Max Transit 5G, Max Transit CAT-18, or Max Transit Duo for RV Application

First post, but I have read as much as I can find on this topic here on the Peplink community. My application is a mobile one outfitting a Prevost motor coach (stainless steel chassis and side panels).

Before I found this community I was certain I was going with a Cradlepoint product and have looked closely at the flexible IBR1700, but there is a good deal of negative reports on this product.

I am looking at a Max Transit product line as my mobile router paired with a roof-mounted antenna. I always like future-proofing, where possible, and the upcoming Max Transit 5G seemed attractive until I read that the processing power won’t take full advantage of the 5G potential and to wait until 5G solutions evolve a bit.

Comparing the Max Transit (single CAT-18) and the Max Transit Duo (dual CAT-12) I initially discounted the Duo because I didn’t need real-time redundancy between cellular carriers/SIMs; however, I have read that the Max Transit (single CAT-18) cannot simultaneously use Wi-Fi as WAN and my Verizon cellular connection because it doesn’t support outbound policy(ies). I see the advantage of having the CAT-18 for increased sensitivity as I am often in rural locations; however, I would really miss the ability to use Wi-Fi as WAN as priority with my cellular picking up the balance of the load when demand increases (maintaining a video conference call connection as an example). Am I misunderstanding any aspect of how the single CAT-18 operates compared to the Duo? Is this the reason more people recommend the Duo to bond Wi-Fi as WAN with cellular simultaneously even though the CAT-12 isn’t as sensitive?

If the community recommends going with the 5G version which is supposed to ship later this month how long might it take to obtain Verizon certification?

The second aspect of my question is the interior space. I plan on using the internal Wi-Fi radios on the Max Transit series to route to the roof-mounted 7-in-1 antenna for Wi-Fi as WAN; however, for the interior of the 45’ motor coach (especially with the stainless steel sides) I was planning on using one internal AP broadcasting my own SSID with the Peplink AP One Rugged being the likely candidate for the interior space. I also need coverage within 25’ or so outside of the motor coach. Will the AP One Rugged mounted inside provide sufficient penetration through the glass or should I add a second AP One Rugged to broadcast to the exterior either through an 11-in-1 antenna (with one Wi-Fi antenna port unused) or a second, separate external Wi-Fi antenna mounted on the roof to cover the exterior perimeter? I do understand that the internal Wi-Fi radios on the Max Transit series can do both Wi-Fi as WAN and WLAN using my own SSID but that it will degrade overall throughput. Most Wi-Fi as WAN sources will be relatively meager so perhaps the degradation is a moot point.

Thank you in advance for your help. This community was one of the main reasons for me switching my direction to Peplink/Pepwave products.

Thank you in advance to anyone who can help me select the best product for my application.

@Matt_in_AZ There are indeed so many experts in the community here and you will surely get many replies. So I will just comment on your #2 question.

As I understand it, you are looking to design a Wi-Fi AP setup for the interior, while also keeping the outside antenna as Wi-Fi as WAN. Is this correct?

If so, my suggestion would be to simply start with MAX Transit (Single or Duo) and see how the coverage works out with just the external antenna, before creating a more complex network setup.

As a reference point, on a steel-sided 23’ Sprinter here with a Poynting MIMO-3-V2-15 antenna the Wi-Fi coverage is excellent both inside the van and quite some distance outside (certainly 25’). We actually normally reduce the max transmit power on the AP to save energy.

Please note we do not use Wi-Fi as WAN much. Not because of anything device-specific with Peplink, just because LTE works so well that the number of use cases for Wi-Fi as WAN with finicky campground and public Wi-Fi APs is very limited, at least for us. Also, if you do use Wi-Fi as WAN it will operate on the same channel (with 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz) as the WLAN. That will cause disconnects in WLAN when Wi-Fi as WAN experiences issues and would be one of the main reasons for going with an extra AP.

@Vitaly - thank you for the reply. Your are correct that I am trying to ensure sufficient Wi-Fi for my internal WLAN. Your personal experience with your steel-sided (and roof presumably) Sprinter with the Poynting antenna on the roof providing sufficient signal both inside and outside is reassuring that I may be fully happy with just the external antenna.

I don’t have great success with campground or public Wi-Fi right now but was hoping what was weak could be improved with the higher gain from an external antenna. I have an Inseego 5G MiFi from Verizon that I have used to test Wi-Fi reach internally and from front to back of the motorhome I barely get a -70dBm signal passing through the bathroom walls, but I know the transmit power from this handheld device is not nearly as strong as the Peplink devices. Your real world experience makes me comfortable to try the external antenna only at first.

With Verizon I tend to get strong cellular signal on my smartphone wherever I travel. I plan to use the Verizon SIM from my MiFi hotspot in the MAX Transit, but I really have to be careful to stay within my 22GB of monthly bandwidth (no streaming content) so I definitely plan on getting a second SIM from another carrier.

What carrier(s) do you use? It seems the plans are constantly shuffling and right now Verizon is recommend as is the Visible (unlimited but throttled at 5Mbps riding on the Verizon network subject to de-prioritization) which would allow me to have an “always available” 5Mbps and switch over to the full speed Verizon when I need higher throughput for a videoconference call. Of course when I run across a location with no Verizon service I will be wishing I had an alternate carrier.

Do you have the MAX Transit Single or Duo on your Sprinter?

Someone on the LTE Hacks Facebook group last night said that Visible is starting to do IMEI checks which means “Visible in a router” might come to an end some day soon. To be clear I’m just reporting what “some anonymous guy on the internet” said but he seems to be a regular poster there with some experience and knowledge. I guess there’s no harm in enjoying it while you can. I’m guessing that they’ll chase the highest volume users first.

@tetranz - With my luck that would be me on the list of heavy users being dropped first month. It seemed too good to be true. Video conference calls gobble up the GBs. Thanks for the info.

Your personal experience with your steel-sided (and roof presumably) Sprinter with the Poynting antenna on the roof providing sufficient signal both inside and outside is reassuring

Yes, my Sprinter has the original steel roof too.

I don’t have great success with campground or public Wi-Fi right now but was hoping what was weak could be improved with the higher gain from an external antenna.

The issues with public Wi-Fi go beyond signal strength: upstream congestion, low bandwidth, generally crappy and unstable APs, all kinds of security issues, etc. I personally do not use them at all nowadays. Your mileage may of course vary depending on use cases.

Your real world experience makes me comfortable to try the external antenna only at first.

That’s the way I would approach it if I were you, yes.

What carrier(s) do you use?

AT&T Business Plan via a reseller. I am currently using it exclusively in Canada. Yes, it’s within the terms of that particular plan. The plan has a 400GB cap.

rvmobileinternet.com has a good comparison of all the current carrier options for US. The situation is a bit of a mess because the carriers generally just do not get the remote worker use case yet (or anyone with moderate to heavy usage really) and have silly low caps and throttling in place. So people go gray market and then it’s a cat and mouse game between end users, resellers and carriers.

Do you have the MAX Transit Single or Duo on your Sprinter?

Single, older LTE-A model. I got it for a good price used some time ago. If I was doing it again now I would probably get the Duo and put the 7-in-1 Poynting antenna up instead of 5-in-1. The former was unavailable yet at the time I set everything up.

@Vitaly

Thank you for the detailed follow-up responses. It is extremely helpful.

I have reviewed rvmobileinternet’s content and there seems to be several resellers of the AT&T Business Plan with mixed reviews here on the community. Would you mind sharing the reseller you are successfully using?

You mention that if buying today you would go with the Duo (which is what I am debating now). Is that because you want to bond two carriers or bond one carrier with Wi-Fi as WAN for your mission rather than obtain the higher sensitivity of CAT-18 found in the single? Have you had any issues with your CAT-12 single with reception?

Sure, I will PM you the reseller name. It’s on the higher end of the price spectrum and has been reliable thus far.

I want the flexibility of bonding two carriers. For remote work max reliability is of top importance and I am prepared to pay extra for it in terms of redundant carrier plans. I am highly mobile and often stay in very remote areas boondocking, where external Wi-Fi of any type is not even an option. So it’s 100% LTE use here.

When originally setting up the equipment I was just getting into mobile routers, so started with a more basic configuration. My router is actually MAX-TST-LTEA-W-T, which is only CAT-6. I had some (mostly minor) issues with the modem, some of which had a permanent/automatic fix, some that require occasional manual tweaking (ex. playing with bands) and some that I just had learned to live with.

Overall it’s been working quite well. I would be happy to stay with Peplink, upgrading to higher-end/newer MAX Transit down the road. Frankly, I probably would’ve done it already, if not for the hassles of switching the 5-in-1 antenna to a 7-in-1.

Some thoughts…

The BIGGEST challenge (at least in the USA) is finding plans that offer enough data, work in enterprise routers, and are priced for consumer use. The plans are very few and far between. There are some resellers, many unauthorized, taking advantage of loop holes, and offering plans, that can be turned off at any moment. To further complicate it, some of the major cellular carriers outright blocked certain make/model cellular modems found in newer enterprise routers (read up on those threads cat 12 v 18 could come into play if that issue still exists). Once you understand these risks and are comfortable with investing in a system that is highly dependent on cellular carrier plans, I feel you will be able to move forward with designing a solution for your application.

That said, I use WiFi as WAN extensively. I started off using cellular only, burning through hundreds of GBs per month, but WiFi as WAN has been a god-send, most of our data has been over it, instead of cellular. There are hotspots in many places, some places dont have good cellular signal, likewise, some places are the opposite, and some have neither. Now on the flipside of the coin, we have been experiencing issues with CableWiFi hotspots since October. We dont know if they have some how been able to figure out there is a router connecting and blocking the connection, which the WISP says they are not blocking anything, its very strange.

As for WiFi as WAN, you can certainly do cellular and WiFi as WAN simultaneously. I believe the issue is some Peplink devices can’t do simultaneous 2.4+5ghz. We use both bands simultaneously. We actually find that in most locations there are WiFi hotspots available on both so it adds to the redundancy and Speedfusion says more connections the merrier! We find connection stability a common occurrence and having 2+ WANs helps balance that (we take advantage of Speedfusion Smoothing). My ideal device would be one with two cellular modems and being able to handle WiFi as WAN 2.4+5ghz simultaneously. Of course you can get creative and if the device has an extra ethernet or USB WAN port, you can add another WAN (cellular or WiFi) but then you’d also have an additional management interface to log in to establish connections which I have found very annoying.

Final thought: segregate your WiFi as WAN and LAN AP. Even a cheap $50 LAN AP to handle clients will be best for performance of both the WAN and LAN. This is especially important if you are mounting external antennas.

@mystery

Thank you for the input. I wish things could settle down here in the USA regarding cellular plans. Reading posts from this community regarding their success with plans one must be careful to look at the date of the posting because what once worked may no longer be an option.

I was initially thinking CAT-18 was a must-have but with the Telit modems having compatibility issues I think the dual CAT-12 of the Transit Duo by Sierra Wireless being seemingly more compatible I would be better off with this platform. I have a 22GB business unlimited plan from Verizon that should work in it and may look at the T-Mobile 100GB unlimited plan for the second SIM having it as priority based on its higher GB limit.

Of course, using Wi-Fi as WAN would be my first choice, when available. I currently am at a location that has Wi-Fi and I am line-of-sight to their antenna but just can’t get good signal inside the RV. A good external antenna should help nicely. It would not be enough for video calls but it would work for basic Internet connectivity.

I am also inclined to try one of my existing APs on the LAN port for my internal WLAN just simply because it is separate allowing the roof-top externals to do their magic for Wi-Fi as WAN and the internal WLAN dedicated to a singular purpose.

Thanks for the excellent feedback. It is valuable to me. Thanks!

Matt_in_AZ
My experience living & working full time in my RV.
Have had Peplink CAT-18 installed in my RV since May, 2020. I have an AT&T 3rd party reseller plan which is capped at 500GB & multiple 30GB Verizon data only plans (no longer offered). As near as I can determine, both Verizon & AT&T are on the same tower approximately 4-5 miles away. I am in SE coastal NC (Holden Beach area relatively flat with pine trees)
I have yet to install my 7-1 roof antenna, but, the provided paddle antennas have proven to be more than adequate so far.
I have subsequently installed a CAT-18 as a backup device in the home office in the event we lose our cable internet (hurricanes can do that) with the same cellular providers. It was a plug & play operation. Plug in the SIMs, power it up & the cellular connection was there from both providers.
I will agree that finding adequate data plans can be problematic & can be costly.
I have more than adequate bandwidth to stream multiple 720p TV’s, conduct ZOOM/Skype meetings, process email & transfer/receive multi GB files if I really want to burn through the GB’s.

@lemondrop9344

Thanks for the feedback. While I have fairly reliable 80 MBps DSL in Arizona from CenturyLink most of the time, during the past year with a lot more distance learning and telecommuting there are times during the day when their backhaul must be congested causing intermittent outages noticeable via Zoom calls. I like what you have done by adding a Peplink device at home to use as a backup in case of outage or interruption of service. At least your monthly allotment of GBs can be used even if you aren’t using the RV. I do plan to leave some form of card in the RV’s Peplink to make sure I can remotely monitor temperature sensors and a dash cam which monitors the surroundings at our storage facility.

Make sure your 7-in-1 antenna is properly secured to the roof before the next hurricane season is upon us. Thanks again for sharing your personal experience.

Matt, Home office as in HQ office. I’m involved with a business which installs & services submetering systems. If we don’t have internet, we don’t function.
When the wife & I went full time in the RV, I had to find a way to continue to provide support for the business. Tethering my cellular phone & using the CAT-6 Sierra Wireless card in my note book was not getting the job done.
I installed the Peplink CAT-18 in May to work from my RV. When Hurricane Isisia came through, the HQ office lost power & cable internet (falling trees on overhead lines). We rode it out in the RV park & lost power & park WiFi as the eye came ashore. I fired up the generator so I would have power & connected to local TV channels via cellular. Surprisingly, TV reception over cellular during the storm worked. That was something DISH could never do. HQ office was out of kilter for several days.
This was the 4th year in a row our HQ location was impacted by storms. Each year we seem to figure out areas that require improvement. We are now using a Balance One Core as the primary router with the CAT-18 as a fail over/backup. In the event evacuation is necessary, the CAT-18 goes with the owner along with other critical hardware. Hopefully we won’t have an opportunity to see if we have it right this year.
Our experience with cellular connectivity in the RV seems to suggest cellular connectivity east of the Mississippi River is generally more reliable than west of the river, with AT&T & Verizon generally being the preferred carriers. With the Sprint/T-Mobile merge that may change. We are fortunate that we have really good RV park WiFi where are sheltering in place. As a general rule, I would consider that the exception, rather than the rule.
For what it’s worth, I looked at the CAT-12 Duo. While the dual radios, with up to 4 SIMs was appealing, the cost differential in the hardware & additional data lines did not seem like it was worth the extra expense for our environment.
I am absolutely sold on the Peplink product line. I don’t think you could go wrong with either device.
Good luckl.

Matt,

With regards to connecting to a cellular Peplink device remotely in your RV……… If you are not familiar with ‘CARRIER GRADE NAT’, it might save you a little headache & frustration to do a little research on the subject. Below was copied from the internet which briefly outlines the issue. There are some tutorials out there on the Peplink Forum I think.

Carrier-grade NAT usually prevents the ISP customers from using port forwarding, because the network address translation (NAT) is usually implemented by mapping ports of the NAT devices in the network to other ports in the external interface.

I encountered this issue with our NAS to NAS communications when I was backing up the HQ NAS to the NAS on the RV. A majority of the cellular carriers in the US use it. As I understand it, unless you make provisions to address the issue, it is unlikely you will be able to access the Peplink device on your RV. I used PepVpn with Speed Fusion to get it to work. The issue was not specific to the NAS.

With regards to antenna, making a bracket to mount it on the back fiberglass cap. Something similar to what the trucker use to mount their GPS antennas to the back of their cab.

George

@lemondrop9344

Thanks for the feedback on your use case. Also I appreciate the NAT background. I will point out that the two items I want to remotely monitor have cloud based apps that the devices in the RV will connect to and correspondingly for me to connect to remotely to check status or view camera. A point-to-point would definitely require a VPN. Glad to hear that PepVpn works well.

One more question specific to the Max Transit CAT-18 and the Max Transit Duo (CAT-12) as I research both here on Peplink’s website. Peplink’s “deep dive” section for the Max Transit model (see link below)…

…states that it offers Load Balancing with the following features:

Intelligent Failover
Session Persistence
Per-Service Load Distribution
Multiple Algorithms
-Weighted
-Enforced
-Persistence
-Priority
-Overflow
-Least Used
-Lowest Latency
-Fastest Respond
Time

In posts comparing the Max Transit and Transit Duo from the past it seems like the Max Transit did not originally support these features - only the Duo. Did more features get added to the Max Transit CAT-18, specifically the ability to have simultaneous WANs (Cellular + Wi-Fi as WAN or Cellular + WAN via Ethernet port)? In other areas including the spec sheet for the Max Transit CAT-18 the symbols indicate these are optional features available as a software upgrade or with PrimeCare model.

The availability of these features on the CAT-18 model would steer me in that direction. The lack of these features may steer me in the direction of the Duo. Thank you in advance for clarifying this confusion.

I am pretty sure these features have been ported across the MAX Transit product portfolio. I can do simultaneous WANs on my LTE-A CAT-6 model with the current firmware. And that SKU is a few years old.

@Vitaly

Ok. So the comparisons from 2016 on this community may be referring to earlier models that did not have these features at that time.

Yes, that would be my interpretation of any older material that made similar claims, whether in official documentation or in the forums.