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:
- Video Overview: Future of LTE - Understanding The Tech to Select the Right Gear (Members Only)
- Cellular Features & Standards (Member Only)
- Battery Life & Special Features (Member Only)
- Local Networking & Standards (Member Only)
- Mobile Hotspots Product Guide
- Ways to Use Cellular Data To Get Online: Jetpack, Smartphone or Router?
- Selecting a Mobile Router - Bringing Mobile Internet Options Together and Creating a Local RV Network
- Smartphone Selection Tips
- Changing SIM Card Sizes: Cutting Down & Adapting Up
- Understanding Cellular Signals and Optimizing for Data Performance
We are honored to be funded by our community - allowing us to provide free basic content on this resource center.
We do not resell products, gear or plans and do not accept sponsorships or 3rd party advertising - our goal is to be an unbiased informational and educational resource.
In thanks for their support, our premium members get access to the more in-depth portions of this guide- and first access to new content created.
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Other benefits of a premium membership include:
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- A community of fellow nomads relying on mobile internet
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 in-depth product page. Hopefully with 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.
Verizon’s older and now obsolete USB cellular modem.
Netgear Beam 340U
AT&T’s USB Modem option is slipping towards obsolescence.
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 Unite Pro 781S
AT&T’s flagship LTE-A capable mobile hotspot.
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
Novatel MiFi 6620L
A former flagship XLTE capable hotspot worthy of consideration.
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.
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.
Verizon’s 2015 USB cellular modem option.
Karma’s proprietary mobile hotspot provides service powered by Sprint.
AT&T’s connect car mobile hotspot is tied to one of the best plan deal around.
Verizon’s 2015 flagship mobile hotspot, packed with features.
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.
Netgear Unite Explore AC815S
AT&T’s newest flagship hotspot is full featured and built for abuse.
ZTE SyncUp Drive
T-Mobile’s connected car mobile hotspot provides internet while driving.
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.
T-Mobile’s new basic but capable LTE Band 12 compatible mobile hotspot.
Netgear 4G LTE Modems
A group of cellular modems that combine hardwired ethernet and cellular hotspot functions.
Verizon’s newest flagship mobile hotspot, packed with features and Cat-9 LTE support.
Verizon’s connected car mobile hotspot provides internet while underway.
ZTE Velocity USB Modem
USB Modem designed for use with AT&T cellular data.
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’s newest (2017) USB cellular modem option.
$99 - $149
Netgear Nighthawk MR1100
AT&T’s ‘5G Evolution’ hotspot device is packed full of features: Cat 16, Carrier Aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, and an ethernet port.
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.
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so that you can focus on what drives you!
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.
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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.
Other Resources We Offer:
- Our book: The Mobile Internet Handbook (5th Edition now available!).
- Our glossary: Mobile Internet Glossary
- Our app: Coverage? overlays the cellular carrier's coverage maps so you can better plan your travels around connectivity.
- Stay in the Know - We track the industry and analyze new developments for mobile travelers:
- Browse our Resource Center / Guides for more detailed guides.
- Go to school in our Mobile Internet University which walks you through the basics to the more advanced at your pace.
- Browse our Gear Center for information on gear & plans we track.
- Visit our Video Center for guides, tutorials and news stories.
- Have questions?