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AgSnap

Technology in Agriculture, Simplified

Cheap Unlimited 4G Internet?

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Around a year ago, I stumbled on some online discussion of a cheap source for internet access that seemed too good to be true. An unlimited hotspot device that uses cellular 4G technology to deliver unlimited internet for $10-20 a month seemed impossible; and even tax deductible as a charity donation too? But as I found out over the last few days, these options are real, and it works… If you have really good Sprint cellular data coverage.

Here’s my understanding of the situation:

Long story short.. When Sprint wireless bought out another company, they acquired a bunch of wireless spectrum (think space in the licensed radio space). Apparently there was some concern that this spectrum acquisition was anti-competitive, or was meant for low-income internet access, or whatever. Anyways, to get the acquisition deal done Sprint agreed to provide / continue to provide an option for charitable organizations or those serving low-income consumers to resell their cellular data. So, maybe these things aren’t as sketchy as they seem.

 

The options:

4Gcommunity.org
This is who I went through. I paid through PayPal and didn’t have to give out any overly personal information. Just figured I’d give it a shot, and it worked. Click on the community store. The Premium plan gets you a much better device and faster service. There is a 14 day trial that’s worth giving a shot if you have good Sprint coverage at home

Calyx Institute
More expensive and only offers the cheaper hotspot at this time, but tax deductible

 

Pros:

  • Really really cheap
  • I tested up to 20+ mbps up and down each, but had to go on top of a grain bin (with the rest of my wifi stuff)
  • No overages or speed limits*
  • If nothing else, it’s a super cheap secondary unlimited wifi option. Keep it in your house or even vehicle for doing data intensive tasks like watching HD video, doing backups, or uploading drone pictures / video. Uploading isn’t the fastest, but at least it won’t use all your data or tie up your home internet connection for hours or days

Cons:

  • Uses the Sprint network.. poor coverage, probably overloaded in busy times
  • The hotspots these companies offer don’t have the greatest wifi range
  • You may experience longer ping times (higher latency = longer time between clicking button and page loading.. not good for video conferncing or internet phone)
  • *Might be speed limitations (throttling) when the cell tower is busy and you’ve used 23 GB or more for the month
  • Who knows how long this will last.. seems about too good to be true
  • Neither sells a router with an ethernet port anymore, although you can USB tether or get an access point (some routers may support USB modems, but it’s pretty hit or miss).

 

There are others selling grandfathered unlimited data plans on eBay and sites like unlimitedville.com (at a much much higher price).  But I highly question how much longer these well last. Many are smartphone plans on routers that aren’t approved for the network and will likely get kicked off at some point. Verizon has already disabled many people doing this

Again, this should be somewhat of a last resort / secondary connection for most (but still way better than any satellite internet). I wouldn’t expect to run 100GB a month through this thing. But for as scarce and as expensive as fast rural internet is, it’s good to have more options.

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