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magicalmomentsvacations

Newbie - Stream with Hotspot or Satellite?

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Newbie here - need opinions. We are no where close to full time. We will take 3-6 trips in the summer only for less than a week each. Will be using for tv - NO games. We like to stream Disney+, YouTubeTV, Netflix about 2-4 hours max a day. 

I am trying to decide if we should go the "streaming" route and if so - which service. Or if we should go the "satellite" route (I don't think I like this route - but might be because I don't know much about it). What do you like? Not like? What service is really the best? 

Our set up:  we have 3 tvs that are cabled up and ready to go if needed. 

Streaming. I would purchase a hotspot or router which I would pay oop. I don't want to use my phone:
- I like the idea that I'll have a back-up internet when needed. 
- I like the fact that I can drop the line if I don't find it valuable anymore. I know there's a cost to add again with most services
- We are Verizon users but not tied to it for this use, but we will not change our phone service so if we change it would be for streaming only
- Most of our destinations will be in Ohio but we may also visit Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky (maybe)
- 2-4 hours a day - for a length of 3-5 days each trip
- This option seems easier (for me) - I like easy. Even if it costs a bit more. Do many people have trouble with connections?
- What's the best router and service? 

Satellite
- We literally just dropped DirectTV for YouTube TV and we love it. So not really excited to spend $350+ for equipment plus service
- What are all of our options with Satellite? I don't know much. We have had DirectTV and DISH at home in the past (we can't get cable where we live)
- What do you like/hate? 

Edited by magicalmomentsvacations

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If spending $350+ doesn't excite you then the $1,000+ entry cost for satellite Internet suitable for mobile RV'ers is a non-starter. There are a number of non-contract prepaid hotspot plans that may be suitable for your purposes, although your preferred locations may limit your carrier choices. AT&T and Verizon have worked well for us so far everywhere we've been, but not always both in the same locations. We have a grandfathered low cost AT&T unlimited data plan that's no longer offered, but our Verizon service is using their Visible brand subsidiary's unlimited talk, text, and data prepaid plan that normally costs $40/mo, but with their "Party Pay" plan drops the price to $25/mo. I use the plan with a Verizon 6620L Jetpack hotspot currently, but I'm buying a newer hotspot with more frequency coverage soon. Anyplace we can get solid speeds of at least 3-4 Mbps or better we're able to stream with minimal buffering.

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49 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

our Verizon service is using their Visible brand subsidiary's unlimited talk, text, and data prepaid plan that normally costs $40/mo, but with their "Party Pay" plan drops the price to $25/mo. I use the plan with a Verizon 6620L Jetpack hotspot currently, but I'm buying a newer hotspot with more frequency coverage soon. Anyplace we can get solid speeds of at least 3-4 Mbps or better we're able to stream with minimal buffering.

Bear in mind Visible's plan is intended to be used on a phone with a built-in hotspot that will only let you connect one device at a time.  Installing the Visible SIM in a Jetpack technically violates the Terms of Service.  Visible may not be enforcing it now, but they could in the future and you'll be without service.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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1 minute ago, Lou Schneider said:

Bear in mind Visible is intended to be used on a phone and activating the plan on a phone then transfeing the SIM to a Jetpack is technically vioolates their Terms of Service.  Visible may not be enforcing that provision now, but they could in the future and you'll be without service.

That's a good point, Lou, and one I should have mentioned. What most Visible subscribers that are using it primarily for data are probably doing is making the one allowed hotspot connection to a WiFi capable router that supports multiple devices.

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If you get a hotspot that is throttled after a set number of gigabits, it is then virtually useless. At least some plans with a hotspot limit allow unlimited on devise streaming on a phone or tablet. While there may be some prioritization, I have streamed over 200GB on my Verizon phone and tablet without any decrease in the ability to stream provided the cell connection is fast enough to begin with. Depending on the phone or tablet, you may be able to connect to a TV by cable. My Samsung phone and tablet have a feature called Smart View that displays the phone/tablet screen to the TV through a Roku device. The connection is by Wifi so there is no need for a network connection as there is with casting. There are some issues at times, but it is workable on a limited basis.

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6 hours ago, Dutch_12078 said:

If spending $350+ doesn't excite you then the $1,000+ entry cost for satellite Internet suitable for mobile RV'ers is a non-starter. There are a number of non-contract prepaid hotspot plans that may be suitable for your purposes, although your preferred locations may limit your carrier choices. AT&T and Verizon have worked well for us so far everywhere we've been, but not always both in the same locations. We have a grandfathered low cost AT&T unlimited data plan that's no longer offered, but our Verizon service is using their Visible brand subsidiary's unlimited talk, text, and data prepaid plan that normally costs $40/mo, but with their "Party Pay" plan drops the price to $25/mo. I use the plan with a Verizon 6620L Jetpack hotspot currently, but I'm buying a newer hotspot with more frequency coverage soon. Anyplace we can get solid speeds of at least 3-4 Mbps or better we're able to stream with minimal buffering.

What newer hotspot are you looking at purchasing? If I purchase a Verizon jetpack hotspot - will it work with Visible? This is interesting, even if they drop it later, it would fit my immediate need for now. 

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34 minutes ago, trailertraveler said:

If you get a hotspot that is throttled after a set number of gigabits, it is then virtually useless. At least some plans with a hotspot limit allow unlimited on devise streaming on a phone or tablet. While there may be some prioritization, I have streamed over 200GB on my Verizon phone and tablet without any decrease in the ability to stream provided the cell connection is fast enough to begin with. Depending on the phone or tablet, you may be able to connect to a TV by cable. My Samsung phone and tablet have a feature called Smart View that displays the phone/tablet screen to the TV through a Roku device. The connection is by Wifi so there is no need for a network connection as there is with casting. There are some issues at times, but it is workable on a limited basis.

Yeah - the throttling thing stinks. Your idea of the phone connection is interesting... I didn't think of that. I have an Iphone XR. I may need to research this a bit more. 

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Figure on using about 700 Kb per hour for standard definition streaming, 1.5 - 3 Mb per hour for HD video (depending on quality).

In other words, streaming an average of 1 hour a day of SD video will use up just about all of a 21 GB monthly  data plan.

https://www.androidcentral.com/how-much-data-does-streaming-media-use

Edited by Lou Schneider

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2 hours ago, magicalmomentsvacations said:

What newer hotspot are you looking at purchasing? If I purchase a Verizon jetpack hotspot - will it work with Visible? This is interesting, even if they drop it later, it would fit my immediate need for now. 

I'll probably buy an 8800L Jetpack. You'll need a compatible phone though, to sign up for the service initially. You can check at the link below to see if a phone you already have is acceptable. Once you have the service, the SIM can be moved to a hotspot, but be aware as Lou noted that it violates their TOS and could be shut down at any time. Some of us have been doing it for quite awhile with no problems so far, but you never know when they'll decide to crack down on us for only using one of the three services they include in the plan... ;)

https://www.visible.com/shop/bring-your-own-phone

Edited by Dutch_12078
Oops! Forgot the link... :)

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Dish does have a Pay As You Go plan that you can turn on and off as you need, with NO CONTRACT. You can get a portable Tailgater auto sat dish for very little money. As an alternative you can get the Pathway X2 auto sat dish that has a bigger dome but it’s about $450. Both will run on a 211Z receiver which is about $100. Dish has many plans from $29 to $99 per month. Both will get you HD and SD. You don’t need WiFi or a cell signal so they work practically anywhere. 

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1 hour ago, Twotoes said:

Dish does have a Pay As You Go plan that you can turn on and off as you need, with NO CONTRACT. You can get a portable Tailgater auto sat dish for very little money. As an alternative you can get the Pathway X2 auto sat dish that has a bigger dome but it’s about $450. Both will run on a 211Z receiver which is about $100. Dish has many plans from $29 to $99 per month. Both will get you HD and SD. You don’t need WiFi or a cell signal so they work practically anywhere. 

Thanks!

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13 hours ago, magicalmomentsvacations said:

Yeah - the throttling thing stinks. Your idea of the phone connection is interesting... I didn't think of that. I have an Iphone XR. I may need to research this a bit more. 

I believe all iphones can be connected by wire to the HDMI slot on a TV. Apple sells the adapter and there are many third party products on Amazon

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I am surprised no one has added Technomadia's guide, https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/guides/tv-movie-entertainment-on-the-road/ , to this discussion.  They also have a guide to the best data plans, which does mention Visible, https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/guides/top-cellular-data-plans-for-rvers-cruisers-verizon-att-t-mobile-and-sprint/ .  Note that you can use a cheap travel router with Visible to get around the one device limit, someone said this $26.50 one off Amazon works for that - https://smile.amazon.com/GL-iNet-Pre-installed-Performance-Compatible-Programmable/dp/B01FJ4S9JK/ .

I recently found another review of mobile hotspot plans, including phone hotspot plans like Visible, 

 

 

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At the moment, we only camp 2-3 nights, occasionally a 3 week trip.  My wife and I have 2 Verizon above unlimited.  I watch at most, 2 hours a night but normally, 30 minutes to catch up on FOX news.  We have not been throttled, all videos, Netflix/Amazon Prime/DirectTV come across just fine, not choppy.  If weather forces us to stay inside, we will watch a movie or 2, still no problem.  When we start snow-birding, we will pick up a satellite but that depends on where we go, some campgrounds have cable tv set-ups.  If we get it figured out and spend a lot of time snow-birding dispersed, then definitely pick up a satellite.  I'm one of those that needs to pay attention, to see what the political thieves are doing/stealing/destroying our freedom so we need to be connected.  {<--- not political statement or rant, leave it alone, ty}. 

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On 5/19/2020 at 6:46 AM, magicalmomentsvacations said:

Will be using for tv - NO games. We like to stream Disney+, YouTubeTV, Netflix about 2-4 hours max a day. 

You could play online games for 8 hours a day and you wouldn't break past 1GB of used data for the most demanding title. So if you want to use the internet on the road without breaking your data caps, maybe take up the hobby. A game like World of Warcraft uses up about 45MB an hour. That wouldn't even cover the data usage of a single commercial on Hulu.

Watch one HD episode of a 30 minute show on Netflix? You've just used up almost twice as much data as any online gamer would in 4 hours. Its important to understand your usage, how impactful certain activities are on your usage, and what your needs are. Based on 4 hours a day you claimed above, if you can keep your streaming to SD instead of HD, you should only use about 4-5 GB a day. Triple that if you need to watch something in HD.

This isn't directed at the original poster or anyone here, but I've actually had conversations with people claiming if we could just get rid of all these "Gamers", it would free up so much bandwidth for streaming videos. Online gaming is less than 10% of all internet traffic. Amazon browsing and ordering alone is 15% and over 20% near Xmas. Sorry, this is a sore spot I guess...lol.

If you look on Ebay or from goggling, you will find people selling "grandfathered" sim cards, primarily for ATT, Sprint, and T-Mobile that will work for unlimited data with no throttling. This is what data hogging streaming media users need. A decent article, although a big "negative Nancy" can be found at: https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/gear/t-mobile-unlimited-rental-plans/ . I don't endorse or have experience with any of the services listed, but the terms they use on their websites should help you shop around or use Ebay sellers.

You can either do as some have said, put that unlimited data sim into a compatible phone and tether it to a TV, or you can buy a 4G LTE router that will work just like your home wifi router and link to all your devices in your RV. Up until recently that's how I provided internet to my home, as I'm too rural to use standard broadband options. These routers are often called "MIFI" routers. Just make sure you match the 4G router to the Sim card you are using. Some work with GSM, some with CDMA, etc. My personal experience is 50mbps average connection speeds with a T-mobile unlimited data sim card. I never saw any downthrottling while using it. I am using a Netgear Nighthawk M1 mobile router. (Yes, they are very expensive, but there are cheaper options that will be only a little bit slower). The way this all works is that T-mobile, for example, sees my 4G LTE router as a phone. This is a better option that using your wireless hotspots that limit you to around 10-15GB a month. EDIT: This 4G LTE Router is no longer supported on T-Mobile networks, hence why I can't use it anymore. But other options are out there to do the same thing).

Keep in mind that in a few years, 5G will essentially wipe the board with all of this, there is no way they can maintain data throttling when your transfer speeds exceed 150-300 mbps. Its assumed that within 8-10 years, 5G will provide 85% of all data to users, no caps.

I have the advantage of being a trained network engineer and have worked for internet service providers, I can tell you that there are many businesses out there ripping off customers. Unfortunately the RV community usually isn't well informed on the subject, and they have the added disadvantage of all the viable companies operating at the same inflated profit margins because they are just resellers who are being overcharged as well. Your phone data works exactly the same if you are sitting still at home, or on the road. It should not cost extra simply because you move around in an RV and stay on the same network. 

Edited by Darin Heath
Important missing information

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On 5/19/2020 at 11:18 AM, Lou Schneider said:

Bear in mind Visible's plan is intended to be used on a phone with a built-in hotspot that will only let you connect one device at a time.  Installing the Visible SIM in a Jetpack technically violates the Terms of Service.  Visible may not be enforcing it now, but they could in the future and you'll be without service.

Lots of people use their Visible phone to connect to a router and,  hence, to bypass the one-device limitation.  There's no indication, yet, that Visible is going to use TTL or other means to prevent this.

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On 5/19/2020 at 11:44 PM, magicalmomentsvacations said:

Has anyone ever heard of otcmobile.com ??? my friend uses this for her home internet evidently and it's just $80 a month. Thought I'd share. I am actually going to try this for now - to see how it goes. 

I think you are referring to OTR Mobile  It is still in existence.

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What appears to be missing from this discussion is any mention of the use of more sophisticated routers in either Load Balancing or Connection Bonding modes.  Both of these approaches make it possible to use less expensive cellular internet connections simultaneously so that the peaks and valleys of one roughly balance out the others.

Currently, I am using three low-cost cellular connections along with my RV park's WiFi in a Load Balance mode and we stream all our video!  Even with the overall internet slowdown being experienced because of so many people being at home, we still can stream with very few rebuffering pauses and those, when they happen, usually occur for only a few seconds. 

All of the connections I am using are in the $40-70/mo range, so the cost isn't all that great.  Essentially, by not having DirecTV I save enough to offset much of this and the $50/mo I pay YouTube TV.  When I had DirecTv I still needed a service for streaming Netflix, Acorn, et al, so at least one connection (other than our phones) was still needed. 

Load Balancing is available on routers from a number of manufactures and I'm not going to name any to avoid being accused of making a commercial post.

One step beyond Load Balancing is Connection Bonding which is a more complex process in which the speeds of multiple connections are made roughly additive.  It's a bit more expensive and complex to implement, but it can be done if you really need high speed internet 24/7.

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38 minutes ago, docj said:

Lots of people use their Visible phone to connect to a router and,  hence, to bypass the one-device limitation.  There's no indication, yet, that Visible is going to use TTL or other means to prevent this.

Which also violates the Visible TOS...

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20 hours ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Which also violates the Visible TOS...

To my knowledge the only effective way to monitor this would be to observe the TTL values of network packets.  I suspect this is more complex than it is worth to Visible.  Many users will just assume the "one device" limitation is real and won't try to find a way around it.  The more technologically sophisticated user will realize it is pretty much a toothless warning.  Furthermore, if they were to do TTL monitoring,  I gather there are ways around that, also.

FWIW, although I've not done it myself, I know that some people have used Visible SIMs in unapproved devices.  Simple SIM swapping doesn't work because Visible has its own APN, but, to my knowledge, if you use the correct APN it will work---for a while at least!

Joel (AKA docj)

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41 minutes ago, docj said:

To my knowledge the only effective way to monitor this would be to observe the TTL values of network packets.  I suspect this is more complex than it is worth to Visible.  Many users will just assume the "one device" limitation is real and won't try to find a way around it.  The more technologically sophisticated user will realize it is pretty much a toothless warning.  Furthermore, if they were to do TTL monitoring,  I gather there are ways around that, also.

FWIW, although I've not done it myself, I know that some people have used Visible SIMs in unapproved devices.  Simple SIM swapping doesn't work because Visible has its own APN, but, to my knowledge, if you use the correct APN it will work---for a while at least!

Joel (AKA docj)

You can use a 30 amp adapter and plug a 50 amp RV into a 30 amp socket to get around a park's 50 amp surcharge.  Doesn't make it right.

Neither is using tricks or gimmicks to get around a plainly stated limitation in the Terms of Service you agreed to follow when you signed up for service.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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Then the same reasoning should be applied to those who use AT&T Mobley Connected Car devices in other than their vehicles or in modems other than the Mobley.  As I recall some of them may have even responded to this thread.

Quite honestly, I can't imagine people being upset about "taking advantage" of a cellular carrier.  After the way the carriers have routinely changed the groundrules on customers with respect to plans, prices, features, I personally can't get worked up about using what they provide in whatever manner I can.  That being said, I don't intend to use my Visible SIM in an unsupported device because that is something the carrier is more likely to prevent.

Edited by docj

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