Several AIRAVE questions/comments...
Answered

I'm interested in the AIRAVE as I barely get a Sprint signal in my residence (and, I believe, it's actually gotten worse over the six months since I started w/Ting/Sprint). Unfortunately, I get enough of a signal so I don't roam to Verizon, but carrying on a conversation over a few sentances on that Sprint connection is impractical (if my phone even RINGS when I get an incoming call or doesn't drop the call before connection is established when dialing out). Needless to say, I'm interested in AIRAVE as a last ditch effort to continue w/Ting, but given the cost, I want to make sure I know what I'm getting which leads to several questions/comments:

  1. Is the AIRAVE device offered the AIRAVE 2.5 as described in http://support.sprint.com/global/pdf/user_guides/sprint/airave_2_5/airave_2_5_ug.pdf, http://support.sprint.com/global/pdf/user_guides/sprint/airave_2_5/airave_2_5_trouble_guide.pdf,  and http://support.sprint.com/global/pdf/user_guides/sprint/airave_2_5/airave_2_5_setup_ug.pdf (I assume so, but there appear to be two versions in the wild which look the same).
  2. The above setup/user guide proclaims "Important: To ensure the best voice and data quality, always connect the LAN router to your AIRAVE. Do not connect the router directly to your broadband modem or other broadband connection device.". Yet the device description on Ting says "The Airave plugs in to an available Ethernet port on your router or DSL/cable modem" [emphasis added]. Since the recommendation is to NOT plug it into one's router (presumably because the device implements QoS whereas most consumer routers don't), the Ting description probably shouldn't mention this option.
  3. Somewhat related to the prior question... The above troubleshooting guide indicates on page that "Internet speeds configuration: Customers may notice a change in their internet upload speeds using the AIRAVE configured on their modem. Customers with a higher speed internet connection may need an adjustment on this default setting." As I have modestly high speed (measured at about 22mbps down, 4mbs up), this concerns me. First, in your testing have you seen this to be a problem? Second, would such customer support to resolve this problem be provided by Ting or by Sprint? Obviously this is only an issue if the AIRAVE is connected between the modem and my router -- but that is the recommended configuration.
  4. There have been some reports on the web that after a power failure, the AIRAVE device does not pass through traffic from the LAN side to the DSL/Cable Modem until after the AIRAVE has acquired a GPS lock which some reported to take 30 minutes. If true, this leaves the Internet unavailable for up to 30 minutes after a power failure unless one thinks to (and knows how) switch cables around temporarily which is unacceptable. Is this problem (if it ever really was a problem) a "feature" of the AIRAVE (2.5?) offered by Ting? What about after a manual "reset" (which seems to be part of some troubleshooting mentioned in the manual).
  5. Another support question... The aforementioned Technical and Troubleshooting Guide indicates "AIRAVE Signal Range: The signal range for the AIRAVE can be adjusted to best fit the customer’s environment. There are settings for apartments, standard homes, and larger homes. The customer can contact Advanced Tech Support for AIRAVE at 866-556-7310 to request a change to their AIRAVE signal strength." Is such support provided by Ting or by Sprint?
  6. I live in a multiple dwelling unit building, I'm concerned about another Sprint user who may have unlimited data access (in particular) using my internet connection for data (and, although of less concern, voice/text as well) both affecting my internet performance and possibly impacting my ISP data caps. The Sprint manual for some versions of the AIRAVE indicate that, by calling Sprint, specific phones can be "whitelisted" (they don't use that term though) and only those phones can use the AIRAVE. However, I didn't notice a reference to this capability in the AIRAVE 2.5 manuals. Does this capability exist and would I deal with Ting or Sprint to whitelist my two phones and disallow all others?  (I am aware that friends visiting would not then benefit from my AIRAVE device, but that's their problem!)
  7. I assume, that like all devices from Ting, if the AIRAVE doesn't work out for me, I can't return it (except, of course, for warranty swap/repair). Is this assumption correct?
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Comments

39 comments
  • Hi Bill,

    I completely understand your concern, but you're asking some pretty specific questions here, and so I'm going to have to get back to you once I've had a chance to do some digging.

    -Rob

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  • Just to chime in with my two cents here.

    Regarding 1) Ting basically just sells what Sprint has in their new stock. If that's what Sprint has, that's what you'll get.

    Regarding concerns 2) 3) 4), which are all similar, I would strongly advise against setting the airave device as the internet gateway for your LAN. From a network standpoint, it's completely unnecessary and will just create problems. Unless you happen to constantly be uploading with ftp or always have torrent programs slamming your upstream bandwidth, having spare upstream bandwidth is completely a non-issue. Even the most meager broadband user with only 128k upstream will have plenty of bandwidth for a dozen or so calls. Full-rate EVRC (CDMA's audio codec) uses only 8 kbits/s of bandwidth in each direction. You describe having a 4MB/s upstream and some ridiculous downstream pipe. 8k on your upstream when you're on the phone won't be noticed in the least bit.

    Regarding 5), that's a Sprint number. Regarding 6), the same number should be able to whitelist ESNs for you if that's what you want. Honestly though, the traffic consumed by calls is so low that you really shouldn't bother nor will you likely even notice a change in your bandwidth consumption.

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  • @Ryan:

    Thanks for the info.

    From the standpoint of where the AIRAVE sits in my network, I'd certainly like to plug it into my router but am concerned about latency impacting call quality so want to be sure it will work for me if I have to put it between my modem and router (although, another option would be to upgrade to a router that I can load Tomato or DD-WRT on and implements QoS).

    The up/down numbers I describe are, I think, burst - the download speed drops after something like 50MB of full throttle download and during long downloads the number drops so it's not quite as good as it seems.

    I'm not concerned about the data (either from the standpoint of caps or impacting my performance) caused by strangers using voice/text on the AIRAVE. My nightmare scenario is that someone who has unlimited Sprint data and routinely uses that as a hotspot for their own use moves next door :) That person would suddenly find their data performance to be much better than expected (probably they would have no idea why -- they would just wonder why there were a few extra beeps on a voice call!) and would begin to use it aggressively - perhaps even deciding they really didn't need to get an "real" ISP. This could certainly impact my performance (and, possibly, push me over ISP data caps -- although that's a bit less likely).

    I do transfer quite a bit of data -- esp. large upstream backups to the cloud that run full throttle for well over an hour and have no interest in coordinating that with family members who may be on an important mobile call.

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  • Since you have a complex network environment, it sounds like you should take the time to put a good router in place. You'll want one that enforces proper line queuing and traffic shaping so that your modem's buffers never get full and also put high priority on the traffic to/from the airave device. Frankly, this would be best done with a standalone router, i.e. openbsd or the like. I wouldn't trust the airave device to handle a complex network environment like what you're describing.

    Further, with such a router in place, you could do all sorts of fun things even if you couldn't program the airave to whitelist your phone's MEIDs (which, I still wouldn't trust and is a pain to manage). For example, as mentioned, you could prioritize traffic to/from the airave, but at the same time, put a bandwidth limit on it. Capping its traffic at around 25-35 kbps in either direction would basically solve all your concerns because it would provide guaranteed bandwidth priority to the airave for your family's calls (3-4 simultaneously, in this situation), but prevent any of the connected devices from sucking down high speed data, as 35kpbs is about 3-4 times worse than even 1xRTT speeds. In this manner, you can rest assured that no one will capitalize on your big data pipe (data will be pretty close to unbearably slow), but everyone nearby will have good Sprint voice coverage. You and your family won't complain, because they'll all be sitting pretty on wifi. Everybody wins, everybody's happy, and you don't get fleeced. It all comes down to taking control of your network and traffic and not trusting some silly device to do what it thinks is best.

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  • @Ryan,

    All true...

    My network isn't really complicated, it's just that currently I never reach out of it to my ISP for anything where latency matters much (I don't use VOIP and I don't play online games for example). The AIRAVE would be the first exception to this.

    You have a good idea about dropping bandwidth to make it infeasible to use data at all. However, that might create problems for legit users very nearby who would LIKE to use the Sprint tower for data but gets my crippled solution instead - that might not be very nice to people around me. Whitelisting would prevent that, I'd like to be a good citizen at least to the point of causing no harm.

    Of course, following your suggestion would give me a plausible justification to acquire a bit more kit to play with :)

    Howver, for now, I will await TING's official response to my questions.

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  • I just installed an Airave today, so I'll answer what I can of your questions:

    1.) Airave 2.5

    2.)  I plugged it into my switch (which is itself behind a router before getting to our ISP's modem) and had no issue with that.  Works fine with all my stuff, seems to be playing nice.

    3.) Dunno, but I think the answer to 2 moots this.

    4.) Moot again.  I did put my Airave on a backup power supply though (our switch was on it anyway)

    5.) Dunno.  Seems good enough for a fairly large house.  Down to 2 bars in the basement when behind a concrete wall, but can still make/receive calls. (plus the GS3 network indicator is super sensitive).

    6.) I like Ryan's suggestion for this.

    7.) That would be up to Ting to answer.

    Oh, and a tip: the GPS antenna is directional, so make sure you face it top-up when you install it, and it really does need to be near a window.  They give you a good 10m or so of antenna cable to make it happen, and there's a reason for that.  It comes with an adhesive pad, but don't use that til you know your spot works.

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  • @Peter, a couple of questions.  How much signal strength did you have before the Airwave?   My phone is roaming back and forth to Verizon. At times I lose all connection.   (There is an "x" above my signal strength bars) When I roam over to Verizon I get a green triangle, sometimes even a bar or two. When it flips back to Sprint, I rarely get even one bar.  I can go over to a window where my router is at, and the "x" disappears and I seem to get some Sprint signal, although rarely if any bars.  It is enough to make calls though. 

    Does the Airwave have any external antenna? (other than the GPS) In my case I would have to locate the Airwave close to my window perhaps?

     

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  • I was in a basement in about the same spot you were (rarely sprint, sometimes roaming triangle, often no service whatsoever).  There was no problem on the cell signal for the Airave though.  As I understand it, all it needs is the barest trickle to make it work.  The only external antenna is the GPS as far as I can tell.  It's semi-external though (i.e. it's set inside the device but can be popped out to be placed somewhere else.

    Also, as far as I know, the Sprint signal is only needed for setup, so if you have a long cat5 cable, you could set up by the window and then walk it to your desired spot once it's running.

    You will probably need to be within 10m of the window for the GPS though.  It was quite finnicky when I was setting it up due to trees and we ended up putting it upstairs.

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  • @Peter, thanks for the first hand info.  Hate to spend the extra money but it seems like a viable option. (maybe the only option if I decide to fully jump from ATT to Ting)

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  • I can't say I'm too upset about paying it, mostly because my office where we set it up has awful service on every carrier, not just Sprint.  One way or another it was needed, and I'm splitting the cost with my boss who I convinced to switch to Ting after he saw my S3.

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  • As far as question 7) goes, we treat the Airave the same as our phones inasmuch as we don't have an official policy on returns. We treat each customer as a person and we'll do our best to do right by them. At the end of the day, we want happy customers, so we do work very hard to make sure everybody is satisfied.

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  • Hi Bill,

    Here are the answers I was able to get to your questions:

    1. The current Airave device we're selling is the Airave 2.5 by Airvana.

    2. The Airave should work behind a router, but plugging it directly into an Ethernet connection on your internet service will assure QoS for voice prioritization.

    3. There is a throughput default setting for each Airave. This can be adjusted if you notice a change in your throughput from the Airave being between the internet connection and their home network.

    4. The Airave will pass internet traffic to devices connected to it even if there is no GPS lock. The GPS lock is required for mobile devices to use the Airave as a wireless signal booster. There are 4 LEDs on the Airave 2.5. The broadband is for internet connection to the ISP (and connection to devices connected to the Airave), GPS is for the lock, Network is for the IPSec connection to the Ting/Sprint network, and Mobile indicates the device is ready for use by wireless devices.

    In case of a power outage, the Airave may need to be reset. Use a pin to push the reset button on the back panel for a 10 count to reset the device. Airave needs power to function and hold the GPS lock. The Airave should search for the GPS signal after the power is restored to the device.

    5 & 6. Give us a call if you need to adjust any settings in the Airave. We're still working the details out ourselves on how the configuration works, so we might not be able to do the adjustments on the fly, but we should be able to get the necessary adjustments made for you.

    1. We treat the Airave the same as our phones inasmuch as we don't have an official policy on returns. We treat each customer as a person and we'll do our best to do right by them. At the end of the day, we want happy customers, so we do work very hard to make sure everybody is satisfied.
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  • You can limit the airave to just your phones or open to the neighborhood. It is a choice from the web interface if I remember. 

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  • Regarding Sprint signal strength:

    The Airave functions as its own cell tower, terminating the connection over tcp/ip through your internet connection.  It should not need any Sprint coverage for operation or initial activation.  It's often spoken of as a "Signal Booster" which is a misnomer as it isn't boosting an existing signal.  Maybe it should be called a "Signal Creator".

    I picked up a used Airave a while back and the guy I got it from used it in Alaska where he had zero Sprint coverage.  In fact, the only place he could use his phone was in his house!

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  • I ran across this post at Sprint's website discussing placing the Airave  ahead or behind your router.  It gives some of the pros and cons that Bill touched on.

    " 110. Jan 23, 2013 8:01 AM ( in response to tomdeaver)

    ** Re: Setup instructions for Airave behind a router**

    tomdeaver > "Thank you for your input.  Keep in mind that although many Airave owners use the reversed style of hookup, we still prefer the Airave be connected directly to the modem.  This is primarily due to the Airave having to compete with a customer's wifi traffic when hooked into the router.  When the Airave is connected before the router as in modem/airave/router, the Airave gets the most consistent flow of data and is less prone to failures."

     

    That's the problem.  The instructions that come with the Airave do not say this is the reason they want it hooked up that way, they just say it must be hooked up in that order.  I found this searching to find out if I was going to need a port forward or something.  Lots of people who don't know how networking works, so when the Airave takes priority for itself and slows your other traffic, your vpn connection to your company drops, or your kids tell you they can't play games online anymore, or your netflix quality goes to $#!+, they spend hours on the phone with their cable company, or buying a new router, or realizing it's the airave and just boxing it and returning it.

     

    You need to spell this out in the instructions to give people the option.  For some people, a stable connection to their computer is more important than a dropped call.  And on a lot of routers, you can now do QOS in order to insure there is some minimal ammount of bandwidth reserved for the airave.  But since Sprint isn't giving us the option, I have no idea how much bandwidth you might need or what ports I might need to make settings for.

     

    Good job sprint, for assuming we are idiots.

     

    Also, your explaination is wrong.  It would lead users to believe if they are hardwired and have no wifi then there will never be a bandwidth issue.  IT doesn't only compete with wifi traffic, it competes with all internet traffic from your house.  You also leave out the fact that in order to insure that "the Airave gets the most consistent flow of data and is less prone to failures" you are reducing the bandwidth to every other device in the customer's home."

    **http://community.sprint.com/baw/message/531745#531745

    **

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  • I got the Airrave and hooked it up and signals are great on our phones! I started having connectivity problems and thought it was my router. My router was a few years old. So I bought a new one, still had problems. I decided to try to take Airave out of the equation, and my internet is working fine. I tried to hook up the Airave to the router, but it doesn't seem to be working. Any ideas on how I can tweek to get the Airave to work? I'm semi computer literate. But I don't know what QOS is and things like that.

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  • @Tammy, you might elaborate on your connectivity problem. Did you hook the Airave up between your modem and router or after your router?

    Although the instructions say to hook it up before the router, you can also hook it after. That might help your issue but I'm not exactly sure what issue you are having.

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  • I just hooked it up after my router. I changed nothing with my router settings. It seems to have fixed my connectivity problem, however on speed tests, I've gone from 25mbps to 1.14mbps. But at least I'm not reconnecting all the time now. 

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  • @Tammy, that seems odd. You might disconnect the Airave and recheck your speed.

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  • Thank you, @Mike. I reran speed test just before disconnecting and got 1.13mbps. Reran right after disconnecting and got 1.25mbps. I must have some traffic or some other problem. (Lol, seems obvious I should have done your test before blaming the Airave ;)  ).

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  • @Tammy, just curious i you are on cable or dsl/fiber?  My wired  (not fiber) dsl tops out at 6mbps  :(

    At one time I had cable but had lots of issues with them.  Very flaky tech people.  Their tech people were more out of the steam engine period.

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  • I have cable internet with Comcast, and yes, I really did get 25mbps. My son gets close to that, too, because we were just (facebook) chatting and running speed tests not that long ago. He does gaming and is a computer nerd (love it!) I'm working on trying to figure out what the problem is right now. Might try to reset the DNS. I bought a new router right after getting the Airave because of the connectivity issues thinking it was the router being so old (maybe 5 or more years old?) 

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  • Amazing, changed my DNS settings and now have 24.15mbps. I have the Airave setup through the router, not the modem, and everything is working great! Happy days now. 

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  • Having written the original post and having gone ahead and gotten the Airave, I thought I'd share my experiences.

    I'm very happy with it (albeit, I got it when it was on sale so that makes it a bit sweeter).

    I have a cable modem (supposedly 50mb/s down and 10mb/s up - although the best I seem to get down is 22mb/s) and I hooked the Airave up behind my vanilla router so there's no QoS. I get (unsurprisingly) 100% bars in the room w/the Airave and two bars "three or four drywall walls" away. With no other load on my network, the voice quality is nearly perfect (I can't tell it's even a cell phone) to my jaundiced ears when I'm in the room w/the Airave or the room next to it. When three or four walls away, I get a slight warble in voice quality, but nothing that creates a problem.

    When I pegged the downstream load on my cable modem (multiple computers downloading large files from muiltiple respected hosts), the voice quality "in the same room as the Airave" suffers a little, but certainly better than 90% of the real cell calls I've experienced at various locations.

    Occasionally, when I want to place an outgoing call going through the Airave, the call will simply never complete initiation and I try again and it's almost always successful the second time. I've not had a problem w/dropping calls once they are established or with not receiving incoming calls via the Airave.

    I've not bothered w/denying access to neighbors as I'm not aware of any problems yet - I'll cross that bridge only if I come to it.

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  • My Airave has been working fine since I hooked it up about 3 weeks ago. However, I need to configure it to only allow access by our 2 household ting (Sprint) phones. Apparently it is causing some issues for one of our neighbors who is on Sprint. Sometimes he is connecting through the Airave, which he claims is causing issues. Anyway, I'd like to limit access to it so he can isolate his problem. However, I don't see any way to do that in the SETUP interface for the Airave. It seems like Sprint customers do this through their Sprint account on the web.

    How can we Tingers set up our Airaves to limit connections only to specified numbers?

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  • Robert, we'll send you an email shortly to discuss how to do this as it needs to be done by us.

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  • Does anyone else find that your signal strength varies quite a bit, even when you are stationary in your house?   My signal strength has gone from -93 dBm to -105 dBm in just the amount of time I started this post.  It's been in the -80s to -110 before.  Now back to -94 dBm

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  • Hi Mike, I just sent you an email.

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  • Haven't seen it yet...   (1+ hours later)

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  • Hi Mike, can you check your spam folder? If not, you can send an email to help@ting.com and I'll grab it.

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