When it comes to connectivity on the road, there is no end to what’s available. Deciding on the perfect internet really depends on your specific needs. Like many, we work from the road so we need reliable, fast internet. Besides browsing, streaming movies, etc we do a fair share of web development work which requires good, unthrottled download speeds. Additionally, we do regular live-stream feeds on our Facebook and YouTube page so having fast, consistent upload speeds are a must.
Just about any major cellular provider offers data plans that will likely be sufficient for your needs.
Cellular Providers Who Offer Unlimited Plans
Now, before you jump on one provider over another you need to know that most offer limited ‘premium data’ for mobile hot spot use. For example; with Verizon, you can have an individual plan that includes up to 30GB of premium hotspot data which is the highest we’ve found to date vs T-Mobile who offers 20GB of 4G LTE data and is throttled down to unlimited 3G.
We haven’t had much luck using rural internet providers. When we first started searching for an internet provider for our camper, we found Nomad Internet. Nomad sells various ‘membership plans’ like the Blue Plan (AT&T), Pink Plan (T-Mobile), etc., and tout that they offer truly unlimited unthrottled data. We ordered Nomad Internet’s ‘Blue Plan, ‘ which worked for a few weeks. Months later, we still see a bill — but our internet is yet to work. At this point, we’re unsure if internet service through companies like Nomad is legit or not. It was odd that we, at random, get new sim cards shipped to our house and prior sim cards disconnected. We’ve reached out to AT&T for comment.
The most popular satellite internet providers are HughesNet and ViaSat. A 50GB data plan with HughesNet offers 25Mbps download speeds and 3Mbps upload speeds for $150/mo. For $150/mo with ViaSat, you’ll see comparable upload speeds of 3Mbps and download speeds of 12Mbps with 65GB of high-speed data. Both providers also offer smaller plans.
In our experience, Verizon Wireless and AT&T are by far the most reliable sources for the internet. Due to our work demands, AT&T doesn’t work as our first choice due to the fact they do not offer unlimited data — Verizon does. In order to maximize our data with Verizon, we have three devices, an iPad and two iPhones that we have connected to the ‘Get More Data Plan’ for each device which gives us a total of 90GB of data (30GB per device). As one device nears it’s 4G premium 30GB data limit, we simply turn on the hot spot for the next device which has worked fine. Additionally, as an additional failsafe we have purchased 10GB of data (recharges card as needed) through our Winegard Gateway. This is by far not the cheapest way to go, but it is the most reliable for us which carries its own value to stay connected with unthrottled speeds.
TEST 1: Verizon Wireless – Connecting Directly to Hotspot on newer iPad
TEST 2: Verizon Wireless iPad Hotspot to Winegard Gateway
TEST 3: Winegard Gateway w/ Winegard ConnecT 2.0 4G2 (AT&T)
What solution faired the best?
1. iPad – Hotspot — 62.9 Mbps (download) 3.9 Mbps (ppload)
2. iPad – Hotspot — to Winegard Gateway — 29.53Mbps (download) 5.85Mbps (upload)
AT&T Wireless Through Winegard:
3. Winegard Gateway w/ ConnecT 2.0 4G2 — 21.48 Mbps (download) 14.65Mb (upload)
For this test, AT&T which was through our Winegard Gateway had the fastest upload speeds at 14.65Mbps while connecting to our iPad’s hotspot (via Verizon) had the fastest download speeds of 62.9Mbps at the time of the test.
Keep in mind, there are a lot of factors that play into speeds such as location to cell towers, data etc. We plan on running test at each location we stay so we can continue to gather data about what the best solution is. As of now, we are really liking the Verizon / AT&T combo and have roughly 100GB of premium hotspot data between the two. Additionally, if Verizon has bad service in an area we still have AT&T we can tap into, and vice versa.
When it comes to Makin’ the Bacon’ you MUST have a reliable, high-speed data source available.