3G/4G mobile broadband for competition

What do you usually do for mobile internet at competition? I’ve decided we need it for use with online-based scouting. I don’t want to rely on any kids’ phones, and I don’t think any of the adults will give up their phones. Are there any decent monthly prepaid setups?

This seems like an unnecessary cost. You not only have the cost of the plan, but also the cost of a phone. Unless you are referring to those mobile modems that you can plug in to a laptop. In which case I recommend the following:

($79.99 Virgin Mobile see here for plans)

($39.99 Cricket + $45-$65 for plan)

These will cost you less than buying a smartphone and plan. Remember that you can’t set up any wireless networks in the arena.

Since you don’t want to rely on students phones are you extending that to tablets as well?

Sounds like you are looking at using a cellular access point on a PC and communicating to other computing devices over a wired connection. Meaning you are going to need a switch and likely a constant source of power.

A LTE connection (if available) should have no bandwidth issues assuming your scouting team doesn’t pass the time watching netflix/youtube over your connection :eek:

Do you not want to rely on kids/mentors phones because of the data or because of the actual phone itself? If you are concerned with the data, I’d look into a mobile hotspot type system like www.clearwire.com


I would check with someone before setting it up. Some places will have wifi set up, some places (like world champs) will prohibit set up of networks, some may not mind, just ask pit admin or someone similar before just doing it.

We too have the capability of on-line scouting but after reading the event rules we determined we could not do it.

4.3.1 Robot Wireless Control
•Robots may be operated via wireless control only on the competition fields and the practice field with the FIRST supplied radio; and

•Teams are not allowed to set up their own 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHz or 5GHz) wireless communication (access points or ad-hoc networks) in the venue

◦Note that a wireless hot spot created by a cellular device would be considered an access point, and thus not allowed

Check some of the apps. I know most of them have the capability to USB tether. I have used this many times when we are in the pits and need to download a file quickly. One app that I have used in the past was PDAnet. I would look seriously at T-Mobile. My android phone from them came with a built in tether app, both WIFI and USB.

I am not in charge of this but it looks like we will be doing some sort of tethering when scouting.

It’s not pretty but last year we used a 3G USB router connected to a little Ethernet switch to serve wired Internet to all of our scouts who didn’t have a 3G iPad. We plugged a Verizon 3G USB dongle into the router, turned off the router’s WiFi, and it all worked like a champ. We ran the whole thing off an Inverter powered by a standard robot battery for those cases where we couldn’t plug it in.

Verizon and AT&T will let you register a 3G dongle month to month as long you own it. This year we are using this one because we just need a single laptop with everyone else using 3G iPads. I don’t know if that dongle will work on the Zoom modem.

This is turning out to be more difficult than I thought. A few gigs is fine for simple scouting stuff, but if there’s any video involved, forget about it. I was looking at Millenicom which seems pretty good. Any other ideas? T-mobile has a $30/month plan with a $99 Android phone with unlimited data (5 gigs @4G). Can I tether that?

I like the idea of a USB modem right into a router rather than tethering, but I’ll tether if I need to.

Our scouting is usually paper-based, but in recent years we’ve used a 3G/4G dongle from Spring to get the job done (though it was parent supplied). They work very nicely; you may want to look into using a similar one (they’re referred to as USB modems/dongles).

Be careful when tethering phones, because many companies, T-Mobile included, will either incur extra charges or prevent you from tethering. I’d recommend calling Customer Service to make sure that that specific Monthly 4G plan (off the top of my head, I think that’s the one you’re looking at - correct me if I’m wrong) allows you to tether the phone.