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Best Ways to Get Portable Internet

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: $50.00–$199.00/mo.
    • Our top pick: Nomad Internet
  • Best for international travel
    Travel hotspots, SIM cards, and phone hotspots
    • Connectivity across multiple countries
    • Flexible data plans
    • Inconsistent speeds
    • Price range: $50.00–$125.00/mo.
    • Our top pick: Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot
  • Best for extremely remote areas
    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:Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone


You need portable internet (also known as portable Wi-Fi) 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?

In Wi-Fi just as in life, the right tool always depends on the situation. A hotspot device is perfect for a work or school trip. But living on the road requires a more substantial, fixed wireless setup. And going overseas calls for a local SIM card for your phone or a travel hotspot that works with international cell carriers.

Read on to see which form of portable internet works best for you when it comes to price, data, and availability.

Pro tip:

The best way to get portable internet is with a hotspot. Take a look to pick out a hotspot that fits your needs the most based on price, speed, and data.

What is the best portable internet?

Best forProductPriceData capView details
Everyday useInseego 5G MiFi M2000$119.992–100 GB/mo. (depending on plan)View on Amazon
Long-term use and RVsNomad Internet$129.00/mo.UnlimitedView Plan
International travelHuawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot$111.95Depends on data planView on Amazon
Extremely remote areas, emergencies, and open seasIridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone$1,585.00*Comes with Prepaid 150 Minute SIM CardView on Amazon

A hotspot is your best option for portable Wi-Fi, and the best hotspot to get is INSEEGO’s 5G M2000. This powerful 5G hotspot works over T-Mobile networks, giving you the fastest 5G network speeds possible. The hotspot supports up to 30 Wi-Fi devices, and its Wi-Fi 6 capability ensures you get solid performance even with multiple users. T-Mobile also has the most flexible and affordable hotspot data plans.

View T-Mobile Hotspot Plans

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.
  • Satellite phones work well for emergency purposes and extremely remote areas. They cost a fortune, though, and have very strict data limits, so most people don’t need one.

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.

What is portable internet?

Portable internet (also known as portable Wi-Fi) 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 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.

What to look for in portable internet

You 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 make sure that you get portable internet that connects to a cellular provider available in the area you’re traveling around. 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


  • 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—expect average speeds of 171 Mbps on T-Mobile’s network.1 It uses Wi-Fi 6 to reduce slowdowns and improve speeds for multiple users.


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


  • 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$299.00AT&T20View on Amazon
Alcatel LINKZONE$59.20AT&T, T-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. (w/ existing Unlimited phone plan), $90.00/mo. (w/out phone plan)100 GB of 4G LTE/5G, then reduced to 600 Kbps
AT&T prepaid 50 GB$55.00/mo. (w/ AutoPay)50 GB/mo. (add 5 GB for $10)View Plan
Visible phone plan$30.00/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 get less data per month, and you 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


  • Membership fee: $99.00–$699.00
  • 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 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, giving you a ton of flexibility.


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


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

Other recommended 4G LTE internet plans

ProviderPriceMembership feeSpeedData capGet it
Unlimitedville$149.00–$199.00/mo.$199.00Depends 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.

Does 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 takes to install and uninstall at different locations, since it’s not designed to be mobile or portable.

Best for international travel—SIM cards, phone hotspots, and travel hotspots

Best travel hotspot

Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot

$111.95 (plus data plan)

  • Wi-Fi standards: 4G LTE, 802.11 b/g/n
  • Connects up to 10 devices

If you need portable internet while traveling abroad, we recommend getting a SIM card from a local cellular provider (based in the country where you’re traveling) and using it with your phone. That’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to go. Or you can just use the hotel Wi-Fi and keep it simple.

But Huawei’s elaborately-named E5577Cs-321 hotspot is also a solid option to get you decent speeds while sailing the seven seas. It works over 4G LTE cellular networks across Europe, Southeast and Southern Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and gets solid reviews online.


  • Decent price
  • Easy setup


  • Somewhat sluggish speeds

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

Best satellite phone

Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone with Prepaid and Postpaid SIM Cards



  • Wi-Fi standard: 802.11 a/b/g
  • Durability: Military-grade MIL-STD 810F and IP65

If you’re James Bond, a mountaineer, a wildland firefighter, a member of the armed forces, 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.

Casual users don’t need a satellite-internet device like one of these. But they come in handy in extreme environments and emergency situations.

The Iridium Extreme 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.


  • Internet connection for extremely remote areas
  • Sturdy build


  • High price
  • Very limited data and speeds

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, accept that you don’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 get sent 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 get 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$34.00Dual-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, keep it simple by using your phone’s hotspot or Huawei’s E5577Cs-321 along with an international carrier’s SIM card.

FAQ about portable internet

What is the best portable Wi-Fi?

A mobile hotspot is the best type of portable Wi-Fi, and the best hotspot you can get is INSEEGO’s M2000 5G. Working over T-Mobile’s network, it delivers excellent 5G and 4G LTE performance and supports up to 30 Wi-Fi devices at a time. The hotspot’s Wi-Fi 6 settings help it maintain a quality connection during heavy use, and T-Mobile’s hotspot plans offer a lot of flexibility at a cheap price.

What is a fixed wireless connection?

A fixed wireless connection is internet 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 marshaled new 5G networks to introduce services like Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet.

How can you get Wi-Fi without an internet provider?

You can get Wi-Fi without an internet provider by using a mobile hotspot or your cell phone’s hotspot. You can also get free Wi-Fi at public libraries and many restaurants and coffee shops, including McDonald’s and Starbucks.

If you’re using a hotspot, you still have to get cellular data to make the Wi-Fi work. In that case, even though you don’t need an internet provider, you still need to buy a data plan from a mobile carrier like T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T.


  1. Francesco Rizzato, Opensignal, “5G User Experience Report,” July 2022. Accessed September 6, 2022.
  2. Francesco Rizzato, Opensignal, “Quantifying the mmWave 5G Experience in the US,” April 28, 2021. Accessed September 6, 2022.
  3. Rick Broida, CNET, “T-Mobile’s $60 Home Internet Service: The Cheapskate Review,” May 5, 2021. Accessed September 6, 2022.

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, 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 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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