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Thread: General Purpose Home Internet

  1. #1
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    General Purpose Home Internet

    Losing our local unlimited DSL home internet, and considering LTE data to replace them.

    Use here is pretty light. Mostly it's moderate web browsing and email, and a little Youtube viewing a few times a day.

    We don't do Netflix or any other streaming video.

    We do NOT need unlimited data. I estimate that we could do OK with around 10 GB per month. Though it would be nice to have an easy upgrade path.

    Speed isn't very important. We've been fine with low-end DSL.

    We use VIOP for phone service, so we don't want a carrier that blocks VOIP.

    Because of the VOIP adapter, and desktop computers, I plan to get a hardwired modem or router, rather than a portable hotspot.

    It seems that the tough part is finding the service itself. Official home internet packages are usually pretty expensive, and seem to be locked to the device that the provider sells. I'm cheap, and I like unlocked.

    Mobile service here is pretty decent from AT&T. Haven't tried T-Mobile since the 3G days. Back then it wasn't great. I know nothing of Verizon. I don't think Sprint matters any more, right?

    Q #1: Suppose I get a generic phone SIM for Red Pocket, US Mobile, Tello, or one of the other MVNOs. If I give them the IMEI for an LTE modem or router, will they activate it? (I saw an outright prohibition on modem use in the US Mobile TOS.)

    Q #2: If not, can I activate it in a phone and then swap it into the modem or router? Will they catch me and send their goons out to work me over with brass knuckles?

    Q #3: Most carriers seem to have restrictions on hotspot use, typically fewer GB per month than the total plan allows. How rigidly do they enforce those restrictions?

    Q #4: Am I likely to stay under their radar as long as I'm only using 10-15gb per month?

    Q #5: Do any of the carriers block VIOP when using tethered or hotspot data?

    Sorry for all the questions, hope someone has some ideas. I have a little over a month to figure out what to replace my DSL with, and I'd like to get something up and testing within the next week or two.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    You can get Visible for $25/mo TOTAL if you join an easy and anonymous Party Pay group. It includes unlimited hotspot data. They offer inexpensive phones, often with a prepaid credit card bonus after the 2nd month is paid. Some people use a mobile router in conjunction with this, since officially, hotspot is limited to 1 connection at a time. This could be a good solution for your light usage.

  3. #3
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    Another option might be T-Mobile Home Internet at $50/mo TOTAL.

    https://www.t-mobile.com/isp

    LIMITED-TIME OFFER
    Get high-speed internet for only $50/mo.
    With AutoPay. Regularly $60/mo. That's a savings of $10/mo. via bill credits for the life of your new Home Internet line. Hurry, offer ends 6/30.

  4. #4
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    T-Mobile has changed/improved a lot since you last tried it. That said, they still have far less universal coverage than either AT&T or Verizon. But for fixed-location use, all that matters is whether it works well at your fixed location.

    One reason for considering T-Mobile is that it's easier to find providers that don't discriminate for hotspot usage, and sometimes officially allow dedicated hotspot/MiFi units.

    An example: Tello (using the T-Mobile network) allows all of your data plan to be used for hotspot use. Tello's BYOD test page accepts the IMEI of a MiFi (dedicated hotspot) I have here. (But I haven't actually activated that MiFi on Tello).

    Re: your local coverage: it's possible to get a cheap one-month or 1-week trial SIM from some providers to test actual usability at your location. (The one-week SIMs will be pretty limited on data, but enough for basic testing.) Do you already have a phone that is eligible for T-Mobile or Verizon networks?
    My Tello referral code is P3BSR5HV, and gets both of us 10 Tello Dollars to pay for a plan.
    https://tello.com/account/register?_referral=P3BSR5HV

  5. #5
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    My situation was exactly like yours. Lost DSL due to the phone company not wanting to upgrade old copper wire in the area. No cable option.

    All 3 major carriers touted there wireless home internet for rural areas or areas that don't have cable or dsl, but as of now they only have it in select urban and suburban areas most of which have cable or dsl. It's a competition thing for them against cable and dsl companies, not about providing to people without cable or dsl.

    For the least hassle, reliability, and signal I went with Verizon repaid mifi8800L hotspot. 16GB 4G then unlimited at 600kbps. $45 a month. I never turn if off. Just charge it every couple days. Been a year now and no issues. I think there's a 10GB/unlimited plan for $25. I don't know if the sim will work with another type device. I only average 9GB per month but don't mind paying for the extra since you never know when something will demand more. And then even the 600kbps would be more then my dsl ever had.

    I read in other forums that ATT and TM have much better HS plans. But I don't have ATT or TM as a wireless option.
    Also Straighttalk and Net10 have good HS plans and devices for your level of need. ( I used ST for many years as a backup to my DSL.)
    I know many will chime in with better options. But what's important to us is all different. As is what carrier works best in your area. Internet is my lifeline not just entertainment. I wanted the least hassle, consistent speed and reliability. Face it, DSL or cable cost more then $45 a month. Saving $15-$20 a month is meaningless to me. We all fart that away in a month on things we don't need. So far so good.

    Doesn't your VOIP adapter connect to your computer? Don't your computers have wifi recievers? Why would you need a hardwired modem/router? One HS covers it all.

  6. #6
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    I understand wanting/needing wired ethernet connections. It's a little extra work, but there are easy enough ways to get this (assuming that you have a plan that allows hotspot use.)
    Find a router that has an option to get it's WAN connection (internet input side) via a wired USB tethered input. I do this when needed with my Visible phone.
    Phone receives internet, and outputs internet via it's charging/microUSB (or whatever connector).
    Router receives internet via the other end of that cable.
    Router has RJ45 ethernet LAN connectors, as well as WiFi output.
    Connect all your devices via ethernet or WiFi, as you desire.

    The hassle is more wear and tear on the phone, and you're limited to the antennae inside the phone (or options for a Jetpack/MiFi antennae.): if I was doing this full-time, I'd buy a disposable phone or compatible MiFi specifically for it. Only it's receiver function and bands matter-- it can be low memory, small screen, cracked screen, etc. With the inexpensive router I use, the phone is also charged via the tethered connection.

    Note that this is not a solution for finding a provider/plan, or a way to sidestep intended restrictions of the provider, and won't let you bypass any hotspot restrictions on a plan. It's just a way to widen the possible acceptable solutions and providers, and a decent workaround if there isn't an affordable allowed dedicated router compatible with the plan.

  7. #7
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    Thanks, rpz. Your Verizon setup sounds pretty good, except for the lack of ethernet ports, and the price is reasonable.

    Bos, also thanks, the T-Mobile deal is potentially interesting. The idea of having to use an app to set it up seems a bit weird to me, but at least it has a couple of ethernet ports.

    I guess I could get wifi cards for the 3 desktops if I really had to, and use a wireless bridge for the Obi 110 VOIP box, but I'm really hoping to find something with one or more ethernet ports. Actually I'd be totally happy with an ordinary LTE modem to plug my existing router into.

    I'm most concerned about the service itself. I've skimmed the TOS for a few MVNOs and have seen some pretty limiting interpretations of "reasonable use." I saw an "unlimited data" plan that allowed only 5 GB per month of hotspot use. Another large data plan limited it to 20 GB, not that that would be a problem for us.

    And I forget which one, but one of them explicitly said that moving the SIM to a different device from the one registered was a no-no, and also that modem use was prohibited.

    I might fly under someone's TOS radar if I keep my use light, but when it's my primary connection, I don't like that sword hanging over my head. (How's that for a mixed metaphor?)

    If someone can say "I used XYZ's data on an ABC MiFi for 2 years with no trouble," that would be really welcome.

    I'm kind of spoiled from years of having a little local ISP that mostly didn't care what I did as long as I didn't scare the horses. No closed ports, no SIP blocks, no deep packet inspection, just a plain vanilla DSL modem pipe to the net.

    Thanks to all helping out here, please keep the ideas percolating!

  8. #8
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    I use an inexpensive USB WiFi adapter on my desktop. It works fine. That might be a cheaper alternative to WiFi cards for your desktops.

    I don't know if this is accurate, but couldn't you plug your existing router into one of the ethernet ports on the T-Mobile Home Internet device?

    I know the T-Mo Home Internet is significantly more expensive than the Visible option, but it seems like it would be the safest option, if it's available in your area.

    On the other hand, a number of people across the internet report using Visible for their home internet with no issues.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by allears View Post
    Losing our local unlimited DSL home internet, and considering LTE data to replace them.

    Use here is pretty light. Mostly it's moderate web browsing and email, and a little Youtube viewing a few times a day.

    We don't do Netflix or any other streaming video.

    We do NOT need unlimited data. I estimate that we could do OK with around 10 GB per month. Though it would be nice to have an easy upgrade path.

    Speed isn't very important. We've been fine with low-end DSL.

    We use VIOP for phone service, so we don't want a carrier that blocks VOIP.

    Because of the VOIP adapter, and desktop computers, I plan to get a hardwired modem or router, rather than a portable hotspot.

    It seems that the tough part is finding the service itself. Official home internet packages are usually pretty expensive, and seem to be locked to the device that the provider sells. I'm cheap, and I like unlocked.

    Mobile service here is pretty decent from AT&T. Haven't tried T-Mobile since the 3G days. Back then it wasn't great. I know nothing of Verizon. I don't think Sprint matters any more, right?

    Q #1: Suppose I get a generic phone SIM for Red Pocket, US Mobile, Tello, or one of the other MVNOs. If I give them the IMEI for an LTE modem or router, will they activate it? (I saw an outright prohibition on modem use in the US Mobile TOS.)

    Q #2: If not, can I activate it in a phone and then swap it into the modem or router? Will they catch me and send their goons out to work me over with brass knuckles?

    Q #3: Most carriers seem to have restrictions on hotspot use, typically fewer GB per month than the total plan allows. How rigidly do they enforce those restrictions?

    Q #4: Am I likely to stay under their radar as long as I'm only using 10-15gb per month?

    Q #5: Do any of the carriers block VIOP when using tethered or hotspot data?

    Sorry for all the questions, hope someone has some ideas. I have a little over a month to figure out what to replace my DSL with, and I'd like to get something up and testing within the next week or two.

    Thanks!
    See if you can get the T-Mobile Test Drive to check T-Mobile service. It's free, no strings attached, 30 GB of LTE data for up to 30 day, and a free hotspot device that you don't have to return. No credit card required. They don't try to bill you when the Test Drive ends. T-Mo has improved to usable in a lot of locations in the past couple of years.

    If T-Mo signal/speed is ok, see if you can get their Home Internet service. $50 a month for unlimited and includes their hotspot free that has an Ethernet port. It is available in limited locations where their network has the capacity.

    If T-Mo works calyx is legit, but you have to pay $125 up front for three months to get started. They include the hotspot, but it doesn't have Ethernet.

    Otherwise most of the cheap hotspots don't have Ethernet. The Netgear Nighthawk M1 (MR1100) gets mentioned often and has Ethernet - not cheap though. I just looked at the specs. It only has LTE bands good for AT&T. Too many key bands missing for T-Mo and Verizon. As you mentioned, forget Sprint. They are all but dead and gone.

    AT&T has a hotspot plan - $50 for 100 GB and other lesser plans.

    If you can't find a hotspot with Ethernet you want, USB tethering does work well. Really it's just like plugging a USB cable into a router instead of Ethernet. Not all routers with USB support WAN over USB. These do and are good routers in general. There may be others:

    https://www.asuswrt-merlin.net/

    Hotspot for 10 GB a month isn't too hard to find. It's unlimited that is hard because it doesn't exist outside of unreliable shady resellers or hackerish lashups of questionable legality.

    Verizon Visible is $25 a month for unlimited phone and phone hotspot data. The phone hotspot is throttled to 5 Mbps. It will work with the phone USB tethered to a compatible router. How fast the data is depends on how congested the cell you are on is. I never had a lot of problems. Some people claim to have it running in a hotspot device.

    Good luck

  10. #10
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    Does anyone have the Home Internet offering from any of the big3 or checked if it's even in your area? If so where? Just curious.
    When Verizon first touted theirs there was discussion in another forum where even though someone's zip was listed; it wasn't available.
    I even checked an address right under the VZW tower in my area. Nope, not available. Did the same for ATT and TM Home Internet offering at addresses in my nearest city. Nope. Seems kind of like UW 5G, allot of advertising, very limited areas.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    Does anyone have the Home Internet offering from any of the big3 or checked if it's even in your area? If so where? Just curious.
    When Verizon first touted theirs there was discussion in another forum where even though someone's zip was listed; it wasn't available.
    I even checked an address right under the VZW tower in my area. Nope, not available. Did the same for ATT and TM Home Internet offering at addresses in my nearest city. Nope. Seems kind of like UW 5G, allot of advertising, very limited areas.
    A number of people have reported getting T-Mo Home Internet. I don't recall the number so far, but IIRC, it is in the millions. T-Mo announced plans to have 100 million lines by the end of 2022. That is one thing they are doing with all of that band 41 spectrum they got from Sprint. Verizon plans to have 50 million in the next year. That probably coincides with when they can bring C-band online. I don't know what AT&T is doing

    Things are getting better and can be expected to continue getting better over the next few years. Until recently the carriers did not have the data capacity to add new high data use ISP service without degrading service to their core business mobile phone users. That is why they are only available in limited locations. They can only sell as much as the network will support.

  12. #12
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    Checked the T-Mobile home internet page. It wants my mobile phone number, not my zip code, to determine whether they have service here. I don't like giving it to them, I get enough voice/SMS spam already, but tried to enter it anyway. Nothing happened. Literally nothing.

    It's probably a browser incompatibility. I'll try Chromium later.

    But I don't have a lot of hope. It looks like T-Mobile uses 5G for this package, and we're kind of out in the sticks here. You might say it's rural suburbs.

    Visible and Tello are sounding interesting.

    Thanks, I appreciate the ideas. If you have others, please don't hold back! Everything is on the table right now.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by allears View Post
    But I don't have a lot of hope. It looks like T-Mobile uses 5G for this package, and we're kind of out in the sticks here. You might say it's rural suburbs.
    Again, exactly my situation. It's clear the 50-100 million to get it from any provider by the end of 2022 as @bobdevnul mentioned will be city dwellers. I understand the capacity requirement to provide it, and UWB 5G = capacity through speed. And thus the cities and large population areas where the limited range works. But it also appears none of the carriers have done much of anything in the past decade to increase even basic capacity on LTE or low band (nationwide) 5G in rural areas or even many rural suburbs even with additional conventional towers.

  14. #14
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    OP mentions using YT several times a day. I wonder if OP stated 10GB month will be enough.
    I will be Judged on how I helped the poor, sick & others in need; strangers & loved ones alike.

    Visible (Verizon) UTT & Unlimited Data $25/mo
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  15. #15
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    > I wonder if OP stated 10GB month will be enough.

    So does OP. :-\

    -----

    T-Mobile home service isn't available here yet. Their coverage map claims that they have 5G here, but either they don't think it has enough bandwidth, or the map is overly optimistic.

    Visited Visible. Unless I read it wrong, that $25 is the first month only. After that it's $40. Even that seems too good to be true for supposedly unlimited data. I don't own a VZW phone though, so that would be an up front expense.

    Tello on T-Mobile offers 25 GB of "unlimited" data for $39/month, with an introductory rate of $29.30 for the first 6 months. TOU don't look bad. They do say that "We may limit the number of devices that can be tethered." I'm no networking guru, but I don't see how they can do that if the n devices are on the other side of a router doing NAT. Maybe someone else does.

    Red Pocket has a $40/month 22 GB deal, GSMA or GSMT, but I think I saw somewhere that they'll clamp down on hotspot use at 20 GB. Their TOU page is acres and hectares of fine print, vague enough for them to use as a hammer, should they wish to. Has anyone been on the business end of that TOU hammer, shut down or throttled for hotspot use?

    Thanks all! The information is piling up here, and that's good.

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