Homespace‎ > ‎PC Tech‎ > ‎

Cell phones and connectivity

posted Jun 19, 2011, 5:09 AM by Budd Nash   [ updated Jun 19, 2011, 5:38 AM ]
We have Sprint. I best get that out of the way since a lot of RVers can get pretty militant when it comes to their cell carriers. I have been with them for years, off contract, so it has been an ongoing choice to stay with them.

My reason is mostly that I have anymobile (no mobile to mobile costs, regardless of the other carrier), anytime 1500 (1500 anytime minutes/mo that only get used for calling landline phones) and unlimited roaming for voice AND data. I don't have any limits to run over and get nailed for huge overage fees.

At the house, we are in a dead zone and I will admit to poor connectivity.  Sprint has previously offered me an Air Rave FemToCell unit to fix that.  It connects to my broadband and provides my own little "cell tower" that gives me 6 bars throughout my house and yard. When I leave the house, my phones automatically switch to whatever cell service they can see just like always.

Last year, I accepted Sprint's offer to give me an Air Rave for free with no monthly charges for it and it has completely solved my in house connectivity.  To be fair, my kids switched to Verizon a few years ago because of the Sprint cell coverage at the house. They believed the hype but still have to go out into the yard to use their cell phones and still, occasionally, drop calls, so much for can you hear me now? advertising.  It has worked but does not work any better.

This Air Rave is the newer Airvana model that supports full 3g CDMA connectivity so I have good data speeds, too.

When we travel, I take it with us (since the kids don't have Sprint, anymore) and as long as I can get a Wifi signal, I have 6 bars wherever I go, even if there is no cell service at all (like where we are, now). 

To make it work, I use the USB Wifi adapter on my desktop system to get Internet from the campground. I then set the LAN port on my PC to bridge connection with this Wifi adapter and plug the Air Rave into that via an ethernet cable.  Takes just a few minutes to setup and well worth it.

This time, it started off working great but got flaky and quit connecting sometime while we were gone, yesterday.  I spent several hours before I finally checked the ethernet cable....  Duh!  The PC motherboard connector does not always let the tab on an RJ-45 connector lock into it.  I guess, while we were gone, Katie had been dancing around the PC at the back window, probably  excited by a squirrel outside and jiggled it enough to unseat it... just a little bit.

The Air Rave could still see the PC but they could not talk very well so the AR would not maintain a cell connection.  I finally got down on my knees, reached around the back of the PC and pushed the RJ-45 solidly back into the jack.  

Voila'!  The Air Rave jumped back to life and now we are back at 6 bars. Technology is a great thing.... when it is working correctly.  When it is not, I always have something to keep me occupied.. often for hours (my bad, not its).

Now we are happy campers, again, and you can certainly "Hear me now!"