Understanding LTE Modem Specifications And Selecting Cellular Devices (MiFi, Jetpacks, Routers, Phones)

Using a cellular device is the most common ways to get online for RVers and Cruisers.

There are many types of devices that can be utilized - mobile hotspots (aka Jetpacks or MiFis), smartphones or cellular embedded routers.

For more on the basics of mobile hotspots, routers, and smartphones:

Understanding the features of a specific device is almost as important as selecting the right form factor for your needs. These features can range from modem specifications, local networking capability, or options for enhancing the signal to your device.

All of these factors can combine together to determine how well a device will work for you and the actual performance you are able to get out of it.

As each of the cellular carriers continues to advance their networks, your cellular data performance will be directly impacted by how modern your device is. For those who consider mobile internet critical to their lifestyle, we generally recommend evaluating the cellular modems at least every year or two to keep current.

Included in this Guide:

This Guide Contains
Member Only Content

In huge gratitude to funding from our members, we are honored to be able to offer the basic parts of this guide for free to you without 3rd party advertising, sponsorships or relying on selling you gear or plans.

In thanks for their support, our MIAs also get access to the more in-depth content in this guide.

If you're a member, please log in above for full access
to this guide and ability to comment.

Cellular Features & Standards

The Netgear Nighthawk is AT&T's latest flagship LTE mobile hotspot.

An integrated cellular modem is the core of every cellular device  - it's what gets you connected to your carrier's network. Modem technology is constantly advancing.

You'll want to check the following technical details:


Most mobile hotspots are designed specifically for a primary carrier. They tend to be offered directly by the carrier for purchase and branded as such (example: The Novatel 7730L is branded and designed for Verizon, the Netgear Nighthawk for AT&T).

T-Mobile and AT&T devices tend to have a lot of cross over support for each other's networks, but you'll have to shop for carrier unlocked devices to successfully SIM swap - or convince your carrier to unlock the device. Other carrier specific devices don't tend to have enough cross over support to be worth the while.

Additionally, there are many non-carrier devices on the market that can successfully work on multiple carriers - these tend to be classified as cellular embedded routers which are different animals from mobile hotspots.

Smartphones tend to have more cross-carrier compatibility, but you still need to check their specific specs - as some are released specifically for a carrier.

Cellular Frequency Bands

What bands for LTE, 4G, 3G and 2G are supported? Check to make sure that any cellular modem you purchase supports all the current LTE bands in use by your carrier, and that it can also fall back to 3G networks when needed.

Additional Member Only Content

If you're a MIA member, please log in to see the rest of this guide - which contains additional information on:

Mobile Hotspot Guide

The grid below features all the mobile hotspots and USB modems that we are tracking on the market that might be of interest to RVers and cruisers.  For cellular embedded routers, be sure to check our Mobile Routers Guide.

Click on the filter buttons to narrow down your search by features, carrier, or manufacturer - and then click on the product you would like to learn more about for our product overview page. Use the content provided above you can much better determine just what the specifications like LTE Modem Category and LTE-A Carrier Aggregation mean in practical terms.

Many of the hotspots we have tested extensively, and we offer free quick overviews to everyone, as well as in-depth reviews (and even video tutorials) available to our premium members.

Pantech UML290

Verizon’s older and now obsolete USB cellular modem.

Novatel 4620L

A pre-XLTE Verizon mobile hotspot that is now long obsolete.

Novatel 5510L

An older XLTE-capable hotspot that is now discontinued.

Netgear Beam 340U

AT&T’s USB Modem option is slipping towards obsolescence.


Pantech MHS291L

The first Verizon XLTE mobile hotspot to hit the market, but it suffers a critical flaw.


Netgear Zing AirCard 771S

Sprint’s former flagship hotspot has antenna ports, but lacks LTE Plus.


Netgear AirCard 341U

Sprint’s USB modem option with MIMO antenna ports.


Netgear Unite Pro 781S

AT&T’s flagship LTE-A capable mobile hotspot.


Pantech UML295

The first USB cellular modem with XLTE, there are now better options.


Franklin Wireless Ellipsis MHS700L

Verizon’s original basic mobile hotspot, now discontinued and obsolete.

ZTE LivePro Projector

Sprint’s combo mobile hotspot and projector.


Novatel MiFi 6620L

A former flagship XLTE capable hotspot worthy of consideration.


ZTE Velocity

AT&T’s entry-level LTE capable mobile hotspot is a decent basic choice.


ZTE Pocket Wi-Fi

Sprint’s flagship mobile hotspot choice – supporting LTE Plus and 802.11ac.


ZTE Falcon Z-915

T-Mobile’s now-discontinued LTE Band 12 compatible mobile hotspot.


Ellipsis MHS800L / MHS815L

Verizon’s most basic currently offered mobile hotspot.


ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector

A combinations LED projector and hotspot.


Netgear Fuse AC779S

Sprint’s prepaid mobile hotspot is very basic, but DOES support external antennas.


Novatel U620L

Verizon’s 2015 USB cellular modem option.


Karma Go

Karma’s proprietary mobile hotspot provides service powered by Sprint.


ZTE Mobley

AT&T’s connect car mobile hotspot is tied to one of the best plan deal around.


Netgear AC791L

Verizon’s 2015 flagship mobile hotspot, packed with features.



Connect car mobile hotspot provides internet while driving on the Verizon network.


Franklin Wireless R850

Sprint’s hotspot with LTE Plus support but no 3G fallback.


ZTE Falcon Z-917

T-Mobile’s basic but capable LTE Band 12 compatible mobile hotspot.


Alcatel ONETOUCH Ride-Fi

Sprint’s DC powered mobile hotspot, intended for use in vehicles.


ZTE SyncUp Drive

T-Mobile’s connected car mobile hotspot provides internet while driving.

Get the Book



Offers T-Mobile smartphone and data plans at lower costs but with all the T-Mobile postpaid perks.

Wireless Home Phone & Internet

AT&T’s cellular data plan intended for homes, offers more GBs for the dollar.

Franklin u772 USB Modem

USB Modem stick designed for use with Sprint cellular data.


ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector for Verizon

A combinations LED projector and hotspot.



Verizon’s connected car mobile hotspot provides internet while underway.


ZTE Velocity USB Modem

USB Modem designed for use with AT&T cellular data.


Ellipsis MHS900L

A very basic mobile hotspot for Verizon.


ZTE Warp Connect WiFi Hotspot

A mobile hotspot device for Sprint and their prepaid brand Boost Mobile.

$49 - 144

Verizon Connected Home Plans and SmartHub

Verizon’s cellular data plans & “smart” router intended for homes.



A flexible global mobile hotspot with a virtual-SIM or personal SIM options.



The GL-MiFi is a hotspot offered in versions designed for use on AT&T or Verizon.



Global mobile hotspot with a virtual-SIM that allows you to purchase day passes for unlimited international use.

$99 - $149

Franklin Wireless R910

Sprint hotspot with 3G fallback and 5GHz WiFi capabilities.


Wireless Internet Router & Data Plans by AT&T

AT&T’s cellular data plans & router intended for homes, but usable on the road for some.


AT&T Velocity 2

AT&T’s updated entry-level LTE capable mobile hotspot is a decent basic choice.


Ready for more?

This article is part of our 'Mobile Internet University' classroom, an included benefit for our premium Mobile Internet Aficionados members.

The course is designed to be self paced, walking you through our content on selecting cellular data plans, equipment, signal enhancing, Wi-Fi, satellite, routers and more.

Check out the course at:

Is internet essential to your mobile lifestyle?

It is our passion to provide informative unbiased content and have made it our job to track this constantly evolving industry.

We stay on top of the technology
so that you can focus on what drives you!

We welcome you to utilize our free resources - like our news Center, discussion group, videos, glossary and basic guides.

We could not provide any of this without the support of those who chose to become members  funding this resource center. We do not accept sponsorships, third party advertising and we do not resell products or gear. We strive to be an unbiased community funded resource. 

Support this site and Go Further!

Become a member starting at $75/year

Our premium membership - Mobile Internet Aficionados - is designed for those who consider internet essential for their mobile lifestyle.

In thanks for their support our members go deeper with our content - and receive benefits that help them save money, stay up to date, learn, get guidance and make informed choices.

Our goal is to save you time, money and frustration.

Learn More about the MIA

Other Resources We Offer:

Members, Please Log In to Comment on this Article.