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Old 07-17-2020, 12:10 AM   #1
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Hotspot confusion

OK, I have started researching cell hotspots and after a few days, I am more confused than informed.

I currently have our family phones on T-Mobile, it seems that in the interim I can use a phone to share data as a hotspot. I realize that a mifi hotspot is the way to go. What are the suggestions for a hotspot that has antenna connections. Is T-Mobile that much worse than Verizon?

Stay on T-Mobile? or have it on Google Fi? or a totally different network the best bet?

Sorry for such a newbie question.
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Old 07-17-2020, 04:46 AM   #2
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I can not answer the pros and cons of one carrier vs. another. I can answer about Verizons MIFI. We have used it for about 4 years now with no real problem. We do however only us it for internet connections not much if any streaming of movies etc. Its only as good as the cell tower signal strength as it has its own cell number. The 15 GB unlimited plan does go fairly fast when streaming however. It does not stop at 15 just slows down.
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Old 07-17-2020, 07:19 AM   #3
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The situation is in flux right now because of the Sprint / T-mobile merger.

Sprint is disappearing on August 2 and T-mobile will be absorbing all of those accounts. Sprint offers plans that are more generous with data than T-mobile. It isn’t known how this will effect T-mobile plans going forward. For instance, Sprint offers a MiFi only plan with 100gigs of monthly data for $60/mo. Big T has nothing like this.

It’s assumed that one could sign up for this on Sprint in the next few weeks and see it converted to T-mobile in August. But who knows.

ATT has the best options if you want lots of gigs of MiFi data for TV streaming. Visible has the best phone hotspot plan for truly Unlimited data and it uses Verizon’s LTE network.

What are you looking for? Better coverage on the road or more gigs of data? Also, are you aware that the “unlimited” plans are actually limited? It would help to know your level of need and understanding of the marketplace right now.
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Old 07-17-2020, 07:25 AM   #4
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Hello again.
We use Consumer Cellular as a basic cell service as we use very little while at home as I have landline service provided. We really like the customer service and the way they deal with monthly charges which let us move the plan down to the lowest level while we are home and using very little and then they bump us up auto. as we reach any level as we travel. The hitch came in as they are a reseller for ATT and we are in between three towers at home. That means we get almost no usable signal at home, so we had them send us a T-Mobil sim card to try. We took two trips with it and had to give up as we get very little service once we leave a metro area. Here to Tyler up 59, we were getting so little that we decided it was never going to work if/when we broke down and needed service in the RV! T-Mobil was just not getting it in the areas we travel most, so went back to ATT through Consumers Cell.
One point I've noted on adverts is that a business often doesn't put out too many ads, until they need to work to change public perception of some item. Note how many Amazon ads are now telling us how great it is to work there? I see a direct connection with how much flak Amazon is taking from their employees about working there!
Putting two and two together, I see ads as often pointing to a company wanting to change the public view, more than actually changing the item they are catching flak about!
I see T-Mobil honking the horn about great coverage being a response to getting complaints, rather than actually having better coverage!
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Old 07-17-2020, 08:21 AM   #5
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Stuff I know (or think I do):
throttling down to lower speeds on unlimited plans
throttling down to lower speeds on lower priority networks like vision on the same tower
understand the Google Fi uses tmobile towers, vision uses verizon
understand from a phone it isn't a great device to share wifi and a mifi or jetpack is better.

Stuff I think I want(I am new to this):
I would like to be able to stream TV at night
I would like the ability to do work if needed (email, web, zoom calls (I don't need to send my video), but others will have video)
Be able to have the three of us connected if needed.

We just got the RV, and initially we are going to do short trips so streaming would be the only want/need. There will be week long trips in the near future where I would need to work as well during the day.

The biggest need will be in December we are driving from Texas to Oregon and back. We are planning on taking three weeks for that, since it will be winter, most likely it will be I-10 from Texas to California, and I-5 up to Oregon.

I'm aware of the merger between T-mobile and Sprint, I currently pay just under $50 per line for our 4 phones on T-Mobile and service has been reasonable so far for us. but that has been more urban vs rural.
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Old 07-17-2020, 09:24 AM   #6
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OK, good to know your background.

Next it will depend on how much you want to spend.

The cheapest, best option "today" (it changes all the time) is the Visible service. You have to use a phone, but if you connect it to a router in your RV you can connect multiple devices to the one phone line. It's Unlimited, though they reserve the right to prioritize speeds. From what I hear from others very very few have ever seen any slow downs.

https://www.visible.com/

It's $40 a month and most either use an old phone they've hung on to or buy a cheap one from Visible.

On the phone you can only connect one device, but like I said, connect it via a capable router and you can connect up to 10 devices. You usually dedicate this phone to providing internet, not calls or text or anything else.

Here's a link to a HUGE 1200 post thread on Visible that gives all the details and instructions from www.irv2.com:
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f53/40-m...ed-442091.html


The "minimum" speed is 5gbps which is acceptable for streaming. Many see much faster speeds.

You cannot put the SIM in a MiFi.

There are resellers that sell ATT SIM cards from discontinued corporate accounts. These cost from $65 to $120 a month but they are super fast, super unlimited accounts. I did see one of them putting a 200gigs per week limit, but you'd never use that much.

An hour of 1080 TV streaming will use between 1 and 2 gigs of data. We stream all of our TV and watch TV mainly at night from dinnertime on to about 10pm. We routinely use 200 to 300 gigs a month when on longer trips.

There is a website that has ALL, and I do mean all, of the info on this stuff. It's great but it costs to join. They have no ads and sell no stuff. So, the yearly fee pays for the site. It's www.rvmobileinternet.com. I've been a member for 3 years and it's saved me much more that I've paid in membership. You save the most because they point out the very best deals and warn about them going away so you get in on them before it's gone.

I have an unlimited ATT Connected Car account. Totally and completely unlimited for $20 a month. They sold it two years ago for a very short while. It was to go into a small device called a Mobley you plug into your car. I have that, and it works, but I put the SIM in a great ATT Mifi called a Nighhawk. So, I have totally unlimited data at the highest speeds possible (I've seen 80gbps). I got in on that about 2-weeks before it went away and solely because of the website I mentioned above.

I also have a totally unlimited Verizon SIM that's $34 a month that again, I got from info learned on the rv mobile internet site.

You can't get those any longer, but you can get info on what's available now and what the best deals are.

Here's some of the ATT resellers I mentioned (these change and go away all the time):
https://netbuddy.co/
https://www.mobilemusthave.com/Unlim...lans_c_12.html
https://www.otrmobile.com/
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Old 07-17-2020, 10:28 AM   #7
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Thanks, I have been reading and overwhelmed by the information at rvmobileinternet
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Old 07-17-2020, 10:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashmaster View Post
Thanks, I have been reading and overwhelmed by the information at rvmobileinternet
It's a huge subject and tough to grasp all at once. Most make a few mistakes along the way.

Lucky for me, I owned my own business for 30 years before retiring in 2018. So, I NEEDED internet everywhere we went - US, Overseas, Hotels and RVs. So, I got in early.

Things were better a couple of years ago and I assume things will get better again in the future with the competition from SpaceX Starlink.

We have:
  • WiFi Ranger router and rooftop "antenna/booster"
  • WeBoost Drive 4g-X Cellular Booster
  • ATT Nighthawk Mifi
  • Verizon 7730L Jetpack
  • ATT and Verizon totally unlimited SIMs
  • Various Antenna's and mounts

There is almost no where that we do not have internet and fast enough to stream. But it does happen occasionally.
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Old 07-17-2020, 11:11 AM   #9
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If you want to use it as a hotspot T-Mobile is probably the way to go. They have decent coverage and also great International coverage, which is important for Canada. Their wireless hotspot service in the parts of Canada I've been in has been nearly as fast as my home cable Internet. Quite frankly, but for possibly being able to get a better antenna location than what a phone inside your RV gets. I don't see much benefit to any other system (but I've not used another system either).

BTW, you can upgrade your wifi hotspot speeds with T-Mobile for $20 a month. If you have their over 55 plan that still leaves a reasonable price.
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Old 07-17-2020, 11:17 AM   #10
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If you want to use it as a hotspot T-Mobile is probably the way to go. They have decent coverage and also great International coverage, which is important for Canada. Their wireless hotspot service in the parts of Canada I've been in has been nearly as fast as my home cable Internet. Quite frankly, but for possibly being able to get a better antenna location than what a phone inside your RV gets. I don't see much benefit to any other system (but I've not used another system either).

BTW, you can upgrade your wifi hotspot speeds with T-Mobile for $20 a month. If you have their over 55 plan that still leaves a reasonable price.
I am still 2 years away from over 55...
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:45 PM   #11
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We have Verizon now, I previously had AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. In my opinion the latter carriers are all inferior to Verizon's coverage and speed, especially if you outside a big metropolitan are (where nobody camps).

On our last two trips I watched Amazon Prime without any problems (i.e. excessive buffering). We have unlimited data which supposedly slow down after 15 GB.....I never experienced that. I just use my phone as a hotspot and don't even use the WIFI booster on our RV which wouldn't help anyway because it is designed to pull in weak campground WIFI only, it will do nothing for your phone.
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:53 PM   #12
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I used visible phone service in Florida this past winter and the hot spot did a good job of linking up my firestick to tv.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashmaster View Post
OK, I have started researching cell hotspots and after a few days, I am more confused than informed.

I currently have our family phones on T-Mobile, it seems that in the interim I can use a phone to share data as a hotspot. I realize that a mifi hotspot is the way to go. What are the suggestions for a hotspot that has antenna connections. Is T-Mobile that much worse than Verizon?

Stay on T-Mobile? or have it on Google Fi? or a totally different network the best bet?

Sorry for such a newbie question.
I have tmobile for my cell phone also...the hotspot provides only 20 gb of data or about 18 hours of video streaming. I recently contacted all of the big 3 for a plan I could use in the RV and the only program I could find that provides any significant data level is the ATT Wireless Internet program which is 100 GB per month for about $120. This is mobil and can be used in any location. It requires us of a modem which does have 2 antenna hookups and I have a Netgear multi-directional antenna hooked to it and it works great.

I will tell you I think ATT is the most unprofessional organization to deal with of the big 3...maybe you would get more lucky than me but I spent about 15 hours on telephone and on line chats with their technical people (all of whom are in Manilla and can't understand english well) to get the system working. I received and returned 2 modems (if you order on line the only modem they will send is listed as REFURBISHED). I finally went to ATT store and purchased a brand new modem and it worked immediately...Today I spent 2.5 hours in chat session trying to get them to reinstate my modem phone number and account as they cancelled it yesterday when they received the last return saying I requested the cancellation. I had 8 people saying they would help me fix the problem, transferred one right after the other, until the account was reinstated but they say I have to wait 48 hours before I can add the phone number back to my account. I have no faith at this point I have a working modem. At least this time I can go to the ATT store where I purchased it for help

Good Luck
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Old 07-22-2020, 10:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashmaster View Post
Stuff I know (or think I do):
throttling down to lower speeds on unlimited plans
throttling down to lower speeds on lower priority networks like vision on the same tower
understand the Google Fi uses tmobile towers, l.

"Google Fi (pronounced /faɪ/), formerly Project Fi, is a MVNO telecommunications service by Google that provides telephone calls, SMS, and mobile broadband using cellular networks and Wi-Fi. Google Fi uses networks operated by Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular."


However. they are pretty pricey.
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:41 PM   #15
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Magenta PLUS

I was on Google Fi for a few weeks. I found the signal and speed to be TERRIBLE. They supposedly would switch between T-Mobile and Sprint, whichever was faster. I would test speeds on my T-Mobile service, then on Google Fi. T-Mobile would be between 9 and 65 mbps, while the Google service was 2-5! Awful!


Good news, though. T-Mobile just bought Sprint, first of all. They now have a new plan called "Magenta Plus." You get 50 mbps of data on each device, with 20 of that available for hotspot. You can buy another 20 of hotspot data per month for $15, and if you really need more, get their International Plus plan. Even if you don't need international data, the domestic data allowances are much higher. That's $50 but you can turn it on and off for any given month depending on what you need. I just canceled Google Fi today and stuck in a spare T-Mobile SIM card I had and had them add an account to my line. It's not the cheapest deal in the world, but compared to paying $10/GB for Google's extra data I'm saving a ton of money and I still have plenty of data to work, stream and play.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashmaster View Post
OK, I have started researching cell hotspots and after a few days, I am more confused than informed.

I currently have our family phones on T-Mobile, it seems that in the interim I can use a phone to share data as a hotspot. I realize that a mifi hotspot is the way to go. What are the suggestions for a hotspot that has antenna connections. Is T-Mobile that much worse than Verizon?

Stay on T-Mobile? or have it on Google Fi? or a totally different network the best bet?

Sorry for such a newbie question.
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:50 AM   #16
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First of all your existing Sprint plan probably has built in hotspot data available. We have 70gb hotspot on each of our phones and a Verizon MIFI. We full time and the wife has online job. I dumped ATT because they could never get the bill right. Iím an ATT retiree! Sprint coverage can be sketchy but have never had a problem streaming using phone for hotspot.
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Old 07-23-2020, 11:57 AM   #17
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I am on the Magenta Plus plan for my phone. I will try to see how that works from my phone.
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Old 07-23-2020, 12:05 PM   #18
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You need to go to Mobile Internet and read what they have to say about all this - www.RVMobileInternet.com

Verizon Wireless generally has the best coverage nationwide, followed by AT&T. What Chris & Cherie recommend is having redundant carriers - such as having a Verizon Hot spot and an AT&T phone with hot spot capabilities.

It depends on your intended usage. If you just what cell phone connectivity having one or the other is probably fine. BUT - if you want to access the internet, stream movies, etc. while out on the road then possibly different solutions are in order.

When recently traveling through Colorado we were just south of Telluride - up in the mountains - and got 5 bars of boosted 4G service. But we could not connect - at all - with Verizon. Turns out that AT&T was the carrier of choice right there. If we had AT&T we would have had great internet. But having only Verizon we had nothing.

Now we are a few hundred miles north in Wyoming - near Jackson. Same thing - get great boosted 4G, and Verizon works great!

In general - if you want/need good internet you will need one (or both)of these carriers. If just for occasional cell phone use then likely any carrier will do.
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:27 PM   #19
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I think in general if there are two of you then you're better off with two carriers. I did that over 10 years ago. As to which has the best coverage, I suspect T-Mobile is much better than in the past now that they have the Sprint coverage too. And T-Mobile clearly has the best prices.

Yesterday they announced a 4 line for $100 Essentials plan, which included 5G data, but I'm not seeing that on their website, and I don't know if you can add to the data with that plan like you can with their Magenta plans. They also have pretty good deals for people where the main customer is over 55, and those you can add data to, and those provide international coverage for free.

https://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phone-...DND8LKTBI17370
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:35 PM   #20
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We have totally and truly unlimited ATT and Verizon SIM cards and fast Mifi/Jetpacks to use them with. We do have a Weboot cell booster but find it useful only a small percentage of time.

3-years ago Verizon was our best performer but over the past few years we're finding ATT working the best and in the most remote places. So, the ATT SIM in a Nighthawk Mifi connected to our WiFi Ranger router gives us great access and speeds. We stream 100% of our TV on the road (and home, too via Fiber internet).
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