Cable Down (literally)

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We have all had cable outages, but, sometime yesterday something (a truck, crane or mother nature) completely removed the cable from the trunk line on the pole all the way to our house

xfinity said it would be two to three days before we could get an "appointment" to get someone to look at it. This is exacerbated by the fact that I'm 2,000 miles away and my wife is technically impaired. In addition to other inconveniences, wifi security appliances went south with the cable. Unfortunately, it is not going to surprise me if it takes longer to get things back.

Last night, I had her set her phone's "hotspot" with the same ssid and password as our "guest wifi" which the security and iot devices use, but had zero success.

So, I would really appreciate input on how best to address a long internet provider outage, first to possibly give her some options now, but, more importantly, how to prepare for this in the future.

Might it be possible to get the cellphone's hotspot internet connection routed to the wifi router with another device?

Any thoughts appreciated. If this section is inappropriate (my primary concern about the outage both now and in the future is security) please tell me where I should move this.
Beverly Howard
I might suggest you get a hardware device, like the GL-iNet-GL-AR750S and have it pre-configured and ready to go (and tested.) Presumably you'd need to configure it with an SSID that is pre-added to the phone. If it weren't Covid times, I'd suggest taking it on weekend trip away, so that the experience of using it was comfortable for you both, and then you'd know what to expect.

Edit: There may be a newer device to consider:
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This event is being very educational. I have used android hotspots in the past when the need arose, but always with just two or three devices.

I kept cellphone tethering in mind and assumed that I would be able to use it if crisis situations came up such as this one.

As I pursue this, I am finding that there are many reasons that are going to prevent or severely restrict using this as an option. One example is the built in android device limit... on the pixel, it's 10

The above devices appear (I can't really tell) to have DNS capabilities, so, I in that case, I would assume that the cellphone would see only a single device even if many (such as multiple wifi lightbulbs) were on the network? ...that's a question.

Next, the pixel hotspot menu shows bluetooth, usb and ethernet tethering. On my phone, only BT tethering is enabled. My guess would be that might be restrictions imposed by the cellular provider.

IF ethernet tethering is possible, in this case, the phone could then be connected to the wifi router in place of the cable modem.

Has anyone done this? ...or even used any wired ethernet connection to connect a phone to anything?

Any input would be appreciated... the past few years have clearly shown that we cannot rely on single service options. Ida has just underscored that big time.

Thanks in advance for any and all wisdom,
Beverly Howard
I just dug out mine, because there was a firmware update to apply. I clicked on the Wireless option, clicked Scan and then found my existing SSID. I entered the password, and it got an IP on my existing network. I then plugged a desktop PC into one of the two LAN ports, and as far as the PC was concerned, it was on the network. I then downloaded the firmware from their site, and connected to the management LAN IP for the VPN/Router and authorized with my admin password. I uploaded the firmware, it rebooted and took 2 minutes, and I was done.

My point of all this is this device is extremely flexible, supports VPNs (OpenVPN or WireGuard) supports bridging WiFi to wired, or the reverse, and can usually work on hotel WiFi where there is a "landing page." It's a useful tool to have in your bag if you ever travel (thus why it's called a Travel Router/VPN) but is even useful around the house if you want a temporary wired link for a device, or want to have a guest WiFi network and not give your normal WiFi password to the guest. (Assuming your AP doesn't already support Guest networking.)
I found our hotspot's root problem... Consumer Cellular had it turned off! DOH!

Called them and explained the need and they turned it on with no charge. The agent then got into "changing my data plan" which I knew was not necessary... CC automatically bumps you up to the next data level limit when your consumption exceeds your current plan (and it probably will in short order) when the need is no longer there, you do need to contact CC and set the data limit back for the next billing period.

I tested the phone's hotspot and confirmed that it's now working. Reading seems to indicate that getting a USB-Ethernet adapter will make it possible to connect the phone directly to our wifi router (Google Wifi Mesh) and that should address both the primary and guest wifi connections without having to go in and reconfigure the devices on the network. The unanswered question is if that is going to be an option when I get a USB-Ethernet adapter or is there another restriction that needs to be cleared since the wired hotspot tethering toggles are still greyed out.

>> My point of all this is this device is extremely flexible... <<

I will probably get one and do the same. This event underscored the need for reliable and safe alternate options in the case of extended cable outages and I need to be more educated and prepared. We were in Austin, Texas for this year's massive electric grid failure and also in Oregon which is having to deal with massive fires, so we have been given a good heads up on what is becoming the new norm.

Beverly Howard
Reading seems to indicate that getting a USB-Ethernet adapter will make it possible to connect the phone directly to our wifi router
I thought of this, and it seems with the Iphone at least it is only a one way street! Ie the Iphone can use the ethernet internet, but the ethernet device cannot use the Iphone internet. You may want to consider a LTM modem, Netgear make some portable & "normal routers" from about £150 to over £700.
The way I temporally got around the landline going down was to use Iphone hotspot sharing with a USB cable to my main PC, then share the PC's internet connection via WiFi. Not the best or fastest solution, but hey, any port in a storm! The cheapest SIM deal I could get, without tying into a contract, was £16/month, unlimited data, calls & texts.
There are lots of different solutions. Start with where does the alternate net access come from?

One solution is Wi-Fi from a neighbor (if they will let you and the signal is strong enough). The GL.iNet devices can use that as input (so to speak) to get you online. Other than that, I believe the GL.iNet devices a just routers, not a solution to your problem.

Another solution, obviously, is the 4G data from a cellphone, either converted to a wifi hotspot or tethered to a router or computer.

Another option is a 4G antenna that plugs into a usb port.

Then too, cellphone companies sell small 4G hotspots.

And, finally, there are 4G/5G routers that use cellular data as their main input rather than Ethernet. T-Mobile recently rolled out service and routers for this. See
ZDNet just had an article this week about using a 5G router in England as a backup net access.

Then, where to feed the alternate net access? In the simplest case, for when you are not around, feed into the same router you are already using. In your case, I would check with Google about your router. I am not sure the usb/ethernet adapter will work.

Stepping up, there are routers that do this natively. That is, they handle multiple Internet connections. The bad ones only do failover, the good ones will load balance. The upside of load balancing is that you can send just a trickle of data thru the backup connection to insure it is alive and well. The point being, these routers handle the failure on their own, you do not have to get involved when things go bad.

While some consumer routers may claim they do this, I would not use them. Higher class multi-wan routers are from Peplink and Draytek. Perhaps pfSense can do this too? Don't know.

If considering a multi-wan router, the next issue is the type of connections they offer. A Peplink Balance 20x costs $400 and supports Ethernet connections up to 900Mbps. It has three inputs: An Ethernet port, 4G and a usb port. You can plug a SIM card into the router for the 4G access, no phone needed. The USB port can be used with a USB 4G antenna, or with a usb/ethernet adapter if you have two Ethernet connections or it can be tethered to an Android phone. Lots of choices.
Most backup internet options are not cheap. Many have been mentioned. I use a cellular hotspot for my tablet when I'm out and about. But, it would cost me a fortune to use it full time. I'm getting 6 GB / mo from TMobile for $ 25. I don't know if that offer is available any more. On my normal cable internet, I'm sure I use many times that. It does work though in a pinch. Many wireless hotspots are on the "prepaid" side of the cellular business. This is kind of the ugly duckling of the industry in my experience and customer service is sometimes sub par, if it's ever above par. But, se la vie.

Another option you might consider is Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet service. YouTube reviews seem very good. The satellites are in low orbit and have low latency, if the service is available in your area. It's still in beta. Many people are worried about the health affects of all those satellites above beaming microwaves down. That may be valid, as many people (millions) are EMF sensitive, to the point of being debilitated. But, regardless of that, the satellites are there for now and they work. Download speeds in the middle of nowhere seem to be about 100 Mbps. Initial cost is $ 500 and monthly cost is $ 100 I believe. That's pretty high and I haven't decided to add that to my cable bill. But it is an option.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
Sorry for the delay in responding... I've been "down" as well <sigh> Great input, thanks...

Some of my thoughts so far.

I have some devices on order including usb to ethernet that I plan to test when I have a moment.

My intent is to see if I can tether via ethernet (I did test tethering via wifi here in Austin, Texas but could never get wifi tethering to work in Oregon talking my wife through setting it up via phone)

It is my expectation that if I can get the phone to ethernet tether, I should then be able to connect the phone to the WAN port on the router. Doing that should read as the phone is connected to a single device while providing limited connection to everything on the LAN.

If that is successful, I can then power down all non essential iot devices and the remainder, such as the Ring doorbell, would be able to connect to the internet without having to reconfigure them... will report when I am able to test.

The neighbor connection is something I considered but we are brand new to the neighborhood, so don't know what type of responses to expect. We have a tech worker who lives next door and his signal is strong, but have not contacted him yet. The neighbor's wifi across the street who would be happy to help only shows a "dot" on the signal strength. This thread has provided a number of possibilities to establishing a neighbor's connection to our existing lan via our router.

In Oregon, xfinity's shared wifi is also an option, but I won't be able to test that until I am up there again and that will be several months.

Part of the reason for starting this thread was to underscore the need to prepare for outages since options are so scarce to begin with. The city (Eugene) where we are has a surprisingly high petty crime rate. The part that is especially disturbing is the huge potential of zero options with our current single source internet provider setups across the country.

Within a month of moving in, the Ring Doorbell that I installed woke me up after midnight to a woman intent on removing what was in our mailbox... paid for itself that night... was also a very interesting conversation. Without an internet connection, these devices are blind and deaf even though they have a good wifi connection.

The cable is back up. Two and a half days of (intentionally) very limited cellular data use racked up just over 2GB. This has been a valuable learning experience for me and I hope to others here.

>> check with Google about your router. I am not sure the usb/ethernet adapter will work <<

Will do if the phone/ethernet/routerWANport does not work. Then it's on to the devices.

Thanks again to everyone,
The usb<->ethernet dongle arrived today.

Just tested it.

It requires a usb-c OTG cable to connect the dongle to the phone. Amazon has a split cable adapter with an OTG connector and a usb-c connector that allows a charger to be attached when using ethernet.

It works with no user interaction required simply by connecting to a wired ethernet source.

I turned off both wifi and cellular data on the phone then accessed a data intensive page with no problems and obvious speed increase,

I then turned cellular data back on, went to the hotspot settings and the "tether via ethernet" toggle became usable...

With wifi hotspot off, and turned ethernet tethering on.

Pretty seamless but the multiple toggles necessary can be confusing.

Our earlier cable failure has run our cellular data usage close to our plan limits for the month, so, I will probably wait for five days to test it to see how it works with the router.

Beverly Howard
Unfortunately, you were correct.

Connecting the tethered ethernet to the router resulted in the "tether via ethernet" becoming available to toggle on, a few seconds after ethernet tether was toggled on, it would toggle itself off.

I wonder what the phone is looking at to make that decision to shut down ethernet.

At least the good news is that the tether never had time to consume any cellular data ;-)

Beverly Howard
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I wonder what the phone is looking at to make that decision to shut down ethernet.
I don't know if it IS the phone. It may be the network provider. When I was looking for a cellular provider to use tethering to connect to the home network via USB or WiFi, not all of them would work. Some of them had the tethering option "greyed out". When I contacted the companies, they said it was not an option for that plan. I think if this is so, then ALL the providers do not wish you to use their data on the phones for your router via Ethernet. But having said that, you CAN buy LTE modems that use a SIM, that you can plug into your router via Ethernet! So, I don't really know what the deal is here :-(
Simple, they block tethering using the on phone apps so that you are forced to use "the phone company" app to do this, which then does filtering, rate limiting and such, because how dare you use the data you paid for so cheaply off the phone. Simplest solution is to take the SIM out and place it in a router, like almost any of the Huawei routers (not available in the USA though, unless you brought it in over the border for some reason) and you get full speed data, and no app required.

Bypass is to download a tethering app off the appropriate store, and install it, that then simply turns on cellular data, ethernet via the charge cable, and does NAT on the link between, so to the carrier the phone is using the data. the blocking is typically done on carrier locked phones, in general in my experience buying a carrier agnostic phone is generally not going to be encumbered with this, and the cheap phones work well in this mode. Generally Samsung low end models work well for this, though they can be a little iffy on ethernet adaptors, which can easily be fixed by getting a wireless adaptor and having it in bridge mode, so the wireless link is usable, and you simply have the phone next to the AP for best speed.
More good information... educational.

>> NAT App to the carrier the phone is using the data <<

So, to confirm and clarify, phone is connected to cellular data, then the NAT app redirects that connection to an ethernet cable?

Never heard of this... will start looking.

Onward, through the fog (and wildfire smoke)

Beverly Howard
Until Sprint finally decided that us customers could responsibly use a phone to provide 'tethering' (USB, BT, or WiFi) without hammering their precious bandwidth, EasyTether was my weapon of choice. The free phone app would let you check out the connection on your laptop, but not let you access https (secure) sites. Once you were satisfied, you could pay a one-time $10 free to upgrade to the premium phone app, and viola! tethering for the masses. It looked like the phone was accessing the data, so no nasty notes from the telco, etc. Our family used this on our phones for years when traveling, but more recently, our family plan with Sprint now provides unlimited tethering (well, you know, practically unlimited), something like 500GB/mo per phone. After that, you are throttled to 3G speeds. We've never hit the 'limit', but we don't use phone tethering 24/7/365, either. Read on, please...

We've mostly used this feature on camping trips, and my wife and I set up each of our phones for WiFi tethering, to split the load. We've used this to stream Netflix, etc. on my laptop, feeding the HDMI output to the big-screen HD TV in the RV, and have never had a hiccup. Usually in 4G/LTE or sometimes in 5G coverage, using Samsung S20 FE 5G phones on Sprint in SE Michigan.

Only cons we've experienced:

1) The phones can only operate WiFi tethering on EITHER 2.4GHz OR 5 GHz, not both. This becomes an issue when we are surrounded by literally a dozen or more other folks sharing WiFi on 2.4 GHz. There is not much space there, and enough overlapping strong signals will eventually cause unexpected dropouts. Moving to 5 GHz fixes the issue, but we have a handful of devices that don't operate on 5 GHz, so that's an issue.

2) Because of 1), we discovered that often when my wife would start her WiFi tethering on 2.4 GHz, it would knock my 2.4 GHz-only laptop (the one with the HDMI output) offline, and I would have to disconnect/reconnect to get things running again. We ended up solving this by using USB tethering for her laptop, and turning off the WiFi tethering signal on her phone. The USB option would be grayed out until she actually plugged the USB cord from the phone into her laptop. Doing this also kept her phone's battery topped off, as well.

3) Tethering seems to run the phone battery harder, so it's best to keep your phone on a charger while you are using it to tether. I found that using a fast wireless charger would sometimes fall out of fast mode, and then start discharging the phone, likely due to heating issues, even though the Samsung wireless charger has a fan built in to the pad. I ended up plugging a charging cable into a non-fast charger outlet that the RV provides on some of its sockets, and that seemed to work just fine.

I realize this is only one data point, but it has provided reliable service for us on trips and camping, at no extra cost for a data plan, etc.
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Oh boy as a person who was on frontier and then Hughesnet and then AT&T cellular for home data with a hotspot…
The mobile hotspots are handy but there's usually a 5 to 10 device limit.
Cellular phone hotspots tend to have limits and weird issues.

You have two options I have done both.
I have a TP Link travel router the mini thing.
one is set up with both the personal and secondary family Netwerk and theoretically I could add another SSID if I went to OpenWRT for the guest IOT network. This is set to connect wirelessly in what is considered bridged router mode to the mobile hotspot. It works pretty well and both devices can be plugged into a USB charger battery or Big 12v battery.

The other thing I have done with another one as I had way more than 5 devices and then when they later increased it to 10 devices I still had more. What happens when a device exceeds the device limit it's still getting an IP address however the DHCP server is practically ignoring it.
I did at one point try and do this with the mobile hotspot the problem was the printer stayed on and it would usually get an IP after all other devices left and maintain its Internet connection but any devices that rejoined after the 5 limit would henceforth be restricted from Internet access through the iPhone hotspot/Mobile hotspot.

To get around this I used another travel router in routed Wi-Fi bridge mode.
It basically accepts a Wi-Fi connection as the WAN then goes through a router and then to the internal switch which is connected to the ethernet port and internal Wi-Fi access point. I would disable the Wi-Fi because that's not needed and take the ethernet port and plug that into a whole Main PFsense router with external access points.
WWAN > Cellular > Wifi HotSpot > Wi-Fi > TPlink > Ethernet > PFSense > Ethernet > AP.
WWAN > Cellular > Wifi HotSpot (or dedicated cell phone) > Wi-Fi > TPlink > Ethernet > consumer router.

Alternatively you can unplug your current modem from the WAN port and connect this. Granted you'll be probably like triple NAT at that point but then you don't change any settings on your main router and you're back online.
A Better option if your router supports it is WAN fell over or second WAN.

Some* router support USB modems on the USB port.
Some consumer routers will support a USB ethernet adapter as a WAN interface, and some will give you the option of stealing one of the LAN Ports as a second WAN.

Netgear makes a really nice ethernet only cellular modem for AT&T + GSM networks.

Then you're just left with what external service you're gonna use. Which might be a problem if your lines are down because your neighbors won't have Wi-Fi necessarily. So you're probably going with cellular unless you put some time into this maybe satellite?
From all of the looking I did 4 years ago Sprint US had the best price/data package for mobile hotspots of $60 for 50 GB with RollOver, Not sure how that's gonna fare after the merger though.
And as others have said MVNO’s.
There's always good old Dial up but again no lines?

I have not heard of tethering over ethernet the only thing I can think that it would be possible on would be android. Maybe. Going the other way fine. However do note that many devices now will disable tethering if they are connected to Wi-Fi.
I had an iPhone do that… they were trying to set it up so a tablet would connect but every time they turned it on it would turn itself off because it was within and connecting to my hotspot. Why would you want to use your data when you have a perfectly good wireless connection nearby? Sed the cell phone.

it's not that the ring device and most IOT devices are limited even having a good signal, It’s because they cannot connect to their Remote Storage Center. Like having a security system that won't work unless your phones on the hook. It's an annoying problem. I would consider looking into some sort of NAS and cameras and devices that go directly to that rather than the Amazon cloud.

and remember Internet on your phone and Internet on your computer or two different things according to cell phone companies. That's kind of like paying extra for long distance or caller ID. They're not necessities and they're completely different. For the longest time carriers barely knew what tethering was in the US. That was just not something that was really done here. I remember my first Flip phone that I could tether over USB! It wasn't fast but it worked.