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I work for a Sprint dealer. A customer of ours has sites where the only available internet connectivity is a Sprint cellular signal. They've been using a Cisco ASA5505 firewall. To give it WAN connectivity, they've been using a cheap Linksys router that has a PCMICA card slot, plugging in a Sprint card, and passing the connection via the Linksys LAN to the Cisco.

That solution is no longer available (the Linksys is going off the market), and frankly I thought it was awkward anyway. I'm trying to help them find a single Cisco device that will do everything for them. (Cisco is their preferred brand.)

I talked with Cisco and they suggested an 881G-S-K9.

  1. Has anyone used this or a similar solution? Thoughts?
  2. To activate a Sprint data card, we essentially go into the accound and say "phone number 555-555-5555 should now have data card serial number xxxxxxxxx attached." Would this router have some kind of serial number that we could activate on a line?

The customer has said that they use a 10-user license and need support for 3 VLAN, whatever that means.


Sorry for any ignorance I may display by asking this question - I confess that I don't know a switch from a router from a firewall at this point in my career. The consumer-grade "router" I have at home may be all 3, for all I know. But hey, at least I'm trying to learn. :)

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The device you want is this: HWIC-3G-CDMA , or possibly the GSM version, depending on whether your carrier network is CDMA or GSM.
You'll then need a 1841, 1861 or 2800 router to run the card, and do the routing. You could probably pick up an 1841 for less than a thousand US Dollars. The 3G HWIC will probably cost between 300 and 500 USD.

The list price of the 881G is 1500USD, if you had a look on ebay for either the 881G or 1841 +HWIC combo, you might be able to beat the 1500USD pricetag!

It's not a cheap solution, but it is the 'right' way to do things.

I suspect the 10 user license applies only to their 5505 firewall.

There are other 3G router devices available, but none are likely to give you as good performance and reliability as the Cisco. (I don't work for them, but just think they're damn good)

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In either case - whether you get the HWIC or the 881G - you get a serial number that can be registered with the carrier? Does the device then have to be programmed ("this is your new phone number")? – Nathan Long Jan 11 '10 at 18:49
Yeah, there's a certain amount of config to be done on the router, to tell it the carrier data, phonenumber to dial, a bit like setting up a 3G usb dongle. the PDF at this link has some information about provisioning the device. – Tom O'Connor Jan 11 '10 at 20:55

Since all the devices that sprint offers to share internet are wireless, your best option would be to look into either something that you are already doing, or as you mentioned something more robust which would be a Cisco device that does it all.

I have not personally used that model, but I have used an older Cisco device that was the firewall/router and WAP that has a Verizon PCMCIA card in it and except for the obvious sub par internet speeds, it worked wonderfully. I actually did a bit of modification to the device (yes voiding warranty) in that the card itself gets very warm inside the Cisco, on top of the heat the Cisco itself generates. I simply took off the plastic of the device and put a few holes above where the card goes in and mounted a fan on the top of the thing to pull air out, looked cheesy but worked for 4 years until the finally got dsl in the middle of no where.

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Installation that I have done using C881G. The following are the steps: 1. Register the Sprint wireless 3G card
2. activate modem, 3. configure & activate the profile, 4. on the head end configure it with the cellular modems IP.

Now that we are monitoring the ckts in my opinion the circuit bounces sometimes.

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