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Thread: Cradlepoint mobile router

  1. #1
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    Cradlepoint mobile router

    I just picked up one of these:

    Cradlepoint MBR1200

    Connected to my Clear 3G/4G modem, it provides a wireless B/G/N in-car hotspot that automatically switches to 3G when 4G is not available, and more importantly, switches back when 4G becomes available.

    Once I got the firmware upgraded (router first, then modem firmware), it connected right up and just works like a champ. It actually handles 3G/4G mode switching BETTER than the Clear connection manager software that runs on the PC. I found that to be fairly reliable in switching out to 3G, but it would not switch back to 4G automatically. You had to do it manually. Not very practical in the car, I must say.

    If you run this at home or your office, it will automatically failover from broadband cable/DSL to 4G and then to 3G and then re-connect back up as faster service becomes available.

    This is complete and total ovekill in the car, and I will dis-avow everything if my wife finds out, but I am grinning pretty big right now. I just love it when a product works as advertised, without any big drama.

    Highly Recommended!

    VegasGuy

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    That's funny, I was just looking at cradlepoint and clear for my camper build. Which modem are you using? There are two less expensive cradlepoints that work with 4G. What was your criteria for picking that model?
    What do you 4G speeds look like?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmiller View Post
    That's funny, I was just looking at cradlepoint and clear for my camper build. Which modem are you using? There are two less expensive cradlepoints that work with 4G. What was your criteria for picking that model?
    What do you 4G speeds look like?
    I have the U300 3G/4G+. My main criteria was the fact that I had it in my hand and wanted it really, really bad

    Actually, I was particularly focused on the ability to switch modes both down AND up. The Clear software seems to handle the down part to 3G just fine, but it won't automatically switch back to 4G. Since the U300 has to be initialized for each mode, there's actually no way to determine if 4G is available unless do a quick disconnect from 3g and check.

    The MBR1200 allows you to set criteria to determine when that check will occur. You can base the decision on your current bandwidth, time or an combination of the two.

    This is all premised on the fact that 4G bandwidth is unlimited, and theoretically faster, and 3G has a 5gb cap. In most real-world scenarios, this isn't a huge problem, but if you want to stream media either in or out of the car, you'll definitely want a solution that keeps you on the 4G network as much as possible.

    Now about bandwidth. LOTS of variables here and what you see on the move can be considerably different than what you get stationary.

    Stationary: Using Clear Wimax 4G I have seen about 5.2mb down and 1.2mb up when parked in a VERY good location to recieve the signal. Outdoors with little or no obstructions. Indoors, I only see 1-2mb and < 400k ....but in most cases I am at fairly remote locations on the fringe of the service area. Those results could improve significantly depending upon your location and distance to the transmitters.

    On the Move: Using an external 3dbi Wimax antenna, the best I've seen on the move was a little over 1mb down and rarely over 200k up. On average I'd say 600-800k down and 200k up.

    There have been times when the 3G throughput was actually better than the 4G, and that's just the nature of signal propagation and the environment.

    Alll in all, I have been satisfied with the Clear 4G performance, and with this current setup, I am VERY satisfied. I can drive from LA to Salt Lake City and maintain continuous internet access almost the whole way.

    Cheer!

    VegasGuy

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    When you look at those on-the-move 4G averages, they don't look a lot different that what most 3G providers advertise. Don't be fooled. You could back your car up to a cell tower and wrap the antenna around it and still never see those numbers consistently from 3G, regardless of your carrier. 100-200k down and 50-90k up is pretty typical for 3G.

    And yes, I'm sure every single person on this board has a story that takes exception to those numbers. I do too. But on AVERAGE, those numbers are way closer to the truth.

    VegasGuy

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    3G is Sprint? Is the any difference between buying it from Clear vs. Sprint? Did you check the map to see if you're in the best 4G area?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmiller View Post
    3G is Sprint? Is the any difference between buying it from Clear vs. Sprint? Did you check the map to see if you're in the best 4G area?
    Clear actually beat Sprint into Las Vegas by almost a year, so that's what I went with. As for coverage, its just a case of bad luck. My house is about 2 block outside the 4g reception area as shown on Clear's map. Upstairs in my home office, I can get pretty good reception, and an external antenna would solve any problems I might have. In the driveway, I can only get 3G coverage, and even that's spotty until I move a little closer to town. The only other fixed locations I ever use the modems are at my mother's place and at work. Both of them are at the extreme outer edge of coverage. Clear and Sprint share intrastructure, so coverage is essentially identical.

    Sprint does package their 4G modems with different software which appears to have a few more features than the Clear version. My Franklin U300 4G/3G USB modem is supposed to have GPS capability built-in, but I haven't been able to get it to work with any software from Clear, Sprint or Cradlepoint. Not a huge issue really, but it would be nice to have.

    One thing to investigate closely is contract length and cost. I think Clear may have a slight price advantage over Sprint, but that might just be here in Las Vegas.

    Good luck!

    VegasGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasGuy View Post
    ............

    One thing to investigate closely is contract length and cost. I think Clear may have a slight price advantage over Sprint, but that might just be here in Las Vegas.

    Good luck!

    VegasGuy
    Clear sells the modem at a good price and then the contract is month to month. Sprint will do the same, but wants a premium price for the modem. I'm thinking of getting the 250U. Clears purchase price is less than I can get anywhere else for the same device.

    One upside of Sprint is that they include some data roaming. Clears 3G appears to be only Sprint owned towers. But other than that aspect Clear looks like the better choice. I don't want to do the two year contract thing.

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    Thumbs up

    For a great hotspot in your ride, take a look at this gents...... http://www.autonetmobile.com/

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