4G/5G radio support

Just thinking out loud that it would be great if (going forward) Sense could build in a 4G/5G radio so that WiFi wasn’t the only means of getting data in/out. Today we are in the middle of a PG&E power shutoff and it would be very useful to have Sense data in combo with the Tesla PowerWall. Unfortunately without WiFi (Comcast is down but ATT cell service is :+1:t3:) we are running (literally ok and running all circuits) blind.

I go through outages with our internet provider and use “personal hotspot” on the iPhone.
My iPhone becomes the access point for everything in the home by connecting a laptop to personal hotspot and then sharing the connection in settings

Yes I thought of that but I’d have to then change each device connection individually. I’m thinking of getting a full time cell phone modem and figuring out how to automatically have the wireless router switch from cable to cell phone modem as conditions require. I’m definitely outside my knowledge with this but one has to start somewhere.

Going forward it probably makes sense for connected device manufacturers to offer “hardened” connectivity using cellular data networks (at premium prices) for those who are willing to pay because of environmental conditions (hurricanes, earthquakes, snowmegedon, wildfire risk, etc). I really get the sense that the days of large hardwired networks are dying quickly as micro grids & residential solar/storage take over the grid and distributed wireless networks like 4/5G take over for cable. Poles & wires :point_right:t3: Bad

A better way of doing this is to use a router with 4G failover (Cradlepoint, etc.) to provide a backup path to the Internet. Most will allow you to create rules to restrict what can use the failover connection. Don’t want to chew thru all your data doing OS updates overnight, for example.


Agree with @pswired on the networking aspects.

Meanwhile, unless I’m missing something you probably have some larger issues. If your Sense monitor is not powered you will still see the Sense interface on the cloud. If your Sense is powered by the Powerwall with a transfer to the panel, then why not have it power your network gear as priority?

In that regard I would prioritize power as follows:

  1. Locks & phones and/or phone charge service (emergency access)

  2. Fridge/freezer (interesting debate there if you have multiples … remember you can use a freezer, to a certain extent, to save a fridge!)

  3. Modem+network gear (inc. WiFi)

  4. Sense and other smart-home stuff (home security could be low or high on the list depending upon your needs)

  5. Lighting?

  6. Some (@kevin1?) might put a TOTO here but your mileage may vary. EV? Or is that #1 … sometimes you just have to escape!

Sense transmits several hundred megs a day of data. That can easily add up to 7+ gigs a month of data which would require a fairly expensive data plan depending on your location and availability of affordable options.

Although it’s an interesting option, I think that the likelyhood of many people actually utilizing it vs much cheaper and more capable home WiFi connections is pretty low. Accordingly it probably wouldn’t make sense to have a blanket increase in the hardware cost to implement a feature that only a tiny fraction of Sense users would actually find useful.

Perhaps in 5-10 years when 5G data is cheap and ubiquitous that could change.

As for staying online during the blackout, have you actually powered up your modem & router and tried to connect? I think you’d find that most ISP’s have fairly robust backup systems at their RCO’s that keep their systems online for days in the case of power loss. There’s a good chance you could actually be online as normal. I’ve used our Cable ISP normally through 24+ hour outages before with no problems.


Thanks for the input. The ISP lost power during the PGE PSPS. Our PW is able to keep all networking hardware in our house operational but that wasn’t good enough. Therefore I’m looking for a non-COMCAST plan B. I really like the Cradlepoint hardware idea but I need to look into it further.

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It was an ISP power issue due to the PGE power shutoff. Basically the entire northern part of Napa Valley was (and in some locations, still is) without internet. Perhaps this issue goes away once they realize what occurred and fix it, perhaps not. We had cell service and data the entire time. Given the public notification/warning system is based around Nixle & text via cell data it makes sense for us to consider 4G/future 5G as the go forward emergency plan.

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If you live in a UniFi networking world including one of their “Security Gateways” (router) -
UniFi makes a LTE product - Its in Beta and has been for a while which man mean a lot of things, but its a slick little box that can do exactly what you are looking for. You plug it into your network (anywhere). The system auto configures it and builds a vlan for it back to the router. Should your main ISP go down, it fails over to cell backup.
Its on the ATT network and has a $15/month subscription which includes 1GB of data. Then I think its $15/gig for any additional data. Not cheap, but its an option.
I haven’t used it, so I have no idea what restrictions you can put on it when in backup mode, but its “plug and play” and much cheaper than the newer cradlepoints which seem to have left their consumer devices behind.

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My asus router has dual wan interface in which one of the options is to either connect a USB Modem, android phone or another rj45 port.

I’ve used it succesfully with an android phone and rj45 port. However, USB modem a bit of a pain to get it to work, but when it does its stable.

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From the ISP industry, I can tell you that you should never rely on Comcast to keep their HFC nodes powered during a utility outage. They do a terrible job of maintaining their battery backup, and in a large scale outage, they don’t have a practical way to get generators to thousands of nodes distributed through neighborhoods and public rights of way.

DSL is slightly better, as there are fewer DSLAM locations and most telcos are pretty good about having 8+ hour battery backup and generators allocated. Passive FTTH (Verizon FIOS architecture) is the gold standard for residential ISP reliability during power outages, as there’s no active equipment between the customer and the central office, and COs are equipped with extensive battery and generator backup systems.

Personally, I use FIOS for my primary ISP and have Viasat satellite as a backup. Even if there’s a regional issue, the satellite service will provide connectivity from elsewhere in the country.

Regarding cell carriers, Verizon is your most likely bet to work during a power outage, followed by AT&T, Sprint, and then T-mobile. They each have different standards for their network systems, and Verizon is the clear leader.

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Great info. I’m literally meeting with our mayor today to discuss this matter. The city has provided Comcast with the ISP franchise but I’m not sure what conditions have been dictated. Greatly appreciate the FIOS info. I’ll use that today.

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In the days of frame relay and T1s costing >$1K/month for small businesses the thing to do was dial-up to work to get “online” … and before WeWork, “collaboration” to me meant trying to hookup multiple client offices in the same building/neighborhood via the same WAN connection/s … and then wireless came along but before things started getting too crazy the price of DSL got low enough … and so on.

This by way of thinking that in a less urban area I would exploit my neighbors/community and try and share. Ubiquiti and other PTP wireless is cheap enough now and good enough. Ultimately it may just be a good excuse to get to know one’s neighbors.

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Listened to a talk by the guy who started this at a NANOG conference this year. Interesting idea and matches what you’re describing. Problem in many suburban/rural communities is that Comcast or whatever MSO is the only decent ISP in the area, so using the system for resiliency won’t work.

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Gotta always be one guy with Viasat who can be tapped off! :wink:

I hear you on resiliency though: Even in NYC with large-ishs buildings with fiber in one end and cable in the other I have seen takedowns. Usually it’s a human doing something silly where things converge but simultaneous rat chewing is also to be expected.

Follow up to my previous post - the previously mentioned beta product is now in general release.

https://unifi-lte.ui.com/ - is their LTE device which can be used in a fail over situation in existing or new UniFi networks - requires a UniFi router / gateway. (USG, USG-P, UDM, UDP)

Ben; as you are aware we had another major event her in NorCal in the last weeks. Comcast again failed to keep functioning. This will be my solution. Thank you.

I like the flexibility of the system and ease of install, just keep that price point in mind. Its crazy expensive and I don’t actually know if / what features they give you to limit bandwidth usage other than just disabling things on yoru network.

Indeed, definitely wouldn’t go down that path unless you have a very carefully configured USG … and perhaps a redundant bandwidth clock with a big red emergency air gap lunge-for-it switch.

Pricing it like it’s 1999!

Just received an email on the UniFi LTE. Wondering if they are targeting California …