As promised, here is a post about how I wound up getting wireless internet which is actually unlimited, unthrottled and actually high speed in a very rural part of Georgia. Upon moving here, I had not contemplated nor considered how difficult it might be to get sch a service in a fairly remote part of the country. I guess I assumed with the availability of satellite and even fiber optics in many rural areas, that it would be as simple as a phone call and a credit check. Not so...
First, let me lay out what I thought would be my only options. Most of the locals wind up going with a bundled package from Dish with internet, TV and often times, home phone service. Since we have no use for TV and already own a magicJack as a home phone, what I would have ordered from Dish is their version of "unlimited" internet at about 80 dollars a month. Now what they mean by unlimited is 20GB of data until they lower your bitrate from 25mbits to roughly 3 depending on congestion. And considering that damn near every local resident has this service and is likely using it at normal peak times, good luck Netflix and chillin'! Not to mention, good luck so much as sending a Discord message on cloudy or rainy days.
So I decided to explore cellular providers to see what options were available. I learned a few things. One, a lot of sales reps confuse the terms hotspot and data when attempting to describe their plans to you. Consumers probably misunderstand as well. I would begin my buying pitch before letting them go on with a sales-pitch by explaining that I am a fulltime blogger and podcaster with two children which meant I needed unlimited internet. They would tell me the phone comes with unlimited data. I knew all new phones could be used as a hotspot. What I didn't know at first was that the unlimited data was only when using the phone itself. When you turn the hotspot feature on each plan was capped. the best one I could find from a provider with good reception here was Verizon at 40GB at about 100 dollars a month. AT&T was offering me 100GB at 80 dollars a month but here's what I figured out next.
I found some apps and websites which allow you to locate your local cell towers as well as see where the coverage from each company and each band reaches and its strength. I looked at each one carefully numerous times over the course of a few days and really made sure I was seeing an accurate depiction, although I had no way to truly test it on one of the respective devices. I was able to inquire with some locals as to which services they had tried and used. It came down to Verizon or AT&T.
Even though Verizon clearly had better coverage according to the research I had done, AT&T offered considerably more data and almost half the cost. I figured I could probably live with slightly lower bitrate. I had already spoken at length with an AT&T rep and knew that I could get their service prepaid with no contract and i noticed on their website one of the option was to "bring your own device". So, off to eBay I went...
I looked for AT&T compatible WiFi hotspots. It wasn't long before I filtered "buy it now" and "free shipping" and had about 3 tabs open at several different price points. One of them seemed far too good to be true. This listing was offering a refurbished Netgear hotspot with AT&T 4G LTE service at 70 dollars a month with no contract. What made it seem scammy was that it also claimed it was really unlimited AND unthrottled. The listing had a warning to beware of other sellers lying about unlimited and unthrottled. I've always had a lot of luck when buying from eBay sellers with high ratings and great reviews as this one did. I still couldn't believe it. I emailed the seller.
He assured me his listing was true and legit. He explained that he owns a repair shop and had picked up some old contracts that were grandfathered in since AT&T in fact does not offer unlimited and unthrottled at this time. So he started this on line business realizing that there is a market for people like me looking for a more viable option for high speed unlimited internet either living in remote areas of the country or traveling. Many of the reviews came from truckers and RV'ers into hardcore gaming or working online.
I saw that his location is about an hour from a town in North Carolina which I am well familiar with and travel too often about a five hour drive from where I live now. I could not pass it up. Still worried I was taking a risk, I clicked "buy it now" and paid immediately.
The modem arrived several days later. It was in its original box and appeared to be unused. It came with its original USB cable and charging port as well as all original paperwork. The seller included a letter with instructions on how to contact him to activate the service and how to pay each subsequent month via PayPal. I sent the first email as instructed to let him know I received it and am ready for service. He said he would be at his office in an hour and would do it right away. He wasn't lying. And here I am finally back to posting after a two month unintended hiatus. I am very happy with my purchase and the service thus far. Once I finish this post I will be leaving him some well deserved positive feedback on eBay.
Here is a link to his website in case you are in the market for such a device and service. I paid 270 dollars for this modem and that included the first month of service which he says will be 35 days.