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Old 09-10-2021, 11:54   #1
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Mobile hotspot for cruisers

Looking for suggestions on the best mobile hotspot and cellular provider for a cruiser on the east coast. I am currently on AT&T and although it works well in most areas, once I use my data up, It’s useless. I have the highest plan available and it’s not enough. I work from the boat and attend Zoom meetings regularly.

I have a good booster for cell signals and understand that you must first get good reception. Assuming I can connect with a good signal what provider offers a truly unlimited plan? T-Mobile maybe? I checked into services like Unlimitedville but not sure how long the major providers will allow them to keep “tricking” the main three carriers into providing unlimited data transfer.

What is the general consensus here for an internet power user who needs truly unlimited data over a 4G / 5G?

Thanks
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Old 09-10-2021, 13:19   #2
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

These are your guys:

https://www.rvmobileinternet.com

They have a whole section on cell providers and the best deals. Some are truly unlimited.

Given your high data needs, you are probably best off spending $1000 for an internet router such as the PepWave with an external MIMO antenna and load it with several SIMS from different providers. It will automatically switch (or combine) providers based on speed. Cell boosters are almost always slower that a cheap MIMO antenna for internet data.

But you may want to hold off on spending the money and wait for Starlink to release the new dish meant for boats/RV's/trucks/planes. It's expected in the next 12 months. While it won't work in mid ocean for a few more years it will be fine in most coastal and island areas. The current service/dish isn't meant for moving around and is tied to one location. While the mobile service pricing hasn't been announced the current service is $100/month for what is a home cable internet service- essentially unlimited and very high speed. Once you have Starlink, there will be no reason to use wifi, cellular data, or the current satellite services.
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Old 09-10-2021, 19:21   #3
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

I use a boost mobile “coolpad”hotspot device and monthly plan; never had issues working from the boat. Battery lasts long enough, and sometimes I ‘hoist’ the device up the mast a bit if signal is obstructed. YMMV.
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Old 09-10-2021, 19:27   #4
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamme View Post
I use a boost mobile “coolpad”hotspot device and monthly plan; never had issues working from the boat. Battery lasts long enough, and sometimes I ‘hoist’ the device up the mast a bit if signal is obstructed. YMMV.
Sounds good but limits you to 2G speeds (very slow) when you exceed your data allotment for the month. That will not work for me.
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Old 09-10-2021, 19:29   #5
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
These are your guys:

https://www.rvmobileinternet.com

They have a whole section on cell providers and the best deals. Some are truly unlimited.

Given your high data needs, you are probably best off spending $1000 for an internet router such as the PepWave with an external MIMO antenna and load it with several SIMS from different providers. It will automatically switch (or combine) providers based on speed. Cell boosters are almost always slower that a cheap MIMO antenna for internet data.

But you may want to hold off on spending the money and wait for Starlink to release the new dish meant for boats/RV's/trucks/planes. It's expected in the next 12 months. While it won't work in mid ocean for a few more years it will be fine in most coastal and island areas. The current service/dish isn't meant for moving around and is tied to one location. While the mobile service pricing hasn't been announced the current service is $100/month for what is a home cable internet service- essentially unlimited and very high speed. Once you have Starlink, there will be no reason to use wifi, cellular data, or the current satellite services.
Yep! We are probably 12 months out from what I understand. Tracking it very closely. Any other options in the mean time?
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Old 10-10-2021, 08:49   #6
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

T-Mobile has a 100GB plan (straight data - port your cell, if that's what you use for calls, to Google Voice for a pittance - like $10 - or get a number you can choose from for free)

It's what I use, now, as all calls come to my phone, which is also my hotspot. I can (though I rarely do) make and receive calls on my computer, as well, GVoice being a web program to see and use in that fashion.

YMMV but T-M has very good coverage, in general, up the east coast, and brags on their 5G dominance.

I'll never look back. If you need international calls, they're dirt cheap, but require a prepaid account. I started with $10 several years ago and still have $2.45 in my account. YMMV if you are on the phone with other countries ...
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Old 10-10-2021, 08:57   #7
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

Google fi
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Old 10-10-2021, 08:57   #8
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

We've used Verizon with unlimited data plan for years with Android phones on MOJO. Many years ago we downloaded PDANet from June Fabrics PDA Technology Group (Android only, no IOS support) and paid them a one-time charge of $14.95 per phone. This app turns your cell phone into a mobile hotspot w/out having to pay mobile hotspot monthly fees. You can then connect your PC to your cell phone via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or USB cable for unlimited 4G data via your cellular plan. Verizon says that once you use 22 gb in a given month they reserve the right to throttle you down to if the cell tower you're using is congested. We never have experienced throttling in all these years and have many months seen in excess of 50gb per phone. We can watch movies, download large files, etc.
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Old 10-10-2021, 08:57   #9
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

I have been working remotely so need internet all the time. I have a cell booster (surecall) on top of my mizzen and have been able to get a signal even in remote anchorages. I have Nomad Internet service which has been problematic but is fast when it works. They have been having trouble with their routers. Last one worked great for 2 months then died. I just received a new one that is working well for now. The service uses Verizon and claims to be unlimited for $125 p/m. I have not been throttled yet. As backup I just subscribed to an ATT prepaid plan, $55 p/m for 100 gigs. From what I have read Starlink currently has a limited footprint per subscriber. It is not mobile yet although they did apply for a mobile service FCC license.
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Old 10-10-2021, 09:07   #10
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

I have a Mofi 4500 hotspot router, and an unlimited data plan through Bix Wireless for $100/month. It uses T Mobile, so coverage is decent. My wife and I live aboard full time with no access to other wifi, so this is our primary Internet access. I work from home part of the week, and we only uses streaming services for entertainment, and it does a good job, for the most part. Not perfect, but definitely usable.

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Old 10-10-2021, 09:18   #11
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

If you're a cruiser who works remotely like us, you need multiple options and redundancy.

Here's what we have-
- AT&T 100GB plan is our primary work connection
- AT&T cell phones can tether 40GB each, free roaming to Mexico/Canada
- Google Fi 22GB uses T-Mobile as carrier, free roaming to Mexico/Canada
- T-Mobile 22GB plan includes Binge On and is our primary streaming/entertainment connection

This has worked well for us but occasionally we're in a spot where AT&T is weak, even with our cell booster (Cradlepoint), so we raise the hotspot up the mast or mizzen and it usually works.

Verizon recently came out with an affordable 150BG plan and according to my electronics guru it is the best carrier for getting cell signals on the water. As soon as we get back to civilization I'm adding that to my arsenal and if it works as well as I hope I will cut back on some of the others.
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Old 10-10-2021, 10:01   #12
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

We have used an AT&T hot spot for years. We are very pleased with it.
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Old 10-10-2021, 11:11   #13
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

Our TM MagentaMax 55+ plan gives us 2 lines of unlimited everything, except only 40GB tethered high speed data and 3G after thatfor 105/mo and they pay 13/mo of our Netflix bill.. You can increase the high speed tethered data for a small charge. That also includes 15/mo for free international calls to over 70 countries on 1 line from USA/Canada/Mexico. We get unlimited cellular data in 240 countries with local calls .20/min and we use Vibr/Line/WhatsApp to call each other for free.


I just did an Ookla Speed Test here in HI on my 12Mini with cellular only.
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Old 10-10-2021, 12:44   #14
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

I just came back from cruising Penobscot Bay for four months using Verizon and it sucked! Away from big cities I got 0 to 2 bars, but had no booster. Locals in the islands said ATT and Cellular One were best in that area.
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Old 10-10-2021, 13:45   #15
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Re: Mobile hotspot for cruisers

Check out Visible Mobile. I've been using it for 3 years now, working remotely and on Zoom calls all day. It's only $25/month for unlimited calls, text, and data. The data gets "throttled" after a certain point, but even then it's still fast enough to stream video. The coverage is wonderful, as it uses the Verizon network. Visible is "de-prioritized" compared to Verizon customers, which can be an issue at a huge event in a city, but I have found it to be an issue maybe 2-3 times in 3 years.
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