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Old 01-24-2015, 11:40 AM   #1
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Pantech hotspot troubles

This is for those of you who have the Pantech MHS291LVW hotspot, with wireless data service first via Millenicom then Verizon, when the two companies severed their relationship. For the past few months my data service over the hotspot had been intermittent, with a weak data signal from the cellphone tower. It seemed to happen only at home, which made me thing the problem was with the network rather than the hotspot. But it turns out it was a bad hotspot. I had assumed the hotspot was bad it would fail altogether and not behave the way it did. So if your data service is giving trouble, look at replacing the hotspot. It's probably not the tower.
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Old 01-24-2015, 11:57 AM   #2
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We had a similar issue although with a dsl modem. Kept needing to be restarted. Repair tech was here for something else and I mentioned it. He switched it out with a different make; what a difference. No problems at all.

With all wireless devices they are subjected to much more physical movements than the home ones are. I used to sell a lot of these devices when I had wireless stores and they kept constantly improving them. We just use our phones as hotspots when we want to run our tablet, however am aware that for some who need to use a good amount in a concentrated time the battery life can be an issue.
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Old 01-24-2015, 12:20 PM   #3
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Two things fooled me about the cause of the problem: (1) the dropouts were intermittent and (2) it seemed to happen only at home. I owe some Verizon techs an apology, since I called a half-dozen times about it. At least I was polite, if ignorant. Finally the last tech I talked to suggested I try another hotspot, as they have a 14-day return policy. I did, and this worked. Dang.

The replacement hotspot is a Novatel 6620L. Its cellular performance seems okay, but it appears to have a weak wifi signal, and it has no external antenna connections. I may return to the Verizon store and shop around for a bit for a different model.
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Old 01-24-2015, 03:30 PM   #4
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Having worked with wireless devices in bridge mode, such as building to building I learned the value of a good antenna. There are numerous designs and models for different purposes. It really helps a device if you can attach an external antenna, even if it has a built in external antenna.
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Old 01-24-2015, 06:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Having worked with wireless devices in bridge mode, such as building to building I learned the value of a good antenna.
Boy, I wish I had your networking skills. Getting one thing to talk to another thing has always been a challenge for me.

So here's an update-- I went back to the Verizon store and saw that they had only one more choice, an Ellipse, which I think is their own brand. It has two small sockets that might be antenna ports, but the young woman who helped me had no idea. However, this hotspot only works with 4G and nothing else, so I figured it would be bad for camping in remote areas. I decided I was stuck with the Novatel.

I leave the hotspot in my truck, parked in front of my house, and use it as an access point for the devices in my house when I'm home. The wifi signal is weak and occasionally drops out inside the house. So I found a Netgear "wifi extender", essentially a repeater, and put it in a front window. This seems to help with signal strength alright, but I'll give it a few days to see if it stops my wifi from dropping out.
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Old 01-24-2015, 06:53 PM   #6
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I agree that an external antenna is a good idea; it's even better if the antenna is available. My mobile hotspot is a Sierra Wireless Aircard 763s (now from NetGear). It has jacks to connect external antennas (such as the NetGear MIMO Antenna), but none of the mobility stores which sell the device (such as Telus where I got it) have antennas for it, and most of the staff don't even understand the concept of adding an antenna.

I dislike buying stuff online from suppliers without reasonable shipping, especially if I don't know if it's the right product. Since mobile devices only last a few years, it's also annoying to find and buy accessories which likely won't work with the next device.
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Old 01-24-2015, 07:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mike Lewis View Post
I went back to the Verizon store and saw that they had only one more choice, an Ellipse, which I think is their own brand. It has two small sockets that might be antenna ports, but the young woman who helped me had no idea. However, this hotspot only works with 4G and nothing else, so I figured it would be bad for camping in remote areas.
"Ellipsis" seems to the be house brand at Verizon, and they call the mobile hotspots "Jetpack" (the way Rogers calls whatever they are selling at the moment a "Rocket"). The Ellipsis Jetpack selection includes a MiFi 6620L and a MiFi 5510L which are multi-band; the MHS800L is LTE-only and thus the one to avoid.
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Old 01-24-2015, 08:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
"Ellipsis" seems to the be house brand at Verizon, and they call the mobile hotspots "Jetpack" (the way Rogers calls whatever they are selling at the moment a "Rocket"). The Ellipsis Jetpack selection includes a MiFi 6620L and a MiFi 5510L which are multi-band; the MHS800L is LTE-only and thus the one to avoid.
The 6620L is the one I have now; it is made by Novatel, and so is the 5510L according to its manual. The MHS800L is the one I looked at today at the Verizon store; it was branded "Ellipsis". The 6620L has a port called a "Test Port" in the manual, but it is the same interface as the antenna ports on my Pantech. I'll guess that a "test port" would accept an RF signal, so I wonder if I can attach an antenna to it. Now watch me break the thing...
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Old 01-24-2015, 09:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
"Ellipsis" seems to the be house brand at Verizon, and they call the mobile hotspots "Jetpack" (the way Rogers calls whatever they are selling at the moment a "Rocket"). The Ellipsis Jetpack selection includes a MiFi 6620L and a MiFi 5510L which are multi-band; the MHS800L is LTE-only and thus the one to avoid.
Mine is the Verizon/Pantech MHS291LVW like the OP. It's 3G or 4G, is dual band, and has antenna connections for both. It also has Global LTE Roaming support and GPS. They no longer offer the 6620L where I live, and I was a bit disappointed in that until I got the 291L. It's battery life is way better and the signal is great.

http://www.pantechusa.com/modems/jet...obile-hotspot/
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Old 01-24-2015, 10:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mike Lewis View Post
The 6620L is the one I have now; it is made by Novatel, and so is the 5510L according to its manual. The MHS800L is the one I looked at today at the Verizon store; it was branded "Ellipsis".
Yes, "MiFi" is Novatel's line of mobile hotspots - my first mobile hotspot was a Novatel MiFi (I think a 2372, now obsolete). According to Verizon's website they call them all "Ellipsis", whether they say that on the device or not; in this case the manual is branded both Verizon and Jetpack, but not Ellipsis.

That "test port" on the 6620L (datasheet) with an antenna connector is a strange feature - the manual confirms that it is a test/diagnostics port, not intended for an external antenna. I hope it works for you, Mike.
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