Internet Connectivity on the Road

So this post, one of several that are forthcoming, spotlights some of the gear and technology in Bo. All of our gear reports are unbiased and based on our own experiences. We have purchased all of this gear ourselves after our own research, and with our own money.

One of the key challenges while traveling and editing on the road is the need for Internet connectivity. We needed a way to connect to the Internet and provide an “in-van” network with wifi and ethernet to share files/ collaborate. We have a ton of different devices that need connectivity, from our computers to our solar charge controller, so we wanted a network that we didn’t have to reconfigure every time we entered a new country. Enter our Cradlepoint MBR-1400.

The Cradlepoint is a router that can use 3G and 4G data cards from around the world and connect and reshare them to a wifi and Ethernet network. It’s like your wifi base station or router at home, but instead of connecting to your cable modem, you connect your 3G/4G data card to it. It then acts a “computer” and configures the connection of the card and connects to the Internet. It then shares that connection back via wifi and Ethernet. It can take up to 5 modems at the same time, and has a useful feature that allows it to connect to another wifi network and then use that connection as a link to the Internet. There are a slew of configuration options on the router, it can load balance, manage data limits across cards, supports VPN, guest networks, and the range is pretty far. I have been able to park the van down the block and still get to the connection.

The plan is to buy multiple 3G data SIM cards along the way and then swap them out as we change countries. We have several unlocked data modems so we can save money on buying new devices. Typically the SIM cards are less than $30 for a month of unlimited data service. While the service will be slow, doubling or even tripling them up will give us enough bandwidth to reliably send and receive emails and blog.

The Cradlepoint does use some power. With all 5 modems going, it uses about 1.5 – 2amps of power. So that’s up 48 amp hours in a day. That’s almost as much as our fridge :). In a later post we’ll be discussing energy “budgets”, and how we are planning to manage our power.

We have been running the Cradlepoint 24/7 for a while now and have been thrilled with the performance.

Here it is in action.

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Categories: Gear, overland, Overlanding

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