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WiFi Ranger Elite vs. WFRBoost


John Laninga

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I've had WiFi Ranger since the very early days and have experienced all their growing pains. For now, things have been reasonably stable: running a Go2 and the original WFRBoost mounted on my TV antenna mast. Actually, I seldom use the WFRBoost as I can usually find a reasonable signal. My software is up to date on the Go2, now running 7.0.2 but the Boost has never been upgraded.

 

So now I get upgrade offers from WiFiRanger, with the emphasis (on their part) to go with the Elite FM package. To me, this looks like a Go2 and a more current Boost (albeit much easier to mount the Elite flat on the roof). So is there any substantive difference between the WFRBoost (paid for, mounted and working) and the Elite FM (more spending, new mounting required)?

 

Thanks, haven't been paying much attention to WiFi lately because most everything is working :0

 

== John

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Kind of surprised that you haven't gotten any responses from those that are wired into the WFR organization. I too am running equipment of the original Boost type on both a Go and a Go2. I have updated the firmware on my original Ubiquiti CPE and also purchased an "N" capable CPE. Both work well with the current Go firmware. I check every WFR upgrade to make sure that it still supports the Boost equipment. I haven't paid much attention to the Elite, but I wrote off upgrading to the previous CPE because they recommended connecting it to the Go by ethernet rather than by wireless to decrease speed lose, so all the extra bells and whistles of having a router in the CPE was not really being used and cost a whole lot more. I'll stick with what I have as long as it continues to work. One thing I have noticed is that it seems an increasing number of WIFI systems are able to detect and prevent devices that retransmit their signal from connecting. I say this because I seem to be encountering more and more campground Wifi where the Go/Go2 or Go/Go2 Boost combination is denied a connection, but my and my wife's computer can connect. I have discussed this a couple of times with Evan and he has said that there are ways that systems can prevent connections by device such as the WFR that allow more than one device to connect. I have also encountered more small businesses that are password protecting their systems because of non-customers accessing the system and illegal downloads such as bootleg patented materials being traced back to their systems.

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I gave up on my WFR stuff almost altogether. When there was a wifi signal to be found, usually it was too slow to use. Then my Go (original) died, and I found my Boost and other Wifiranger bullet (don't remember which one it is, but its the one that doesn't require connecting to a base unit) didn't actually give me much range over my macbook, even when mounted outside. Now, I generally stay with tethered cellular data, and just use a cheap router repeater if I need to boost the signal inside the rv.....

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I've had WiFi Ranger since the very early days and have experienced all their growing pains. For now, things have been reasonably stable: running a Go2 and the original WFRBoost mounted on my TV antenna mast. Actually, I seldom use the WFRBoost as I can usually find a reasonable signal. My software is up to date on the Go2, now running 7.0.2 but the Boost has never been upgraded.

 

 

 

John:

 

The so-called "WFRBoost" was an unmodified Ubiquity Bullet sold with a WFR indoor router. It didn't have any WFR software on it which was why WFR didn't update it. Owners were welcome to go to the Ubiquity website to download firmware upgrades.

 

Several years ago the Boost was superseded by the WFR Mobile which was still a Ubiquity Bullet, but one which was running WFR firmware. Rather than just being an amplifier, as was the case with the Boost concept, the Mobile was a complete stand-alone router which could be run by itself or in conjunction with a WFR Go. The Mobile has been on the market for several years and was replaced earlier this year by the Elite. Like the Mobile, the Elite is a "complete" system which can be combined with an indoor router, if desired. The Elite has more than twice the power of the Mobile and currently represents the ultimate in long range wifi capability.

 

I hope this answers your question. What you have today with your Boost is essentially an indoor router with an externally mounted amplifier (the Boost). All current WFR systems consist of one or more stand-alone routers.

 

Joel (AKA docj)

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I would not describe the Ubiquiti CPE products as an amplifier. They have signal receive and transmit capabilities. When connected to a router such as the Go or Go2, they form a two radio system which can result in less speed loss as compared to a single radio system. I have found this to be especially true and useful with campground Wifi that may not be all that fast to begin with. It was my understanding that this was one of the reasons for recommending connecting the Mobile by ethernet to the Go/Go2 if possible rather than connecting the two wirelessly.

 

The specifications for the Elite list its power as 1000 Milliwatts (1 Watt), It is my understanding that this is the maximum allowed for this class of equipment. I believe that their are Ubiquiti products including Bullets that have the same power rating as the Elite. Not sure if any of them were ever used in the WFR Mobile products like the Titanium version.

 

Replacing your Boost with one of the newer higher powered models from Ubiquiti will likely provide longer range and "N" Wifi capability at a cost significantly less than that of an Elite. I don't know if there are any differences in the connections of the newest models of Bullet from those sold as the Boost. If you are still using the Laird antenna, you might consider upgrading to one of the antennas discussed on websites like Jack Mayer's or Technomadia's.

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TCW has nailed it (above). As long as the Boost option is supported you can substitute a higher powered Ubiquiti device for your existing gear (choose an M2 model for the "N") and it "should" work transparently. But I do not believe that is guaranteed by the WFR folks....which you can certainly understand. That assumes you do not want any of the capabilities inherent in the WFR firmware. You should be able to use the Bullet, the Pico or the (directional) NanoStation. I've not tested recently to verify that it all still works, but they say it does so I would assume so. If it does not you can hand configure it and it should work....but now you are doing your own CPE setup....with all that entails.

 

My advice for most people that do not wish to "spin" their own setup is to buy the Sky2 Minipack (with the mini router). The Sky2 has enough performance to get wifi in almost any RV Park situation and is a cleaner install with less probability of damage to it. It is a very nice little package that meets most peoples needs. It only supports one Ethernet port but if you need more Ethernet ports on the router (interior portion) then simply add an appropriate size switch. The new Firmware works very well and has some very nice features that are very useful. Again, IMO.

 

For ultimate performance the Elite Pack is the best you will do with the WiFiRanger gear. The "normal" RVer does not need this.

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I would not describe the Ubiquiti CPE products as an amplifier. They have signal receive and transmit capabilities. When connected to a router such as the Go or Go2, they form a two radio system which can result in less speed loss as compared to a single radio system. I have found this to be especially true and useful with campground Wifi that may not be all that fast to begin with. It was my understanding that this was one of the reasons for recommending connecting the Mobile by ethernet to the Go/Go2 if possible rather than connecting the two wirelessly.

 

 

There's a difference between what the Ubiquiti Bullet "can" do and how it was implemented as a WFR Boost. I don't believe that the Boost, as sold by WFR, accessed all the capabilities of the device and, it is my understanding, as someone who owned one, that the primary advantage was just the extra power available through the Boost's extra transmit power and external antenna. I'm pretty sure that a true "two radio" solution was not available until the introduction of the WFRMobile.

 

As for the benefit of the two radio approach, my test data shows it to be of diminishing value as the WFR firmware has improved. For example, using the WFR to connect to my Verizon hotspot, the difference between connecting via the WFRMobile with the Go2 as a second radio compared to connecting to the Go2 alone is within the margin of error given the variability of the cellular connection itself. Compared to a few generations ago in software when losses of a a factor of two were common for the WFR, I'm now recording ~14-15Mbs downloads that are indistinguishable regardless of how I connect the WFR devices or if I connect directly to the hotspot. Given that repeated speed tests often show variations of plus or minus a Mbps there would be no way for an outside observer to know what the connection method is solely from an examination of test data.

 

If you're connected to a slow wifi and want to eek out of it every ounce of speed you can, then I agree that a two radio solution will be a bit faster, but the difference will be pretty small. I sell customers on the two device solution not really for the extra speed but for the convenience of having some accessible Ethernet ports and a USB port for modems and tethering.

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Thanks, that helps. On my WFRanger Control panel, I can use or not use the WFRBoost. I normally don't use the WFRBoost, only if I can't find a strong open access point do I use it. So I guess I'll just leave everything alone until such time that something changes and I have to change. Upgrading to the Elite at this time won't do enough for me to justify the expense.

 

== John

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John,

I have taken and agree with your approach to replacement of the Boost with a much higher cost product as long as it is working. However, I almost always use the Boost. I have found that it will often detect more useable Wifi signals. In a campground environment, if they are using repeaters, the strongest signal may not necessarily produce the fastest speed. This can be a factor of the speed loss inherent in repeating the signal throughout the campground or the number of people using the AP. For example, I remember a park near Pennsacola, FL where each AP in each loop had its own back haul. One of the loops in the park was essentially vacant. The Boost was able to connect to that AP and even though it was not the strongest signal the speed of the connection was significantly faster than the connection to the AP in our loop which was pretty much full.

 

At the risk of highjacking the thread, I disagree with Docj that the Boost is not a two radio system, The Boost transmits and receives the signal from the AP, the Go/Go2 or other router transmits the signals to and from the computer. Proof of this (at least from what little I know) is that, you can set the Go/Go2 to transmit and receive signals from the computer on a different channel than the AP (a recommendation I got from WFR staff) to reduce interference and speed loss.

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"My advice for most people that do not wish to "spin" their own setup is to buy the Sky2 Minipack (with the mini router)....

 

I agree with Jack.... KISS...

 

But I would also suggest only buying the Sky2 (without the Mini router)

http://wifiranger.com/shop/product/55-sky2 ...

You can get it for $199 (Plus 5% off if you search Technomadia's website for a discount code)....

 

It works stand alone or you can plug it into your own router with as many ethernet ports as you need (The pricy Mini router only has the added capability of a USB port for adding cell data - which many may not use)

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At the risk of highjacking the thread, I disagree with Docj that the Boost is not a two radio system, The Boost transmits and receives the signal from the AP, the Go/Go2 or other router transmits the signals to and from the computer. Proof of this (at least from what little I know) is that, you can set the Go/Go2 to transmit and receive signals from the computer on a different channel than the AP (a recommendation I got from WFR staff) to reduce interference and speed loss.

 

I think that the difference between what you are saying and my perception of the Boost may result from the fact that when I owned one WFR devices were running with an operating system with very limited capabilities compared with the firmware being used today. I distinctly recall the increased capabilities that were available after the WFR Mobile was introduced, but, of course, the Mobile was just a Bullet running WFR firmware. Therefore, for the more sophisticated user, the newer firmware ought to have been capable of providing an unmodified Bullet those same capabilities.

 

WFR's primary customer focus has always been on systems that can be used "out of the box" by average RVers. Even though lots of extra features have been designed into the firmware, we know that many of our customers don't use them. Connecting CPE to a WFR is a topic that we leave to more sophisticated customers to explore on their own.

 

As you previously stated this issue isn't worth hijacking the thread over. I agree that everything you are saying is correct relative to the current WFR firmware.

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I just recommended the Sky2/Mini combo to a couple last month. They said they currently use an unlimited Verizon hotspot the bulk of the time, but were not pleased with it's range of use while say in a campground. They use WiFi when in locations where the Verizon is not running with a strong enough signal, but again, were not pleased with sometimes needing to go closer to an AP to get a usable signal.

 

My thoughts were that the Sky2/Mini combo helped them on both fronts, and I felt was something they'd be able to use relatively easily over the years. Tethering the Verizon phone, or using the Sky2 to pull in a more useable WiFi signal. I also gave them Technomadias site, and told them they were in the process of wrapping up some testing of amps that could come in handy with their Verizon phone. (I told them we were waiting for Gord's Max Signal to come off the assembly line, and also to see how the final bugs shake out and the comparison with the other products on the market, thus Technomadias and review. And also a gent on this thread, Jack's, too. (They had been referred to Jack's sites by another RV'er, and had started reading up on different options.)

 

I did appreciate this thread as I found I had been thinking I had the Ubiquity Boost from way back when I bought the first Range. Mine is ethernet connected to now a GO2, so I must have the Mobile - and wrote myself a note on my Excel spread sheet of coach mod's, to help me remember!!!

 

Glad to see my recommendation of the 'one stop solution' of expanding both the signal of cellular data, and park WiFi, with the combo of Sky2/Mini combo was solid:)!

 

Best to all,

Smitty

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There is a good reason to use the (Sky) MiniPack over just a Sky. That is the integration of cellular into the local network. That way you do not have to change anything on your clients based on the backhaul type - either park wifi or cellular. Can you even buy JUST a Sky with the current offerings??

 

To the point on more thru put with the rooftop unit.....Yes, you will get more throughput. How much "depends".....on many factors.

 

Using just wireless to connect that backhaul....like for example, using my Jetpack wireless (not tethered) to the Go2 results in very acceptable speeds EVEN THOUGH it is not physically connected. WHY? Because the backhaul is typically fast enough to mask any "slowdown" from the wireless (vs. tethered) connection. So one should not assume that a "technically superior" method of connecting always matters.

 

TCWs point about accessing YOUR selection of Access Points is an IMPORTANT one, and one of the main benefits of the technology, IMO. What I typically do is test all the available APs and find one that is the fastest. It MAY NOT be the one with the best signal. AP loading is important. The ability to access APs that might otherwise be unavailable to you is a critical element/value of the technology.

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I did appreciate this thread as I found I had been thinking I had the Ubiquity Boost from way back when I bought the first Range. Mine is ethernet connected to now a GO2, so I must have the Mobile - and wrote myself a note on my Excel spread sheet of coach mod's, to help me remember!!!

 

 

 

Smitty:

 

Both the Boost and the Mobile connected to the Go2 (or the old black Pro WFR) via Ethernet. If you are using the WFRControl selection to control the device then you have a Mobile; if you are using the Boost CPE selection that is what you have.

 

Joel

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