Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cradlepoint! This Is So Cool!

I have the Virgin Broadband Internet stick and I have been very happy with it. It plugs into the side of the computer, you open a program and it connects to the Internet through a cell tower. It is a little difficult as we have two computers and only one of them can connect at a time and I tend to use the small one in the bedroom and the larger one in the living room so it means moving the card from one to the other all the time and there is danger of damaging the USB port.

There is a product called a Cradlepoint CTR35 that turns the Internet Modem (“stick”) into a limited range WIFI zone. It plugs into the wall or inverter and broadcasts a WIFI signal in and around the motorhome. It remains connected and ready all the time which is just what I need/want.

I mentioned it to our host, Paul, and he said he had just bought one at Best Buy on sale for $79 and he would take me down there. They were out of them but Paul saw the bigger, more powerful Cradlepoint 600 that he said he would like to upgrade to as he uses it as WIFI for his whole house and the smaller unit would not reach to where his motorhome is parked. I told him if he wanted the bigger one then I would buy the smaller one from him and that is what we did.

Yesterday we spent too many hours setting up the “Plug and Play” units! We got his working, started the setup on mine and a little later his new one stopped working. We played with the settings for a long time before he called Customer Support who emailed a long list of things to do to troubleshoot the problem. The women were now complaining because they wanted to go out for dinner and Paul and I were getting a little hungry and frustrated as well.

As we were packing things up we realized that I was hooked into the admin area of his router and not mine. We had the passwords and settings so screwed up that neither unit was working! When we got home I was too tired to work on it any more but Paul stayed with it. He reset everything, turned my router off and got his working again by one or two o’clock and then started on mine until he got too tired. This morning we tackled mine again, got into it, reset all the passwords and it worked!!

I velcro’d it to the inside of the passenger side cabover window and started testing. It has a range much less than the advertised 350 feet but I can get a usable signal about 100 feet away from the window (this is fixed now, I discovered a setting to increase power). Both computers can be on at the same time and it will actually handle up to 16 simultaneous connections! It draws hardly any current and can be left on all the time. It is password protected so no unauthorized users can hop on but I can give my password to anyone parked next to us to share. This is an RVers dream come true! Life is Good!



  1. So, this means you need to leave your internet stick connected at all times? How much bandwidth does that suck up?

  2. Well, I could simply unplug it between uses but yes, you are right. I am on an unlimited bandwidth plan but I will have to monitor how much bandwidth it uses. I doubt if it is much because with the computers turned off there would only be the odd handshake with the server.

  3. Hey Croft: Has the cost of your Virgin package gone up? I saw a banner ad today which seems to say that the unlimited plan is $50 per month. I thought you were paying 40?

  4. I renewed a few days ago for $40 but at one point I saw a screen with three choices, $10, $40 and $50. They have announced that the "Unlimited plan" would be restricted to 5 GB starting in April.

    I see this on their website now:

    "Virgin Mobile reserves the right, without notice, to temporarily limit throughput speeds when monthly data usage on the $40 Broadband2Go Plan exceeds 5 GB".

    I guess this is the result of some users dowmloading movies 24/7.

    They also say the new $50 "unlimited" plan offers "higher speeds".

  5. I just read that the $40 plan is no longer available to new subscribers but those already on it are Grandfathered "until further notice".
    it is unclear what happens when I take a six month break in service when I leave the USA. Maybe I will have to renew at the $50 level.

  6. Croft,
    I have a few questions for you about this stuff. I have been reading quite a bit on wireless for travelling but always like asking someone who has a bit more experience with the technical stuff.
    Have you used a couple of different carriers (Verizon or Sprint) while travelling in the US?? Or have you heard from fellow RVer's which carrier has the better data coverage for wireless internet. Each company always says that they have the best but we all know thats not true. I have been looking into Millenicom and it seems like they have the best price/deal if you are looking for data over 5GB.
    We don't require a carrier for cell phone service as we use the google phone from our gmail accounts on the our laptops if we need to make a call.
    I was reading about the Cradlepoint that you have and am wondering if you tried to setup the system through the local free (if available) WiFi from the RV park and distribute it to multiple computers in the rig? Also read that it may be used as a signal booster from that type of setup. Sorry for all the questions. I appreciate any knowledge about this topic that you could pass on.

  7. Very cool. I am going to read up on this. Catching up on my blog reading now. Sounds like good weather has come your way. Say hi to Norma.

  8. So, I just paid 50 for a month, and no MIFI availasble anywhere. Sure is quick here in Apache Junction though.

  9. Dave,

    I have only used Virgin and cannot personally comment on any other plan. I believe AT&T and Verizon have better coverage in the boondocks but Virgin is pretty good along the Interstate Highway corridors. Virgin does not work yet around Yuma. Of these 3, I believe only Virgin offers pay as you go plans. I have no knowledge of Millenicom but there is a discussion of it right now on the Escapees forum. I do not know any details.

    I believe the Cradlepoint can be used to redistribute park WIFI signals with use of a WIFI stick but have not had a chance to try that feature yet.

    I do not know where the cell tower is in relation to where we are parked in Lakeland, FL but the Virgin drops out the odd time here. it seems to be worse around 3 - 4 (maybe when kids get off school?) and again around 7 (after dinner?) so I have written that off to heavy traffic. this is the only location i have noticed this problem, My friend Paul whose house we are parked at uses the same setup for his whole house and yard but uses AT&T and has no problem. It is 11:30 now and the speed on mine is good (kids in bed?). I am staying up late watching the canucks on Starchoice).

    Sorry I can't offer any more details but I am generally happy with the system. My friend from Campbell River is in Apache Junction and has just bought the Virgin Broadband stick (no Cradlepoint) and says it is giving him blazing speeds there. My decision to buy Virgin was based on the reasonable price of $40 per month (no longer available) and the pay as you go feature which allows me to cut it off in the summer. The Cradlepoint will work with my Mexican Telcel Internet stick as well.

    The latest technology seems to be the WIFI Ranger. There is a discussion on Escapees here.

  10. Thanks Croft for all that you know about this. I will keep doing research about these items and if I am able to find out anything new and exciting I will be sure to post something on Kelsi's blog. Thanks again for you reply.

  11. Hi sir, are you able to use your cradlepoint in Mexico with Telcel network?

  12. Charles, The Cradlepoint is not working with the Telcel Banda Ancha stick. I believe there is something wrong with the Cradlepoint as ir connects and stays connected for two or three minuted and then drops off. I will test it with the Virgin when we get back to the USA and will report.

    1. Did you get the cradle point working with the telcel banda ancha stick. I live in mexico and need to buy a cradlepoint that works with telcel. Thanks for all your help.

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