Pepwave Surf Mini Solves Many WiFi-Related Challenges

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pepwave Surf Mini Solves Many WiFi-Related Challenges

Pepwave Surf Mini - WiFi bridge from's newest product is the Pepwave Surf Mini, a versatile WiFi Bridge that allows users to connect to a WiFi source and either repeat/relay/extend that connectivity wirelessly, or convert from wireless to wired access via ethernet port on the bridge.

Surf Mini contents

The Surf Mini ships with a quickstart guide, A/C adapter, ethernet patch cable and two suction cups that fit into wall mount keyholes on the back of the unit. (3Gstore has an optional cigarette lighter adapter and long-run external battery pack.)

In this article you'll find information on the many uses of the Pepwave Surf. Here's a short video explaining the basics of this versatile product:

The versatility of this product enables it as a solution to a myriad of challenges. Here are just some of the challenges we expect to sell this as a solution for.

Easily change from cellular broadband to RV campground WiFi as internet source for Cradlepoint router
As versatile as the Cradlepoint mobile broadband routers are, they all lack a feature that many of's RV customers have repeatedly asked us for -- to use campground wifi as an internet source.

The overriding challenge is that cellular mobile broadband is not "everywhere" that an RVer wants to go and sometimes the only internet connectivity is "campground wifi" at the RV park they are staying at for the weekend.

The problem is that Cradlepoint routers can't easily serve as a "WiFi Bridge" to use campground wifi as the internet source for users in the RV. (actually a cradlepoint can relay using WDS, but most campground admins aren't going to be that cooperative.)

Some folks are bound to say "Big deal, just change your network settings and have your computer connect to the campground wifi instead of your cradlepoint router."

Sure, thats simple enough... but what if you have a bunch of equipment that is currently connected to your Cradlepoint router? Imagine 2 laptops, a desktop, an iPod touch, a DVR, your VOIP system... etc, etc.

If you had that much equipment, you're likely to just use one laptop to connect to campground wifi and leave the rest disconnected because of the hassle of a) changing all the settings to use cg wifi and b) changing all the settings BACK to your cradlepoint router once you hit the road and start using mobile broadband again.

Enter's "WiFi as WAN" (WaW) add-on solution for any Cradlepoint router with an ethernet port.

The Surf Mini is a powerful WiFi Bridge that should easily connect to almost any WiFi source you have the rights to connect to, and then connects to your Cradlepoint router via ethernet cable. The immediate advantage our solution provides is that there are NO changes made to your computer's network connection -- everything stays connected to you Cradlepoint router, just as it already was.

Our tech support department has spent months researching different bridge options and chosen the model we sell because of how well it works, and how easy it is for us to support. The bridge we sell is shipped with an exclusive "3GStore WaW TipSheet" that should make connecting your Cradlepoint router to an external WiFi source a painless process. Using the instructions in our tipsheet, a 3Gstore customer can connect to web admin on the wifi bridge, without even disconnecting from the Cradlepoint router!

Once connected to the wifi bridge's web admin, our tipsheet goes on to explain how to enter in campground wifi security settings to allow all the equipment attached to their Cradlepoint router, to connect to the internet.

There are many RVers who have bought high-gain USB wifi adapters like those from Alfa, Hawking or WiFire... and many found great success with their choices. Those popular USB options are designed to provide campground wifi connection ONLY to the computer that the adapter is attached to. The 3Gstore solution is different because it allows the campground wifi to be used by all the equipment already connected to the Cradlepoint router.

Our solution ships with a high-gain 5dBi omni antenna for great WiFi reception, and we have a directional 15dBi very-high-gain antenna that can easily be used for connection under the most difficult park conditions.

The 3Gstore WiFi as WAN solution can also be used by part-time RVers who don't have a Cradlepoint router and depend on campground WiFi as their only access to the internet.

Here's a short video to further explain the WiF as WAN solution:

Simplify the use of Marina WiFi as internet source for Cradlepoint routers
Many boat owners have now turned to cellular mobile broadband and Cradlepoint routers for their internet access while on the open seas. Much like RV campgrounds, many boat marinas offer WiFi to their customers and the Pepwave Surf can simplify the process of switching to marina WiFi as the internet source. Even without a Cradlepoint router, the Pepwave Surf is a great way to help get the most out of marina WiFi because its high power wifi antenna can pick up distant/weak signal and repeat it within a boat, or convert it to ethernet to feed into an existing network router.
Simplify the use of WiFi for multiple WiFi-enabled computers/devices in a mobile application
Major internet service providers like ATT and Verizon (not the wireless divisions, the landline divisions) provide a large network of WiFi access for their DSL customers to use while traveling. Many roadwarriors out there who depend solely on these types of WiFi networks for their on-the-road internet access, travel with multiple computers and other wifi-enabled equipment in their rigs. As they travel from hotspot to hotspot, it becomes increasingly tedious to have to change network settings on all their gear so each piece of equipment can connect to the internet.

The Surf Mini simplifies the task of switching from one hotspot to another without having to change network settings on each piece of equipment that requires internet access.

Once the Surf Mini is set up to watch for the common SSID (hotspot name) in use across the WiFi network (for instance, the SSID for ATT is 'attwifi'), the Surf Mini will begin scanning for that hotspot name and its LED lights will flash in sequence from left to right and back again -- just like the KnightRider car used to!

When the vehicle that is carrying the Surf Mini pulls into a location where attwifi is available, the Surf Mini will lock onto the hotspot and is ready for someone to connect a computer to register onto the wifi network. The really cool part is, once ONE computer has successfully registered through the Surf Mini, all other computers and devices that want internet connectivity through the Surf Mini can surf without having to also register onto the network.

Without that feature of the Surf Mini computer traveling in the vehicle would have to register onto the wifi network via compatible web browser, and some wifi enabled devices that do not have a compatible browser (like game consoles and hand held gaming devices) would not be able to connect at all.

Simplify the connection between two distant buildings as much as 300ft apart
Many of's customers describe themselves as living "out in the sticks" and have found mobile broadband service from Sprint, Verizon or AT&T to be their best internet option. They will often use a solution that includes a cellular USB modem, a high-gain antenna and a Cradlepoint router. With that equipment, they will enjoy internet speeds that are better than dialup or satellite, and be able to connect multiple computers simultaneously throught the cellular router.

Many of these remote customers are faced with the challenge of providing internet access to a remote barn/office/shop/garage/warehouse -- a structure that can be separated by hundreds of feet from the main home. 3Gstore has often been asked if we sell a solution that allows them to "bridge" between the two (or more) structures.

The Surf Mini is part of a package that allows users to connect wirelessly to a WiFi hotspot in another buildling as much as 300 feet away, or convert from wireless to wired access via ethernet port on the bridge.

The rest of the solution includes the Cradlepoint MBR1200 with 3Gstore's optional high-gain directional WiFi antennas, and another high-gain WiFi antenna added to the Surf Mini itself (as seen below).

Customer's will set up their Cradlepoint MBR1200 and cellular modem in the main house and use one high-gain directional antenna to shoot WiFi signal across to the remote location where the Surf Mini and high-gain directional antenna will receive WiFi and either rebroadcast as WiFi into remote location, allow for a single ethernet connection, or both.

Surf Mini with Hawking High Gain Directional WiFi Corner Antenna

Use nearby WiFi as failover for home/office
If you own a business or work from home, its very likely that any loss of internet access can cost you money or your job.

The Surf Mini allows you to easily connect your network to nearby WiFi networks -- that you have legal permission to attach to!

WiFi is everywhere nowadays and the hotspots are powered by various forms of internet connectivity -- cable, dsl, t-1, fixed wireless, 3G, 4G -- just to name a few common sources.

If your home/office internet connectivity goes down often, you can use our WiFi Bridge to temporarily pull in your neighbor's internet connectivity (with their permission, of course) and not have to change anything on your existing network except for the ethernet cable connection that feeds your home router!

The Surf Mini can be used to provide connectivity into your existing home/office router, so you don't have to change any network settings on your computers.

If you only have one computer to worry about, you'll be able to easily connect it to either the Surf Mini's ethernet port or its WiFi hotspot.

Enable ethernet-only equipment with WiFi connectivity

There are many examples of electronic gear that benefits from (or even requires) internet connectivity:
  • VOIP/PBX phones like the Cisco 7940 series;
  • Video gaming consoles like the Sony Playstation 2;
  • DVR's (digital video recorders) like the TiVo;
  • High end DVD and Blu-Ray players;
  • Home Theatre media centers;
  • NAS (network attached storage);
  • Video streaming gear like the SlingBox and Sony's LocationFree;
  • older desktop pc computers;
  • printers;
  • high-end copy machines;
  • digital photo frames;
  • point of sale hardware;
  • kiosks;
  • alarm systems and security cameras;
  • this list could go on and on and on!
Practically any device that has ethernet networking capability can be hooked up to WiFi using the Surf Mini. The wireless range between the Surf Mini and your hotspot will depend on many factors including the brand/quality of your hotspot and environmental factors. We expect that even with the least powerful WiFi hotspot (like a MiFi), the Surf Mini will work at a distance of 50 feet or more away from your existing hotspot.

Surf Mini with Cisco 7940 VOIP PBX Phone
The Surf Mini makes it easy to relocate your Cisco 7940 VOIP phone!

Surf Mini and Sony PlayStation 2
The Surf Mini makes it easy to get your Sony Playstation 2 online!

Extend the wireless range of hotspots like the MiFi 2200
The MiFi 2200 is a tiny mobile hotspot that has limited WiFi range of about 30 feet. Its a convenient device for those who are frequently traveling, but its limited WiFi range can really be a problem in the average sized home or office. The Surf Mini can be easily set up to connect wirelessly to the MiFi and then re-broadcast wifi for as much as 150ft or more! Need to extend WiFi and allow for a desktop via etherent? No problem. The Surf Mini can do both! (but the Surf Mini can't keep the MiFi charged like a Cradlepoint can)

Limit overage charges on mobile broadband service
The Major U.S. carriers like Sprint, Verizon and AT&T are all offering Mobile Broadband access with "tiered" monthly service that provides 5GB (5 gigabytes) of bandwidth per billing cycle, and overage charges for each megabyte after the first 5GB. Roadwarriors who use cellular mobile broadband need to find ways to download large software updates, HD movies and other large files without exposing themselves to exhorbitant overage charges. One solution is to use the Surf Mini to connect to WiFi hotspots where available (and authorized). The Surf Mini makes it simpler to do software updates on multiple computers without having to change network settings on each one.

If you have a challenge that involves connecting to WiFi, the Surf Mini WiFi Bridge solution may be the answer you are looking for. If you don't see your specific application listed, feel free to email and ask the mobile broadband experts!

Here are additional  photos of the Pepwave Surf Mini
Surf Mini on top of Cradlepoint MBR1000

Surf Mini jacks/outlets

Back of Surf Mini

Surf Mini held to window using included suction cups

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 February 2010 )
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