4G failover options for pfSense?


  • Banned

    Hello

    I'm looking to use a 4G connection for failover on a pfSense and I need to ask what hardware should I get (in Europe)

    I saw the list but most products are not available in Europe

    I also have 2 options

    USB dongle - I would plug it into my ESXi host, passthru to the pfSense VM and I imagine some how configure it.

    Router in bridge mode - This one seems easier as I know how configure this. That being said, the router in bridge mode would always think it is a active connection and It would be wasting data. It needs to have 1 Gb ports.

    This 4G failover is for emergencies and all traffic will be blocked except alerting and one box in order to manage the situation. It is not a failover per say for my entire infrastructure.

    That being said, let's focus first on the hardware: USB dongle or router in bridge mode?



  • I have no opinion other than to say that, if you decide to go the hardware route, that you make sure it is compatible with FreeBSD.

    https://www.freebsd.org/releases/11.2R/hardware.html



  • You say both "for emergencies" and "active connection would be wasting data", so this problem is a little tricky.

    What I would do, here in the States, is add a little travel router that can tether to your smart phone, and thru this travel router, plug an ethernet cable into your backup/failover WAN port on your pfsense box. Boom, backup 4G internet.

    Here's a travel router that I use to do this:
    https://www.amazon.com/GL-iNet-GL-AR750-300Mbps-pre-Installed-Included/dp/B07712LKJM

    Here's why I say it will be tricky... You don't want to run this all the time, because of cell data usage and maybe high costs. What I would do is teach somebody on-staff or on-premesis on how to tether a phone to this box, power on the travel router, and check to make sure it all works.

    There are some higher-end 4G modem/router boxes by Cradlepoint, like the COR IBR200 that can also do this.

    https://cradlepoint.com/products/cor-ibr200

    Find out from your cell provider if they've got a low cost M2M or IOT data plans for this type of connection.

    Jeff


  • Netgate Administrator

    Something that terminates in Ethernet will be far better, more reliable.

    I use an internal Sierra modem but that requires a PPP connection so no 4G.

    Netgears LTE devices seem to attract positive reviews though I've not used one myself.

    Steve



  • @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    I'm looking to use a 4G connection for failover on a pfSense and I need to ask what hardware should I get (in Europe)

    The way this is generally done is with a cell network modem, that provides an Internet connection. Then you need some means to detect failure of the main connection and then switch over. If you can manage to get OSPF going over a cell connection, then you can use that to switch to the cell backup. However, I don't know that the cell networks support that.


  • Banned

    @akuma1x said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    You say both "for emergencies" and "active connection would be wasting data", so this problem is a little tricky.

    What I would do, here in the States, is add a little travel router that can tether to your smart phone, and thru this travel router, plug an ethernet cable into your backup/failover WAN port on your pfsense box. Boom, backup 4G internet.

    Here's a travel router that I use to do this:
    https://www.amazon.com/GL-iNet-GL-AR750-300Mbps-pre-Installed-Included/dp/B07712LKJM

    Here's why I say it will be tricky... You don't want to run this all the time, because of cell data usage and maybe high costs. What I would do is teach somebody on-staff or on-premesis on how to tether a phone to this box, power on the travel router, and check to make sure it all works.

    There are some higher-end 4G modem/router boxes by Cradlepoint, like the COR IBR200 that can also do this.

    https://cradlepoint.com/products/cor-ibr200

    Find out from your cell provider if they've got a low cost M2M or IOT data plans for this type of connection.

    Jeff

    Yeah, no


  • Banned

    @stephenw10 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Something that terminates in Ethernet will be far better, more reliable.

    I use an internal Sierra modem but that requires a PPP connection so no 4G.

    Netgears LTE devices seem to attract positive reviews though I've not used one myself.

    Steve

    Wow, those Netgeat LTE devices seem kind of expensive for what they are...

    Maybe I am better off getting a USB dongle.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Well if you do hosting it on one of those tiny OpenWRT boxes such as the GL-iNET linked above is a good idea.

    If you connect it directly in pfSense and it gets unplugged or goes to sleep or just fails then pfSense no longer boot without assistance.

    Steve



  • @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Yeah, no

    Yeah, no, what? This is how 4G failover/backup network connections are done.

    Have you ever tethered your phone to a computer or router like this, to get internet in a pinch? It works very well, if you have somewhat decent cell service.

    Ok, so the only other way I didn't talk about is a USB dongle. It first has to work with pfsense and/or your VM host. There might be 1 or 2 of them tested in the real world and working, maybe. Then it still has to have some kind of data plan attached to it to get cell service.

    What kind of budget do you have for this?

    Jeff



  • @akuma1x

    I have set up such a thing for Starbucks. In addition to ADSL for the main connection, they used a cell network modem for the fall back. They also used a Juniper router to manage the fall back. As I recall, they had to test the main connection periodically to ensure it was still up or fall back to the cell network.


  • Banned

    @JKnott said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    I'm looking to use a 4G connection for failover on a pfSense and I need to ask what hardware should I get (in Europe)

    The way this is generally done is with a cell network modem, that provides an Internet connection. Then you need some means to detect failure of the main connection and then switch over. If you can manage to get OSPF going over a cell connection, then you can use that to switch to the cell backup. However, I don't know that the cell networks support that.

    Detecting a failover shouldnt be that difficult; Even if pfSense itself cant do it, Im willing to bet someone will script it for me.


  • Banned

    @stephenw10 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Well if you do hosting it on one of those tiny OpenWRT boxes such as the GL-iNET linked above is a good idea.

    If you connect it directly in pfSense and it gets unplugged or goes to sleep or just fails then pfSense no longer boot without assistance.

    Steve

    Those look ideal but Im not too keen on the idea of putting a 100 Mb device on my network...


  • Banned

    @akuma1x said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Yeah, no

    Yeah, no, what? This is how 4G failover/backup network connections are done.

    Have you ever tethered your phone to a computer or router like this, to get internet in a pinch? It works very well, if you have somewhat decent cell service.

    Ok, so the only other way I didn't talk about is a USB dongle. It first has to work with pfsense and/or your VM host. There might be 1 or 2 of them tested in the real world and working, maybe. Then it still has to have some kind of data plan attached to it to get cell service.

    What kind of budget do you have for this?

    Jeff

    Noone in their right mind attaches a smartphone to a router and uses that as backup. NOONE.

    SIM and/or USB dongle to router and work from there...



  • @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Those look ideal but Im not too keen on the idea of putting a 100 Mb device on my network...

    It's on a backup/fallback WAN port, what's the big deal?

    And, since we're arguing about how to get that box connected to the internet, here's how GL-INET suggests you do it.

    https://docs.gl-inet.com/en/2/setup/internet_setting/

    Jeff


  • Banned

    @akuma1x said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Those look ideal but Im not too keen on the idea of putting a 100 Mb device on my network...

    It's on a backup/fallback WAN port, what's the big deal?

    And, since we're arguing about how to get that box connected to the internet, here's how GL-INET suggests you do it.

    https://docs.gl-inet.com/en/2/setup/internet_setting/

    Jeff

    Like I mention I am not a big fan at all of putting any 100 Mb device on my network.

    Plus, correct me if I am wrong, but LTE hits over 100 Mb correct? Which would be limited then...



  • @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Plus, correct me if I am wrong, but LTE hits over 100 Mb correct? Which would be limited then...

    You're in Europe, so you'd have to check with your carrier. Here's some US 4G LTE data. That's why I said it's no big deal.

    https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-mobile-network,review-2942.html

    Jeff


  • Banned

    @akuma1x said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Plus, correct me if I am wrong, but LTE hits over 100 Mb correct? Which would be limited then...

    You're in Europe, so you'd have to check with your carrier. Here's some US 4G LTE data. That's why I said it's no big deal.

    https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-mobile-network,review-2942.html

    Jeff

    Data that means nothing to me.

    So now I need a 4G device (dongle/router/etc) that can do 1 Gb


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    Where do you think your going to get such speeds on LTE? While EU is ahead of much of the world.. Sorry but not close to 100mbps yet..

    https://www.opensignal.com/reports/2018/02/state-of-lte

    Its a bit over a year old - but 1 year has not tripled LTE speeds.

    but LTE hits over 100 Mb correct?

    There is a big difference between theory limit and what actually real world..



  • @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    So now I need a 4G device (dongle/router/etc) that can do 1 Gb

    LOL

    Jeff


  • Netgate Administrator

    I assume you mean 'has Gigagbit Ethernet' there? Otherwise wait for 5G!


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator



  • @johnpoz said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    but LTE hits over 100 Mb correct?

    There is a big difference between theory limit and what actually real world..

    I just did a test running Speedtest on my Pixel 2 phone. I got 117 Mb down and 43.5 up, with clear line of sight to the nearest cell site, a few blocks away. This compares with the low 90s down & 11 up on my 75/10 package at home over cable.



  • @riahc3 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    So now I need a 4G device (dongle/router/etc) that can do 1 Gb

    Not likely.


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    @JKnott said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Pixel 2 phone

    Yeah that is great phone for LTE speed.. All comes down to your carrier and your device and who else is on the tower.. The numbers are average.. In theory sure you can get 150 - there is a big difference between that and real world, etc. etc.

    The modem I linked to can do max 150.. in its specs.. Find a current speed map.. Not like that was for 5g or LTE.. you see the speeds are given as "average" etc..

    Test that in say a urban setup where you have 100's of other devices all on the same tower. And your not line of site to it ;)

    Guess you should go with LTE for your main speed then ;) Mine is 500/50 at home, where my cell can do 30-40.. Guess which one I use ;)



  • @johnpoz said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Guess you should go with LTE for your main speed then ;) Mine is 500/50 at home, where my cell can do 30-40.. Guess which one I use ;)

    The problem is in my condo, my signal is so poor, the phone is almost unusable at my desk. Also, my cell plan only has 6 GB of data, vs 500 GB via cable.

    I rely on WiFi calling for cell phone calls at home.



  • The only network able to provide any useable speed for an emergency 4G connection in our building is Sprint. If I get 10 Mbps on that connection, I'm happy, because the three other major players were only able to give me a fraction of that. Sprint is supposedly the worst network out of the four major networks in the US. So don't base your decisions on what others claim to be the best network. All data is based on an averages. Averages don't tell you what's good for your specific scenario. Do you own testing and find out. You can install roof top antennas pointing at towers and really go overkill with the 4G setup if you like. It all comes down to what you need.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Just as a reference here's what I see using a ppp connection via an internal Sierra modem:

    [2.4.4-RELEASE][admin@3100.stevew.lan]/root: speedtest-cli --source 187.30.105.169
    Retrieving speedtest.net configuration...
    Testing from Three (187.30.105.169)...
    Retrieving speedtest.net server list...
    Selecting best server based on ping...
    Hosted by Structured Communications (London) [2.56 km]: 49.696 ms
    Testing download speed................................................................................
    Download: 39.69 Mbit/s
    Testing upload speed...............................................................................................
    .Upload: 18.08 Mbit/s
    

    Technically it's an LTE device, EM7305, but the PPP connection limits it.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Technically it's an LTE device, EM7305, but the PPP connection limits it.

    Why would PPP limit it? PPP is the standard way of sending packets over a serial connection. Years ago, we used to use it for dial up connections and more recently I've configured it on T1 & fractional T1 as well as ISDN. In fact, routers from Cisco, etc., can be configured to use PPP over that sort of situation. PPP is also used with ADSL, as PPPoE. PPP is just another protocol that can be used to carry IP. It has no bandwidth limit.


  • Netgate Administrator

    As far as I know it's not possible to connect over LTE with PPP, you are limited to DC-HSPA at a max of 42MBps. However if that is the case then that 40Mbps result looks pretty good! Also I think there was another user reported a higher value awhile back.
    Anyway it would be far better of we could connect using QMI or MBIM but FreeBSD/pfSense doesn't support that. Yet.

    Edit: Actually that doesn't appear to be true, can connect over LTE but using PPP does limit the speed. Unclear where the limit is though.

    Steve



  • go get an es450

    everything else is not worth it.



  • @stephenw10 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    Actually that doesn't appear to be true, can connect over LTE but using PPP does limit the speed. Unclear where the limit is though

    "Download: 39.69 Mbit/s"
    "Upload: 18.08 Mbit/s"

    That might be the 3g limit. HSPA+ max is 42 Mb down and 22 up, which fits in with what you show. The old 3g supported serial connections, IIRC, but LTE is IP only.


  • Banned

    Just tested from my phone:

    ~175 Mbps down and ~60 Mbps up.

    That being said, it seems that there is nothing decently priced (+- 100 euros) that have gig interface so I either have to go with 100Mb ethernet (yuk) or find a USB 3 dongle (which I think is impossible)


  • Banned

    D-Link DWR-953 is the only option that seems decent at 117 euros...


  • Netgate Administrator

    The Netgear LTE modems are not that much more, are well tested with pfSense and don't include a bunch of hardware you don't want like wifi. I would get that over a USB device every time.

    Steve


  • Banned

    @stephenw10 said in 4G failover options for pfSense?:

    The Netgear LTE modems are not that much more, are well tested with pfSense and don't include a bunch of hardware you don't want like wifi. I would get that over a USB device every time.

    Steve

    I imagine you are talking about:

    https://www.netgear.com/home/products/mobile-broadband/lte-modems/LB1120.aspx#tab-techspecs

    Well, I can only find the Netgear LB2120 and its at 150 euros.... Kind of a big price spike when Im gonna be using this maybe 1 day every 365 days a year as a failover connection.

    Is there something wrong with the D-Link?



  • @riahc3

    First off, what your phone can do is irrelevant. It's what the actual equipment you use is capable of that matters. However, you're not going to get anywhere near 1 Gb with LTE, no matter what you use.


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