Newbie asking for some guidance (Google Fi, Visible?)

Hi Everyone,

First, I’m new to this forum, and I wanted to say “hello” to everyone.

I have been reading quite a bit about cellular modems, and watching lots of videos. I have over 3 decades of technology experience, and one of my favorite hobbies is astrophysics through astrophotography.

Still, given the amount of technical background I have, I found that the topic of cell technology, at least the basics, it was pretty confusing at the beginning, and I’m sure I still have a long way to go. My main is not the technology itself, but the language. As I came through articles where folks use mobile router, cellular modem, cellular router, mobile modem, cellular router, etc…quite interchangeable, so I was trying to figure out “Are we talking about the same thing or something different?” I think I have settle down in the terminology of “cellular router”.

The other aspect when I got introduce to it, I thought “Are folks pulling the SIM card from their phones and putting it inside a cellular router?” I guess the answer is “no”, folks are signing up for additional data plans with data-only SIM cards, right?

I don’t live in an RV full-time -yet? who knows…-, but I have a 20 year old Eurovan Camper which I would love to travel more with, and to take down to Mexico, and one of our (my wife and I) dreams is to get it to South America. Also, my company was 80% remote, and now, we made the decision to go 100% remote due to the pandemic, so no more office buildings which has started to open up the question for me, could I take a week and live inside my camper while I do all of my remote work? Most of it is Google Hangouts (video-calls), which if the connection is not good, I can switch off the video and be on audio only. I know video-calls work best with good download and upload connectivity, hence, why I looked into cellular modems.

Because, I’m not 100% living on the road, I was looking to sign up for data plans to increase my monthly expenditure, but I totally get why folks living all the time in an RV, and running their business from remote locations, they have to sign up for several data plans, and have backup options.

I currently have 2 phones, one with Cricket (ATT) and one with Google FI. I believe I can get a data SIM card from Google FI for free with my current plan and use it with a cellular modem. I’m also interested to leverage the Verizon network, and I was looking at Visible.

Here is a list of questions:

  1. (Answered) I assume the SIM cards have to be data-only, right?
  2. Question remove and moved to a separate post.
  3. (Answered) I read in this forum that peplink will support Google FI, right?
  4. (Answered) Would I be able to drive south and use my peplink with Google FI in other countries?
  5. (Answered) Given my setup, I’m not looking for a very expensive device, but I would like a device that can support at least a couple of SIM-cards, and it’s able to leverage a WIFI signal too. Any recommendations based on the above requirements? I was looking at the Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2, and it looks like it could fit the bill, but is that overkill or not enough for my requirements?
  6. (Answered) Given that I don’t live in an RV all year around, would a Google FI data-only SIM card -which is already included with my Google FI active plan-, and Visible data-only SIM part -if there’s such a thing- be a good option getting lost in the wilderness?
  7. Question remove and move to separate post
  8. (Answered) For activating the data-only SIM cards, can I do it directly through the PepLink device or do I a separate phone or table to active it?
  9. (Answered) Is the MAX Transit CAT18 version suitable for Global roaming? It seems to cover the LTE bands for Global Roaming (1/3/4/7/17/38/40?)
  10. (Answered) I looked at the resource center for the above modem, and it says it covers bands like “B26(B5/B18/B19)”, does it mean that B26 is inclusive of B5, B18 and B19?

I’m sure I will have more questions, and I don’t want to abuse the forum, but I would love to leverage your experience and guidance, and see if you have any recommendations and/or validation if I have missed any major considerations.

Thanks for your help,

Miquel

Firstly -Welcome to the forum!
I’m going to answer some of your questions but we really want some of the US based guys on here to help out with operator specific stuff as Verizon and ATT seem to do some weird ass stuff around activation that I don’t see anywhere else in the world.

Not technically no. Here in the UK we’ll often see users just take SIMs out from their Phones and put into a MAX device. This works because the SIM has a tethered data allowance. If its a pure voice SIM with no data allowance, or a Voice SIM with data allowance but no support for tethering specifically then it won’t work. You also get data only M2M SIMS but these cost a lot per GB and I don’t tend to see many people using them in general and not for a RV.

For RV use I recommend the MAX Transit CAT18 version. This is single modem but dual SIM slot (only one used at any one time). The mobile internet resource center talked about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssN4xP7Dxyo

In fact you should just go and watch all of Chris and Cherie’s videos they know RV connectivity inside and out.

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Hi @MartinLangmaid,

Thank you so much for sharing your insights, and for the welcome to the forum. I know it’s a lot to answer, and it’s very cool to start getting a better idea on what I may be looking at for getting my little camper in a better connectivity position.

By the way, thanks for the link to the resource center. I have watch a lot of videos from them. Lots of good stuff!

Best,

Miquel

Hi Everyone,

I am going to start flagging the questions that have been answered, so it’s a bit easy to get through the post. If anyone knows the answer, even if it’s just to one question, I would love to have your thoughts on it.

I appreciate everyone’s help,

Miquel

You will generally get much better responses from other users with fewer questions per post.

Some of these have inferred answers you can find with the search function and a moment to read through posts.
For example:

there is talk about visible here: Faster speeds with verizon + att or verizon + verizon or att + att cellular connections?

Yes it is.

They are all 850Mhz I think the notation is a reference to intraband carrier aggregation - I bet @sitloongs will be able to tell us if that’s the case :slight_smile:

Looks like you need questions answered about Google Fi particularily - lets edit the subject to reflect that and see if that draws in some expert answers…

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@mcbbcn

Your understanding is correct or in other words, B5 , B18, and B19 is the subset of B26. You can refer to the following Wiki link for the LTE frequency bands info.


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  1. If you are worried about use “in the wilderness” - then ATT+Verizon will be your best bet to ensure coverage further away.

Google Fi utilizes T-Mobile which it seems does generally have as good of coverage further away from metro areas.

  1. you order the data only sim via their website and when it arrives you activate it via web browser and pop it in to your peplink and it works!
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Hi Martin, looking back, it makes sense and I should have done that. I was debating as a brand new user to the community, if it was ok to submit a bunch of single posts, but now, looking back (20/20), I can see how it would have been more clear to answer each of the topics that way. Thanks for the guidance!

Thanks for all the additional information, and pulling additional help to answer these topics.

Best,

Miquel

Thank you so much. That clarifies my question.

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Hi,
Thanks for helping me tackle those questions!

Regarding #6, as someone who travels a lot, simple fact is some carriers work well in some locations, some dont work at all, and some are in between. It varies by location. In my home area, Verizon is by far the best. In other areas I travel to AT&T. Sprint coverage generally stinks, and T-Mobile is somewhere in between. But it really does vary by location. Even where carriers have a presence, some towers are overloaded or have long-standing issues which means good luck. Personally, I like diversity so I carry both VZW and AT&T options. I was thinking of adding T-mobile and AT&T Firstnet as a third option. I also rely on outdoor WiFi hotspots in some locations where there is no cell signal from any carrier.

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Thanks for the tips. I agree, I have been to areas (boondocking) where there was zero signal of any kind. I appreciate the guidance!