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Old 05-01-2012, 08:18 AM   #1
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Question Internet Connectivity

Hi all.
Last year we took our new 27' FB International out 5 times, always along the east coast. My husband likes staying near the ocean. (Well, one time we went to a river in PA.) It seemed like no matter where we wound up parking the trailer, internet access was almost non-existent. We need to be able to get to the internet for a couple of hours a day nearly every day, so we need to either schlep into some coffee shop that has wireless access, or find some other solution while on the road. Cell coverage (AT&T) is always poor to non-existent in the places where we've stayed, contrary to their coverage maps which show excellent coverage in the area. So, this year, we're thinking of installing our own access point, either Satellite, or Wifi In Motion. Does anyone have any experience with either of these, or a different solution that's worked for you?
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:24 AM   #2
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That's one solution. Ours has been to use local libraries. No drinks allowed (no coffee cup beside the computer), but a much more comfortable and quiet atmosphere. We generally then donate to the local friends-of-the-library group. They'll often have a donation can near the main check-out counter.

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Old 05-01-2012, 08:31 AM   #3
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On our first very long trip (3.5 months) we started out at Starbucks, McDonalds and random coffee shops at least once a day when the park we were in had either no WiFi or pathetic WiFi.

About halfway through the trip I went into a Verizon store and walked out with a little MiFi hotspot. Rather than get a contract we paid full price so we can use it on an as needed basis. About $50 a month, I turn it off when we get home from a trip.

It was great, like having a household WiFi network in the trailer, could even put it in a pocket and connect with the iPhones when out of the trailer. For another $69 bought a wireless inkjet printer that takes almost no space in a drawer under the dinette in our 27FB, now we have a wireless network including a printer. It was surprisingly handy to print out info on the next stop on our trip to have in the truck.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:49 AM   #4
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I also have the verizon mifi 4g device. It works great and can link up to five devices at once.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:53 AM   #5
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I use my smartphone (Droid4) as a hotspot. No additional hardware to buy.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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We also use a Verizon WiFi hotspot...it works great just as it is without any extra antennas, etc...we've even streamed movies from Netflix using it! I often work from the road, so it's important that I stay connected...and this does it for us unless we are somewhere really out of the way. In facat, it's worked for us at times when we were unable to get a cell signal! I was amazed!
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:34 AM   #7
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Cool Our solution

Thanks for the feedback. In the end I went with the T-Mobile ZTE MF61 ($99) Hotspot and am quite happy with it. It eliminated my need for the hotspot plan for my iPhone ($45 down to $20) plus the data plans for 2 iPads ($15 x 2). I pay $25/mo. for 1.5GB of data when I'm camping, and $.20/MB when I'm not (which means I don't pay anything because I wind up using the minimum afforded me by the $20/mo. that I pay to AT&T for data, without using the hotspot). I also bought a booster antenna from wspantennas.com which works quite well (about $75 w/extension cord). Took me from 5 bars on Edge to 2 bars on 4G (as long as I had the device outside of the trailer) which made a real difference on the last trip.

In the end, I'm paying $55 less to AT&T each month, a good thing, and, if I'm camping, I pay $25 for the month to T-Mobile. Should pay for the hardware within the first year.

It's amazing what a difference there is between Edge and 4G. On Edge I can sit and wait forever for emails to process. On 4G it's very responsive, even with only 2 bars.

I'm a happy camper now.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:43 AM   #8
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I just signed up with Verzion and have their newest product which is the 4620 MiFi device. Note that many non direct Verizon outlets are only carrying the 4610 unit. The 4620 has some major improvements. It will drive up to 10 Wi-Fi devices concurrently, it has a range of 100' vs 30' on the 4610. Finally if you use the USB port of your PC to power the MiFi device, the MiFi will still fully operate. I've heard that hooking the USB power from the PC to the 4610 unit will charge the MiFi battery, but the radio stays inactive.

In testing with the 4G service I've seen about 14 meg download speed and 11 up.

The 4620 goes for the same price as the 4610 ($50 upfront and $50 a month for 5 Gig of service with a 2 year contract).

One other piece of information is that the after market world now has an 8 hour battery available for the 4620. Cost for the battery is about $100. Since the battery is fatter I think that price includes a new back plate for the 4620.

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Old 06-28-2012, 11:44 AM   #9
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I have found that my iPhone's ability to connect to AT&T's network when we're camping is not sufficient to support what we need to do. I was using that as my solution and it wasn't working.
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rdiddly View Post
I have found that my iPhone's ability to connect to AT&T's network when we're camping is not sufficient to support what we need to do. I was using that as my solution and it wasn't working.
We dumped the AT&T service on my wife's iPad when I went to the MiFi device. Quite honestly AT&T is having real issues in some locales providing reasonable service levels. The iPhone and iPad products have just killed them. They are playing catchup in the market these days. That's why I went with Verizon.

AT&T's 4G service with their new Mi-Fi device is actually a faster service than Verizon's offering. Test download speeds are in the low 20 meg range. I contemplated AT&T due to their newer technology, but in essence those 4G sites are few and far between. Nothing like have the latest and greatest in hardware only to be stuck in a network that is sucking for air.

When my 2 year agreement is up with Verizon, I'll re-evaluate the market.

Jack
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:42 AM   #11
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I'm really looking forward to my contract expiration with AT&T (10/13) now that Sprint and Cricket are offering the iPhone w/o contract. I will seriously consider going that route with my next iPhone.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:00 PM   #12
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Yesterday, when in Missoula finding a new front coupler for my Argosy, I found my trusty Verizon USB 720 would not work. I went to a real Verizon company store, and they tried to get it to work, but apparently after 5.5 years it was toast. They have also eliminated the grandfathered in unlimited data plan for everyone, no exceptions, so my main reason for not changing to a newer system and plan was gone.

So, like jcanavera, I went with the new Verizon 4620 mi fi device. It has what is necessary for me, an external antenna port. Very little to no 4G service here in the area and so I had them lock it onto 3G as these devices seem to have a common issue when trying to switch from 3G to 4G and back. On the way home, I had it hooked up to my Wilson trucker cell phone antenna and I was able to stop and get a signal and use the net several miles farther out of town than I ever had with my old USB 720 Modem and Cradlepoint router.

Having had very satisfactory results for the past 5+ years with Verizon throughout the western states, I am now happy with a smaller single device which works better than my old one. The antenna port on the mi fi is a bit flimsy, and I will have to make a way to use it and support the wire so it does not fail, but for most people an external antenna is not needed anyway. My cost will decrease $10 a month, but no more unlimited service. However, only occasionally do I go over 5 gb a month and the $120 a year savings will more than likely cover that cost. Or, I can stop looking at video, the most data intensive use of the net.
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Old 06-30-2012, 07:49 PM   #13
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Probably too late for those already on a contract, but Millenicom offers a Novatel MiFi 4610L, 20GB plan for $69.99 (after device purchase and setup fees), with no contract. When I peeled back the printed Avery label that stated "24 hour customer service number ###", there was a Verizon Wireless logo underneath.

The plan is for 10GB of 4G service and 10GB of 3G. However, when I asked Millenicom Billing whether I would be charged an overage fee after I surpassed the 4G allotment, or whether the device would throttle back to 3G, I was told that their system (i.e., the Verizon network) was unable to distinguish the amount of usage by connection speed, and 4G service would be provided up to the 20 GB limit if I was in a 4G area.

I am using the Millenicom "3G/4G Hotspot" plan with a Pepwave SURF On-The-Go (SOTG) mobile router, which connects to the MiFi 4610 via "WiFi for WAN". (The Pepwave SOTG works similar to the WiFiRanger.)

So far, I have been very satisfied with the above hardware and service; and after verifying that 20GBs is enough data to cover our home usage, I plan to disconnect our CenturyLink DSL line at home. On a recent roadtrip, this mobile broadband service was reliable, except in a boondocking area where absolutely no cell service was available.

Millenicom | High Speed Wireless Broadband

Note: Some Millenicom data plans use the Sprint network.
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:01 PM   #14
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We have a Verizon 4G LTE hot spot device that supports several computer connections. I think it's 5, but there's only 2 of us, so...it's a moot point for us. I have to say, we have been very pleased with it, and have not found a need to do the exterior antenna, etc... We have even been able to get an internet connection where we can't get a stable cell phone connection! Go figure. It's just simply magic!
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