Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion Off-grid internet solutions

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    Hello Everyone,

    I’m trying to get some information on solutions to using the internet off-grid. I know about the satellite option, but considering I’m currently in the City of Toronto I figured I could use the 3G networks floating through the air for this purpose.

    Does anyone have an experience in designing and using an off-grid internet system? I may want to bring this to my cottage near North Bay that is currently in a cellphone black hole so any information, including stuff on satellite connections, would be amazing.

    If anyone knows any hardware that might be needed for this kind of application or companies that could help supply this stuff please pass it along too :)

    Thanks very much!!


    im using a 3g capeable phone and it has a mobile hotspot feature right out of the box. where i am its poor service and normally only functions at 1g which

    seems faster than the old dial up but seems very slow compared to my old dsl

    connection.i noticed that when browsing the internet i avoid vid downloads

    because it has a 2gig per month tranfer limit and when you go over that it costs 20 dollars per service provider is verizon.

    great for email,message boards and work if you dont need to be uploading

    downloading large amounts of data.

    if i need to upload a large video file i will transfer it to my phone and upload directly from there because i have unlimited data transfer from the phone.the 2gig per month limit only applies to the 3g network


    There was someone on this forum last year who was also a ham operator. He lived up here but about 20 miles from civilization. He rigged a tower for his ham band antenna then added a WiFi booster like we often use on boats near shore but outside the normal range.

    When you add a directional yagi antenna with reflectors to boost the signal you can get exceptional range.

    Why is your location near north Bay a cellular black hole. Terrain or lack of repeaters? Sometimes terrain radio shadows can be overcome with elevation.

    Mind you as I remember from my own days in Northern Ontario the shield rock contained inclusions from the sudbury Nikle meteorite that causes many radio blaank spots.

    AS I recall Sinclair Radio is still in Concord north of Toronto and they have some excellent antenna solutions including the WiFi antenna I am currently using.


    Yaggi for wifi or cell, thats an excellent idea. I was asking on another post something similar, couldn’t a person make a repeater if they were in a terrain hole and have it boost a signal for them. I suppose there might be legal issues in repeating a cell or wifi signal by boosting it? I guess I am not talking about duplex mode repeating here.

    This friend of mine who can’t get a cell signal is in a hollow with a 400 foot hill between him an any cell towers in Arkansas. He doesn’t own any land at the top of the hill, but I bet he could hide a small repeater and solar power it as the land belongs to some logging company.


    There are legal off the shelf booster/repeater amps for both WiFi and cellular coverage. Boaters who operate away from shore but near land have been using these for several years. One draw back is the fact many of these systems uses a focussed and directional antenna. Range improvements come at the cost of reduced omni dirrectionality.

    If you place a repeater on a convenient tree, it will sway with the wind and the signal may fade in and out. Same probblem on a boat rocking on the waves.

    That is why I said HEIGHT or elevation is the only solution. In your buddy’s case getting above the hill is the only sure fire solution. Mind you he could float an omni directional repeater with a helium balloon. Not exactly convenient but has been tried in military ops.


    All great ideas! Thanks very much.

    I think I’m in a black hole around North Bay because of the lack of repeaters. You see them crisscrossing Hwy. 11, but there’s about an hour there where there are none, and that’s where I am!

    I would use the 3g phone option, but I’m trying to figure out how to use this with a couple other people and the 2 gigs a month would definitely go over. And I would like to try to keep it as a semi-permanent set-up which make my phone more of a communal router than it ought to be (for now anyways).

    I’ll check out these Yaggi antennas with a booster. I’m thinking I’m not too far out of range, but I’ll try taking it one step at a time.

    Can I add an antenna after the fact, or do I have to size the whole system for it’s use.

    Thanks for the advice!


    Earthfirst here is some mention of what my boating buddies use:

    If you want to connect to a router to have multiple computers connected

    to a WiFi hot-spot, I think the Ubiquiit Bullet based systems are better

    because they not only have a powerful radio, but connect to ethernet

    instead of USB. This can then be connected to most any computer or any

    router. I have used mine with linksys and netgear wifi routers to set up

    a network just like I have at home with DSL. Use POE (power over

    ethernet) and you just have the one ethernet cable going outside (if you

    want, it works great inside almost all the time). and are highly recommended complete

    solutions. I just bought the Bullet 2HP and Ubiquiti POE on ebay and

    attached an 8db antenna.

    There was a big thread about this on regarding the rogue wave

    (more expensive) unit a while back at

    If you want to have both options of cellular data and wifi a cradlepoint

    router is a good solution. The bullet can connect to the cradlepoint

    hotspot so the computers always connect to the bullet if you want.


    If you are looking for semi long distance buy a router that can add sim cards to it and add two 9db antennas to it. using this method you should get great reception

    this is a similar model to what you need :

    One antenna is wifi two for comms tower. Adding the antennas means you can place them on your roof (make sure they have magnetic base and possibly fiberglass coated if dealing with harsh weather.

    something like this :|460101||factory|item||4|LHQ

    or more heavy duty

    anyway just so you know. When I was working on a mountain we had a base a few k down right in a forest. with the 3g router and 2 9db omnidirectional antennas we were able to connect to the main base at the top via a vpn and use all the services at near full speed. the conditions were freezing and included lots of snow. and heavy cloudy weather. worth looking into as you only need to 12v for the router and it will give great signal, the Huawei USB modems can also attach upto 11db antennas i think and might be another good option


    Hi all… based in Ireland, i currently have a hawei usb modem on the 3g network. i have a mast some 4 miles away with a clear line of sight from some parts of the land i occupy but my actual “home” position is blocked by trees. The usb modem does work fairly reliably i.e. i can connect 99% of the time but generally get actual download speeds between 5 and 30 kbps – useable but not ideal! i’d like to boost that roughly by a factor of 10.

    at the moment i’m considering the solution mentioned in the last post, i.e. getting a 3g router and inserting my 3g sim, then attaching an external aerial(s).

    i could do with some advice from the more technically minded though…

    1. can two external aerials be plugged into the router and used in tandem? – i notice the router linked in the previous post has a main rcf plug and an auxillary – would they work simultaneously?

    2. i have a telescopic CB (ham) radio aerial about 16 foot long mounted on the roof of a nearby barn – would this serve the purpose or do i have to buy a “3g” aerial

    3. is there a limit to how long a cable can be between the aerial and the modem? – presumably voltage drop could be an issue, would i need signal boosters along the way?

    4. Is height the biggest issue in signal reception or is a line of sight more important? i could possibly mount my aerial onto the apex of my two-storey “ruin” (right next to me) which would make it about 25 feet off the ground but still with a heavy line of trees blocking view of the mast… or i could mount it pretty much at ground level in a field about 300metres away with a clear line of sight to the tower (i dont like the idea of buying 300metres of co-axial cable though!) – which would be the better option?

    thanks in advance for any tips!


    Now if you’re not familiar with the phrase off-the-grid, it’s pretty simple. It means that it has no access to any kind of publicly accessible utilities, such as electricity, telephone, water, gas, or cable television. People who live off-the-grid have to provide for their own utilities.

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