Using Sprint 4G LTE as a primary Internet connection

A few MVNOs have good deals on Sprint hotspot devices and data plans.

  • Ting sells a $25 hotspot device with a no-contract plan for 30 GiB of data for $25 per month
  • Boost Mobile offers 50 GiB for $50 per month
  • Sprint sells 10 GiB for $30, 50 GiB for $50, 100 GiB for $60

I went with Ting because I like their company, the device was cheap, and the plan suited me well. Ting uses the Franklin R850, which has been well-hacked and documented online. Pretty ideal!

(Guess which local ISP I'm trying to avoid!)

Cellular connection

Bandwidth and latency seemed unstable in my tests in downtown Santa Barbara. The Franklin R850 supports LTE bands 25, 26, and 41. A variety of towers service these bands in my neighborhood. So it seems to me that I need to improve my connection with these towers.

More specifically, here are the operating frequencies for the supported bands:

  • LTE B25: 1850 to 1995 MHz
  • LTE B26: 814 to 849 MHz
  • LTE B41: 2496 to 2690 MHz

So a log-periodic antenna seems the ticket. I can readily find antennae for sell online that capture all three bands; I can also source cheaper antennae that capture B25, B26, but not B41.

The Franklin R850 has female MS162 connectors. Only a couple online suppliers offer cables with a right-angle male MS162 connector.

Tethering

I don't have much interest in using the device as a Wifi access point; I'd rather connect my own router and firewall to the device directly. Luckily, the device has a hidden administration page (at http://192.168.128.1/hidden/) with settings that allow you to toggle bands and toggle USB tethering. After I turned on the USB tethering, an RDIS interface came up on both OpenBSD and Windows 7.

References