This article is about our need for unlimited 4G cellular Internet service as a hotspot and our experience acquiring the service.
Earlier this week I saw a Tweet from Cherie of Mobile Internet Resource Center about the release fo a new unlimited 4G plan by Verizon as a prepaid plan. The link to the article is below. Their blog is very informative and information on the blog made it easier for me to get the plan.
As we continue refining our configuration to support our nomadic lifestyle. One of the open items was a better WiFi capability in our RV and a desire to have unlimited service. While parked at Nano RV Park, the WiFi is not as reliable as we would want. I guess it turns out we simulate almost everything at Nano RV Park including the WiFI. We wanted to establish WiFi in our RV that would allow us to easily use our devices that need Internet access. Keep in mind that like most of us, we have a decent list of devices.
- Computers (laptops and desktop)
- Mobile Phones
- Google Home
- Smart TV
- Chrome Cast
- GPS – Rand McNally RV GPS – Traffic Updates
- Smart Watches
We use Verizon’s Unlimited plan and have three phones to provide a total of 30GB of 4G Internet Access as a hotspot. Once this is exceeded, it defaults to 3G speeds up to 600Kb per second. This can be used quickly in a month for work, homeschooling, entertainment, and other purposes. We really wanted at least one unlimited plan that supports 4G.
As of this week, Verizon has a prepaid plan that supports unlimited 4G. While the article by Cherie includes the information, the following are is a summary of the key elements for us.
- Unlimited 4G Hotspot – always managed at 4G (priority) – not managed down to 3G and 2G
- Supports 1080p Streaming
- $65 per month – $70 with $5 discount if you set up autopay
- Prepaid plan – Can stop at any time – no contract commitment
As the blog identified, the local Verizon store was not aware of the new program. I went to the store on Friday and they said the only program was the postpaid plan with limits on the 4G service per month. I went back after rereading the blog and was persistent. They were able to find the new service.
Since I do not want to change my postpaid plan, we set up a new prepaid plan only for the 4G Hotspot plan. Since it is a prepaid plan, we purchased a Jetpack – MIFI8800L. The cost of this device was $199.99 plus tax. The MIFI8800L support the following.
- 2.4 and 5.0 GHz wifi protocols
- Private and public / guest networks – Private network supports up to 15 devices
- about 24 of battery life
- Support network storage via attached storage via USB-C connection
The MIFI8800L supports administration via an on-device web server. There are many traditional configurations for managing devices and network. If you have managed a wireless router before, it will be straightforward. If I want to move the SIM into another device / wireless router I can do that in the future.
The total cost was $199.99 and the first month prepaid of $70 for $289.29 including taxes. You can get $65 per month if you go home and set up autopay. They did not charge me the $30 activation fee for a new prepaid account/device. Be aware they might charge this fee.
My experience in Pace, FL has been great so far. I was able to run speed test several times and get greater than 30Mbps uploads and downloads. I have been watching streaming video (computer and smart TV), playing online games (to test performance), and downloading / updating software.
Do not be confused when the MIFI states you have exceeded your limit for the month of 10GB. Keep in mind there is no limit. I think this is more of a result of a new service. As stated before I continue to run speed test periodically to see the service.
Over the next month, I will be traveling to locations that will be more impacted by congestion. I will keep track of the performance I experience and follow-up this article at the beginning of the new year.
If you do not have an imminent need for a cellular hotspot, I recommend to let a couple weeks to pass and see the experience of the early adopters. As a digital nomad and since I work for an information services company, I decided to try out the service based on current capabilities at Nano RV Park. I also recommend you read the blog by Chris and Cherie at Mobile Internet Information Center.