Data is Life…lihood!

As I have mentioned before, I am not retired. I still work a full-time job for a large multi-national company as an IT manager. One of the benefits of my job is that since the company is worldwide, and members of my team work in different countries and time zones around the clock, I can work remotely. The only requirement is that I have a solid cell and internet connection.

Over the years that I have been working at this company, I have put using only cell data as my internet connection to the test. I have worked from home, or Canada, or New York when our son graduated from West Point, or Phoenix, or several other places over the past two years, and work or my availability to my coworkers has never suffered. So, when it became clear the only thing standing between us and buying an RV and going full time was my job, it was also clear that my job should not be an obstacle to us either. I would, of course, have to get approval from my boss.

One thing I did before I even talked to my boss, was to stop using our home cable internet and start using cell data exclusively for everything work-related. My workday mainly consists of lots of emails, Skype meetings, screen sharing, calls, uploading and downloading files and so on. I have worked from home using only my phone for months now, and I have never experienced a time when cell data bandwidth or lack thereof has caused a problem.

With a good track record using cell data as the source of my internet I was confident that we could do this. The experience bolstered my confidence when it came time to request approval from my boss as well. I was able to tell him that I had been working using only cell phone data for several months and he had never had a clue. As it turned out, he had no objections to my request, but if he had said something, I already had the answer and the proof ready. Knowing what you are talking about makes a big difference.

After we ordered the RV just about the first thing I did was start searching for cell plans and gear. My work phone is on Verizon, and for our cell service, Mireille and I have been on T-Mobile for years and years. To aid my research, I made extensive use of videos and blog posts by RVLove, RVGeeks, and Technomadia a.k.a. Mobile Internet Resource Center. I joined as a member of the Mobile Internet Resource Center (M.I.R.C.) and within the first day found out about a deal for an unlimited 4G LTE AT&T hotspot for $90 a month. I signed up for the AT&T Unlimited Plus plan and basked in the glow of having three different service providers which I could use to have redundancy in coverage for work.

Then, just a day or two after I got the AT&T account set up and before the hotspot had even arrived, I read on the forums at the M.I.R.C. about a deal that T-Mobile has going called Unlimited 55+. This plan is for people who are over 55 years of age, which we are. Under this excellent plan you get unlimited everything including 3G unlimited hotspot for two phones for $60 a month, all fees included. If you want unlimited 4G LTE hotspot on the phone, you add the International plan for $25 more.

Hot damn!

I quickly changed our account over to the Unlimited 55+ plan and added the International service to my phone, which I would have done anyway so we could use it without any problem from Canada when we go visit Mireille’s family there. So now I had unlimited 4G LTE with hotspot on my phone and an unlimited hotspot from AT&T for just a little more than we were paying T-Mobile for Mireille’s and my phones alone before I started looking into all this!

Now one thing to note, unlimited can mean different things depending on the fine print. Each of the plans I have now (AT&T and T-Mobile) is subject to network management. Network management is not the same as throttling. If you have a data plan which is throttled, that means that once you exceed a certain threshold of data usage in gigabytes, your service is slowed down and your speed stays that slow until the next billing period. For my purposes, Throttling = BAD! Network management on the other hand just means that if you are on a busy tower and you have used an amount of data which is over a set threshold, the carrier can slow down your speed on that tower until the congestion reduces. Once the congestion clears up, your speed will go right back up to where it should be. For T-Mobile this limit is 50 gigs of data per month, for AT&T it is 20 gigs.


So, now I have unlimited data coverage on three carriers; Verizon through work, AT&T, and T-Mobile. All that and we are spending about the same amount as we were before for service on one carrier!

I love it when research pays off!

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