LTE Internet - Tethered Pepwave vs Peplink or SmartHub


#1

I am gearing up to RV. I am also moving soon and have an issue which is going to affect me at both the house and in the RV. I knew I’d need most of this on the road as I work from a computer, but I had no clue the rural location I’d have a need so soon.

I basically need to get the best speeds possible from Verizon. I already tested the signal and got a weBoost and everything is well there. Now I am trying to figure out which LTE modem to get. I picked up a SmartHub on eBay dirt cheap but it has all kinds of things I do not want, and I’d rather have more control over the device like the Pepwave Surf SOHO offers.

At the rural location I’m at, I have Verizon 4G LTE, band 13. I am trying to figure out the best setup. I need the connection to always be on without falling asleep, etc. I’ve heard the Jetpacks need rebooting - and that won’t be good since I need the network up to look at security cameras, etc, but I’m not sure - I am seeing mixes reviews. TBH I’d like to skip the jetpack (if possible).

So, I think I have 2 or 3 options which include:

  • SmartHub (dirt cheap but I do not need any of the extra features)
  • Pepwave Soho router tethered to a MiFi
  • Peplink with a sim card (not sure which peplink to get)

Would you go with one of these options or something else?

I mostly use basic data but I’d like the rest of the family to be able to stream Netflix and other video, etc.

As for the plan it looks like the Verizon prepaid plan is fine for me. It appears they do deprioritize me during high usage times but as long as there’s no throttle after a certain GB that is fine with me - I am a night owl anyways.

Thanks for any input you may have!


#2

Keeping it simple would be a prime objective, I’d think. Particularly when you are on the road. That suggests a cellularly enabled Peplink, with one or more SIM cards, and one or two radios.

We’ve had good success with the HD2s and the MAX Transits, and they work well on Verizon Band 13.

Verizon Unlimited caps you hard at 15 or 20 GB/month when you deploy a line on a router (assuming one of the “unlimited” plans), whether it is one of their jetpacks or a Peplink.

With a single-radio/dual SIM Peplink device you can employ two lines for a total of 30/40 GB per month with a failover from one SIM to the other when the limit is reached. With a dual radio/quad SIM device you get up to 60/80 GB per month, with dual simultaneous line usage (i.e., you can run up to 30/40 GB within a month before the automatic failover to the secondary SIMs happens, and you get a potential bandwidth increase because two lines will be used concurrently ).

Add a FusionHub Solo and you (may) get a static IP (depending on the virtual server service provider) and two-line bonding. Or you can buy the static IP option from Verizon ($500 one-time payment for up to one IP address for every device on the account).

There is no throttle with Verizon. There is a full stop at the cap. See above.

Bottom line suggestion:

  • Get a Peplink MAX of some sort - we like the Transits but have not tested the alternatives much nor really priced them. In any case - one or two radios (a matter of budget and perceived reliability need), two to four redundant SIMs (a matter of monthly line budget and the expected bandwidth usage needs) and a MAX version with WiFi.

  • (Optional) Get a FusionHub Solo for the IP address and (if budgeted and desirable) the dual-radio SpeedFusion connectivity. Cost would be $5.00/month or more (for the virtual server) + the cost of a SpeedFusion license fo the Peplink device (either included with the device purchase for the high-end router, or an add-on license, applicable only of you deploy a two-radio device)


#3

Thanks! The Verizon thing has been really confusing. I see that their caps are horrible. Then over on a few forums (such as the Verizon subreddit) people claim they love the prepaid Verizon unlimited and that it has no caps. They say they’ll get deprioritized during times of high usage, otherwise, no caps. The unlimited prepaid is $65/mo. https://www.verizonwireless.com/prepaid/ Have you heard of that plan? It sounds ridiculous to me that I can’t just add the plan to my account, but apparently the cap-free unlimited is only available for prepaid…


#4

They are correct if the device is not a router or provide a hotspot or a tethered service. E.g., an iPad or smartphone has unlimited access to bandwidth as long as it is not used as a hotspot. Hotspot/tethered/router usage is limited to 15 or 20 GB/month. With a hard cap (speed drops to 600 Kbps).

Yup. My understanding is that it does not allow tethering/hotspot/router use at all. The prepaid business plans allow tethering, but are limited in a similar way to the post-paid plans.


#5

Ok. So… Apparently everyone is getting this plan and then either tethering it to a router or just activating a sim and using it in a modem/router. I did an online chat with a VZ rep (and had the transcript emailed) and while he could be incorrect (I haven’t read the TOS) he says I am free to tether or use the sim in anything. He offered to sell me one for $14 delivered and said I could go grab one at a store for free.

Anyways, I guess I’ll give this a shot… I’ll be sure to report back here with my own personal experience.

I got a smarthub on ebay for $29 which should work, but I guess at this point I am wondering if a peplink is a better option. Some people tether the Pepwave Surf SOHO with a MiFi 7730L, but I have heard a lot of bad things about the MiFi needing reboots or rebooting, etc, and also that the Peplink is a lot faster than the jetpacks.

So… I guess the next step up would be the Peplink Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini Cellular Router (MAX-BR1-MINI-LTE-US-T)?


#6

The TOS are pretty clear w.r.t. tethering - but it may be that Verizon is not enforcing them (at least at this point). In which case you’ll have a nice deal :slight_smile: Please tell us how it worked out!

Re. the equipment, since you have the smarthub in hand you could give that a whirl before you decide whether to upgrade to a peplink device. Definitely stay away from the MiFis - at least our experience with three different models has been very discouraging. They were not reliable for continuous use.

The Peplink Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini should be nice (I have no personal experience with it). Note that there is an LTE-A version as well, which would provide you with additional future-proofing.


#7

I might note that we just put a Mini LTE-A model with two SIMs installed into service. So, far all is working well. SIMs in use are Sprint (unlimited) and T-Mobile. We’ve seen the router perform with LTE-A and were rather impressed. Initially we put it in as a demo and it looks like the customer is not going to give it back to us (which is the idea, of course … :grin:)

“Side” note: Unsurprisingly, we did not see LTE-A until we added external cross-polarized antennas. When we took the OEM “rabbit ears” off and connected the X-pol the world really changed. Poof – LTE-A!


#8

Ok. I have a month til I move. I’ll activate the SmartHub now and test it (and the plan) now. I’ll grab a Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini if this doesn’t work out. I have a feeling I’m not going to like it- just not sure why yet. hah.


#9

I am certainly quite fond of the Peplink equipment we have deployed. And additionally, the very attentive support they (and the members of the forum) supply which has been far superior to that of any other networking vendor we have worked with.


#10

Thanks. Yeah, I have yet to use a good router that didn’t cost $200, $300 or more so I’m sure this smarthub is a total piece of junk. lol