Updated: Dec 24, 2020
One of the most common questions we get from others moving towards more nomadic lifestyles is our internet situation (right after “do you need a special license” and “what kind of milage do you get?”. This was also one of our biggest concerns when we were building Green Bean and we, too, asked around. Finally Elizabeth found an awesome couple that work as software engineers so we figured whatever they are using, it must actually work.
We both tend to use large amounts of data for work uploading and downloading large files and of course zoom calls to death.
We knew that if we couldn’t effectively work, this adventure wouldn’t last very long so we needed something reasonably fast, reliable, and with a large enough data cap.
Our first try was with a Verizon hot spot. Our phone plans are with Verizon so we thought that we could add a hotspot to our existing plan. We went to verizon and basically told them we wanted an unlimited hotspot and it almost didn’t matter the cost. Their only option was a $10/month plan for 15 gb of data. it seemed low but we figured we’d give it a try.
It was just about useless. The hotspot didn’t work most of the time even completely stationary in a city when it did work, we ripped through the data cap in 36 hours- it was clearly not going to work. We tried to return the hotspot to verizon but even they didn’t want it.
After the complete verizon failure we were getting pretty nervous that there really wasn’t a good option. A few people had recommended the verizon hotspot but their work must not be as data heavy and they must stay well within cell range. - it was a hard ‘’no’’ for us.
After messaging dozens of people, we heard about Bix Wireless. Bix sells sim cards using 4g through t mobile and att on month to month contracts as well as hardware. They sell packages in either 400gb/month or 800/gb/month and advertise no speed throttling.
We went with a 400gb/month plan for around 100 dollars. We also bought a modem/router from them + external directional antenna. The modem/router was a bit pricey (about 400 dollars) and the antenna was another 100 or so, but, again, without decent internet our adventure (read funds) would come to a grinding halt. The Bix sim card can also be used in other 4g hardware but we thought that in the event of something going wrong, it would be useful to have just one place to call for support.
So far we’ve been pleased with the service. We’ve never seen speeds over 5mb/s but it works for zoom calls and I just practice my meditation while I wait for my large files to upload (usually under 5 minutes but I’m very impatient). As of writing this we’ve only been on the east coast but we’ve had signal the whole time without needing to use of the antenna even in some relatively remote places. We only experienced a complete loss of signal once while driving through the mountains in Vermont but we obviously didn’t try the directional antenna while driving.
From what we’ve seen Bix seems to be a good balance between price and speed/utility.
*** As of writing this, we haven’t exceeded the 400gb/month limit even with both of us using it heavily.