As I prepare to move into the Rialta the one lingering annoyance has been finding mobile internet. T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have all nixed their unlimited data plans (one of them still does unlimited but heavily throttles after 10gb, the others charge after 10gb, and 10gb is like a day of usage for me!)
Can anyone recommend great mobile internet solutions? A guy at work recommended Clear:
And it looks pretty good, though I haven't had much time to research physical coverage and whatnot, I just glanced at it, but it's also literally the only solution I know of that is unlimited mobile data. Any others out there? Anyone have any good tricks for sneaking into grandfathered plans somehow? Any advice is much appreciated.
Never had coverage luck with Clear.
I use T-Mobile, and while their coverage is less than stellar (though vastly improving with 4G), the "no hassle" unlimited data (with throttle after XX GB) has been a godsend. And you don't have to pay extra to officially tether it (for unofficial uses, look at the Android FoxFi app).
That being said, it's nothing like wifi...
Does anyone know about MetroPCS or the other small-bells?
You might want to check out http://www.millenicom.com/ I've heard they're good but in reading the info they might cap.
The problem with Clear is that if you use a decent amount of data on their 4G network, they will throttle the hell out of you. Google the issue if you plan to use the hotspot a lot. Plus, sprint's network sucks compared to Verizon, lets just be honest.
So, it basically comes down to Unlimited data and throttled (which is what you will get if you root a Sprint/AT&T/etc phone for free tethering or with Clear), or paying for your data to have no throttling.
I chose the latter; I have a 20GB "Share Everything" plan on Verizon, sharing the 20GB pool between my iPad with 4G LTE/3G and my iPhone 4S. I use WiFi when I can (like at my condo or a coffee shop), but for the most part, I use Verizon to tether for my internet (at work, our office has a really annoying webfilter called "Websense" that blocks almost everything, so I pay for my own internet connection to tether to my laptop so I don't have to deal with bullshit).
I actually don't even store any music on my iPhone anymore, I stream everything (music, video) from my Synology NFS server over Verizon's service to my phone/iPad/laptop (Synology makes awesome iOS/Android apps, such as DS Audio, DS Photo, etc), as well as streaming music from Pandora/di.fm/etc. Life in the cloud is great!
I'm very, very happy with the coverage and speed of Verizon 4G LTE. I frequently download faster than 20+ MBit via LTE, which is actually faster bandwidth than my AT&T FiOS fiber optic wired connection I have at home!
I have one of those old Sprint SERO plans and get unlimited 4G data. But I thought Sprint still gave unlimited 4G regardless but does charge for 3G after 5 gb?
Sprint uses Clear for their WiMAX network and is upgrading to their own LTE network this next year.
Overall though, wimax kind of sucks. It cannot penetrate buildings as well so you have to be next to a window and even then the signal strength varies. In parts of large cities like SF, there's no signal at all. Then again, I've been in the suburbs of Atlanta and get an excellent connection. Maybe dropping my phone one too many times has nixed its strength though
Two solutions would be setting up a wifi antennae, getting a compatible wireless adapter, and using other people's WEP routers. Other solution would be creating a cellphone antennae to boost the signal, it's a bit more expensive though.
I'm typing this in a coffee shop in Berkeley right now because I couldn't find a 4G connection to save my life
FreedomPop has been getting some coverage in the news lately. http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/30/freedompop-opens-its-freemium-internet-service-to-the-masses-with-new-public-beta/ it's not unlimited data (you pay for overages), but their plans seem to be competitive.
Their top plan is $29/mo and comes with:
Guaranteed 4GB per month
Extra data at 1MB for just $.01
Compare to similar Verizon plans for over 50% savings
I saw that. Looks like the same network as Clear and Clear is $50 for all-you-can-eat. I'm reasonably happy with Clear though it pales in comparison to the LTE speeds people are getting on Verizon. I wish there were a way to do fixed-price unlimited data on Verizon's LTE network (or any LTE network I suppose) but so far, no dice.
My problem with Clear is it's not fast enough to stream video, though I suspect they're specifically throttling Youtube and its ilk because I can download some stuff fast enough that it seems crazy I can't steam a 720p video.
In any case, FreedomPop wouldn't be any better I expect. I might give it a shot to see, though.
Yeah, I got a Clear wifi hotspot for now, though at the house I'm renting the reception is awful. I suppose I can just find a place where it's not and park there...
I have an EVO 3D with sprint and tether using EasyTether. I'm not a heavy user, but it is unlimited... whether or not that gets throttled is up for debate.
Yeah, I use Clear... it's fast and unlimited. Coverage is pretty good, too, as it was one of the first 4G networks. It's only in fairly large cities though... nothing out on the road. For that you'll need 3G, too. I just tether off my phone in those cases.
This is one issue I've been investigating too. My planned solution is two fold.
The first is a proper antenna to pickup wifi at a distance (even if you need to pay a small fee it's probably worth it): http://www.amazon.com/USB-Yagi-directional-Antenna-802-11n-2200mW/dp/B003LLS5JI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334248909&sr=8-2
Then there's 5gb of 4gb from tmobile's pre-paid: http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/monthly-4g-plans
I intend to keep all of my heavy data access isolated to times when I'm on wifi and keep the cellular network usage as minimal as possible. I'm not sure how that'll work out.
At last! I'm going to start this gear post with a promise, since everyone's been so patient: the 2016 Gear Post will be out on or before the Monday following Thanksgiving of 2015.
The bad news is that I fear my gear posts are going to slowly become more boring over time. While my main goal is to have the very best gear to travel with, my secondary goal is to have as little of it as possible. At this point my backpack is half empty, and a handful of items are being eyed for removal for next year.
But that's the great thing about great gear. It fulfills a need so wholly that nothing else is needed to share the burden. And, in some cases, like clothing, the gear is of such quality that spares aren't necessary.
So, without further ado, the 2015 Gear Post. As usual, many of these links are affiliate links, as this is one of very few posts that I make money on. Some products are given to me for free. While I do try more gear because of this, I never list anything that I don't think is necessary and the best in its category.
Last night I met Ray, the CEO of Blue Octopus Matrix at a Silicon Vikings event where I spoke on a panel about the impact mobile is having on social as we know it.
We were chatting before the event started, and Ray whipped out two Android phones running a network sniffer app created by his company, which showed in a very striking visual manner the latency and speed differences between AT&T and Sprint LTE 4G networks.
The verdict: Sprint -- at least in Palo Alto CA that day -- was horrible. But it's not in just one location that I've noticed this -- a friend with a Sprint iPhone5 and I did a SpeedTest when we were in the DC area last week. I was getting 31mbps on my AT&T iPhone 5 and he was getting 0.3mbps on his Sprint iPhone5.
Sprint might be offering unlimited data. But the pipe that serves that data appears to be about the size of a straw.