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Jim1521

RVDataSat Cellular - About to pull the trigger

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I've been talking with these folks for a couple of weeks now.  They have a relatively simple architecture (Pepwave router, external antenna) that they run over T-Mobile's network to provide unlimited, unthrottled data.  Initial investment is about $1,000, with a $99/month run rate.

So far, from talking to them it sounds like it will meet my needs (still working full time with lots of VoIP, Zoom, file transfers, etc.), as well as the fact that we both like our Netflix, etc.

Is anybody using this cellular solution?  I'd like to get some firsthand stories from users as to how well it works for you.  Thanks.

Edited by Jim1521

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Not a reply from a user as much as an observation. Despite the hype, and I am a T-Mobile user, they do not have LTE data in all areas and when it is data on a "partner" network it IS slower. I would make sure that the device is compatible with the 600Mhz band as that is how T-Mobile is expanding their coverage area. No matter the provider, there will be areas of the country where there is no cellular coverage, however, since the equipment is dual-sim I would investigate the added costs of adding a second provider. 

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Thanks Chalkie.  Yes, I saw that they’re using 600 MHz out in the GOM for connectivity to the rigs (also I think I saw they’re also using 700 MHz RigNet).

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T-Mobile is ludicrously bad in the West if you leave the major areas.  So your camping spots would determine if it's any good.  For us, it would fail more often than it works, where we go.  The prices are also insane.  You can buy the gear and the service at half that.

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I find it difficult to believe any RVer would be happy with anything other than Verizon or AT&T.  In my business I'm exposed to all the carriers and there's no chance I'd use anything other than those two.  Then last year I switch from AT&T to Verizon because the Escapees campground in AZ has no coverage other than Verizon.  Same for the hills I was hunting in nearby.

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Thanks for the information regarding T-Mobile's coverage.  I am a little bit concerned about that. 

Let me add some info.  We'll only be using it in Port St. Joe, FL and Blairsville, GA.  We aren't planning on any heavy traveling, mostly in Florida.  Any time that we'd be traveling, I'll be on vacation so it won't be a huge deal breaker if I have to use my AT&T wireless phone as a hotspot.

In looking at T-Mobile's coverage map I can see that in both of my areas that I'm staying at, I should have more than adequate coverage.  But marketing maps don't tell the whole story, so I'm going to wait until I get there (1 November) to actually make the decision.

Really hoping this works out, as no one offers an unlimited - unthrottled - data plan.

 

Just discovered that T-Mobile has a Test Drive plan.  30-days or 30 GB of 4G LTE for free.  I'm going to try this once we get there.

Edited by Jim1521

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In that case, then you don't need all the fancy stuff and their over-priced plan.  Just go to a T-Mobile store and get a hotspot with whatever plan you want.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Carlos said:

In that case, then you don't need all the fancy stuff and their over-priced plan.  Just go to a T-Mobile store and get a hotspot with whatever plan you want.

T-Mobile caps/throttles the traffic on the T-Mobile plan.  This 3rd party doesn't.  That's the only reason I need them.

 

 

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There actually are some suitable options for all of the carriers presently ..  here's our current top data plan picks for RVers:

http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/planpicks

 

AT&T in particular has some appealing options starting at $30/month (prepaid annually) with the Togo Roadlink C2 roof mounted unit, or there are rental vendor options starting at about $60/month on standard consumer mobile hotspot devices. 

And if you're keen on T-Mobile, there are cheaper rental options that RVDataSat.

The equipment RVDataSat is selling is the Pepwave MAX Mini router with the MobileMark antenna - which are quality products for sure But the modem is pretty old/lower end (that product line is due for a refresh in the coming months) and doesn't support T-Mobile's newest band 71. 

For price and simplicity - a setup like this is likely overkill, and you can keep it cheaper and better/equally performing with other options.

 

Also, since you have specific locations in mind, check campground reviews for the places you stay for which carriers work best. 

For more on travel planning around connectivity, here's the article we wrote for the Xscaper's blog: https://xscapers.com/planning-your-rv-travels-around-cellular-coverage/

 - Cherie 

 

 

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Hi Cherie,

Thanks for that great email.  Yes, I saw that the Pepwave equipment is a little long in the tooth.  I've been using their Surf SOHO MK3 for a couple of years now.  I'm going to give those links you ref'd a good reading this evening.  Many thanks.

 

JP

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My work is wireless-adjacent (meaning I use and install a lot of cellular-related products but don't work IN the industry).  Everything Cherie says is always accurate and should be listened to.  And I agree this is not a good deal at all.

 

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I looked at the Togo plan earlier.  I have  question that I can't seem to get answered.  They say "unthrottled", but then they go on to talk about "network management" later in the same breath.  I'm a network engineer and to me (in the wifi and Ethernet world) unthrottled means that there are no speed restrictions put on the link.  I also know that "network management" is another term for QoS.  So while they won't be restricting my speed (per se), they can put all of my traffic down in the lowest QoS prioritization bucket.

So is this what they mean as well?  Unthrottled (i.e. 150 Mbps link speed), but all my traffic going to Pr1 (lowest priority) once I hit a certain threshold?

We literally are using about 500 - 800 GB per month, so that's why "unlimited data" is important to me.  I have no allegiance to T-Mobile; I've never used them before.  I've always been on AT&T for both work and personal cellular service. 

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That's exactly what they mean.  Throttled is the same as rate-limited for our world.  IE, I put rate limits on things like streaming music on most routers to protect the real business traffic.  Most MVNO services are low-priority, and subject to being super slow if the native carrier users are hitting that tower heavily.  A few months ago, T-Mobile started really going after "abusers" like you, and they found themselves with really slow service or just being outright cancelled.  I don't know how this affects MVNO users.

We use 600-800GB at home, but keep it down when traveling so Verizon's 15GB per device plan works out.  We just download a lot of media before leaving.

 

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Thanks Carlos.  OK, so now that I've got the taxonomy down my next question would be that of the Togo Roadlink C2 integration.  In my RV I have my own WLAN architecture consisting of a controller, 3 x 802.11ac APs, and separate SSIDs (one for WORK, one for PLAY, which are also on separate VLANs for broadcast control).  I create bandwidth contracts for the two SSIDs, and assign lower QoS tags to the PLAY VLAN traffic.  I use the Pepwave Surf SOHO router for my Wifi-as-WAN connection to the park wifi (I have a separate VLAN that I negotiated with the park which affords me 50 Mbps of bandwidth carved out of their 100 Mbps pipe to their ISP).

As I read the Roadlink C2, it creates its own wifi network for use inside the RV.  There is no Ethernet port.  I believe that I could simply use the wifi-as-wan interface on the Pepwave router to connect to the C2 wifi network, and then continue to use the Pepwave as my wired connection into my controller.  That way I don't have to change anything inside of my existing network (other than pointing the wifi-as-wan to the C2).

Will that work?

 

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With your system you really should research the hardware limitations of the C2. It’s older technology and doesn’t include some of the newer “bands”!  Might not be your best choice in hardware but could be a nice inexpensive cellar option. 

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6 minutes ago, DesertMiner said:

With your system you really should research the hardware limitations of the C2. It’s older technology and doesn’t include some of the newer “bands”!  Might not be your best choice in hardware but could be a nice inexpensive cellar option. 

The C2 apparently just came out with a refresh in March of 2019.  The more I look at the C2 the more I like this approach.  Especially like the fact that I don't have to snake a cable down through the walls . I hate the thought of cutting a hole in a brand new trailer, so as long as I can find a 12v source up there on the roof somewhere, I can get the C2 powered up and running.

Disappointed that it doesn't support 802.11ac, but it'll be more than fast enough for what I need.

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The Togo Roadlink C2 did come out earlier this year, but it's based on the Winegard ConnecT 2.0, which came out a year earlier. And even then, the modem they released it with is rather old. A lot of integrated systems are going with inexpensive Cat 4 modems these days.

But the form factor is simple, and the ability to get the $360/year unlimited plan are the benefits.  

Here's our coverage of the Togo Roadlink, with links to our full review of the hardware it is based upon:

http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/togo 

 

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