Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Huge Changes to our Internet!

Those of you on the road like we are have probably heard of the big happenings in the world of mobile internet access.  The big two, AT&T and Verizon have put their data on sale, aimed at big users like us.  Effectively, for plans over 15GB/month they are offering double data for the same price, so for example our 20GB plan with AT&T was about $150/month, that includes unlimited talk and text, and now we have upgraded to 40GB/month for the same $150!  That's huge.  We have bumped our data usage caps for a bunch of months now and I talked previously about how we were reevaluating our internet access going forward.  

Another massive surprise in this puzzle occurred this month as well.  We have been using a company called  Millenicom for 20GB/month for $89.99 as have many of us on the move RVers.  Well, they just announced that Verizon has taken over their accounts!  Now Millenicom bought data from Verizon, sold us a MiFi to act as a hotspot, sweetened the deal with no contract and the ability to turn it on and off for $89.99/month.  This had the advantage for us of having data available on both huge nationwide networks.  Now, no one knows exactly why or what is happening going forward.  Sounds incredible but true, and we are all wondering what will occur on Nov 1, the next billing cycle  as Verizon hasn't contacted anyone yet who had a Millenicom account, nor presently offers data at a comparable price, so a lot of us are dancing around trying to figure out what to do going forward, and with the special data deals only available till the end of the month, the pressure is on!  

There are catches to the data doubling plans, you must have a talk, read phone, plan to take advantage of the doubling offer.  It worked for us as we already have 2 iPhones on AT&T that can be used as hotspots, so we are covered on the AT&T side.  We have been running numbers on how we can still split our usage between AT&T and Verizon to give us the largest footprint without needing to go get a loan:-)  We have determined that we can use our MiFi on Verizon's network as we actually have been doing, and have been assured by Verizon that we can "bring" our MiFi to a new plan, but as I said, the catch is to take advantage of the aggressive pricing, we have to have a calling or phone plan, and by doing that and staying with our present 20GB/month, it would cost $185/month as compared to our present $89.99!  Not good.

I recently have been reading another blog, Technomadia, that I have found extremely informative.  They are a couple of geeks, I mean that in a good way, that are traveling full time on the road like us, that are really into all the technical, electronic, internet stuff.  In fact I joined their pay area, I have been so impressed.  They thrive on this stuff, and have built a reputation that allows them to test all sorts of equipment, have contact with people in the know, etc.  Well, they have been all over this present turmoil for internet access.  And one of the things they have been talking about and actually did is purchase a grandfathered unlimited data plan from Verizon for very attractive dollars!  

Jan and I have been studying this and have decided to give it a whirl.  Some background, years ago both AT&T and Verizon offered unlimited data plans, in fact Jan and I each had one on our phones.  But by 2010 and 2011, each company realized they were giving away too much and canceled the plans, but grandfathered those who had them.  The catch was for any change away from the plan, the unlimited would go away and you could not get it back.  We opted to leave unlimited because of two things, one, you could only use it on the phone, you were not able to tether or turn the phone into a hotspot so all that data was kind of useless, and two, they changed their plans enough that we were paying way, way too much for talk and text by keeping our unlimited plans. Another thing both companies were doing to shift customers away from their grandfathered plans was to throttle down their data speed to the point of almost being useless for their big users.  I'm sure that moved a lot away from the unlimited plans as well.  

To the present, in the midst of this big upheaval this month with the double data deals, Verizon announced that they would no longer be throttling their unlimited plans!!!!  So with the guidance of Technomadia, we are going to follow in their footsteps and see if we can get an unlimited data plan that we can use with our MiFi on Verizon's network for about $70/month!  Sounds unbelievable, doesn't it?

I would recommend if this is something that interests you, go to their site to read through their very detailed info, but I will give you a quick overview, oh, and remember this needs to be done asap, as we are all sure Verizon is going to close this loophole at some point.

First, you have to have a compatible Verizon 4G LTE smartphone that is your own, not on contract.  We just ordered a LG Lucid Android phone for $70 on Amazon.  We will have it Friday.  Now we are on eBay looking for an "Unlimited Verizon Data Plan, that is available for AOL, Assumption of Liability, that we can transfer into our names.  They are selling from as low as $13, we think it's a scam, to $500 or more.  But most can be had for about $75-$150.  Once you buy that, the seller contacts Verizon with your name and address, and the phone number/account they are transferring, then you contact Verizon's department that takes care of this, and transfer the account to yourself, after a credit check and info on you and your existing phone, and then you have unlimited data!

It is complicated, and a little scary, but lots of folks have been doing this recently and we are going to join them.  Oh, I didn't mention, they allow you to pull the SIM card out of the phone we won't be using, the one we will set the account up with, and put it into our MiFi, so we will have unlimited data we can use without tethering the new phone.  This is pretty heady stuff for us full-timers that have to scrap through marginal campground wifi's and worry about our data caps constantly.  This way we should be able to get rid of the Millenicom MiFi for $89.99/month and replace it with an unlimited data plan for between $70/month and $100/month depending on which talk plan we can find on eBay connected with the unlimited data.  We are determined to find a 450 minute plan, since we don't plan to use the phone that would yield the $70/month from a reputable seller on eBay.  We hope to have this done by early next week, and will report back.  

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