Best/Cheapest No Contract Mifi/Hotspot for RW

I have searched the forum for info on this subject but I keep coming up with suggestions from 3 or 4 years ago.

I am looking for a Mifi/Hotspot for my RW Moto X phone. I would be using it for Phone Calls ONLY! And maybe occasional data. Due to my location it CANNOT be Sprint or T-mobile, it must be ATT or Verizon.(That’s why my phone won’t work!).

I would want something that is NO CONTRACT but pay as you go. I cannot use my existing wifi internet that I use for my laptop because I DO NOT HAVE ACCESS to the router and this network is used by numerous people. This is why it does not work for RW VOIP. I see my only alternative is to change phones/carriers or buy a cheap Tracfone or something that uses ATT/Verizon and set my Moto X to call forwarding when I am home.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated and I apologize if this question has been asked recently, but trying to sift thru old archaic feeds has become way too frustrating!

Thanks

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Hi @willum0,

Since the requirement is AT&T/Verizon, I’d look at Straight Talk. You may need to tell them specifically that you want the device on AT&T or Verizon. Unless something has changed recently, Straight Talk resells all of the big 4 carriers.

It’s no surprise to me that you aren’t finding much here about MiFi devices. I don’t recall seeing any posts by RW customers that were positive about them. It will be fine for data but unless they – and the underlying technologies they use – have changed a lot it will be horrible for voice calls. Any mentions you see here of MiFi will likely mention that.

Before you invest any amount of time and money that would be significant to you see if you can find one and test it for call quality. Failing that see if you can find a vendor with a realistic return policy which may help keep you from getting burned.

Should you be fully committed to going that route you may want to try using Skype or one of the other widely used apps of that type to reduce the pops, static and dropouts that happen in standard VOIP over MiFi connections. Those types of apps use proprietary systems to transmit calls that is less subject to the problems of latency, dropped packets and network speed changes (called jitter) that ruin standard VOIP calls. The downside to being able to actually hold a conversation using one of those apps is that the person you are calling will have to have it also. So you may need to have 3 or 4 of them installed on your phone unless all your contacts have standardized on a single app.

one thing that has changed with MiFi is they now handle LTE data (which is much better than 3G data from any network (and leap and bounds better than a CDMA 3G)

I would not rely on a mobile Wireless hot spot while moving but I have had good luck on one standing still on LTE I have had acceptable luck (and acceptable luck on HPSA network

edit for spelling (never my strong suit)

after the cost of the device and data you may as well just move to a MVNO that operates on those networks

I know that Cricket has a $30 1 GB plan or a $35 for 2.5 GB with auto pay and some decent deals when you activate one of their phones (or you can BYOD and GSM phone)

In my opinion, @drm186 is spot on. I have a Karma Go, which I use as a backup data source for when my ISP decides to crap out. I ordered but did not receive the Karma Go before Republic offered tethering. There were legendary shipping delays when the Karma Go was introduced. Between Republic’s tethering and that available to me on my TMO phone; I really don’t need it but didn’t bother to go through the hassle of asking for a refund.

I’ve experimented with it for calls with my Republic phones and also a TMO phone that does WiFi calling. The experience on 4G LTE is dramatically different from previous generation 3G devices. The Karma Go is Sprint based, so not an option for @willum0 but I think his experience would likely be adequate with his Republic phone on a 4G LTE AT&T or Verizon based device.

Thank You! I’ve been looking at Straight Talk and supposedly you can tell the different carrier by the serial number or the color of the print of the serial number.

Thanks for the foresight!

Thanks for the info. You say you have used a LTE MiFi for RW phone calls? If so, like @glarepate said, I need to find a vendor with good return policies!

Well the technical issue may be historical now rather than irremediably built-in as I imagined. Just the same I’d bet that once a given tower reaches a certain load it will flare up again. Hope to be wrong there though.

I see a number of folks that buy “solutions” that are no help. By necessity I am a born-again-cheapskate so advising others to protect their reserves comes naturally to me. This can be embarrassing at times. But this isn’t one of them. (o; (No emojis in my Inbox!)

I know what you mean, I’m a chronic cheapskate and have wasted many a dollar while trying to save a dime!

I have done that in the past. Nowadays I don’t have any dollars to waste so I buy nothing instead of the wrong thing.

I’ve taken that attitude myself. That’s why I see my cheapest and surest remedy for my situation is a tracfone or straight talk phone on verizon/att, with nothing but phone, (no data) and don’t even care about texting since that always comes thru on my RW moto X. Then just set my RW moto x to call forwarding when I am home. I’m looking at a $9.99 flip phone!

what I used was not a MiFi but a hot-spotted phone on the AT&T network whicjh would have had the same quality as a LTE/GSM MiFi type device

Gotcha, Thanks

So maybe there is reason not to hope for MiFi yet! <((^8|<

the quality of the 4G data would be the same no matter the device used to access it both the phone and the MiFi have the same type of cell radios and a WiFi radio with so little needing to be done the MiFi can get by with a cheaper processor . (like @rolandh he’s done this with his Kama Go (a Sprint LTE MiFi like device) with out much issues)

I have a StraightTalk (Verizon) hotspot made by ZTE and use it everyday with my RW (2.0) phones. I think that you can still buy these at Walmart for $49. (I paid $79 for mine 2 years ago.) There are 2 models, the Z288 (Verizon) and Z289 (AT&T). There are some limitations to this model and service, but for me it has been indispensable when traveling, and at my office where I don’t have any Wi-Fi or Sprint coverage. Here are some limitations and points to consider:

  1. LTE throughput throttled to 5Mbps down, 1.5Mbps up. This isn’t a problem for me since that’s plenty of speed for most things. Any more would just burn up the data faster. This is a StraightTalk (TracFone) limitation. A Verizon Jetpack in the same location can do over 20Mbps.

  2. No unlimited or throttle to 2G when data is used up. When you run out of data, you get a message from Verizon to contact your provider. I have the 60 day 4GB plan ($40). That’s ideal since I might not use much until a trip where I’ll need more.

  3. Limited to 5 devices at a time. My RW phone works very well using this hotspot even while running my laptop. I also keep the Kindle connected while traveling. The only time I’ve run out of data is when I shared it with others. I let a coworker in the office connect since he too has RW as a cel provider. When I noticed my data being used up faster than normal, I discovered that he had his apps automatically updating on Wi-Fi. That’s a no-no when using the hotspot. The RW phone doesn’t know that you’re still paying for data. Turn off auto update, even in Wi-Fi if you’re using a hotspot.

  4. This problem just started last fall. StraightTalk is updating their website and mobile app, and the current versions no longer will give you your data balance on the hotspot. You have to call or chat with their customer support representatives to get your current balance. This is a total pain, but something that I usually do a couple times a week. Their representatives are prompt, courteous, and understand the problems. I hope it’s fixed soon. The carton box says that the data balance will be shown on the LCD screen of the hotspot. This is not true. There’s very little info on the screen. Most useful is the signal strength and status.

  5. StraightTalk (Tracfone) seems to be dealing with Verizon on a 30 day basis. On day 30 of my 60 day plan, the hotspot stops working from about midnight until about 10 a.m. the next morning with Verizon giving me the error that my data has expired. Then it starts up again. A call to customer service can renew it, but this shouldn’t happen. Likewise, the Auto-Renew feature has a similar problem. At the end of day 60, a little after midnight the service stops and gives the Verizon warning. It isn’t until about 10 a.m. the same day that my card is charged, and the next data plan starts up again. I found that the best way to handle this is NOT to use the auto-renew. When the plan is expired or runs out of data, just to to MyAccount and top-up again. The service will start back up immediately.

Aside from these limitations, I have found that using a hotspot with Verizon LTE is invaluable when traveling with my RW phone. Eventually when I switch to a 3.0 phone, I’m not going to worry about coverage since I’ll always have the Verizon as a backup.

@davidw.ctd2jy, Thank You! for a very informative reply! A lot of good information here!

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