Everything You Need to Know About AT&T Hotspots

We’ve got the scoop on AT&T’s best hotspots, data plans, and more.

  • Best AT&T hotspot
    NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 4G LTE Mobile Router
    Price: $429.99
    • Excellent 4G LTE speeds
    • Connectivity for 20 devices
    • Ethernet port for direct connections
  • Best AT&T hotspot plan
    AT&T Prepaid 100 GB
    Price: $90.00/mo.*
    • Lots of data for low price
    • No contract requirement
    • Large nationwide network
  • Best AT&T cell phone plan for hotspotting
    AT&T Unlimited Premium
    Price: $85.00/mo. (for one line)
    • Lots of data included
    • Unlimited high-speed phone data
    • Lower price for family plans

AT&T is a great source for hotspots. The cell carrier supports a range of excellent mobile hotspots for both 4G LTE and 5G networks, and it has affordable hotspot data plans that give you a ton of gigabytes for a fair price. If you want to keep things simple, get one of AT&T’s unlimited phone plans to get hotspot data for phone tethering.

Read on for all the details on AT&T’s best hotspots, data plans, and mobile plans for your phone’s hotspot.

Here are the best AT&T hotspot, best hotspot plan, and best hotspot-friendly cellular plan

Mobile hotspots are typically locked to specific cellular carriers, so you have limited choices about what you can use—which is pretty annoying, to be honest. But AT&T’s wireless network supports a handful of fast and dependable hotspot devices. Plus, AT&T has been improving its hotspot plans and hotspot data on mobile plans to stay competitive with T-Mobile and Verizon.

Here are your best hotspotting options from AT&T

The best hotspot: NETGEAR is AT&T’s go-to hotspot manufacturer, and the Nighthawk M1 4G LTE Mobile Router is a versatile device. Outfitted with a gigabit Qualcomm MDM9x50 modem, it gets you reliable speeds over 4G networks (which are still far more widely accessible than 5G) and features extra ports for direct Ethernet connections and phone charging.

The best hotspot data plan: AT&T’s Prepaid 100 GB plan gives you 100 GB of data to use in a month for a flat fee of $90. It’s hard to find a hotspot plan that gives you that much data upfront. Plus, you don’t have to sign up for a contract term or recurring monthly payments, making this plan perfect for short-term vacation rentals and work trips.

Pro tip: 

Take our speed test to see what kind of performance you’re getting on your hotspot. If you’re on a phone hotspot, a mobile hotspot device could give you a major boost.

 

The best cellular plan for your phone’s hotspot: AT&T Unlimited Premium costs $85 for one line, and with that you get totally unlimited cellular data and 50 GB of high-speed hotspot data. All the major cellular companies have ramped up their hotspot data options in the last year, and this robust plan makes it a lot easier and more cost-effective to use your phone’s hotspot on a regular basis in lieu of investing in a pricier hotspot device.

What should you look for in an AT&T hotspot?

You should get an AT&T hotspot that has current Wi-Fi standards, supports enough connections for your needs, and meets your budget.

AT&T sells a few mobile Wi-Fi hotspots on its website, but you can also find unlocked hotspots on Amazon that work with AT&T’s 4G LTE and 5G networks. The most expensive of these devices are meant for hitting extremely fast speeds and serving lots of users. Lower-tier hotspots still work great for vacation rentals or work trips, but the cheapest ones have relatively slow speeds and get sluggish as they support more Wi-Fi devices.

Here’s what you can expect from different kinds of hotspots

What you can do with a 5G hotspot

  • Get wireless speeds ranging anywhere from 30–300 Mbps, depending on your location and 5G availability
  • Maintain a consistent connection for up to 32 users at a time
  • Enjoy functionality and ease of use with the help of a touch screen
  • Boost security and improve connection with extra features and ports
  • Charge your phone or tablet with USB-C port

What you can do with a high-end 4G LTE hotspot

  • Get wireless speeds of 10–40 Mbps for up to 20 users
  • Improve speeds with wired Ethernet connection
  • Boost signal range when using it as a travel router over hotel and other Wi-Fi networks
  • Charge your phone or tablet with USB-C port

What you can do with a budget 4G LTE hotspot

  • Get wireless speeds of 1–25 Mbps for up to 16 users
  • Charge your phone or tablet with USB-C port

Pro tip: 

Take a look at the best hotspots you can buy for more details on what to look for—even if you don’t have AT&T, you can still find a great deal.

Best AT&T hotspots

Best forProductPriceMax devicesConnectivityOrder online
Best overallNETGEAR Nighthawk M1 4G LTE Mobile Router$429.99204G LTE, 802.11acView on Amazon
Best 5G hotspotNETGEAR Nighthawk M6 Pro$459.99325G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)View on AT&T
Best for MVNOsZTE MAX Connect MF928$39.00104G LTE, 802.11acView on Amazon
Best budget optionAlcatel LINKZONE$50.00164G LTE, 802.11nView on Amazon

The Nighthawk M1 is a powerful device that can cover most anyone’s hotspotting needs. But NETGEAR’s Nighthawk M6 Pro really kicks things up a notch with its 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities. The M6 can hit much faster speeds and support a lot more users, making this the hotspot to get for big groups, intensive work trips, and vacations on which you anticipate a lot of streaming movie marathons.

ZTE’s MAX Connect MF928 and Alcatel’s LINKZONE are budget hotspots better suited for occasional use and fewer devices. They don’t get the most out of AT&T’s wireless network—there’s no 5G, for example, and you can expect 4G LTE speeds to be slower than normal. But these hotspots cost a fraction of what you’d normally pay for a hotspot and work in a jiffy.

Pro tip: 

Want the fastest and most secure hotspot around? Take a look at the best 5G hotspots for the most innovative designs and greatest Wi-Fi firepower.

Best AT&T hotspot data plans

Best forPlanPriceData allowanceOrder online
Best overallAT&T Prepaid 100 GB$90.00/mo. (w/ autopay, price available in-store only)100 GB/mo.
Best for long-term usersAT&T Prepaid 20 GB$300.00 for 12 mos. ($25.00/mo. paid in one lump sum)20 GB/mo.
Best budget planAT&T Prepaid 15 GB$35.00/mo.15 GB/mo.

AT&T offers a few prepaid data plans that let you buy a chunk of data in 30-day increments. If you run out of data, you can add another 5 GB for $10. We recommend the 100 GB plan the most because, well, that’s a ton of hotspot data for a pretty good price.

If you’re a monthly hotspot user—say, you regularly travel for work or spend a few days a month in your vacation cabin—then you might want to go for the 20 GB plan. You have to pay a $300 lump sum up front, but it costs you less in the long run, shaking out to $25 a month.

Get a prepaid data plan instead of AT&T DataConnect

In addition to the prepaid plans mentioned above, AT&T also advertises a monthly DataConnect plan—but we advise against it because that plan costs a lot more for less data than AT&T’s prepaid data plans. Stick to a prepaid plan for the best deal.

Best AT&T Cellular plans for hotspotting

Best forPlanPriceHotspot data allowanceOrder online
Best overallUnlimited Premium$50.00/mo. (for one line)50 GB/mo.
Best prepaid planPrepaid 16 GB$300.00 for 12 mos.16 GB (combined with cellular data)
Best budget dealPrepaid 5 GB$30.00/mo.*5 GB (combined with cellular data)

While a phone hotspot can’t connect as many devices or hit the same speeds as a standalone mobile hotspot, your phone is still super easy for tethering and hotspot functions. You can get a ton of hotspot data from AT&T’s flagship Unlimited Premium plan. Or you can save money with AT&T’s prepaid 16 GB plan, which comes with 16 GB total of high-speed data—you can use it for both cellular data and hotspot tethering.

Pro tip: 

Looking for a hot new phone to set up a hotspot? Take a look at the best 5G phones.

Best hotspots and data plans from MVNOs

MVNO stands for “mobile virtual network operator,” which is a complicated way of referring to budget-friendly cellular brands like Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile that give you phone service over AT&T’s network.

Phone and data plans from MVNOs are often cheaper than those from major cell companies, and they don’t require things like contracts or credit checks to sign up. Unfortunately, with those lower prices you also get somewhat inferior service, since your cell service always takes a back seat to that of AT&T’s customers. But these plans are worth looking into if you need a quick and easy data plan for occasional hotspottery.

Best MVNO hotspot data plans

PlanPriceData allowanceOrder online
Cricket Wireless Simply Data 100 GB$55.00/mo.100 GB/mo.View Plans
Cricket Wireless Simply Data 20 GB$35.00/mo.20 GB/mo.View Plans
Boost Mobile 10 GB Mobile Hotspot Plan$25.00/mo.7 GB/mo.View Plans
Boost Mobile 5 GB Mobile Hotspot Plan$25.00/mo.5 GB/mo.View Plans
Boost Mobile 2 GB Mobile Hotspot Plan$15.00/mo.2 GB/mo.View Plans

Best MVNO hotspots

PlanPriceMax devices it connectsWireless/Wi-Fi standardsOrder online
ZTE MAX Connect MF928$47.00104G LTE, 802.11bView on Amazon
Alcatel LINKZONE$50.00164G LTE, 802.11bView on Amazon

You can usually use any unlocked hotspot on an MVNO that you can use on the main carrier’s network—so any of the awesome hotspots we discuss in our section above on the best AT&T hotspots also apply here. Still, we recommend going a more affordable route since you aren’t getting the best 5G or 4G LTE coverage from MVNOs anyway.

Hotspots can’t replace home internet—but 5G Home Internet can

PlanDownload speedPricesPerksOrder online
Verizon 5G HomeUp to 300 Mbps$25.00/mo. (for Verizon Unlimited phone plan subscribers) or $50.00/mo. (for nonsubscribers, w/ autopay)*Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for 6 mos., Verizon Stream TV device included, 2–yr. price guarantee
T-Mobile Home Internet35–115 Mbps$50.00/mo.Paramount+ for 12 mos.View Plans
Ultra Home Internet 100 GBUp to 115 Mbps$144.99/mo.N/AView Plans
Starry InternetUp to 200 Mbps$30.00/mo.No extra fees for installation or equipmentView Plans

Cellular companies have ramped up their hotspot options over the past year, but hotspots still aren’t an adequate replacement for home internet—you simply can’t get the same speeds or amount of data from a mobile plan.

But if you’re looking for a wireless solution to home internet, consider 5G home internet. AT&T’s rivals, Verizon and T-Mobile, both offer affordable 5G internet service with unlimited data and respectable speeds at a flat monthly rate—no need to worry about contracts or extra fees. (AT&T has no plans to release a 5G internet service of its own, but we’d be intrigued if it did!)

5G internet is still pretty new, so it might not work for everybody—you may experience occasional internet disconnections or other bugs. But a 5G home internet plan T-Mobile or Verizon is well worth trying out, especially if you’re looking to get away from traditional fiber or cable internet providers.

AT&T hotspot FAQ

Can you get unlimited data from an AT&T hotspot?

You can’t get truly unlimited data from an AT&T hotspot—but you can get a lot of data. The prepaid 100 GB plan gives you 100 GB per month for $90, and you can add on an extra 5 GB for $10 at any time.

Looking for a new internet plan? Use your zip code below to find providers in your area.

Disclaimer

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.