Pepwave Surf SOHO - how big a house and is it good for non-technical people?


#1

Hi,

I’m interested in getting the Pepwave Surf SOHO, mostly for its security features. I do have two questions:

  1. How far is its coverage? I’d like to find out if it can cover my entire house.
  2. Is it suitable for non-technical people to set up and use?

Thanks.


#2

OK, I’ll bite on this one. :wink: You’ve asked two very reasonable pre-purchase questions which are difficult to answer. Short answer: “it depends” – which is not what you want to hear.

  1. Let’s assume you are talking about the newest version of the SOHO (easily recognizable as it has three antennas) – an excellent product which we’ve found to be highly reliable. I installed one in the “approximate middle” of a condo located in a three story bldg with precast concrete floors and steel studs. The signal is OK throughout the 1800 sq ft unit. It can be received directly above, but not on the floor below. Another one is located in a 2500 sq ft residence with two floors. It’s in the basement and works throughout the house and just beyond. A third one is at a complex radio tower communications site – brick on frame construction. With the power turned down it works about 100’ beyond the outside walls. There is no way to determine the “range” precisely. Concrete and steel attenuates RF far greater than drywall and wood studs. And 5GHz is generally attenuated more than 2.4GHz. And, then there is the issue of “speed.” Wi-fi speeds fall-back when the signal level drops. As I write this I’m looking at a similar system where the speeds range from 52Mb/sec at a signal level of -68 dBm to 144Mb/sec at -61 dBm. One signal is a little more than 4X stronger than the other. Generally better signal = better throughput. So, “coverage” is relative. (Side note: For most purposes, most users can’t tell if they have a solid connection at 10mB/sec or 200 as wi-fi is not the limiting factor - WAN speed is.) The main thing is to avoid high error rate and “drops.” Having said that, my sense is that the SOHO’s wi-fi performance is as good as any of the competition. (The previous version – two antennas but antennas were optional – was quite good; the new one is better.)

  2. This one is harder to answer. Define “non-technical.” :slight_smile: In the device’s web UI Peplink/Pepwave provides some help. If you understand the difference between LAN and WAN, the concept of DHCP (the means by which addresses are dynamically assigned), etc., you may be able to do it. You may not be able to optimize it, but you could make it work. Much of it “works” right out of the box with the defaults as-shipped. I’ll also point out you have a couple of options for help. First, if you are a “noob” [no disrespect intended!], you may wish to consider buying it from a retailer that offers support – there are a several prominent sellers who participate here. This may not be the time to purchase from an an anonymous on-line retailer with no “back bench” to save a buck or two. Second, the questions posted to this forum range from really simple to quite technical and complex. People here will help you.

Confused now? :grimacing:

Rick


#3

I use SOHO Mk3 in my RV because of its USB cellular support and WiFi wan ability plus it runs right off 12v no problem.

I was very surprised by the coverage. It is buried in a cabinet and if I crank the power up to high and put boost on my devices will prefer connecting to it over my houses inside router from across the yard through a concrete wall. I have to remember to turn down the power when we get home. Its very annoying Peplink doesn’t publish the WiFi transmit power specs on the SOHO like they do on most others, its actually a good selling point as its obviously very strong.

I was also surprised how easy it was to setup, for all its features the UI is simple and effective, it makes sense and just works. It could use some updating but not a big deal.

It been extremely reliable for me except for one flaw in its WiFi wan implementation, if you don’t use that then its pretty much hands off reliable and easy, very good value.


#4

Remember that WiFi coverage needs to be bi directional. You might have a very powerful access point that the client device can see, but that does no good if the client device does not have a similarly powerful transmitter to talk back to the access point. In my experience you are far better off with multiple APs for coverage, than relying on a powerful single AP.


#5

Thanks everyone! I think I’m less confused now :smiley:

It sounds like the Surf SOHO should cover my 1,400 sq ft unit quite well, and if I can get by with the defaults out of the box then this should work fine.


#6

Yes, I’d probably be willing to stick my neck out on that one and say you are right. So long as you don’t have RF-eatin’ walls in there you should be fine. You may find you can even turn the power down a bit. (We usually do when we can – but never at the risk of reliability.) We’ve found both the SOHO and APs run a bit cooler after doing so.

Incidentally, the post by Don_Ferrario [above] is absolutely correct. The ideal concept it to balance the power budget – so both devices, client and router, see similar signal levels. That further explains why one can often turn the power down a bit on the AP side. But the first step is to get it running and doing what you want it to do.

Just don’t be one of the guyz who buys one on Amazon, uses it for five minutes and then trashes it with a bad rating because it didn’t make breakfast for him. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: You’ll find help here if you get stuck. The SOHO is a superior product – it’s worth the time to make it work for you.

Rick