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4G Mobile Hotspot as Home Internet replacement

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  Alejandro Ramirez's Photo
Posted May 16 2011 11:16 AM

I was very skeptical at first because I have tried other services before and their speeds have been terrible (1-2 Mbps), so having heard good things about this one (and about coverage in my area), I decided to give it a shot.

Installation
1) Get it out of the box
2) Install battery
3) Plug it to the wall to charge it
4) Turn it on

At this point the device shows the name and password of the WiFi network.

5) Connect to WiFi using the device's instructions
6) Configure security settings (change Network name and password) (this is optional, but recommended unless you want to be hacked)
7) Setup a new admin password

And that's it!

Advanced Settings
- By default the device let's you connect up to 5 devices, but you you can change that up to 8.
- You should change the Hotspot administrator password for security (hackers usually know what the built-in passwords are and hack those who never change them).

Location
If you have multiple floors, put it in the middle floor if possible. Move it around your place so that you get the most bars.

Your admin utility (accessible through http://yourWiFiNetworkName) has a very useful status that you can use to monitor signal strength and whether you are on 4G or 3G.

Speed Test
After all the setup was done, I ran a speed test and got 5.8Mbps for download and 0.5Mbps for upload. It may not sound like much, but then I fired up my usual apps:

- Netflix: just as good as with my previous (supposed up to) 18Mbps cable modem connection, I noticed no difference.
- Facebook, Flickr, Gmail: No noticeable change.

I am beginning to think that my cable company was ripping me off ;-)

Conclusions
It's day 1, and I have no issues to report. All kinds of devices connected well:
- iPhone
- iPad
- Mac
- PC
- Nook

Next stage: Wii, PS3, and multiple users at once with heavy usage.

Update # 1:
It seems like the Overdrive Pro gives up when multiple devices go online and offline throughout the day, stops broadcasting a WiFi signal and needs to be restarted.

So far, twice today, the 2nd time I had to remove the battery. I am running the latest firmware.

Update # 2:
The restarts are starting to drive me a little bit crazy. The WiFi is broadcasted but you can't connect and the only way around it is to restart. So you better have a toothpick laying around to push that little button once or twice a day.

Still not bad enough to dump it, but I am close...

Update # 3:
The connectivity issues have diminished and now we go about 1 1/2 days without needing to restart it, and we only do so because of Netflix, which seems to have issues loading a movie or show for playback. Everything else is fine (email, Facebook, browsing, etc).

Update # 4 and Final Verdict:
It's a keeper!

No other ISP offered a similar price for 2 years, they start you at a teaser of 45-50 bucks then bump to over 65, and that's not even their top of they line speed.

Plus, the ability to take this device wherever I go was a big plus.

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13 Replies

 : May 16 2011 03:49 PM
So... what hardware, provider, and location are we talking about here?
 : May 16 2011 07:49 PM
Sprint Overdrive Pro 3G/4G, ST Louis, MO
Alejandro Ramirez
Digital Photography Club
Administrator
0
  potsie's Photo
Posted May 17 2011 10:58 AM

Do you have an unlimited data plan? The drawback to using a hotspot as an in-home solution seems to be the cost. A 10GB plan from Verizon or T-Mobile runs $80/month. That's significantly more expensive than what I currently pay for broadband access at home.
 : May 17 2011 05:28 PM
@potsie:
Sprint has a deal with Best Buy right now where you pay nothing to bring it home (yes, zero), and it's 59.99 for Unlimited 4G and 5GB on 3G (2 year plan, 30 days to try).

I have 3 bars in my house for 4G and the speed is pretty darn good. I also setup the hotspot to not connect on 3G and not connect automatically on roaming to avoid 'accidental' charges.
Alejandro Ramirez
Digital Photography Club
Administrator
+ 1
  mcarsom's Photo
Posted May 19 2011 08:30 PM

Verizon also has an unlimited/5GB plan for 4G/3G access, though theirs is slightly cheaper at US$50/mo.

Most of these devices seem to be limited to 5 devices connecting, which might be the cause of the issues you are seeing, especially as there is no good way for it to 'know' a given device is gone, except not seeing it renew its DHCP lease.

You might be able to install another router in front of it, with two wireless interfaces. Have the new router connect to the 4G AP using one interface and all of your devices connect to the router with the other (name the two wireless networks different things). Set the router up as a NATing firewall, and running a DHCP server on the network your devices connect to. Then the 4G AP only sees one device, and will get confused less often.
 : May 21 2011 06:53 PM
@mcarsom:

I have a Mac Mini that I use as a home server. Will it work if i were to connect the Overdrive Pro to the Mini via USB, then share the Internet connection by connecting the Mac Mini to an Airport Extreme station via LAN cable? This way, all other devices (but the Mini) would connect via WiFi.
Alejandro Ramirez
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  aroldan's Photo
Posted May 26 2011 07:27 AM

It's also worth checking out other Wireless services like Clear -- I recently used a Clear 4G modem at an event in Chicago and was really impressed with the quality of service, which was usually about 10Mbps down and 1Mbps up.

They have devices designed for home use (http://www.clear.com/devices/modems) which have larger antennas, connect directly to wall power, and have ethernet ports so you can use the home router you already have and generally have more control over your Internet connection along with more wired connections and no artificial device limits.
+ 1
  macnlos's Photo
Posted May 26 2011 11:52 AM

@Alejandro Ramirez

I too have a Mac Mini Server at home. Yes, you should be able to do this but no you shouldn't do this. From a security perspective you are placing your server on the Internet and one mistake could enable someone to access the data on it and your other machines.

You really should have an Airport Base Station but since this is a USB device there really is no way to do this. Another option would be to place an older OS X machine there, something that is not vital. For instance I've got an old G4 Quicksilver that I could setup as the Internet sharing machine.

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+ 1
  Rickasaurus's Photo
Posted Jun 02 2011 01:57 PM

You may have better results if you plug it into a small machine and run a NAT service on that machine. I tried this before, but I had a problem with my Sprint 4G device where it won't charge while it's in use so it eventually would run out of battery.

Also, the 4G access isn't great inside of my Hoboken apartment.
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  FSCA2007's Photo
Posted Jun 03 2011 06:32 AM

I use the Clear home modem which connects to my router and the 4G/3G hotspot while on the go. The service is faster than DSL and I save money by not paying for wireless services on my iPad, Mac and iPod Touch.
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  FSCA2007's Photo
Posted Jun 03 2011 06:38 AM

I use the Clear home modem to connect to a Linksys router and the 4G/3G hotspot while on the go. The service is faster than DSL and I save money by not paying for wireless services on my iPad, Mac and iPod Touch. The cost is $85 a month for unlimited data on both modems. Since I use about 100 GB a month on the home modem and 30 GB on the hotspot, it's a good deal.
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  lanarina12's Photo
Posted Jul 25 2013 06:01 AM

The last month I decided to make a bathroom remodel, my wife is a designer and she decided what model of Bathroom Vanities to install. After I finished the remodel of the bathroom I installed a WI-Fi router in my home, the salesman from the hardware store assured me I will have internet access in all my house. The antenna of the router was broken and I had Wi-Fi coverage only in the room where the Wi-Fi router was installed, I went to the hardware store and got another router that works flawlessly.
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  luna00's Photo
Posted Feb 13 2014 01:28 AM

Well, another 4G mobile hotspot router high recommeded is Huawei B593, it has has 4 ports for wired networks, and also supports 100 Mbps and provides access to up to 32 W-iFi devices, i think this is a good solution for many family members.