Best Ways to Get Portable Internet for 2022

Need Wi-Fi on the road? Here’s how to stay connected.

  • Best for everyday use
    T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000
    Hotspots and mobile data
    • Fast speeds
    • Simple setup
    • High price for more data
    • Price range: $90.00–$500.00 (plus data plan)
    • Our top pick: Inseego 5G MiFi M2000
  • Best for long-term use and RVs
    nomad internet
    4G LTE internet
    • No-contract options
    • Unlimited data
    • Limited availability
    • Price range: $60.00–$149.00/mo.
    • Our top pick: Nomad Internet
  • Best for international travel
    skyroam solis lite hotspot device
    USB modems and travel hotspots
    • Connectivity across multiple countries
    • Flexible data plans
    • Inconsistent speeds
    • Price range: $90.00–$249.99 (plus data plan)
    • Our top pick: Skyroam Solis Lite
  • Best for extremely remote areas
    BlueCosmo Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone
    Satellite phones and BGAN terminals
    • Wi-Fi access in inaccessible areas
    • Sturdy build for extreme weather
    • Extremely high price
    • Price range: $900.00–$6,000
    • Our top pick: BlueCosmo Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone Bundle

You’ll need portable internet if you travel a lot, live in an RV, or spend a lot of time working while on the move. But what kind of portable internet do you need, exactly?

We’ll go into the specifics about wireless internet tools like hotspots, 4G LTE internet, and satellite phones. Read on to see which works best for you when it comes to price, data, and availability.

Pro tip:

If you’re on the road or moving around a lot, take a speed test to figure out the best times and places where your portable internet speeds will be the fastest.

Our top picks: Which portable internet setup is best?

Best forProductPriceData capView details
Everyday useInseego 5G MiFi M2000$336.002–100 GB/mo. (depending on plan)View on T-Mobile
Long-term use and RVsNomad Internet$129.00–$149.00/mo. (plus membership fee)UnlimitedView Plan
International travelSkyroam Solis Lite$119.99 (plus data plan)*Depends on data planView on Amazon
Extremely remote areas, emergencies, and open seasBlueCosmo Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone Bundle$989.00*$125/50 units (5.5 MB)View on Amazon

The best portable internet setup you can get is the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 hotspot because it gives you excellent speeds and a lot of data to work with. Nomad Internet’s unlimited data plan is better if you’re using internet all the time while moving from place to place. If you’re traveling internationally, stick with Skyroam’s handy Solis Lite hotspot.

View T-Mobile Hotspot Plans

What is portable internet?

Portable internet is any kind of internet service that works while you’re on the move. Unlike wired home internet—which delivers an internet signal from cables buried in the ground—portable internet gives you Wi-Fi over a wireless network powered by a mobile device like a hotspot, 4G router, or satellite phone.

Portable internet usually costs more than wired home internet (like cable, fiber, and DSL). You’ll also oftentimes get a lot less data than you would on a broadband plan. And speeds are generally slower and not as consistent. Still, having a portable internet service ensures you can stay connected when you’re away from home or the office.

Pro tip:

Type in your zip code below to see which kinds of internet you can get in your area—be it a wired home setup or something more portable.

Best portable internet options

A hotspot is your best portable internet option. Available from cellular providers like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, hotspots are easy to use, relatively affordable, and deliver a fast and reliable connection in any area that has cell service.

There are other great portable internet options, too, though. USB modems and travel routers give you Wi-Fi access while you’re traveling internationally (where your hotspot’s data provider may not be available). 4G internet gives you more data and flexible plan options, so it’s a good option for a van, RV, or long-term setup. It also comes with higher setup costs, so it makes more sense as a long-term investment rather than as a quick fix.

What to look for in portable internet

You’ll want a portable internet service that works over a large network, gives you adequate speeds and data, and comes at an affordable price.

Most portable internet services rely on cellular networks to give you Wi-Fi, so you’ll want to make sure that you get portable internet that connects to a cellular provider available in the area you’ll be traveling. Also, most providers don’t offer unlimited data. So the more data you can get, the better.

Keep reading farther down on this page for more details about portable internet challenges and considerations.

4 best portable internet options

Best for everyday use: Hotspots and mobile data

Best hotspot device
T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

Price: $336.00

  • Wi-Fi standards: 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6
  • Port: USB-C
  • Connects up to 30 devices

Hotspots are your best bet for quick, easy, and fast portable internet. They come at a range of price points and can be added on as an extra line to your current phone plan, minimizing extra costs for data.

The best hotspot is T-Mobile’s Inseego 5G MiFi M2000. Working over both 5G and 4G LTE, it delivers the fastest speeds possible—averaging out at 70 Mbps on T-Mobile’s network.1 It uses Wi-Fi 6 to reduce slowdowns and improve speeds for multiple users.

Pros

  • Lower price than other 5G hotspots
  • Best access to 5G networks

Cons

  • No unlimited hotspot data
  • Limited 5G speeds

Pro tip:

You can also use your cell phone as a hotspot, which can save you time and money. Read our guide to setting up your phone’s hotspot to learn how to use it.

Other recommended hotspot devices

HotspotPriceProvider it works withMax devicesGet it
Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot$199.99Verizon15View on Verizon
Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router$275.92AT&T20View on Amazon
Alcatel LINKZONE$66.99T-Mobile16View on Amazon
Inseego MiFi M2100 5G UW$399.99Verizon30View on Verizon

Verizon has a couple of great hotspots. The MiFi M2100 is basically the same as T-Mobile’s MiFi M2000. The Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot is a more affordable predecessor that works over 4G LTE, so the speeds are slower but still solid.

Best hotspot plans

Hotspot planPriceData capGet it
T-Mobile Magenta MAX$85.00/mo.*Unlimited (phone data), 40 GB (hotspots)View Plan
T-Mobile 2GB$10.00/mo.2 GB/mo. (can order more GB w/ data pass)View Plan
Verizon Pro$60.00/mo.100 GB of 4G LTE/5G, then reduced to 600 KbpsView Plan
AT&T prepaid 100 GB$50.00/mo. (w/ AutoPay)100 GB/mo. (add 5 GB for $10)View Plan
Visible phone plan$40.00/mo. (after the first month)Unlimited (connects to one device, with max speeds of 5 Mbps)View Plan

In order to use a hotspot, you need a data plan to go with it—and T-Mobile has the best plans you can get. The Magenta MAX plan is a cell phone plan that also gives you hotspot data, giving you a great deal, especially if you just plan to use your phone’s hotspot.

The 2 GB plan meanwhile is for standalone hotspots. You can pay a little bit for a little data up front, and then buy more with a T-Mobile “data pass” any time you run out.

But other carriers have also stepped up their game when it comes to hotspot data. Verizon and AT&T both have excellent data plans for hotspots, giving you lots of data at affordable prices. And Visible has a decent prepaid plan, albeit with some serious caveats (such as max 5 Mbps speeds).

Pro tip:

T-Mobile has the largest national 5G network, giving you faster speeds on both its cellular and hotspot plans. Read our guide to T-Mobile 5G for more details on where you can find it and how you can get the most out of it.

Can you use a hotspot for home internet?

We don’t recommend using a hotspot for home internet because the data plans cost a lot more than most broadband home internet plans. You’ll get less data per month, and you’ll likely have slower speeds.

That’s why we recommend using a hotspot mostly for short-term purposes. It’s great for when you’re working away from home, taking a road trip, or sharing a wireless connection with others during out-of-office work functions. And it’s nice for a second or weekend home too.

Best for long-term use and RVs: Portable 4G internet

Best 4G LTE internet
nomad internet

Nomad Internet

Monthly price: $129.00–$149.00/mo.

Membership fee: $149.00–$199.00

  • Speed: 1–100 Mbps (depending on cell service availability)
  • Data cap: Unlimited

4G LTE internet gives you internet over a fixed-wireless connection from a 4G router. This is a relatively new type of internet that comes in two forms: a home service and a more expensive, portable kind.

You’ll have to pay much higher monthly fees with portable 4G LTE internet. Some plans also require a fairly hefty “membership fee” up front. The advantage, though, is that you get unlimited data—which is otherwise pretty much impossible to get from a portable internet carrier. Pick this option if you’re on the road all the time but still have fairly serious Wi-Fi needs, like if you work remotely as a blogger, content creator, or social media influencer.

Nomad Internet is the best internet provider that gives you portable 4G LTE internet. It’s an MVNO (mobile virtual network operators), giving you Wi-Fi over networks operated by T-Mobile and Verizon.

When you sign up for Nomad Internet, you can choose between getting your Wi-Fi off a battery-powered hotspot or a plug-in travel router. We think the travel router is the better option because it gives you a more robust connection with a wider range. You can install it in a home, office, or even on your RV, so you’ll have a ton of flexibility.

Pros

  • Unlimited data—very rare for wireless plans
  • Portable setup

Cons

  • Very high price
  • Inconsistent speeds depending on cell service availability

Other recommended 4G LTE internet plans

ProviderPriceMembership feeSpeedData capGet it
Unlimitedville$149.00–$249.00/mo.$249.00Depends on cell service availabilityUnlimitedView Plan
T-Mobile Home Internet$50.00/mo.None25–100 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan

Unlimitedville is another solid 4G internet provider with portable options. Like Nomad, it’s an MVNO and provides network access through T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.

A plan from Unlimitedville costs quite a bit more than Nomad Internet, whose prices are already fairly steep, so you may want to look into other options if you can’t afford this. But it gives you unlimited data—a precious but rare amenity in the world of portable internet.

Pro tip:

Remember that you can always use public Wi-Fi hotspots to get internet when you’re traveling. They’re free and widely available at cafes, restaurants, and public buildings in many parts of the US.

Read our guide to finding public Wi-Fi near you.

Will T-Mobile Home Internet work as portable internet?

T-Mobile Home Internet is not meant to be portable—it’s pretty much designed as a fixed- wireless home setup. However, it seems T-Mobile’s new 4G– and 5G–based home internet service has some degree of portability.

Some reviewers have found they can unplug the modem/router gateway that comes with the service, install it at a different location several miles away from home, and still get internet from it.3

This makes T-Mobile Home Internet a potentially exciting alternative to the plans we discuss farther up. It’s a lot cheaper than Nomad and Unlimitedville. It comes with free equipment and installation. And, hey, guess what? It still gives you that all-important, unlimited data. The main drawback is how much time it will take to install and uninstall at different locations, since it’s not designed to be mobile or portable.

Best for international travel: Travel hotspots and SIM cards

Best travel hotspot

Skyroam Solis Lite

Price: $119.99

  • Wi-Fi standards: 4G LTE
  • Connects up to 10 devices

If you need portable internet while traveling abroad, we recommend getting a SIM card from a local cellular provider and using it with your phone. That’s the cheapest and easiest way to go about things.

There are a couple fancy travel hotspots we recommend, though, which will be more expensive but more convenient.

We love Skyroam’s Solis Lite hotspot, which gives travelers out-of-the-box convenience as travel the lands. It costs more than cheaper USB modems, but it doesn’t require a SIM card from an international carrier. Instead, you work off of Skyroam’s own data plans, so you can fly hither and thither and still get internet wherever you end up (so long as you’re still in Skyroam’s service area).

Pros

  • Decent price
  • Easy setup

Cons

  • Limited network availability
  • Less reliability than a SIM card

Other recommended travel routers and USB modems

ProviderPriceMax devicesGet it
AT&T Global Modem USB800$179.99 (plus data plan1 (USB-A port required)View on AT&T

Best for extremely remote areas, emergencies, and open seas: Satellite phone

Best satellite phone

BlueCosmo Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone Bundle

Price: $989.00

  • Max speed: 2.4 Kbps (0.00024 Mbps)
  • Operating temperature range: 14°–131°F

If you’re James Bond, a mountaineer, a wildland firefighter, or a millionaire who absolutely must check work emails while exploring international waters on a private yacht, then you might just need a satellite phone or a BGAN terminal.

BGAN means Broadband Global Area Network—a satellite network that provides phone and internet access in any part of the world, including open seas and parts of Antarctica.

Most casual users will never need a satellite-internet device like one of these. But they’ll come in handy in extreme environments and emergency situations.

BlueCosmo’s Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone uses a satellite signal beamed down from space to get you voice, text, and internet in remote areas across the globe. It’s lightweight and durable, and it works in both freezing and red-hot temperatures.

Pros

  • Internet connection for extremely remote areas
  • Sturdy build

Cons

  • High price
  • Very limited data and speeds

Other BGAN terminals

ProviderPriceMax speedOperating temperature rangeGet it
Hughes 9450–C10 BGAN Terminal$7,995.00–$9,195.00464 Kbps (0.46 Mbps)-13°–131° FView on Ground Control

Hughes’s 9450–C10 BGAN Terminal is even more sophisticated than the Iridium phone. It delivers faster speeds—albeit the speeds are still quite slow, topping out at 464 Kbps (just under 0.5 Mbps). It has four Ethernet ports to improve your connection and also provides phone and FAX service.

Best SIM card for portable satellite internet

ProviderPriceDataPlan termsGet it
Inmarsat BGAN & IsatHub 1000 Unit (109 MB) Prepaid Airtime$775.001,000 units (109 MB)Valid for 1 yearView on Amazon

You’ll need a SIM card to make your phone or BGAN console work. Prepaid SIM cards often cost hundreds of dollars and give you a miniscule amount of data, so budget accordingly.

Portable internet challenges and considerations

The best portable internet setup comes at an affordable price, gives you enough data to meet your needs, and provides easy internet access in multiple locations.

When you’re using portable internet, you’ll have to accept that you won’t get the best service possible. Most portable internet options cost a lot more than broadband home internet from fiber, cable, or DSL providers. Cellular and satellite networks don’t have the same capacity to serve internet users, so you often get slower speeds and less data.

But you can find plenty of options—you may just have to be a little resourceful.

Can you get unlimited data?

You often won’t be able to get unlimited data with portable internet. The majority of hotspot data plans have strict caps on how much data you can use, after which your speed will be slowed to a crawl or your connection cut off entirely.

Pro tip:

Take a look at our unlimited hotspot plans guide for options that give you unlimited data—or something close to it.

If you can get unlimited data, your speeds can still likely be “deprioritized” by the wireless company—meaning you’ll be put to the back of the line of all the users on the network if there’s congestion or if you’ve used too much data. So the best thing you can do is either get a plan that gives you a lot of data upfront or that gives you a little bit of data with the option to top up as the month goes on.

What’s better: a cell phone hotspot or a hotspot device?

A cell phone hotspot works great for short-term uses and just one or two users, but you’ll want a separate hotspot device if you plan to use it frequently. Hotspots connect a lot more devices than cell phones do, they have a wider range, and they won’t wear out your phone’s battery.

Use a travel router to improve your portable connection

A travel router is a useful tool that helps improve your connection and boost your security while you’re using portable internet.

Basically it’s a device that lets you set up your own private network using an Ethernet connection from a public hotspot. If you’re at a hotel, for example, you can plug the router in directly from a hotel-provided internet access point like an Ethernet switch or hub. You can then run the Wi-Fi through your travel router, letting you bypass encryption or firewalls, connect more devices, and add in extra security measures.

RouterPrice*Wi-Fi bandsMax speedGet it
TP-Link AC750 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router$39.99Dual-band, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz733 MbpsView on Amazon

Our verdict

In most cases, T-Mobile’s hotspots and data plans are going to be your best pick for portable internet. T-Mobile has the best hotspot plans around—they’re affordable, flexible, and come with a solid amount of hotspot data. And T-Mobile has some great hotspots too, including the formidable Inseego 5G MiFi M2000.

4G LTE provider Nomad Internet might be a better bet if you spend a lot of time in rural areas, live in a van or RV, or really need unlimited data throughout the month. As for traveling abroad, spring for Skyroam’s Solis Lite if you need something convenient that doesn’t require a local SIM card.

FAQ about portable internet

What is a fixed-wireless connection?

A fixed-wireless connection is an internet connection that uses cellular signals. It provides Wi-Fi for a fixed location—such as your home or a business—but unlike cable or fiber, it relies on wireless data from cellular towers to get you internet data.

Fixed wireless is popular in rural and remote areas, where wired connections like DSL and cable aren’t widely available. But it’s also emerging as an affordable alternative to cable internet in large cities and towns, where cellular carriers have marshalled new 5G networks to introduce services like Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet.

Sources

  1. Francesco Rizzato, Opensignal, “5G User Experience Report,” April 2021. Accessed May 16, 2021.
  2. Francesco Rizzato, Opensignal, “Quantifying the mmWave 5G Experience in the US,” April 28, 2021. Accessed May 16, 2021.
  3. Rick Broida, CNET, “T-Mobile’s $60 Home Internet Service: The Cheapskate Review,” May 5, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2021.

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 - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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