EVDOinfo Tip of the Week #31: Use Campground WiFi as Internet source for Cradlepoint Routers

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Thursday, 10 December 2009

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Use Campground WiFi as the Internet source for Cradlepoint Routers


pepwave surf mini and cradlepoint mbr1000


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 -- the ability to receive campground WiFi to use as an internet source.

While carriers have vastly improved their 3G coverage over the years, cellular mobile broadband is not available "everywhere" and sometimes the only internet connectivity available is "campground wifi" at the RV park they are staying at for the weekend. Or, even if mobile broadband coverage IS available, some users would still prefer to use campground WiFi when it's available so that they can "save" their 5GB mobile broadband allowance for use when WiFi isn't available.

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 that solution requires the cooperation of the campground admin - which isn't likely to happen.)

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, that's simple enough if you only have one laptop... 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, while you may be willing to change the settings on one of your laptops to connect to the campground WiFi, you'll likely leave the rest disconnected because of the hassle of a) changing all the settings to use campground wifi and b) changing all the settings BACK to your Cradlepoint router once you hit the road and need to start using mobile broadband again.

Enter's "WiFi as WAN" (WaW) add-on solution for any Cradlepoint router with an ethernet port (CTR350, CTR500, MBR900, MBR1000, MBR1200).

The Surf Mini is a powerful WiFi Bridge that allows you to 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.

Here's how it works: The Surf Mini "picks up" the WiFi from the campground and then "feeds" it to your Cradlepoint router. To set it up, you simply connect to the Surf Mini's web admin from one of your computers, select the network you want to connect to and then enter in the campground WiFi security settings. Then connect the Surf Mini to the Cradlepoint via ethernet and all of your devices that are connected to the Cradlepoint router via WiFi or ethernet will be back online within minutes - using campground WiFi through your Cradlepoint!

Besides being so simple to use, what makes this solution so unique is that it allows the campground WiFi to be used by all the equipment already connected to the Cradlepoint router. 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 - but those popular USB options are designed to connect the campground WiFi connection ONLY to the computer that the adapter is attached to.

The Surf Mini 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.

Here's a short video that further explains the WiFi as WAN solution:

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. Setting up the Pepwave Surf Mini with your Cradlepoint router is an easy process, but we've made it even easier by creating an exclusive "3GStore WaW TipSheet" that we include with each Surf Mini!

Related links:

Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 March 2010 )
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