If you happen to purchase a Karma from this post, do us both a favor and use my referral link: https://yourkarma.com/invite/andrew3976 You'll get $10, I get $10.
Here’s what it looks like:
The New Rural ISP
Karma (an MVNO that piggybacks off of Sprints LTE network) just last week announced a new data plan option for your Karma Go hotspot device. It’s called Neverstop, a $50/mo option which allows 3 devices to have unlimited data while on your Karma account with your access capped at 5mb/s. While they say that this service isn’t planned to replace home internet connection; it *is* a home internet connection for those that didn’t have access to your traditional ISP before!
I live in a semi-rural area, just barely outside the range of any traditional cable or DSL ISP connection. Sure, I could get satellite, but that’s burdened with: contracts, high cost, data usage caps, speed caps, installation fees, device rental fees, and frequent congestion. It’s not worth it. Historically I have done the mundane route of using cellphone hotspot mode, hanging it up in a corner window, and connecting my devices to that. This has been a pain because there are so often hotspot usage caps that are difficult to circumvent, and your cellphone will be commandeered until you’re done using your internet.
Using Karma Go as-is
For your average use-case, you would simply authenticate all of your devices to the Karma Go, and then use it as-is… but I am not your average use-case. Due to how Karma Go handles individual connection, it’s not possible for two devices to talk to one another while connected to the same hotspot. But that setup isn’t going to fly if I try to use Karma with either a device that doesn’t have a web browser to login with (think Nest or IoT), or devices that require local cross-network communication (think Chromecast or a home NAS).
Welcome the best of both worlds!
To support my needs, I needed to setup my own oasis of WiFi that is powered by my Karma Go device. How to do this? Well, with two Linksys wrt54g routers (a little dated, but still work great)! I have flashed these devices with custom firmware provided by DD-WRT, and configured one of them to connect to my Karma Go in Client Mode, I then also set the device to use its what would-be WAN port as part of the switch. This then has a short ethernet patch cable that jumps into the WAN port of the other router, which is configured as your typical home router.
The Secret Sauce
To make everything talk nicely together you have to be running on different subnets so that the NATing can work properly. My client bridge is setup to operate on 192.168.2.x, and then the home network is 192.168.1.x… works great!
You may have noticed that I left out one critical piece. How did I authenticate my Client Bridge configured Linksys router to use my Karma Go account if the Linksys doesn’t have a web interface? I’m sure there are more than one ways to do this, Karma’s blog even suggests that you can simply contact them to setup one of these devices. But I like doing things my own way.
I figured that if a device is authenticating to the Karma via a browser, but doesn’t require the browser for usage, it must be operating on a lower level. My guess was that it keeps track of your computer’s network card MAC address. So I took note of what my Client Bridge MAC address was, powered off the device, and looked up the terminal command for spoofing your MAC address on your Mac computer (windows and linux computers also have this ability, but you’ll have to find out how on your own, google it).
I wrote down my Macs MAC address, then used this command to swap it’s MAC to appear like my routers:
sudo ifconfig en0 ether 00:e2:e3:e4:e5:e6
(assuming my Routers MAC is 00:e2:e3:e4:e5:e6)
I then went to the login page of my hotspot, and logged in! :
(the above link will only work when you’re directly connected to your Karma Go device)
I then reset my Mac’s MAC back to what it was before, and plugged my Linksys router back in. As expected, it connected to the internet, and has been streaming unrestricted since!
I connected my Chromecast to my new home network setup, laptop, cellphone, you name it! Works great. I did a speedtest, and sure enough: ~4.7 mb/s down ~2.7 mb/s up.