Last week, I signed up for Verizon’s unlimited, prepaid Jetpack service. This is a mobile Internet service that uses Verizon’s 4G signal to provide broadband Internet using a hotspot (the Jetpack). I can’t provide a fully-qualified review because I’ve only been using the service for a few days, but I did want to share some first impressions.
I should note at this point that this review is based on an older Jetpack, the MHS900L. There is a newer one available, the MiFi® 7730L; but it was out of stock when I placed my order (and still is). The MHS900L provides 4G LTE connectivity (but not “Advanced LTE,” whatever that is); is limited to eight connected devices, and has only 2.4 GHz WiFi (the newer Jetpack also provides 5 GHz WiFi). This review is based on the MHS900L because that’s what they had in stock when I placed the order.
I ordered this service mainly for Internet failover. I’m a Web developer, so having redundant Internet is important to me — especially because I live in the boonies where trees fall on the aerial wires fairly often. As my followers (both of them) know, I recently installed a backup generator, so it seemed like a good time to work on a backup Internet solution, as well.
Previously I’d been using the hotspot on my LG V20 phone for failover Internet. It actually works very well, but it’s limited to the data on my plan. Usually that would be between 14GB and 16GB, depending on the previous month’s rollover. That could easily get me through a day or two (or even more if I didn’t download or upload videos); but I was looking for a solution that would allow me to work more normally and through longer outages. I believe this service from Verizon may work out very nicely.
For reference, I’m semi-retired and only maintain a few sites, but those sites are very media-heavy. There are lots of pictures and videos that I have to download, edit, and then upload again. I use mainly Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer for the still image work, and Magix Movie Edit Pro Premium for the movies. Everything is in HD, so I burn through quite a bit of bandwidth in a normal day — sometimes more than 10 GB, depending on how many videos I work on that day.
To work normally, therefore, I need a lot of bandwidth. I also need that bandwidth to be pretty speedy unless I want to sit around twiddling my thumbs all day waiting for uploads and downloads to happen. I was happy to find that the Jetpack provided pretty decent uploads and download speeds. My download speeds using the Jetpack have been coming in between 15 Mbps and 28 Mbps, and my upload speeds between 10 Mbps and 16 Mbps.As expected, speeds tend to be better during off-hours, but they’re also perfectly usable during the busy times of the day.
Here’s a screenshot of a Bandwidth Place Speed Test that I just ran a few minutes ago.
Those speeds are more than adequate for me to work normally. The download speeds are slower than I get on my 100 Mbps / 10 Mbps cable connection, but still usable. The upload speeds are actually faster than I get on my cable connection.
I also had an unexpected surprise with regard to how my computer can use the connection. I use Windows 10 professional on an HP Prodesk Computer that has both wired Ethernet and wireless connectivity. The wired connection runs through a Linksys WRT3200ACM router running DD-WRT, which also manages all the LAN devices. Consequently, I thought that I was going to have to buy a dual-WAN router and a WiFi-to-Ethernet adapter to preserve access to the LAN when using the Jetpack.
Somewhat surprisingly, that turned out not to be the case. When I connect to the Jetpack using the wireless adapter while leaving the wired adapter turned on, the computer uses the Jetpack for Internet, but uses the wired connection to connect to the LAN devices. That’s with the metric for both adapters set to “Automatic.” I don’t know if that’s the Windows 10 default behavior or a happy coincidence of configuration; but in the spirit of wise geeks throughout the world, it ain’t broke, so I ain’t fixing it.
What that means in simple terms is that all I have to do when the wired Internet goes down is turn on the Jetpack, turn on the wireless adapter, and connect to the Jetpack. I can still use my network printers and other devices over my existing router while connecting to the Internet with the Jetpack. Nice and easy, just how I like it.
As far as my software is concerned, everything I’ve tried has worked just fine with the Jetpack connection. I hadn’t anticipated any problems in that regard and I didn’t have any. Web browsers, mail clients, SSH, SCP, and everything else I’ve tried have worked just fine. The only thing I had to do was enable Passive FTP in my FTP client for one of my sites. Everything else has used the Jetpack connection happily and seamlessly.
In summary, it’s still too soon for me to say how this solution will work out long-term, but my first impressions are positive. If you need a primary or failover Internet connection in a place where you have good VZW signal, you may want to give it a try.There’s no contract, so your downside risk is limited to the cost of the device and one month’s service. You can more about the service here.