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.

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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.

Pantech UML290

Verizon’s older and now obsolete USB cellular modem.

Overall Review:

Novatel 4620L

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

Overall Review:

Novatel 5510L

An older XLTE-capable hotspot that is now discontinued.

Overall Review:

Netgear Beam 340U

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

$169

Overall Review:

Pantech MHS291L

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

$159

Overall Review:

Netgear Zing AirCard 771S

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

$192

Overall Review:

Netgear AirCard 341U

Sprint’s USB modem option with MIMO antenna ports.

$199

Overall Review:

Netgear Unite Pro 781S

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

$199

Overall Review:

Pantech UML295

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

$199

Overall Review:

Franklin Wireless Ellipsis MHS700L

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

Overall Review:

ZTE LivePro Projector

Sprint’s combo mobile hotspot and projector.

$449

Get the Book
Overall Review:

Novatel MiFi 6620L

A former flagship XLTE capable hotspot worthy of consideration.

$199

Overall Review:

ZTE Velocity

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

$149

Overall Review:

ZTE Pocket Wi-Fi

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

$180

Overall Review:

ZTE Falcon Z-915

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

$110

Overall Review:

Ellipsis MHS800L / MHS815L

Verizon’s most basic currently offered mobile hotspot.

$149

Overall Review:

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector

A combinations LED projector and hotspot.

$449

Overall Review:

Netgear Fuse AC779S

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

$168

Overall Review:

Novatel U620L

Verizon’s 2015 USB cellular modem option.

$199

Overall Review:

Karma Go

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

$149

Overall Review:

ZTE Mobley

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

$99

Overall Review:

Netgear AC791L

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

$199

Overall Review:

Zubie

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

$99

Overall Review:

Franklin Wireless R850

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

$144

Overall Review:

ZTE Falcon Z-917

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

$79.95

Overall Review:

Alcatel ONETOUCH Ride-Fi

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

$168

Overall Review:

ZTE SyncUp Drive

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

$150

Overall Review:

Millenicom

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

Overall Review:

Wireless Home Phone & Internet

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

Overall Review:

Franklin u772 USB Modem

USB Modem stick designed for use with Sprint cellular data.

$180

Overall Review:

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector for Verizon

A combinations LED projector and hotspot.

$499

Overall Review:

HumX

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

$150

Overall Review:

ZTE Velocity USB Modem

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

$119

Overall Review:

Ellipsis MHS900L

A very basic mobile hotspot for Verizon.

$149

Overall Review:

ZTE Warp Connect WiFi Hotspot

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

$49 - 144

Overall Review:

GL-MiFi

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

$139

Overall Review:

Skyroam

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

$99 - $149

Overall Review:

Franklin Wireless R910

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

$180

Overall Review:

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.

Overall Review:

AT&T Velocity 2

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

$119

Overall Review:

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:

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