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Old 12-30-2022, 08:10 AM   #1
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multi-carrier hotspots for low usage

I have searched for this but found nothing that matches.

I am looking for a good multi-carrier mobile hotspot with decent prices for low usage. We don't stream, so our typical usage when traveling is less than 10GB/month.

The data plan for our phones is T-Mobile and while that works well where we live, but we frequently find that when boondocking we may have 3 or 4 bars of 5G or LTE service and can't get our phones to load a webpage. Even when our phones can load a webpage we usually find that the phone hotspot service is really, really poor. We used to have Verizon, and we was better when traveling, but our calls at home were always dropping, so we changed to T-Mobile.

What I am looking for is a multi-carrier mobile hotspot that offers low usage plans at a reasonable price and can be suspended when not traveling. I have looked at Solis, which seems to offer pre-sized data plans with data that does not expire, and it is a possibility, but customer support told me it uses AT&T and T-Mobile, and AT&T out here has pretty poor coverage and T-Mobile is very spotty outside of urban areas.

Can anyone give me some suggestions? Since our data usage is only for email and browsing we don't need 100GB plans, or $100/month plans.
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Old 12-30-2022, 08:53 AM   #2
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multi-carrier hotspots for low usage

I donít know of any inexpensive routers that can switch carriers. Much easier to have a hotspot from two carriers, and use whichever one works best in the area you are in. If both work, BONUS! use them at the same time for more throughput.

Get a plan from Visible for $30/mo. (Verizon). And another from ATT or T-Mobile.

For really cheap, try straighttalk. You can get 2GB plan for $15/mo

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UNREAL T Mobile Home Internet $25. a Month
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f278/unreal-t-mobile-home-internet-25-a-month-600778.html

$25/month unlimited internet....interested?
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f53/25-month-unlimited-internet-interested-442091.html
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Old 12-30-2022, 09:56 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by pasdad1 View Post
I donít know of any inexpensive routers that can switch carriers. Much easier to have a hotspot from two carriers, and use whichever one works best in the area you are in. If both work, BONUS! use them at the same time for more throughput.

Get a plan from Visible for $30/mo. (Verizon). And another from ATT or T-Mobile.

For really cheap, try straighttalk. You can get 2GB plan for $15/mo

Attachment 383521

UNREAL T Mobile Home Internet $25. a Month
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f278/unreal-t-mobile-home-internet-25-a-month-600778.html

$25/month unlimited internet....interested?
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f53/25-month-unlimited-internet-interested-442091.html
What I am looking for is an inexpensive plan for a multiple carrier mobile hotspot for use in our RV, not necessarily an inexpensive router. There are now supposed to be several mobile hotspots that use an eSIM so that they can switch between carriers as signal strengths vary from location to location.

The T-Mobile home internet is supposed to be limited to the home and not usable when traveling. We have that device in our home, and the internet speed is just fine, but I was told it can not be used when traveling. Not that it will not work, but it is priced for use at a single location and I assume that if they find it is used when traveling they will cancel the service.
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Old 12-30-2022, 10:00 AM   #4
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We have an ATT 100gb prepaid internet SIM for $55/month and a Peplink router with two SIM slots. You can switch both pretty easily by accessing the local web pages. You can also have it monitor the throughput and switch when a plan limit is reached. You can also use a Visible phone as a hotspot and connect to the Peplink.

Does that fit what you need?
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Old 12-30-2022, 10:48 AM   #5
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We have an ATT 100gb prepaid internet SIM for $55/month and a Peplink router with two SIM slots. You can switch both pretty easily by accessing the local web pages. You can also have it monitor the throughput and switch when a plan limit is reached. You can also use a Visible phone as a hotspot and connect to the Peplink.

Does that fit what you need?
No. That is much more data than we need.

We mostly make short trips, 2-4 days, about every 3-4 weeks, although we do make one or two 2 weeks or longer trips during the year. So our average internet usage/month when in our RV is on the order of 4-8GB max, often more like 2-4GB. Given that, a 100GB plan would likely be enough data for a year for us.
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Old 12-30-2022, 08:05 PM   #6
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Given that, a 100GB plan would likely be enough data for a year for us.
I think there may be a misunderstanding here. A 100 GB plan isn't usually an open-ended 100 GB of data that you can use throughout the year. Most plans have well defined time limits for how long the data is available. Usually plans are priced by the month. In other words most of us are used to plans that provide 100 GB per month.

Even plans that are sold as having a "bucket" of data usually have very defined time limits.
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Old 12-31-2022, 09:03 AM   #7
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Travlfi Journey XTR is a new hotspot device with the esim able to receive t-mobile, ATT, and Verizon. It also has a physical sim slot available. I used the Journey 1LTE last year and was pretty satisfied except for 2 main issues. 1: the carrier is not user selectable. It connects to the strongest signal available, but that doesn't always mean it has the most bandwidth available. Usually I could restart the unit until it would connect to a carrier with sufficient bandwidth. 2: The compact design does not allow for adequate cooling especially when streaming 720p and wanting to charge the unit at the same time. If it gets too hot it will shut off and restart. I resolved this by placing unit in sandwich bag and putting on top of some ice in a small bowl.
From what I read on the Travlfi web site about the XTR, it should resolve these two issues. They have esim data plans available in the lower amounts of 2gb, 10gb, 25gb, etc all the way up to 800gb per month. Any data left after 30 days, is lost, however. With the XTR you also have the option of buying a prepaid sim card.
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Old 01-01-2023, 07:38 AM   #8
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I think there may be a misunderstanding here. A 100 GB plan isn't usually an open-ended 100 GB of data that you can use throughout the year. Most plans have well defined time limits for how long the data is available. Usually plans are priced by the month. In other words most of us are used to plans that provide 100 GB per month.

Even plans that are sold as having a "bucket" of data usually have very defined time limits.
Yes, I understand that. That is what I meant when I wrote that 100GB was enough data for us for a year, not a month. Plans that large are meaningless for me, given our usage. We just don't much watch TV, streaming or otherwise.

The one device that I have seen that I believe allows large amounts of data to be purchased and then not expire is the Solis device. From what I have read, and from information I got when I called, you can buy a data bundle and then use it as you need, with the data never expiring. The problem with it is that it uses only AT&T and T-Mobile and where we live AT&T coverage is just awful outside of the urban areas, and T-Mobile is really spotty.

Another problem seems to be prioritization. Our phones are T-Mobile and there are times when we are boondocking that my phone tells me that we have 3 bars of 5G service, but I can't load a webpage. I have to assume that we are being prioritized downward for some reason, or that the bandwidth is very, very low. And even when our phones themselves are responsive the devices that we use off of the phone hotspot data don't work at all.

So I am looking for alternatives.
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Old 01-01-2023, 07:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Paul P. View Post
Travlfi Journey XTR is a new hotspot device with the esim able to receive t-mobile, ATT, and Verizon. It also has a physical sim slot available. I used the Journey 1LTE last year and was pretty satisfied except for 2 main issues. 1: the carrier is not user selectable. It connects to the strongest signal available, but that doesn't always mean it has the most bandwidth available. Usually I could restart the unit until it would connect to a carrier with sufficient bandwidth. 2: The compact design does not allow for adequate cooling especially when streaming 720p and wanting to charge the unit at the same time. If it gets too hot it will shut off and restart. I resolved this by placing unit in sandwich bag and putting on top of some ice in a small bowl.
From what I read on the Travlfi web site about the XTR, it should resolve these two issues. They have esim data plans available in the lower amounts of 2gb, 10gb, 25gb, etc all the way up to 800gb per month. Any data left after 30 days, is lost, however. With the XTR you also have the option of buying a prepaid sim card.
Thank you for the information. I went to their webpage and read up on the XTR.

Years ago, when I had Verizon phone service, I bought one of the Verizon LTE hotspots and it was really helpful because it had a plug for an external antenna which I mounted on the roof of the RV. Often when the hotspot itself could not get a decent signal attaching the roof antenna made all the difference in the world, so I was looking for a multi-carrier hotspot that supported using an external antenna, but have not had any luck so far. The Journey does not do that and I don't remember seeing anything in the description of the XTR that indicated it could use an external antenna.

The same is true (ie, no external antenna connection) for the Solis device, which seems to have non-expiring data so that I could buy a block and use it until it was all used up. And there do not seem to be a lot of choices, other than a single carrier hotspot. Solis, Travlfi, Starlink and a lot of other single carrier hotspots.
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Old 01-01-2023, 08:09 AM   #10
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Another problem seems to be prioritization. Our phones are T-Mobile and there are times when we are boondocking that my phone tells me that we have 3 bars of 5G service, but I can't load a webpage. I have to assume that we are being prioritized downward for some reason, or that the bandwidth is very, very low. And even when our phones themselves are responsive the devices that we use off of the phone hotspot data don't work at all.
The bars on your phone are nothing but a very crude measure of signal strength. Modern cell phones can be used over a signal strength range of >50dB which is a factor of 100,000. There's no way that a simple bar display can represent that in any meaningful way.

Furthermore, the fact that you have adequate signal strength tells you nothing about the speed of your data connection. It's not uncommon to have a good connection to a tower that is providing low speeds. It may have nothing to do with deprioritization.

Some of your issues may also result from your phones being older or lower end models. With cell phones, newer, higher end models often utilize modems with advanced features and access to additional frequency bands.
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Old 01-01-2023, 03:21 PM   #11
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Thank you for the information. I went to their webpage and read up on the XTR.

Years ago, when I had Verizon phone service, I bought one of the Verizon LTE hotspots and it was really helpful because it had a plug for an external antenna which I mounted on the roof of the RV. Often when the hotspot itself could not get a decent signal attaching the roof antenna made all the difference in the world, so I was looking for a multi-carrier hotspot that supported using an external antenna, but have not had any luck so far. The Journey does not do that and I don't remember seeing anything in the description of the XTR that indicated it could use an external antenna.

The same is true (ie, no external antenna connection) for the Solis device, which seems to have non-expiring data so that I could buy a block and use it until it was all used up. And there do not seem to be a lot of choices, other than a single carrier hotspot. Solis, Travlfi, Starlink and a lot of other single carrier hotspots.
I checked the Travlfi website and they do say an external antenna is compatible with the XTR, but it is true any data purchased is only good for 30days from being activated so being able to purchase data that doesn't expire would be a big plus.
I just checked the Solis website and the $139 price for the unit is a lot lower than the travlfi xtr, however $100 for 20gb of data is expensive unless based on your use that would last something over 30 days.
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Old 01-02-2023, 08:16 AM   #12
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Some of your issues may also result from your phones being older or lower end models. With cell phones, newer, higher end models often utilize modems with advanced features and access to additional frequency bands.
DW and I both have iPhone 12s, one the regular and the other the Pro, so it is almost certainly not an issue with the phone quality or internal modems. I suspect that most of our issues come from our camping where there is little in the way of cell signal for our carrier (T-Mobile) and that is why I am looking for a low cost, but decent quality, multi-carrier hotspot.

I suspect that all of these 3rd party mobile hotspots are secondary users of the primary carriers signals and so are probably subject to being deprioritized when towers are being heavily used. As for our phones, our phone plans say that we have high priority but I have been camping where one day we have very, very good signals and the next day, at the same location, we can't load a webpage and there is no noticeable increase in campers. I don't know whether or not weather has any real affect of cell tower signals. I assume line-of-sight should be the same regardless of the weather, but then I don't really know.
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