Figuring Out Best Options for Off-Grid Internet

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Figuring Out Best Options for Off-Grid Internet

Post by bwash » Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:27 pm

I'm helping my parents (who live pretty off grid) set up some sort of internet access. I'm sure this group will have much better ideas than what I have so far come up with, but here is what I was thinking:

They get very mediocre signal from Verizon, and no other cell service. If their phone is positioned in the perfect spot, they can get about 2 bars of LTE.

There is a tower that is being partially blocked by a hillside, so we could probably increase cell strength at their house with an antenna up in a tree. (There are 3 towers all about 3.5-5.5 miles away, bands are (2, 4, 66 for the closest) (2, 4, 5, 13 second closest) (2, 5, 13, 66 farthest))

So my thought was, use an antenna, relay a stronger signal to an old phone (Galaxy s8+) with a Visible SIM card, tether that to a GL-iNet router, change the TTL to try and bypass hotspot speeds, and see if that works. (Also have a VPN)

At a location right now with 2 bars LTE, I am still getting between 5-10mbps with the tether, even though the phone is registering 25Mbps or so.

Any changes you would make to this system, or would you use something completely different?

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Re: Figuring Out Best Options for Off-Grid Internet

Post by Didneywhorl » Sat Apr 03, 2021 9:43 am

I would do away with "relay to an old phone". I assume you would use a booster system. The booster will "work", and will help to use the phone for calls. If you want full data capability, though, the booster limits you to a single antenna and typically a single frequency band. AKA: B66 only, or B4 only, and no real swapping between.

You can do the exact same thing by hooking a similar, or better, antenna that the booster uses directly to a cellular modem.

Visible is very easy to use in a cellular modem/router setup. I have made tutorials on it here.

I would go with the following, nothing crazy high end:

Antenna, 2x2 MIMO: ... o-antenna/

Modem: ... 2-modem-2/

Router for the modem:
Adapters needed: ... card-slot/ ... ail-cable/ ... ail-cable/

Cables are the tricky part. Boosters use high power to get away with long crappy quality cables. In the case of using an antenna directly to a modem you will need 50Ohm Coax rated for the length. If you want it up real high, I would go with LMR400 (you'll need 2 cables for this setup): ... a-30-feet/
OR ... a-50-feet/

If you want to mount the antenna over 50' away from a sheltered position, then I recommend mounting the router and modem inside an enclosure (There is a 2x2 MIMO antenna that is also an enclosure) so that you eliminate antenna cabling and only use a single outdoor rated LAN cable and power it over 48V POE. The WG3526-P from LTE FIX is 48V POE power capable.

Ask me and I can build you out a parts list for almost anything.

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