Using a Time Capsule to extend a Verizon MiFi's wifi network?
August 4, 2009 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible use an Apple Airport Extreme base station or Time Capsule to extend a Verizon MiFi's wireless network?

I've got HughesNet satellite service at home, and even paying for a business plan at $179/month, I can't stand it. I've been wanting to flee for years, and for the first time ever, the Verizon MiFi looks like it might be the way out. But, I'd want it to use my existing infrastructure built of Apple's wifi devices instead of getting everything in my home to talk to the MiFi directly.

I've only had it a few days (and love it so far otherwise), but I can't seem to do this. When trying to use the Time Capsule to extend the network, I get a message that "this network is unable to be extended". Is there a way? Has anyone done this?

(I do know about the 5gb bandwidth limit, by the way. I could buy three of them to rotate and still break even, so that's not an issue.)
posted by ewagoner to Technology (5 answers total)
Probably not, but it would at least be worth a try. The assisted setup walkthrough in Airport utility definitely won't let you do this, but you might be able to do it if you use manual setup to configure the Airport as a WDS remote, and use whatever configuration there is for the MiFi to set it up as a WDS Main. You'll need to locate the MAC address of each device (usually on a label on the bottom, it's called the Airport ID on Apple hardware) and program each one's address into the other device so they know to look for each other.
Good luck.
posted by kid_dynamite at 2:17 PM on August 4, 2009

Usually the message saying "this network is unable to be extended" is because the original base station also needs to have WDS enabled and to be configured as the main base station. I've never seen a successful WDS setup where an Airport base station was configured as the remote for a different company's main, although I know it is in theory possible. The problem is that the WDS has no official standardised implementation, so different companies do it how they like - often leading to one brand being completely incompatible with another.

I'm not usually one to push a brand name, but if you really want to do this, using all Apple base stations will make it pretty damn simple for you. Send me a mail if you need any more info.
posted by fearnothing at 4:00 PM on August 4, 2009

Best answer: All of my hardware is Apple, except for the "modem" -- the MiFi 2200.

Since posting this, I've found the CradlePoint MBR1000 router that is designed to do exactly what I want. I'll wait a while to see if anyone knows if I can do the same with the Apple equipment I've already got before throwing another $200 for a router. Though if I have to, I will. A pox on satellite broadband!
posted by ewagoner at 6:14 PM on August 4, 2009

Response by poster: So, a month later. Turns out that CradlePoint MBR1000 was exactly what I needed, and it works like a charm. I started with two MiFis and switched them out halfway through the month. Still, I bumped right up against my limit without really trying that hard, so I picked up a third one today. My monthly charge is now $177/month, but that's still $2 less than I was paying HughesNet for *much* better service. Also, if you call the 3GStore, you can get the MiFis for $99 before a $50 rebate, with free shipping, and save a good $50 per unit.

As a side benefit, if I want to go work down by the river instead of my office (my farm is bounded by Georgia's Broad River on one side), I can now grab a MiFi off the pile and go do it.

It really is a game changer for me.
posted by ewagoner at 12:18 PM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: Just one more addendum for anyone wanting to follow my footsteps.

During my second month, I had some runaway bandwidth usage, to the tune of over 1gb a day. Verizon's reporting tools are *terrible* and show data a couple days old, so by the time I saw the usage, I'd already hit over 7.5gb on my first unit.

I've clamped down everything on my home network, and I'm still not sure what could have been doing it (3 Macs, Wii, Apple TV, wireless HP printer). We didn't change our usage, but I did upgrade to Snow Leopard -- though I think the usage started before that.

I spent a good deal of time on the phone with Verizon to see if there could have been a mistake. It turns out their own internal reporting tools are also terrible, and only show lump sum usage for an entire day. So, I couldn't use any information from them to help me troubleshoot.

I'm going to get a *huge* bill this month, probably close to $500. Once my usage resets, I'll release my death grip on the network one thing at a time and see if I can track down what happened.

With HughesNet, I was able to see data usage on an hour by hour basis, so if something started eating up bandwidth (usually excess YouTube watching) I can spot it right away and stop it. Now, it looks like I'll get 24 hours sum totals that are several days old.
posted by ewagoner at 12:01 PM on September 22, 2009

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