Mid-2017 Mobile Internet Update

At the end of every year we do a wrap-up of major changes in the mobile internet industry.

But this year, there's been so many significant changes since that major update that we thought it would be worthwhile to present a quick mid-year review to keep all of our readers up to date.


First, here's a quick video re-cap (9 minutes) going over the most significant updates:

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Cellular Data: "Unlimited" Data Plan are Back!

In February all of the carriers introduced brand new unlimited plans.

But of course, these all come with limits hidden within the fine print - especially for mobile travelers seeking home internet replacements - a particular need cellular carriers are not yet ready to provide.

Those limitations come in the form of:

  • Network Management: This is when a carrier reserves the right to de-prioritize the traffic of high bandwidth users. They generally have a threshold before this kicks in (22-32GB of usage in a month). After that threshold is reached, if the customer is on a cellular tower that is experiencing congestion, their usage might be slowed down relative to other users. Once the tower is no longer congested, full speeds resume. For RVers visiting heavily populated areas with overused towers, this might feel like like throttling in practice at times. But when on underused towers, you may never experience it.
  • Mobile Hotspot Throttling: Almost all of the new "unlimited" plans come with a gotcha that after 10GB of mobile hotspot usage, speeds will be slowed down for tethering/mobile hotspot use.

Of particular note is Verizon's heavily advertised New Unlimited Data Plan, which includes the mobile hotspot restriction. This restriction even applies to their Mobile Hotspot Jetpack / MiFi unlimited lines - essentially limiting them to 10GB usage.

This is a particular pain point that many Verizon representatives are not clearly disclosing even to this day to new customers.

After nearly 4 months of these plans being out, we're still hearing mass confusion and disappointment over hotspot usage with these plans.

Be an informed consumer before walking into your carrier's store!

Further Reading:



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Cellular Data: Our Current Top Pick Data Plans

We're constantly tracking data plans, here are current top picks for mobile travelers seeking a home internet replacement:

Quick Video Overview with our top picks (updatedNov 26, 2018):



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These top picks focus on plans that provide the maximum amount of high speed hotspot-enabled data (or on device for a tablet/PC) for the lowest cost.

Last update: 11/15/2018

Verizon

 

Monthly Cost
Device Type
High Speed Hot Spot Cap
How to Obtain

Prepaid Unlimited

Monthly Cost : $65
Device Type : Jetpacks
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited
Network Management : Always
How to Obtain: Verizon Prepaid

Postpaid "Unlimited"

Monthly Cost : $20-80
Device Type : All
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : 15GB
Network Management : 22GB
How to Obtain: Verizon Postpaid

Visible

Monthly Cost : $40
Device Type : iPhones
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : All at 5 mbps
Network Management : All at 5 mbps
How to Obtain: beVisible.com

Legacy Unlimited / gUDP

Monthly Cost : $45-249
Device Type : All
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited
Network Management : None
How to Obtain: Not Easy / Read On

AT&T

 

Monthly Cost
Device Type
High Speed Hot Spot Cap
Network Management
How to Obtain

Wireless Home Internet

Monthly Cost : $100
Device Type : Wireless Internet Device
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : 100GB
Network Management : Never
How to Obtain: AT&T Postpaid

Tablet Prepaid Plan

Monthly Cost : $29.99
Device Type : Tablets
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : None
Network Management : 22GB
How to Obtain: AT&T Prepaid

Rental/Lease

Monthly Cost : $60-199
Device Type : Data Devices
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited
Network Management : Never
How to Obtain: 3rd Party Vendors

T-Mobile

 

Monthly Cost
Device Type
High Speed Hot Spot Cap
Network Management
How to Obtain

Global Plus 15GB

Monthly Cost : $120
Device Type : Smartphones
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited 4G - Domestic
Network Management : 50GB
How to Obtain: T-Mobile Postpaid
Monthly Cost : $85
Device Type : Smartphones/Tablets
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : 20GB
Network Management : 50GB
How to Obtain: T-Mobile Postpaid

Rental/Lease

Monthly Cost : $70-250
Device Type : Data Devices
High Speed Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited
Network Management : 50GB
How to Obtain: 3rd Party Retailers

Sprint

 

Monthly Cost
Device Type
Hot Spot Cap
Network Management
How to Obtain

Non-Profit Plans

Monthly Cost : $10-33
Device Type : Mobile Hotspots
Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited
Network Management : Never
How to Obtain: Non-Profits
Monthly Cost : $49.99
Device Type : Mobile Hotspots
Hot Spot Cap : Unlimited
Network Management : Always
How to Obtain: FMCA Members Only

Unlimited Premium

Monthly Cost : $90
Device Type : Smartphones
Hot Spot Cap : 100GB
Network Management : 50GB
How to Obtain: Sprint Postpaid

Sprint Hotspot Plan

Monthly Cost : $50
Device Type : Mobile Hotspots
Hot Spot Cap : 50GB
Network Management : None
How to Obtain: Sprint Postpaid

Further Reading:

Mobile Satellite Internet

Satellite internet is now back as a viable option for mobile travelers with the launch of the HughesNet Gen-5 satellite system coming online in April - delivering amazing fast speeds.

The advertised speeds are promised at 25Mbps, but initial customers are reporting seeing as much as 50Mbps down and 3Mbps up.

Of course every satellite option comes with the normal drawbacks like latency, bulky equipment, and set up hassles.

But for those who really want to venture off into the boonies, it's great to have this option back!

But do keep in mind - to enable mobile service on the Gen5 system, you can NOT purchase service directly from HughesNet. Only certain resellers are able to enable mobile service, so do your homework and read our guides.

Further Reading:

Mobile Routers & Equipment

Starting at the end of 2016 and continuing into the year - most of the major mobile router manufacturers have refreshed their product lines to integrate in the latest in Wi-Fi networking and cellular technology.

Here's some of our past coverage of these product announcements:

We've had some hands on time with many of these new products, and our reviews have been updated and field testing results shared with our members.

Further Reading:

The Mobile Internet Handbook - New Version Coming

Our last edition of The Mobile Internet Handbook came out in early 2016 - and it is getting a bit dated.

We have just started a re-write and are aiming to have the new version out in fall sometime.

The 2016 edition is still packed full of relevant and useful information however, as we took a lot of time to make it more focused on the theory and less on products & plans (as those change so often).

But we are considering the old version end of life, and have priced it accordingly for now.

If you don't need this information immediately, we do recommend holding off for the 5th Edition to come out later this year (no promises yet on a date - so much will depend on how many breaking stories we need to cover between now and then.)

Once the new version is released, our premium MIA members will of course get their PDF copy update for free - and they already have access to much of the updated information in our various guides throughout the website.

If you'd like the 2016 Edition at the new 'clearance' pricing in the meantime (which includes a $5 off membership coupon should you decide to join the MIA later):

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