Cradlepoint ARC CBA850 Review

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Tuesday, 05 May 2015

Cradlepoint ARC CBA850 Review



New from Cradlepoint, the ARC CBA850 is a mobile broadband adapter, meant to bring cellular connectivity to any device that requires it. The CBA850 is purpose built for temporary networks, or networks where wired connections are impractical (cable, DSL, satellite). The CBA850 serves as a primary-connection device converting mobile broadband to ethernet for point-of-sale devices, digital signs and kiosks, businesses, and more. When paired with a multi-WAN router, the CBA850 is a powerful failover connection with plenty of features meant to minimize connection downtime.

The primary focus of the ARC CBA850 is the addition of a powerful Out of Band Management capability when paired with the new Cradlepoint Enterprise Cloud Manager Prime. Out of Band Management (OOBM) allows administrators to establish a console connection to hardware which the router is configured for. This allows for troubleshooting of network equipment in the case of service outages. Once turned on, this feature is used by establishing a telnet client session with the router, which then redirects the traffic to the attached console cable. This powerful solution is meant to minimize truck rolls and costly downtime, while saving time and money with OOBM connectivity through the cloud.


(LEDs: Signal Strength, LAN 1 & 2, USB, Embedded Modem)


The ARC CBA850 has a dedicated RJ45 serial port, which is meant for the Out of Band Management function. Connect one end of an ethernet cable to the Cradlepoint, and the other to the console of the device you need to configure (serial rollover cable required for Cisco or straight-through for Juniper, check your device pinout to be sure). These can be DD-WRT devices, Cisco ASAs, a SonicWALL, or any other device with a console port. IT departments that routinely deal with legacy hardware and troubleshooting understand the time and effort involved in managing these devices since they typically require a physical presence to configure. Business owners pay a high price when networks are down, and when time is money, network downtime can add up fast. Add the cost of backup hardware for multiple locations to the cost of an on site support person, plus lost productivity and revenue when an internet connection is down, and finally throw in pricy truck rolls... the ARC CBA850 can pay for itself the first time OOBM is used. With a reduced need for truck rolls and on-site IT, the Cradlepoint can even save money when its features are properly leveraged. In a future firmware release (est late May 2015) OOBM will allow access to multiple devices behind the ARC CBA850 using a USB to serial splitter.

On the WAN (internet connection) side of things, the ARC CBA850 includes a powerful multi-carrier embedded modem capable of connecting to 2G/3G/4G/LTE networks. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile LTE can be used depending on carrier coverage and preference, and switching carriers is as simple as flashing new modem firmware to the unit. Keeping the connection alive is important, even if the ARC CBA850 is only playing a backup role to a primary internet connection. Modem failure checks are in place to ensure the Cradlepoint maintains a constant connection, ready to work for you at a moments notice. The ARC CBA850 also has a powerful IP Passthrough feature. This means that with a static IP address, remote access to physical networks over a cellular connection is not only possible, it's extremely easy to configure.


(Embedded Cellular Modem)

The LAN side of things include the usual suspects of a DHCP server if used in router mode, MAC address filtering, UPnP, DMZ, 802.1Q Vlan support, and more. Unlike the current CBA750B, the ARC CBA850 has two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports (default one NAT, one IP Passthrough) to make deployments and management of the Cradlepoint as simple as possible. The gigabit ethernet port also means the Cradlepoint will be field upgradable in the next few years to support Cat6 LTE modems.


(LAN 2 PoE & IP Passthrough, LAN 1 NAT, Console, Power)

Speaking of management, the Cradlepoint is no slouch. On top of the powerful web GUI while physically connected to the router, the ARC CBA850 is best utilized when managed from the cloud with Enterprise Cloud Management (ECM). ECM allows for rapid, remote configuration of physical routers that may be in entirely different geographic areas. Once connected to ECM, a Cradlepoint can report on bandwidth usage, allow remote configuration, take firmware updates over the air, at the same time as reducing the operating costs of managing a network. The new Cradlepoint ECM Prime also expands on the functionality of the ARC CBA850. OOBM to a connected device through ECM means that no costly static IP address is needed for the cellular connection. Verizon charges a one time $500 fee for a static address! Simply log into ECM, select the ARC CBA850, and you’ll instantly be connected to the console port of the connected device.


(OOBM via ECM)

Along with the built in cellular modem, the ARC CBA850 also has a USB port on board for firmware updates, or a secondary cellular connection via USB modem. To make installation easy, the Cradlepoint also supports 802.3af (15W) or 802.3at (30W) PoE. If a primary router is installed in a server closet or somewhere where cellular signal strength is weak, the ARC CBA850 can be located where that signal is more accessible. If security is a concern for locating the device elsewhere, external cellular antenna connections mean that high quality low loss cellular cable and external antennas can be added for maximum connectivity no matter what the installation environment looks like. ATM machines, digital signage, kiosks, and IoT applications can all benefit from the featureset of the ARC CBA850 as well thanks to its small footprint and ease of use.


(GPS, AUX, and MAIN Cellular Antenna Connections)


What is included:

  • Cradlepoint ARC CBA850 with Integrated MC400 Multi-Carrier Modem (unless you purchase the modemless, USB required version)
  • Universal 3G/4G/LTE antennas (again, unless you get the USB only version)
  • 12V DC 1A Power Cable
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Mounting Hardware
  • Warranty Info

Watch our quick unboxing and overview of the ARC CBA850 below.


The ARC CBA850 has a 1 year manufacturer warranty right out of the box, and with extended warranties of 2, 3, or 5 years, the Cradlepoint can be a reliable means of connecting to your network for years to come. Cradlepoint also offers CradleCare for 1, 3, and 5 year terms which provides access to 24/7 technical support, upgrades, and advanced hardware replacement. Cradlepoint doesn’t provide any free support, however if you order through 3Gstore we include 1 year of technical support by phone at no charge, along with access to our support portal which includes manufacturer and staff created manuals and tip sheets to guide you through any configuration needs.

3Gstore had a chance to get hands on with an ARC CBA850 before release, and overall we were very impressed with the device. The CB850 lives up to Cradlepoint's standard of quality, which is immediate as soon as the device is in hand. While this is a plastic enclosure, it is meant for indoor use and the environments this is meant for won’t pose any concern for the materials. The backside of the unit has a removable panel for cable routing depending on the way the CBA850 will be installed, which we think is quite clever. It shows that thought was put into this ahead of time from day one, and real word applications were considered. Getting at the embedded modem for SIM access was a little bit tricky as it is a tight fit into the side of the router. Once a SIM is installed, there isn’t any need for physical access to this component anyhow, and a small screw keeps the modem cover in place for a nice clean look. Speaking of looks, we think the white color scheme is great. The CBA850 will blend into a drop ceiling or other background with ease. Taking advantage of the PoE for optimal router placement won’t be an eyesore.



(Wall Mounted for M2M or Space Saving Installations)

Logged into the ARC CBA850 is a familiar interface, and that is a very good thing. The time tested Cradlepoint web GUI, with its recently updated color scheme make for simple configurations. Helpful pop up information on the sides of the more complicated feature are welcome but don’t obstruct any other interface functions. The Cradlepoint was also able to connect to a cellular network (Verizon LTE) and remain connected for a weekend of testing without incident. If you were to redefine reliability, the word Cradlepoint may come up, and the ARC CBA850 is a testament to that.


(ARC CBA850 Login Page)

For more information on the Cradlepoint ARC CBA850, visit 3Gstore . Not sure if the CBA850 is the right device for the job? Contact the experts at 3Gstore and we’ll discuss your unique needs and come up with a solution for you.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 May 2015 )
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