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Thread: New to hotspots -- need some pointers

  1. #1
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    New to hotspots -- need some pointers

    I'm a Tracfone Android user and am happy with the plan, but no tethering. Using the Verizon network.

    I need a "MiFi-type" hotspot. Would use with laptops, Kindle device, and Android tablet. USB-dongle type hotspots are not for me.

    Expected usage would be less than 2GB/month, primarily for email and web browsing. Video and streaming are not important.

    My area (Richmond, VA suburbs) has pretty good Verizon and AT&T service, spotty Sprint, and I don't know about T-Mobile.

    Price is a priority and 3G would be acceptable, but LTE would be nice. Prepaid is fine. I would prefer to have rollover, but it is not absolutely necessary.

    Any suggestions or pointers would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by secdroid View Post
    I'm a Tracfone Android user and am happy with the plan, but no tethering. Using the Verizon network.

    I need a "MiFi-type" hotspot. Would use with laptops, Kindle device, and Android tablet. USB-dongle type hotspots are not for me.

    Expected usage would be less than 2GB/month, primarily for email and web browsing. Video and streaming are not important.

    My area (Richmond, VA suburbs) has pretty good Verizon and AT&T service, spotty Sprint, and I don't know about T-Mobile.

    Price is a priority and 3G would be acceptable, but LTE would be nice. Prepaid is fine. I would prefer to have rollover, but it is not absolutely necessary.

    Any suggestions or pointers would be greatly appreciated.
    At the low $ end on AT&T and Verizon the only one I know is Straight Talk.

    $15 for 1 GB for 30 days
    $25 for 2 GB for 30 days
    $40 for 4 GB for 60 days

    I don't think there is rollover. Verizon and AT&T 3G data can be pretty dreadful. I would spend the extra $20 for the LTE hotspot.

    Good luck

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the ST info

    The ST web page told me that the Z289L was the choice for my zip code. The "L" suffix appears to indicate that this is an AT&T device and the AT&T coverage map is good in my area. I read the Howard Forums on the device and service, as well as external reviews.

    There was apparently an MTU issue with this device early on, but it appears to have been fixed. Reviews are not very good. Part seems to be people who have unrealistic expectations or chose not to RTFM. Others appear to have issues with speed, but most reports don't mention signal strength, time of day or other info. I know what to expect from ST customer service because I've been a long-time Tracfone customer, It isn't great, but it is adequate. (Much better than my Vz land line customer service.)

    Your ST pricing info is correct and there is no rollover. My only question is all the negative reviews.

    I thought I should take a look at T-mobile. The coverage map is good in my area.

    I like the plans -- $20 for 2GB LTE, $35 for 6GB LTE, auto renew every 30 days, presumably no rollover.

    However, they are incredibly slippery in their definition of "4G". It appears that their cheaper hot spots are HSPA, not LTE. More research is needed to understand their devices. Customer service would likely be far better than ST.

  4. #4
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    Internet-go offers a deal: $29 and "1gb of data" (that you think you are going to get).
    I happened upon their website Monday, and saw the limited time offer for $19 + data. I ordered it, got it Thu.
    Turned it on, tried to register, and they wanted credit card info to add data.
    Called T/S, asked "Where's my 1gb of data?". You have to pay for data, then they add the "bonus" data, amount based on how much you pay for. Pay $25 for 1gb, get 300mb, $55, get the 1gb free. This was not noted on the webpage I ordered from.
    My choices now are pay $6 to ship it back or go along for the ride. Bought the $25 plan, ended up with 1300gb. I'm only going to use it for when I'm in a hotel that charges for wi-fi, and the data you buy lasts a year if you use it at least once every 60 days.
    Noting on other reviews, the data can go pretty quick. This appears to be right, before I set the box up, I had the full 1300 mb. Right after setting up my laptop & tablet & viewing google webpage once, 9 mb showed to be used. When I checked it 30 min later a total of 15mb had been used, even though the Hotspot was turned off. (It takes a few minutes for the usage data to arrive to their website?) I pulled out the hotspot battery, and the next day the usage was still 15mb. As time goes by I'll have a better picture of what this thing is like and have a more detailed post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfriz View Post
    Internet-go offers a deal: $29 and "1gb of data" (that you think you are going to get)....
    I have had Internet on the Go mifi and service for several years.

    TL;DR Version - It is a good enough service and price for occasional low usage. I have no major complaints. It is not suitable for long sessions or 24/7 use due to data leakage on my device.

    Prepaid data is $25 a GB and other prices for other data amounts. Your prepaid balance never expires as long as you use some data every 60 days.

    It uses Sprint so you need to use where there is Sprint prepaid service (says Capt. Obvious).

    My experience with the old Novatel 2200 3G device:

    The device will use data even if nothing is connected to the wifi. I ran a two hour test (with nothing connected to wifi). The device used ~1.5 MB per hour as shown on the device and on my online account. I had hoped to use it in a remote location for some monitoring, but that would be ~1 GB a month of data leakage.

    For use with a computer or phone: The software design on computers and phones assumes that wifi data is free and does little to minimize it. There are some steps you can take, but you never really know when the computer or phone will kick in on its own to check or update things in the background.

    Google is particularly bad in this regard. If you are logged into Google (Gmail, etc.) there is a lot of data chatter pretty much all the time. I have watched this with Wireshark. Other services are probably bad too.

    To use it with a notebook computer for light web browsing, email, etc., I put Kali Linux on the notebook. Kali is designed to be silent on the network. I configured an email client to not automatically check for updates and only download headers. This setup uses no data unless I initiate it.

    For use with a phone or Windows computer, I just use it and don't worry about it, and keep the sessions short.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the usage tips, bobdevnul. Good ideas for minimizing data usage.

    I decided to go with your suggestion of the ST hotspot. Mine is a Z289L, Verizon. I will activate it this week.

    I plan to use it with Debian Linux and Gmail Offline. Google prefers constant connection in order to provide maximum value to the user, as well as maximum opportunities to present ads. Not ideal for metered service or low usage caps.

    I plan to check mail/calendar, deal with any hi priority mail immediately, and then go back offline to deal with the non-urgent email. Replies will be sent when I go back online. I also use the EFF Privacy Badger extension, disable Flash, and disable HTML5 autoplay to minimize ad intrusions and data consumption.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by secdroid View Post
    .... and I don't know about T-Mobile.....
    Since you asked. T-Mobile includes some amount of WiFi tethering in most/many of their postpaid plans. They do have a data stash (roll-over) but the high speed tethering quota does not roll-over. T-Mobile has no data overages, so if you hit your monthly quota, you data just slows down. Their service in Richmond is currently all mid-band but the FCC recently approved the transfer of 700 MHz licesnse from C700, so within 6 months they should be rolling out low-band service there to complement the mid-band. If you are interested in their coverage, do not believe their maps. Rather, go to independent maps like RootMetrics, CellMapper and Sensorly.
    Donald Newcomb

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    Total wireless has plan with 5 gb of data for $35 a month $10 more get you 3gb of data addon. There is lte hotspot for $10 a month from sprint. You can run squid proxy You can rent unlimited att for $100 from ebay

  9. #9
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    Had the Internet-go hotspot 2 months now.

    USAGE:.....1300mb Beginning balance.
    6/16,.........9:00P: 1291mb finished with setup and turned off hotspot
    ................ 9:30P: 1276mb checked again, 6 more megs used.
    ................10:30P: 1261mb Checked my webcam then removed battery at 9:30, no more usage.
    7/29 11:04A: 1020mb Hotspot not turned on but battery still connected.
    Sent an E-mail asking why 241 MB had been used with hotspot turned off. Checked today, 8/6, I had 2042 MB.

    I thought they had hit my credit card again, but didn't see any charges from them since the original one.
    I called T/S, they assured me that was the correct amount. There was a change in the website, and I
    guess there was an allowance made. They hadn't charged anything to the CC and T/S
    assured me that they would not charge w/o my authorization.

    So far, so good, I'll be using it this wk-end.

  10. #10
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    Thanks to bobdevnul for his reply to my original question.

    I've used the StraightTalk hotspot and service for about two months and am quite pleased with the system. I used the $15/1GB/30 day plan for the first month to see how I would like it and then switched to the auto-update $40/4GB/60 day plan. No usage or billing anomalies.

    Hope this helps any other hotspot beginners.

  11. #11
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    They stole my data!! (Internet-Go)

    I knew they were going to get to me somehow, and they finally did.
    They have a policy that you have to use it within 60 days, or you lose your data.
    Somehow they were able to delete the last 60 days of my usage, and use that as an excuse to cancel all of my 2 gigs of data. I even had records from their website showing data usage during the last month, and they wouldn't believe it.
    I had records of the last times I had used it, about every 2 weeks, but c/s said it's on their system as the last use was over 2 months ago and they weren't going to do anything about it. Whenever I ask for a supervisor, I get put on hold and finally disconnected.
    Not sure just what will get this company's attention, but I'll try.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfriz View Post
    I knew they were going to get to me somehow, and they finally did.
    They have a policy that you have to use it within 60 days, or you lose your data.
    Somehow they were able to delete the last 60 days of my usage, and use that as an excuse to cancel all of my 2 gigs of data. I even had records from their website showing data usage during the last month, and they wouldn't believe it.
    I had records of the last times I had used it, about every 2 weeks, but c/s said it's on their system as the last use was over 2 months ago and they weren't going to do anything about it. Whenever I ask for a supervisor, I get put on hold and finally disconnected.
    Not sure just what will get this company's attention, but I'll try.
    They have changed their usage requirement several times. It used to be "some billable use" in 90 days. Then it went to 60 days. Most recently, around a few months ago, they changed it to be at least 1 MB in 60 days. That may be what they caught you with.

    I just make sure I use 1+ MB around the first of the month to try to preserve my balance. I really should check the TOS more frequently to keep from losing what I paid for.

    They have also changed their OLAM so that it is hard to track your purchases and use.

    I cannot recommend this service anymore - bordering on sleazy.

    Good luck getting a resolution.

  13. #13
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    I had internet go with the 3g 2200 I quit using the service over a year ago after they expired my active data and my queued data at the same time.

    As in I had 1GB to use and then another 2GB that was to become active after the first 1GB was used they nuked them both on the same day according to the account history. I had gone over their time limit but queued data?! Shouldn't it have to become active before it can be expired?

    I replaced it with a karma go hotspot back when they were on sale for something like $79 also runs on the sprint network data is not cost effective if you use more than 1GB/mo at their $15GB rate but their data still never expires on their refuel plan anyway

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    Problem resolved. I had sent a complaint to the Dallas, TX BBB. Within their time period, my data was restored. A nice lady from the complaint department called and apologized for the issue, and I told her I was happy with the resolution.
    I have used the hotspot a few times since. I did notice that the data usage per task seems less than before. They may have corrected some things by now that people were complaining about.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfriz View Post
    Problem resolved. I had sent a complaint to the Dallas, TX BBB. Within their time period, my data was restored. A nice lady from the complaint department called and apologized for the issue, and I told her I was happy with the resolution.
    I have used the hotspot a few times since. I did notice that the data usage per task seems less than before. They may have corrected some things by now that people were complaining about.
    Re: Internet on the Go

    Good you got your problem resolved. One should not have to waste their time with the BBB to get them to provide uninterrupted service that they have paid for.

    When I checked my balance at the beginning of the month it had gone to ZERO. I have been using the thing religiously once a month for at least a MB, as required by the ever changing TOS. I contacted customer support by phone. They were nice enough, but could not do anything about it other than refer it to somewhere else.

    I had a 3 GB balance before it was zeroed out. About a week after I contacted customer support they had restored 1.5 GB with no explanation. I need to get back to them for an explanation or restoration of the balance I PAID for.

    I'm sure they can identify those of us that are not using much data. The appearance is that they just zero things out and see who squawks.

    Yeah, I know that my minimal use is not what they want, but that is the deal they offered and I paid for.

    This outfit is either inept or scoundrels and thieves - not to be trusted.

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