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Pepwave as a Cell repeater with no data plan


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I need some direction. My wife and I are planning on full timing this summer in out ATC i.e. faraday cage RV this summer and are looking for solutions for network access. Here is what I’m looking at for a setup: Pepwave MAX BR1 Cat-20 modem using an external Parsec Husky pro 7 in 1 antenna. Along with a Weboost Drive x. So here is my question and issue. Q, Can I use the Pepwave with external antenna to pick up cell communications and have them rebroadcasted to the inside with out using a data plan on the Router i.e., using it like a repeater no data plan on router. Just having the device repeat the external signal on the inside and then use my tablet to surf the web, Not using the table to rebroadcast as a hot spot. I know that I can use the Weboost for this use but want to maximize the Mimo Tech in the Husky external antenna to maximize throughput.  I would prefer not to have to have a 3rd antenna for just a repeater on the roof although that might be m only option. We would like to be able to use or cell phones inside the RV just like we would outside but as the RV blocks almost all signal we must keep the door open and be within close proximity to the opening to use are cell data. Are there any external to internal repeaters that use mimo tech inside and outside that will also pick up a large majority of the cell broadcasted bands? This is all because we want to only use the router cell plan for our PC whiles working but would also like to surf on our phones in the evening using their individual cell plans with out having to keep the door open. Thanks for the support.

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So, I can give you a bit of a rundown.  Let me go look up your device first.  Okay, if *this* is the device you're talking about, I can speak somewhat intelligently about it:

image.png.f2b8f20099858986a6fa967d18afc3bc.png
From: https://5gstore.com/product/10890_pepwave_max_br1_pro_5g.html

First, let me say that I have a Pepwave Max Transit Duo, and I am a computer and web programmer by trade, and a fairly decent network guy.

You indicate "no data plan", which confuses me a wee bit.  If you are planning on simply using campground WiFi, I will tell you that you will be lucky, at best, if you can get it.  And if you can, you'll be lucky if they have a decent Internet pipe behind it, and you'll be even luckier if they have a "system" that limits bandwidth to individual users.  If not all of these are the case, you will "connect", but it could be useless.  In two years of full-time RV'ing around the country, I've only found a couple of campgrounds that actually have decent WiFi.  And it's funny, just today, our AT&T got goofy and I'm relying on campground WiFi.  Fortunately, it meets all the criteria above. (It's a KOA in Arlington, Texas.)

Usually, our Internet setup is having an AT&T sim card in the device (it can support up to four).  The Pepwave, through it's admin function, most models will let you connect to campground WiFi instead of a cell service.  In turn the the Pepwave is also your "access point" (AP).  Meaning, this is the Wifi all your devices will connect to.  Why?  Because each time you get parked and want to use the Internet, you don't want to have to reconnect all your devices to a different Wifi.  For us, that's two laptops, a fat network storage drive system, two phones, a table, two Echo devices, a small server computer and three Roku devices.  (No, we don't use all of them, all the time!  Some hardly at all!)  Oh, and all the Victron stuff.  In addition, some of those devices are not WiFi, but require a hard network connection, so I added a simple network switch to provide more physical connections, which is then connected to one of the LAN connections on the Pepwave.

So, the Pepwave-provided Wifi, acting as a router, is called (for example):  BeldenNetwork.  I always connect to that.  Otherwise I wouldn't be on the "same network" as my NAS (network attached storage) and wouldn't have access to my work files, photo storage, media library, etc.

Now, alone, with or without our AT&T or some campground Wifi, gets me a "network".  I can talk to all my own devices.  But without an external Internet connection, it's pretty much useless to check email, etc.

There is hope, though.  I'm still confused about you "not having a data plan", but the reason I wanted to look at the device in the picture above is that it has a "WAN" connection.  This is "Wide Area Network", which really means "You can plug a hotspot or other provided network cable in", and it'll share whatever network it provides.  Not all hotspot devices have an Ethernet (that kind of connection) out.  Some have USB in different connection types, some simply provide WiFi.  Fortunately, the Pewave (not 100% sure on your model, check with the vendor) can use almost any Wifi signal, and share it among the whole network.  This means you'd have TWO Wifi connections avaialble:  The hotspot provided network and your Pepwave network.  If you don't care about connection to other devices on your network, then it won't matter which one you connect to.  Those Wifi names won't change.  However, if you have it setup this way, I'm not sure the Pepwave is worth purchasing; that is... if you're going to have a hotspot.   I consider my Pepwave, a little bit, to be overkill.  That's my style.  I've been quite happy with it, but my needs, from a technical standpoint, are more than most folks have.

At some point, you WILL have to have some form of data plan, again, unless you're planning on using campground WiFi, which is unreliable to nonexistent at best most of the time.  If you're planning on staying in high dollar campgrounds all the time, you might have better luck.  Or if you'll be by your own house, and want to repeat your in-house WiFi, that would likely work, too.   One thing I did have to do was, at the suggestion of my vendor, is disconnect ONE of the external antenna lines (from the antenna on the roof), and use a short antenna (that comes with them) instead.  It improved my connection inside the rig considerably.    I've attached a picture, not super current, but of our setup.  

If you'd like to reach out to me with a Private/Direct message, I can try to help you out a bit more.  I don't sell anything, I'm not a hardware provider or anything like that.  The wife and I are writers, programmers, website builder, and of course, as all entrepreneurs do, we have 100 other things in the pipeline for that "hustle" of full-time RV'ing while working from the road.

I hope some of this info helps.  I had to really reduce the image sizes horribly to get under the 100K attachment limit.

 

 

Pepwave, Router, top of NAS.jpg

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In case you don't know, https://www.rvmobileinternet.com (Mobile Internet Resource Center by Technomadia) is the authority on mobile internet (wifi/cellular).  They have great guides on about every subject.  Start with https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/guides/mobile-internet-needs/ to determine your unique internet needs.

That Pepwave model sounds like overkill for your current plans.  

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