Mobile Broadband Woes

I’ve been waiting quite some time for Verizon to provide hardware upgrades at the central office so that I can upgrade my (what is now) pitifully slow 1.0 Mbps DSL connection at the cabin. I’m about to throw in the towel and instead get a mobile broadband, hotspot, or whatever is the generic term for those credit card sized wifi thingies which provide data from a cellular network. That would also be useful for my occasional travel to rural client sites.

What my cabin and rural work travels have in common are occasional use and only 3G service. So I am reluctant to fork out $100-$200 for a new 4G mobile hotspot and be locked into a two year contract at $50 a month. I’d be happy if I could pick up a used 3G only hotspot and be able to “fill it up” with a prepaid data card when I need it.

The main problem is that it’s hard to find any information on the cellular company websites regarding anything other than paying for their latest and greatest 4G hotspot and two year data plan.  T-Mobile has prepaid mobile broadband, but they are limited to 2G/Edge speeds at my cabin. Virgin Mobile has their Broadband2Go plan, but it uses the Sprint network, which has been criticized for poor coverage, and my neighbors up at the cabin are only reporting 1.5 Mbps speeds, which is hardly an improvement over my current DSL.

So that leaves AT&T and Verizon. Almost two years ago, I dropped the AT&T iPhone like a rock and jumped over to the Verizon iPhone when it came out. That was a good move at home in the densely populated LA/OC area, as Verizon was more reliable than AT&T. But at the cabin, where there is little network congestion, I paid the price for that move in lower 3G speeds: I previously had 5 Mbps for AT&T, but now only 1.0-1.5 Mbps for Verizon.

Based on my experience and research, AT&T has the best 3G speeds in the areas I need it most. Yet they don’t seem to have any options without a two year contract. I guess it’s time to see if the boss will spring for an AT&T mobile hotspot…. 🙂