Today I ordered the equipment that I hope will provide us with reliable and fast-enough internet connectivity. Since I know there are a large number of geeks following us I thought I’d post the details.
With the exception of the 3G USB stick, all of this equipment was ordered through the 3GStore. While their site isn’t a winner from a visual design point of view, it’s well-done from a business point of view. They tell you what they like and dislike about each product, their on-line chat was quick and helpful, as was their email based support. So far everything about my experience with them says they know what they are talking about.
It looks like our equipment is going to consist of two laptops and my iPhone. Possibly a printer - we haven’t made that choice yet. What I wanted to avoid was having to always re-configure the individual machines based on if internet was available via a cell card or campground wifi. I wanted the head-end of the system to be able to switch between available sources, keeping all downstream components ignorant of where the connectivity was coming from.
The 3GStore answered that with the heart of the system I ordered, the Cradlepoint MBR1000 Router. You can read the specs on that page, but the sell point for me was being able to plug-in both a wifi source and 3G source and have the router choose, and even failover/failback. It’ll even do load-balancing if we have higher bandwidth needs. Cool!
From there I needed the equipment to feed it both wifi and 3G. For 3G the big choice was which provider. I have AT&T on my iPhone and it’s been average. Fellow road-trippers the Technomads recently had issues with Sprint which sent them off researching other connectivity options. They recommended the Millenicom Advanced Plan which will run $60/month with a 10GB usage limit. This is double the 5GB plans both Sprint and Verizon offer directly, and the Millenicom plan is said to use the Verizon footprint anyway so coverage should be the same.
The USB device with the Millenicom plan allows an external antenna, so I ordered the Omni RV Antenna. It uses standard coax so my hope is to get this mounted to the crank-up TV antenna currently on the trailer, and just tap into the trailer’s coax wiring for getting the signal to the router inside the trailer.
With equipment, startup fees and shipping my costs were around $665.00 - which seems pretty reasonable. Let’s hope the installation and usage goes as well as the ordering process did.