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Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
oosillyoo
Member

First off, not all Hotspots are a MiFi. MiFi is a brand of mobile Hotspot made by Novatel. Calling every hotspot or even wifi tethering off of a phone a MiFi is like calling every phone that can run APPs an iPhone or every small car in the world a Beetle.

 

I have done testing with both available LTE Mobile Hotspots from Verizon and want to share my results to help with your purchase decision. Both of these devices get rave reviews on most tech websites and have been given awards at CES and other other electronic shows. I believe these reviews and awards were based on testing in "controlled" areas or paper presentations from their manufacturers. I have to believe none of these people would write what they have about these devices if they were normal everyday users.

 

Novatel MiFi 4510L

 

Pros-

Download and Upload speeds are fast when on 4G

Great external display to show signal strength, battery level, number of devices connected

4 - 5 Hours of battery power

Solid looking design

VPN Passthrough

Many custom client configuration changes through text file, some are currently not working

 

Cons-

Unable to roam from 4G to 3G and back to 4G without having to be rebooted

Thicker than older MiFi and Samsung hotspot

Unable to pass inbound UDP traffic to clients

3G seems slower than older MiFi

Unresponsive technical support

 

What scenario would make me pick this device?

 

There are two scenarios for which I would pick this one over the Samsung hotspot.

1. This device seems to work well as a stationary hotspot in a well saturated 4G area. If there is any possibility you might roam from 4G to 3G and back to 4G you can lock the device to 4G(LTE) only.

 

2. This device will work if you put it in CDMA Auto (3G) mode. The device will not look for a 4G signal even if in a 4G area. This might be great if you are buying new but as an upgrade from the MiFi 2200 this is unacceptable. This is some question on if this device will ever function properly with the Verizon network.

 

 

 

Samsung SCH-LC11

 

Pros-

Download and Upload speeds are fast when on 4G

Thinner than Novatel MiFi

Design is minimal

Extended battery available from Samsung

Able to roam between 4G and 3G with no problems

 

 

Cons-

2.5 - 3.5 Hours of battery power

3G seems slower than older MiFi

4G/3G Radio lockups sometimes over a period of time

Unable to passthrough VPN traffic

Unable to pass inbound UDP traffic to clients

Somewhat responsive technical support (they have released new firmware but almost 2 months ago and there are still issues)

 

What scenario would make me pick this device?

 

If you are going to be mobile with your device and you might roam from 4G to 3G and back to 4G. This devices seems to roam fine between network types without a hitch. When I had the radio lockup over the last two days was over a period where the hotspot was sitting on my desk at home in a well covered 4G area.

 

 

 

Which device would I pick based on my situation and what I have seen so far?

 

Right now I would pick the Samsung over the Novatel. I feel the Samsung is fixable through firmware and will be fixed over time. Novatel seems to have dropped the ball on their device and will tarnish the MiFi brand if they don't do something soon.

 

I will post a followup after some more testing with both devices.

Tags (3)
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1 Solution

Correct Answers
Re: VPN
ChristinaB_VZW
Verizon Employee

Hi Ultra7,

 

I understand the importance of using the Mifi with your VPN. However, since you mentioned that this is being used on a corporate network, please contact your IT department.

 

Thank you very much and have a good day!

View solution in original post

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
oosillyoo
Member

After another days usage with the Samsung hotspot things are looking better for this device. I did have one time today when I was unable to communicate with the internet but before I could connect to the admin page and investigate the problem my connection was working again.

 

One thing I have found with both hotspots is that Verizon is using private IP addresses on the "WAN" connection which is giving the end user a double NAT connection. This is a problem for some VPN sessions and some network traffic. I'm not sure why Verizon would have "port forwarding" built in to either hotspot when this will never work because of the double NAT. Also, because of the way Verizon has laid out the 4G network this device is a perfect hacker connection. To the outside world most of the 4G users, network wide, are coming from one IP address. If the FBI were to investigate traffic from an IP address it would point to a batch of users but would never hold up in court unless Verizon is monitoring and recording user network traffic.

 

If people are interested in me posting my findings please either give me Kudos or post here. I'm not going to keep posting this info if people are not interested.

 

 

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
oosillyoo
Member

I've noticed with the Samsung Hotspot that some things seem to be snappier than with the Novatel MiFi but some things seemed to be slower. Twitter updates and other small data intense APPs were snappier. I decided do some speedtests with the device sitting in the same location at my house. The Samsung had lower ping times to the Comcast server in Atlanta but also lower upload speeds. I did run multiple test on each device and the pictures below are about the average. The pings on each device were almost same each time I ran a test.

 

Speedtest using Novatel 4510l MiFi

Signal in Diag: -36dBm

Firmware Version: 2.16.03

4510L Speedtest

 

 

Speedtest using Samsung SCH-LC11

Signal in Diag: 61

Firmware Version: EC31

SCH-LC11 Speedtest

 

Both devices were tested using an Apple iPod Touch with iOS 4.3.3 using the newest verion of the speedtest.net APP. The diag screens were monitored on a seperate device and refreshed after each test.

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VPN
oosillyoo
Member

I have successfully been able to get two VPN connections to work using Windows XP and the Cisco VPN client using IPsec over UDP on both the Samsung and the Novatel. Both of them seemed a little sluggish even compared to my old MiFi 2200. I have been able to get a PPTP VPN established from an iPod and an iPad to a PFsense router but not through the Samsung hotspot. This seems to be an issue with the fact Verizon is using a double NAT on the 4G network. If Novatel can get it to work I would think Samsung could too in a future firmware release.

 

I will be testing the Samsung and Novatel using L2TP to VPN to a PFsense box later today.

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
oosillyoo
Member
I'm looking for people to fill me in on the issues with the Samsung SCH-LC11 hotspot. I've been using this device for a few days and although it isn't perfect it is better than the Novatel MiFi. Either post here or message me on the problems you've seen so I can try to replicate them. I have about 7 more days left on my demo of the two devices.
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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
oosillyoo
Member

I have strarted to see the every 30 minute issue other users are reporting with the Samsung device. The problem seems to happen when connected to the device for long periods of time but doesn't look like it is happening every 30 minutes but does happen in 30 minute increments. Looking at what happens it the hotspot is looks to be a issue with DHCP on the WAN interface. I noticed the device was reporting one address but when I did a connect and disconect I got a different address. If this were a typical DHCP server my and my lease was still valid I should have been given the same address. It is possible my device failed to renew my lease if the timeout is 30 minutes and another user was given my address which caused me an issue. The problem was fixed when I did a disconnect and then reconnect which resulted in me getting a new address. I wish someone from Verizon would chime in and help.

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
PDCLarry
Novice

oosillyoo wrote:
I'm looking for people to fill me in on the issues with the Samsung SCH-LC11 hotspot. I've been using this device for a few days and although it isn't perfect it is better than the Novatel MiFi. Either post here or message me on the problems you've seen so I can try to replicate them. I have about 7 more days left on my demo of the two devices.

I've noticed that the LC11 does not always switch seamlessly from 4G to 3G and vice versa. A reboot is sometimes required.

 

I've never been able to charge the battery to full. I've been through 3 batteries and 2 devices, and on all of them as soon as I take if off the charger it drops to ~90%, then coninues on down (even when not being used) to 85%. Regardless of how long I charge (the longest has been 24 hours).

 

I have no experience with the Novatel 4G, but the 2200 was not flawless either. It would frequently disconnect momentarily, then reconnect.

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
John_Getzke
Leader
Leader

Silly,

 

Thanks for your review and in depth analysis.  I have made the decision to go with the Novatel MiFi instead of the Samsung.  My reasoning is my own but it was very interesting to read about the kinds of tests you ran.

 

 

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
oosillyoo
Member

John_Getzke wrote:

Silly,

 

Thanks for your review and in depth analysis.  I have made the decision to go with the Novatel MiFi instead of the Samsung.  My reasoning is my own but it was very interesting to read about the kinds of tests you ran.

 

 


I'm curious what your reason might have been and what results you have seen if you don't mind sharing.

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Re: Thinking about buying a LTE Hotspot / MiFi - Read This First
SunflowerAnn
Member

The air-cards that several neighbors and I used for "high speed" was getting slower by the week.   Verizon recommended the MIFI unit as 3G service is somewhat nearby and we could use the window antennas from the air cards with the MIFI to get better service.

All four of us are unhappy for various reasons including: 

 

We have to pull the batteries out every night to keep the unit from overheating and to really shut it and the Blinking light OFF. 

 

We thought that once the unit was connected for the day that it would stay connected.  Wrong.  The icon shows the unit to be connected and with excellent signal strength and the wireless connection says it is connected,  But the MIFI has to be reset numerous times a day for it to be truly connected.  Otherwise, the "IE can not display the page" message appears for every web site we try. 

 

We thought we were really free to be anywhere in the house, deck or yard to use the computer and other devices..  Instead, we aren't free from anything with the constant going to the unit for the resetting process.  Or we carry it with us and the battery goes dead long before we are done working. 

 

And the service is only a little faster than the aircard for all the grief and despite what the Verizon service area maps say, 

Wouldn't recommend it and wish we hadn't made the change.

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