When you go to a wireless carrier store or salesperson and tell them that you need the Internet for your home, they will most likely recommend that you purchase a MiFi or JetPack device.
These devices are great for temporary or mobile WiFi access. But just make sure that you are in an area with a strong LTE signal. Due to their compact size, these devices come with small, low-gain internal antennas. Even the WiFi signal gets noticeably weaker more than 15’ away from one of these devices. So, if you’re in a strong signal area and never need to connect a device in another room, these devices do great.
The next step up from one of these mobile devices is an LTE router. There are lots of LTE routers on the market, and we’ve installed or tested many of them. Based on a balance of pricing and performance, we recommend the PepWave MAX BR1 Mini (our Package #1: https://natstate.net/#products).
One of the things to notice about this unit is the connectors. There is 1 for GPS (optional), 1 for WiFi, and 2 for cellular (main and aux). The unit comes with paddle antennas for each of these that are easily installed and provide significantly more gain than the internal antennas on a MiFi/Jetpack. Where the versatility of the BR1 Mini really comes into play using high-gain, directional outdoor antennas and band selection(we’ll cover more on those in future posts).
Although the BR1 Mini offers increased LTE speeds over MiFi/JetPack devices, there is an even greater improvement in the WiFi coverage. The WiFi provided by the BR1 is 2.4GHz only, so you won’t get the fastest WiFi speeds. However, 2.4GHz does travel farther and penetrate building materials better than 5GHz WiFi. Depending on the construction materials in your home or building, you can potentially provide whole-home WiFi with the large omnidirectional antenna (see below) included in the kit. We provide extender kits for larger buildings and homes, or you can connect any of the whole-home WiFi/WiFi mesh kits on the market to one of the Ethernet ports on the BR1 Mini.
We have run into a surprising number of folks in Arkansas trying to use a MiFi or JetPack as their primary Internet connection at home. There are many reasons for this: carrier salespeople may have a financial incentive to sell MiFi/Jetpack devices, the salespeople are not aware of other solutions, or the user didn’t know how to ask for what they really wanted or needed. Regardless of how they got there, our recommendation is always the same: get yourself an LTE router.
If you’re ready to move on to better connectivity, reach out using the contact form below, or give us a call at 501-710-2081.