC so you can hook up directly to the AS 12V system. The weBoost takes AC or 5V DC so a small 2A step down transformer / voltage regulator is required (buy the weBoost one or pick one up off Amazon).

Impressions so far - just one weekend on the road:-

Cellular -
Signal strength with the MobileMark/BR1 alone was improved over an iPhone inside the AS. I did not take time to record actuals. With the weBoost inline we are getting -65 dBm on the BR1 with -100 or so directly on the iPhones.
Bandwidth in this location appears to be flaky from close to 20Mbps to zero and lots of fluctuations in between. Not sure if this is normal or not for cellular. I managed to watch a live football game on watchESPN this weekend without too much trouble. Watching live TV via the DirecTV app was less successful, this app does not allow rewind (which allows for some buffering) so you are watching truly "live". Fine when you have 20Mbps, not so good when you have 30s of 50kbps.... Watching anything that is on demand and not live was just fine - it will buffer a good chunk prior to starting the show.

WiFi -
The WiFi network set up by the BR1 and MobileMark is OK but not as expansive as I had expected. Certainly very strong inside the AS (-65 dB) but starts to weaken as you move away from the AS. Maybe 100 ft and signal strength starts to drop off. We get 2 bars sitting in our car driving down the road. Very usable but not too impressive. The system will pull in my home WiFi (just) from about 100 ft away and through multiple walls in the house. There is an option for a logon page similar to what restaurants use. You can custom configure this apparently. You can also turn off the SSID broadcast to hide the network. From what I have read this offers little additional protection (except for the most inept hackers) and in fact will flag your network for attack by hackers since it implies you have something to hide. Mine will stay on with a secure password.

Installation -
I installed the MobileMark onto of the air conditioner shroud so I would not have to make a hole in the roof. You will need a min 8" diameter metallic ground plane beneath the antenna since the MobileMark does not have one built in and the shroud is fiberglass. The cable was sheathed in a protective expanding nylon wrap and fed down the fridge vent then into the closet. To get the antenna wires down the vent I fed a spare piece of 20A wire up the right hand side of the fridge from the bottom (see last photo). This is pretty easy to do if you keep it hard over to the side. Topside, you will need to remove the rivets from the fridge vent cowl on one side and from the mesh screen cover on the vent to get the cable down. When you have pushed the wire up from the bottom, carefully reach in with your arm to catch the cable and pull up. Tape the antenna wires to the wire you fished up and carefully pull back. Two people are best for this although I managed it on my own. Weaselmouth has a post that shows some photos of a similar install here (thanks Weaselmouth!). The antenna wire is then routed through the side wall of the fridge area into the closet. Make sure you seal this well to ensure no fumes enter the coach when the fridge runs on propane.
For power I ran a new 12V line from the fuse box on the galley side (using a spare 12V circuit). There is a passthrough/channel under the floor running side to side that can be found beneath the inverter and on the closet side under the water pump on the other side. I believe this exists in all AS. Use a fish tape to pull your new 12V wires through. I added a local switch that turns the BR1 and weBoost off for storage. There is a 12V line for the light in the closet that you could also use I would think for 12V if you do not want to run a new line. I preferred to have a separate circuit with fuse for these items.

Overall - impressed so far. Browsing experience for normal day to day things like this forum , news sites etc was very fast. Streaming works well with the above caveats.
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:43 AM   #2
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Thank you for the comprehensive report. I think that if I read it carefully I may understand it, and the complications that good integration of various wifi and cellular networks incorporate. I may even already own a router which does many of the things yours does, but I was unclear how to use them.

BTW, you mention variable data speeds from the cell network. I have found that to be true all over. As I understand it, voice always gets priority, then left over capacity is used by data. So, in times of heavy voice traffic, the data slows down and sometimes virtually quits. Then when data use is heavy, it also slows down. I use cell net a lot and sometimes virtually nothing comes through, and an hour later it is fast as hell. 7 to 11 pm local times in most areas is worst.

Is it possible to measure the 12 volt DC power input to your system? I would be interested to see what it takes to run it when boondocking.

Again, thanks for the report.
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Old 09-20-2015, 12:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post

Is it possible to measure the 12 volt DC power input to your system? I would be interested to see what it takes to run it when boondocking.

Again, thanks for the report.
idroba -

The BR1 is rated at 16W - around 1A depending on voltage, the weBoost max 2A. I'd expect something less than that under normal conditions. Probably not a big deal for a 200 Ah battery system.

I have a digital multimeter that will measure current. I'll need to figure out how to use it to measure current, I have used it for voltage only so far. I'll report back when I figure it out.
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Old 09-20-2015, 12:53 PM   #4
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Interesting choices in hardware there. You're the second person I know who purchased a MobileMark antenna, those generally tend to be urban antenna's and are a choice of police and fire departments.

I run a Pepwave Soho Router, with a Verizon Mifi tethered via USB to it. The mifi sits in a older WeBoost cradle booster, I use LMR 400 wire to the roof where I have a Surecall 9 inch omni cell antenna and a Wilson directional YAGI cell antenna and external Surecall 9 inch wifi antenna.

Like you I have it wired into our 12v. I picked up a 12v plug on amazon for $6 because 3Gstore likes to over charge for things. They're charging 29$ for a plug that is universal and $6. They also over charge on wires. I purchased my wire custom made from http://www.air802.com





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Old 09-20-2015, 05:42 PM   #5
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Sucks down 0.5A

idroba, the BR1 and weBoost combined consume 0.5A @ 13.6V (6.8W). Did not seem to matter if the unit was idling or streaming video over cellular. The weBoost may consume a bit more if it is working hard to boost a weak signal - I have a pretty good 4G signal on my drive.

Bold, the MobileMark was recommended by the 3gstore after I explained I did not have a problem making a hole in the roof of my RV. They initially offered a couple of different antennas for cellular and WiFi. This unit is a nice combo and simplifies the install if you need WiFi and cellular reception.

I agree it seems to be a good choice for roof mounting on a police cruiser or EMT truck. Low profile and pretty hard to damage. I must say it looks pretty cool / urban ontop of the AS
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Old 09-20-2015, 05:52 PM   #6
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Yup, I have a black one installed on my truck for my WeBoost 4G-X works really well. They're popular units. I was a little paranoid about getting height since we boondock so much. Been behind a few large hills.
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Old 09-20-2015, 06:40 PM   #7
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Thanks for the idle and use current for your system. That is quite reasonable overall for what you are doing. I also have found little difference depending on use patterns as you have, for most of this type of equipment.
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:50 AM   #8
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Let me know if I'm understanding the connections to the Pepwave in the closet photo and how it connects devices.


You have two cables on the cellular ports. There are two cables from the external antenna. The one connected to the Main port also has the Weboost amplifier in line. The Cellular Aux is the 2nd cable that is straight through from the outside antenna.

The WIFI port as the cable from the external wifi antenna

The power is connected to the bottom.

What is the cable connected to from the remaining port which from the user manual is the GPS antenna connector.

For voice services from a cell phone, does the phone see a signal from the Pepwave in the closet or is there an interior antenna located in the Airstream that connects into the Pepwave? If so, what is that antenna and does it cover the entire trailer?

For data do all devices connect to a local Wifi signal which is generated by the BR1 which then routes the data either over to the cellular or Wifi whichever is active?

Thanks

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Old 11-18-2015, 11:36 AM   #9
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I forgot this question. If the router needs a SIM can a SIM be added as a device on my Verizon account?

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Old 11-18-2015, 12:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
I forgot this question. If the router needs a SIM can a SIM be added as a device on my Verizon account?

Kelvin
If you have a verizon MiFi yes, just remove the sim from the MiFi and add it to the router.

Our unlimited was tied to an iPhone but I removed the sim and put it in a Mifi I purchased on eBay.
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Old 11-18-2015, 06:28 PM   #11
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KJRitchie - answers below: -

Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
Let me know if I'm understanding the connections to the Pepwave in the closet photo and how it connects devices.


You have two cables on the cellular ports. There are two cables from the external antenna. The one connected to the Main port also has the Weboost amplifier in line. The Cellular Aux is the 2nd cable that is straight through from the outside antenna. CORRECT

The WIFI port as the cable from the external wifi antenna CORRECT

The power is connected to the bottom. CORRECT, direct from battery

What is the cable connected to from the remaining port which from the user manual is the GPS antenna connector. This is the GPS antenna from the MobileMark. This enables the router to determine its location. It seems to be very accurate - you can see a map of your location in the router user interface which you log onto using a browser once on the local WiFi network. I assume the router can be configured so that it can be accessed remotely to check location. I did not set this up. This would be a typical use for managing a fleet of delivery or police vehicles for example.

For voice services from a cell phone, does the phone see a signal from the Pepwave in the closet or is there an interior antenna located in the Airstream that connects into the Pepwave? If so, what is that antenna and does it cover the entire trailer? The phone does not see a cellular signal from the Pepwave. With certain phones and carriers you can make a cell call over WiFi (looks like most carriers other than Verizon). In this case you would get the benefit of the boosted signal. Although you may not be able to make a call in the traditional sense you can do Skype, FaceTime etc if you need to speak to someone. 911 calls could be an issue though, don't think the local sheriff uses Skype

For data do all devices connect to a local Wifi signal which is generated by the BR1 which then routes the data either over to the cellular or Wifi whichever is active? CORRECT. The Pepwave works just like your router at home except it is using cellular (or a local WiFi signal) to connect to the internet. You can set priorities on cellular, WiFi and ethernet to prioritize, for example, WiFi over cellular to save on data usage when WiFi is available, it fails over to cellular when the WiFi signal is lost.

On the SIM cards there are slots for 2. Verizon allows you to purchase a SIM to add to your plan. It costs, I think, $20 a month extra. You can then use whatever data you have on that plan on the router. You can use SIM's from different carriers which may be useful. T Mobile just announced unlimited video streaming (non HD) from certain providers so you could have a Verizon (best coverage) with a T Mobile for backup for watchESPN, DirectTV. You can set individual data use limits for each SIM, set contract start date for each and have email alerts as you reach a threshold on data usage and (if set up) disable when you hit the limit. If you are a heavy duty user of data you may want to just get a data only plan and dedicate it to the Pepwave. That way the only user will be the router and you will know exactly where you stand on data usage. The data only plans are a little cheaper than a regular phone and data plan (on Verizon). You would need to see what works out best. I just lost my unlimited plan (OmniLynx) - good while it lasted..... so I'm looking for the best option for next year.

Overal a very nice setup. Not cheap but you get a pretty comprehensive solution for your $s.


Thanks

Kelvin
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:38 AM   #12
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For voice services from a cell phone, does the phone see a signal from the Pepwave in the closet or is there an interior antenna located in the Airstream that connects into the Pepwave? If so, what is that antenna and does it cover the entire trailer? The phone does not see a cellular signal from the Pepwave. With certain phones and carriers you can make a cell call over WiFi (looks like most carriers other than Verizon). In this case you would get the benefit of the boosted signal. Although you may not be able to make a call in the traditional sense you can do Skype, FaceTime etc if you need to speak to someone. 911 calls could be an issue though, don't think the local sheriff uses Skype


I have Verizon. I use an iPhone 6. Does this mean this solution will not work for me?

So your are saying when making a voice call, the phone uses a voice feature that connects to the Pepwave via Wifi and then the router converts it to cellular to go out the cellular connections? If it just sends it out the external WIFI then what is the use of having a cellular amplifier?

I found this article
Verizon enables Wi-Fi calling on Apple iPhone through Verizon Messages app - FierceWirelessTech

and this one

Could Wi-Fi Calling on the iPhone 6 come to Verizon soon?

so it doesn't seem like its quite ready.

So I guess this Pepwave is really designed only for data applications
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
So I guess this Pepwave is really designed only for data applications
Another check mark on why I prefer the booster and SOHO over the more complicated route.

Also, have a friend camping next to us who is using the stock antenna that comes with the WeBoost Drive 4G-X and I have the bigger antenna, did a speed test this morning and shot him a message:
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:52 AM   #14
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Thanks. So I think for my solution and reading this thread and the other thread,

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f451...er-143697.html

I may go with

Weboost 4gX
Weboost desktop antenna mounted to the rear of trailer in the living area pointing to the front bedroom
SureCall SC-288W external antenna mounted on my Winegard antenna with cabling down through the fridge vent.

Thanks for the help.

Kelvin
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Old 06-12-2016, 04:41 PM   #15
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Just did the install of a Pepwave BR1 myself - I am starting out with the built in antennas - but super excited to know that the boosted antennae work should this dude not be enough. I am hoping that having two cell provider sims (Verizon and AT&T) will cover the weaker spots and let me get away without an antenna as I am a little leery of running cable to the outside of the AS.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:58 AM   #16
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Possible locations for wifi and cell components?

Purchasing our first RV and AS. Pickup is July 19. We will then be fulltiming for a year starting Sep 1. Going with a similar configuration as Ohiobrits (MobileMark antenna, Pepwave Max BR1 router, weBoost Drive 4GX cell booster and Wilson 50ohm Dome internal antenna), and may want to support other components (as does BoldAdventure) - like AppleTV.

My wife wants best possible connectivity so our kids and her parents will be able to reach us so we are maximizing signals for both wifi and cell. Plan on using our current Verizon plan for primary voice and data and the TMobile 6GB plan with unlimited streaming for video sites. We expect to spend most of our "online" time in the dinette/lounge area.

The dealer (CanAm) will be installing the wiring and components into our new FC27FB with one AC unit. CanAm is also installing our solar system, so they will already be running wires from the roof.

Where are best locations to house the electronic components?

My current plan is to place the MobileMark at the front of the trailer roof and the electronic components in the cabinet above the dinette at the back of the trailer. We would then mount the internal cell dome antenna on the ceiling directly in front of the ceiling cabinet. This would allow for a 20' separation between the external and internal antenna. With the door open, we should also be able to get some boosted cell signal if we are sitting directly outside next to the trailer. I assume there must already be 12V power in the overhead cabinet because that is where the DVD and stereo components are installed.

I welcome your experience-based suggestions and comments!

Thanks, Allen
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Old 09-22-2016, 12:55 AM   #17
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Would love to hear details on the setup and how your solution is working now that it has probably been installed and you're likely on the road. Any insights would be most welcome!


Quote:
Originally Posted by ARF View Post
Purchasing our first RV and AS. Pickup is July 19. We will then be fulltiming for a year starting Sep 1. Going with a similar configuration as Ohiobrits (MobileMark antenna, Pepwave Max BR1 router, weBoost Drive 4GX cell booster and Wilson 50ohm Dome internal antenna), and may want to support other components (as does BoldAdventure) - like AppleTV.

My wife wants best possible connectivity so our kids and her parents will be able to reach us so we are maximizing signals for both wifi and cell. Plan on using our current Verizon plan for primary voice and data and the TMobile 6GB plan with unlimited streaming for video sites. We expect to spend most of our "online" time in the dinette/lounge area.

The dealer (CanAm) will be installing the wiring and components into our new FC27FB with one AC unit. CanAm is also installing our solar system, so they will already be running wires from the roof.

Where are best locations to house the electronic components?

My current plan is to place the MobileMark at the front of the trailer roof and the electronic components in the cabinet above the dinette at the back of the trailer. We would then mount the internal cell dome antenna on the ceiling directly in front of the ceiling cabinet. This would allow for a 20' separation between the external and internal antenna. With the door open, we should also be able to get some boosted cell signal if we are sitting directly outside next to the trailer. I assume there must already be 12V power in the overhead cabinet because that is where the DVD and stereo components are installed.

I welcome your experience-based suggestions and comments!

Thanks, Allen
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Old 09-27-2016, 07:26 AM   #18
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Notes on installed system

Here is the final system I installed (with help from dealer on the wiring). We have a 2017 FC 27FB Twin.

Components (all from 3G Store)
  • MobileMark 4-Cable Antenna for MiMo 3G/4G Cellular, GPS, & WiFi - White - 35' Cables
  • Wilson 50ohm Wide Band Interior Dome Antenna - 304412
  • 10' Black RG58 Cable (SMA/Male & N/Male Connectors) (connects internal antenna to Max BR
  • Pepwave MAX BR1 Router With Embedded US/Canada/South America 3G/4G Modem
  • weBoost Drive 4G-X 50db 5-Band Repeater Kit
  • Hardwire Power Harness for 6V Wilson/weBoost Amplifiers

Installation Notes:
  • The MobileMark antenna is mounted on the front of the trailer and the cables run outside along the roof. This is to maximize the distance between the external and internal antennas, which should be at least 20'. The dealer insulated and secured the cables with the proper tape along the roof. However - I wanted to add Fantastic Fan hoods after the fact and could not do so on the front fan because the cables were run right along side the fan flange. Keep that in mind for your own install.
  • The Wilson interior dome antenna is installed under the overhead cabinets above the dinette. Pictures attached. This antenna rebroadcasts the boosted cell signal (not the wifi signal).
  • The MobileMark antenna cables are terminated in the right overhead cabinet above the dinette. This is where I installed the weBoost and the Max BR1.
  • I had the dealer hardwire the power supplies for the Max BR1 and the weBoost into the 12V system of the trailer. They connected the wires into the 12V line feeding the right overhead spot light above the dinette. You can access this line by removing the stereo speaker.
  • Right now both components are loose - I plan on mounting them to the side wall of the overhead cabinet.
  • The power supply connector on the MaxBR1 is loose - need to tape it down or hardwire it into the router.

Operation:
  • The weBoost just works when you plug it in. No configuration necessary. We get an excellent cell signal throughout our trailer.
  • The MaxBR1 requires some configuration - specifically to create your own SSID and password, and to configure and prioritize the WAN sources - whether a local wifi and/or cell service with sim cards. I have some experience with these devices so it was a no-brainer. Download the manual to your computer or iPad so you can read it offline. 3GStore also has excellent tip sheets.
  • Note that the MaxBR1 does not have a separate internal antenna to broadcast its wifi signal. It uses the same antenna to receive and rebroadcast wifi signals. So our wifi is now broadcast by the MobileMark installed outside at the front of the trailer. As of now, this is not a problem. If I start noticing poor wifi reception from the MaxBR1 inside the trailer, I will install a basic Netgear Wifi router - which runs on 12V (or use my Apple Time Capsule, but requires 15A service) to generate an internal wifi network.
  • I have two cell services installed in the MaxBR1 - TMobile and Verizon. I got TMobile mostly for its unlimited streaming of video services. But we have been in Canada since the start of our trip and most of those services do not allow access out of the US. The TMobile signal here in Canada is definitely not as good as that of Verizon.

Hope this is helpful.
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