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MOFI-4500 -- 4g LTE Router That's Great for RV/Camper -- MOFI4500-4GXeLTE-SIM4

I am blessed with a career where I have been able to work remote for a long time now. It's an amazing luxury that I worked very hard to earn in my life, and it has afforded me amazing work/life balance. This last year or so though I've started to take working remote to remote locations, which is another amazing work/life balance achievement. With that flexibility though comes responsibility, and part of that flexibility is infalliable internet connectivity. I need to not just perform at a normal level, I need to perform at the highest levels so as there can be no doubts. Many companies found it hard to fathom someone could possibly be productive at home, and it took nearly two decades for that trend to relent. It will be a long time, if ever, before employers will feel comfortable knowing their employee is on a beach in Hawaii or at the base of a ski area

So with my goal being able to work remote in remote locations, I needed an excellent internet solution. I began with the cheap options, phone tethering and a Jetpack (a device that just is an LTE hotspot). They worked decent, but they lacked the true horsepower of a better setup. While the addition of a $30 external Netgear antenna helped a lot with the Jetpack, I would still find myself in situations that were inadequate. I also frequently travel in a camper, and when I first began the process of investgiating working remote in remote locations, I had a fiberglass sided pop up A-frame camper that did not interfere with LTE signal at all. Fast forward a year later and I upgraded to a larger camper with a metal exterior, and I noticed LTE signal took a massive hit. In one particular situation going from just inside the camper to right outside the door would yield a 10 fold improvement. It quickly became apparent to me that while the tethering and jetpack with antenna combo had worked in prior situations, it was going to fail me in this camper and ultimately prevent me from working remote in it at the level of performance I feel is essential.

So I began to investigate the world of 4g LTE Modems and Routers. I'm a fairly tech savy guy I fancy. I've built large sound systems for raves running three way compression and triamplification. I built my own cabinets, wiring, and built up the racks for ease of setup and teardown. I was also an electrician for a while until the housing market tanked. Beyond that I work in tech and generally fancy I know my way around. So, when I tell you that the world of 4g LTE modems and routers is confusing, I hopefully can convey the full confusion of it all. No LTE provider actually intends for anyone to do this, and so the documentation is sparse and unofficial. Many solutions people suggest require open source firmware flashes and other such work arounds, and the documentation is frequently out of date.

This is where the Mofi-4500 came in: A simple solution all in one, generally known to work.

I say generally known to work as when I googled "Mofi-4500 Google FI" I only found a reddit thread where an individual asked if it was possible, followed by another individual saying essentially "It's not worth doing the bandwidth cap is too low". So no one had ever done it with Google FI and documented it anywhere I could find. Other people had said it worked on their providers though, and there was generally enough positive information out there that it seemed like it was worth the risk.

I received the MOFI-4500 and my free Data only SIM from Google FI on the same day. Shoutout to google fi for being awesome with free data only sims. I sat down at a desk where I was staying, unboxed the MOFI-4500 and connected the antennas. Honestly, it's a no brainer to unbox and setup. I did spend a bit of time faffing around with getting the nana SD card into the SD adapter (which is included in the box) but some of that was user unfamiliarity. I then plugged the MOFI-4500 into the wall with the adapter... waited until the lights stabilized and... no internet. Not entirely unexpected though, I had settings to adjust! I logged into the router and used the wizard as directed, selecting Google FI. The router reset and... now I had internet, and decent internet at that! While the internet I receive was not staggering for speed, it was far more stable than the Comcast Internet available at the house.

Further setup of the MOFI-4500 proved unnecessary and yielded no benefits. Obvious things like changing the network name made sense, but as I played with bandlocking on various bands and what not, I just kept finding that auto treated me great and I really just did need anything further.

Since the initial setup, I've done three tests.

Test 1 - Working from home, but on the MOFI-4500 instead of the home WIFI. With the MOFI-4500 in the window, I was able to get decent internet speeds of 20 up, 14 down. No one will be amazed by those speeds, but for video conferencing and programming work... those are more than adequate! The stability though is what blew me away. My video calls frequently "hiccup" or voice quality degrades to unbearable on many wired connections. With 4G LTE on the MOFI-4500... I had none of that. Score one for the MOFI-4500!

Test 2- I took the MOFI-4500 into the camper, just outside of my house. Sure enough, using the modem inside of the camper itself yielded significant signal loss, generally about -110db or so resulting in 8 up, 6 down. Simply moving the MOFI-4500 into the window yielded a notable gain though, with my signal going to -103 or so DB resulting in 16 up, 10 down. While these speeds are still not amazing, this demonstrated to me that a future plan to add a rooftop external antenna setup would deliver significant gains. It should also be noted that while speeds weren't staggering, stability was impeccable. I was beyond impressed.

Test 3- I took the MOFI-4500 to the highest parking spot I'm aware of on a Volcano. Yep, I drove up a volcano to approximately 6000 or so feet of elevation. This was to be both a test of the MOFI-4500 off of my block, along with a test of using it where I don't have shore power. Interestingly, this yielded an awesome discover... the MOFI-4500 power draw is INSANELY low! It is so low infact that my inverter wouldn't even recognize it as a load and would switch itself off. So I plugged it in to my portable power box, and come to find out it only draws 2 watts! The draw is also likely lower, since this is going from DC on the power box, to AC via the inverter, back to DC via the wall adapter (note: I will in the future put this into the 12v system switched).

Here, the MOFI-4500 worked great as well. Infact, I'm writing this review on it, and also doing some additional work for my dayjob after hours. I was able to get 28.8 down, and 8.79 up, with my signal being -87db. This is MORE than workable speed wise, and stability wise it is also again beyond impressive. I'm also ontop of a Volcano, so whatever tower I have access to likely isn't tied into the best infrasrtructure either. As you can see the Router is also again just pressed into the window. An external antenna should yield an even more significant gain!

Further Testing at A Remote Lake Cabin:

I decided to bring along and try out the MOFI-4500 on a recent trip to my Girlfriend's family cabin up on a very remote lake. There is a singular tower on the lake, and nothing else nearby at all. The tower is owned by US Cellular, and for whatever reason it will work on my Google FI phone and Tmobile phones, but not any Verizon devices.

My phone was getting a paltry 3.3 down, 1.1 up. Not enough to really video conference, but more than enough to do my fairly simple job with a bit of patience. I checked on my LTE Discovery app, and come to find out I was operating on band 5. Google FI does not offer LTE service on band 5, just 2 and 4. Not sure what was happening, and when I contacted customer service they simple said "They couldn't say". Sounds like the tower was letting me operate on Band 5 despite the lack of agreement with Google FI?

This is where things got odd. I attempted to connect with MOFI-4500, and when I got on any band on the tower, ZERO data service. Nothing I could do could make it work. I could theorize as to why, such as not allowing data only devices and prioritizing phones given the remote nature of the location... but that's all I got. All I know, is the situation just couldn't work on the MOFI-4500, fault to be determined...

Future plans:

As mentioned several times in the article, the MOFI-4500 is awesome, but the fact that I have mainly had to use inside of buildings or metal campers has perhaps held it back. I have since purchased a 7-1 Pynting roof mount Antenna, which should yield significant gains as the Antennas it offers should themselves be superior, along with the mounting location being external and on the roof of the camper should yield significant gains. I'll report back about the effectiveness of the unit before the antenna (IE: Included antennas), and with the rooftop Antenna.

With the antenna install, I will also be installing the MOFI-4500 in a fixed location inside the camper. It will be on a switched 12v power source, which will allow me to turn it off when not in use and then just turn it back on when needed. While not necessary since the power draw is so minimal, it will be nice as I can externally reset the MOFI-4500 and not just run it for long periods of time when not necessary. I will let you all know how it holds up to travel in the camper once mounted to the wall. I wonder just how rugged it will prove to be

Beyond that, if this proves reliable and continues to be amazing... I honestly may just install another MOFI-4500 in my camper. The original person to respond to the MOFI-4500 reddit post I found was not wrong when they stated that the Bandwidth cap for Google FI was pretty low. I have to do all sorts of tricks like disable images when browsing and utilize an adblocker to get my Bandwidth to last through the month. Given my job doesn't run on images or advertisements, it's hardly a detriment, but it does mean streaming video is also out. I'd like to get one of the many unlimited plans I hear so much about, or perhaps one of the more well known and accepted 100gb plans from Tmobile. 130gb should more than get me through a month of work and even streaming movies from time to time.

More information to come though... stay tuned!