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BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT:
Always on RV Internet is possible without breaking the bank. The Visible R2 provides reliable Internet access on the Verizon network. It is not blazing fast but it is reliable and will work. We are going to move our phones over to Visible as well which will lower the monthly cost per line. If you have 4 lines the cost is only $25/month per line. You basically get a $5/line discount for each line you get. Each line has its own account and payment so you can add family or friends to get up to 4 lines.
I will be posting a video on the setup of this in the next couple of weeks
Equipment Needed and Costs
- Visible phone service ($40/line or less)
- ZTE R2 Android phone ($12)
- TP Link AC 750 travel router ($35 on Amazon)
The opinions below are my own (Michael) and I have received no compensation for any of the products or services mentioned in this post.
I did a lot of research to find reliable always-on Internet for the RV. Most solutions were expensive like the Winegard TOGO (over $350 plus $360/year for ATT Internet) or a dedicated hotspot ($50 or more plus $50/month or more). I had almost decided purchase the TOGO but then I ran across a YouTube video by Grand Adventure using a Visible phone ($12 for the phone and $40/month or less for unlimited everything) that has become a wallet saver.
I was really intrigued and decided to give it a try. Visible is owned by Verizon so it uses Verizon towers. Just like Grand Adventure, I decided to get the cheapest phone (ZTE R2) for $12. The first month's service is only $25 so if it doesn't work I'm only out $37 instead of the $700 investment I would have made with the TOGO.
Visible is unlimited everything (voice, text, data, hotspot data) with no caps or data prioritization and best of all, no contract. The only drawback is you can only connect one device to the hotspot at a time. This is an easy fix. I just needed a router and I went with the TP Link AC 750 ($35 on Amazon). Now I can connect all of my devices to the router and then connect the router wirelessly to the R2 phone hotspot.
Getting the Visible phone activated was a bit of a chore. I had to do a factory reset before the phone recognized the SIM. It then took about an hour or so before I got the email from Visible confirming that my phone had been activated. I rebooted the phone and I was in business!
My initial speed test showed a pretty long ping (156ms) and speeds that I was expecting (15.3 Mb down / 6.3 Mb up). I was actually pretty pleased. Now for the stress test. I hooked up everything in my home (2 Fire Sticks, Smartthings home automation system, Ring doorbell and security camera, and Dish DVR). We were able to easily watch YouTube videos on the TV and see the video from the camera.
The best speeds I recorded was 19.2 Mb down and 9.1 Mb up. I compared this to my Verizon Note8 which got 30.5 Mb down and 2.5 Mb up. I'm not sure if this is a case of the phone making the difference or not. I only have 2 bars on the Visible phone in my house so I'm sure that I would get better numbers if using a WIFI booster or had my phone closer to a window.
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