I’ll be blunt, I don’t like the following about most mobile wifi services:
- Misc fees including overcharge, activation restocking, and early contract termination fees.
- Any kind of service contract
- Paying monthly for use-or-lose data
- Minimum purchases
Since I travel as a lifestyle, I have some basic requirements in my hotspot service:
- Decent coverage
- Small but frequent connection sessions for blog posting, email and social network updates.
- The rare long session with big data uploads
- Flexibility. Some months I need 5 GB, while other months I only need 200 MB of cellular data
On the hardware side, the general tech is great for portable wi-fi hotspots. It’s just sad that what the market has to offer in terms of payment plans and service is just plain shitty.
A lot of tech websites with cred select Verizon’s Jetpack as the best wi-fi hotspot hardware along with the best coverage, since it includes many international countries. They also say Verizon has the best signal consistency and best average bandwidth. But that kind of service comes at a steep price: two year contract, lots of hidden fees, no roll-over data, and really expensive charges if you go over your data limit. If you want a contract free device, you have to pay as much as $300 for your hardware on top of service.
I also looked at FreedomPop, which offers up to 500 MB of data for free. They also have monthly service plans ranging from 2GB fro $18/month to 4GB for $28/month. If you want any more data above your monthly plan you have to pay as much as 2¢ per MB, that’s 1GB for $20. If you want to roll over your data, it will cost you additional fees, which is $4/month. They also have an “active status fee” for $1/month just to keep your account “active.” All that add on fees is annoying. The promise LTE bandwidth with a speeds up to 25Mps, but the average is 3G with 6Mps. Their hardware for LTE service costs $190.
Then there’s Walmart’s “Internet on the Go” pay-as-you-go data service. Hardware costs as much as $100. Prices include $10 for 300MB, $25 for 1GB and $45 for 2GB, but your data never expires. Coverage isn’t as good as FreedomPop and no where near Verizon’s levels. The best bandwidth you can get is LTE with average 8Mps.
For our mobile hotspot service, we went with Karma Hotspot. Its Pay-as-you-go with no contracts and no fees. Hardware currently costs $150, but when I bought it, I paid $99 and it came with 1GB of data. Service prices normally costs $14 for 1GB, $70 for 5GB, or $140 for 10GB. But they occasionally have sales where you can get 10GB for $59 (that’s $6/GB) or 20GB for $99 ($5/GB). I’ve gotten as fast as LTE with 25Mps, but my real average is 4G with 8Mps. As an incentive, you can earn free data if your friends join up: 100 MB for them and 100 MB for you.
|FreedomPop||Internet on the Go||Karma Go|
|Max Hardware Cost||$190||$100||$150|
|Best Cost Per GB||$9 for 1 GB for 1 Month
Including fees with max
20GB roll over
|$25 for 1GB normal||$14 for 1GB normal
$5 for 1GB on sale price
|Best Data Network Connection||4G LTE with 3G fallback
Depending on what
hardware you get
|4G LTE with 3G fallback
Depending on what
hardware you get
|4G LTE with fall back on 3G|
|Networks Used||Sprint’s LTE network, 4G WiMax
and 3G CDMA networks.
|TruConnect Mobile MVNO on Sprint’s 3G
and 4G LTE networks
|Sprint’s 3G and 4G LTE network,
including Sprint Spark.
$10 Data Credit for Karma Go
If by chance you decide to go with Karma, I can get you $10 credit towards data if you sign up. Just use this link to sign up and buy your Karma GO Device: https://yourkarma.com/invite/anne446889
unfortunately since you posted this Karma has made a change to their plan and is now throttling the service. This article was posted on January 8, 2016. You might want to add an update your article so that your readers understand what they will now begetting if they purchase this device and service.
That’s the unlimited service which we didn’t cover since we weren’t using it at the time.
I did switch to that myself, thinking we could have one unlimited account with a limited bandwidth and one with unlimited bandwidth but limited data. We did run into some trouble because we only have the one piece of hardware and it wouldn’t update to unlimited service because the owning account didn’t have that feature. We are just sorting that out this week.
It’s pretty clear that they hadn’t accurately predicted how people would react to the new unlimited option, generally worst case scenario is what you should expect. People will use these things as much as they can for the most part and it seems like they were overwhelmed by how much folks started using their service and are trying to sort out how to make it workable.
No doubt this event will be something of a black mark on their record, though I’m not personally put out, I was not looking to do high bandwidth activities with it.
I don’t like the monthly “Unlimited” service, because there’s always some kind of limit somewhere in the fine print. This is why I didn’t mention the unlimited service. I suggest always going for the pay-as-you-go service, that way you know what you are getting.