mobile data

From IndieWeb

mobile data is about ways of using the web with a mobile (unwired) connection independent of any local WiFi, without a cellphone, and without service plans for numerical phone calls or sending/receiving SMS.

This page about mobile data providers that outlines alternative methods of getting on the web without WiFi that meet the following criteria:

  • Does not require a physical wired connection
  • Does not require phone & sms plans to have data plans
  • Allows user to be mobile with data


iPad cellular

  • fluffy: From 2014-2016 I had a company-provided iPad with AT&T cellular service. It was pretty useful for having access to Internet services while on the go. Coverage was pretty good in Seattle. More recently I've been using a Google Fi data-only SIM with my various mobile devices and it similarly works quite well.


Google Fi

Google Fi is Google's own MVNO which resells various other providers (mainly T-Mobile) at a bulk data rate. You have to sign up for phone service through them, but the voice service is essentially "free" and you can also add arbitrarily many data-only devices as well, with both SIMs and eSIMs. A very nice feature of their implementation is that you can also pause your service indefinitely, so you only have to pay for it when you're actually sing it (such as for travel).

  • fluffy: I've had a Google Fi plan in place for many years now. I never use the voice service on it. I have two data-only SIMs for it, one physical (previously kept in an iPad Pro, currently in a disused iPhone 6S) and one eSIM (backup on my main phone). Whenever I've needed Fi it's come very much in handy; these days it's basically a backup for my main phone plan when I'm running low on bandwidth.

Ting Mobile

Like Google Fi, you need to sign up for a voice plan in order to get data service, but you can add arbitrarily-many data-only SIMs, and the voice service can be put on a pay-per-usage basis which also makes it (essentially) free.

Verizon MiFi

  • fluffy: I received a free access point and a month of service from a Google I/O promotion back in 2011. Bandwidth was decent where there was coverage; there were a surprising number of gaps in San Francisco (where I lived at the time). Renewing the plan beyond the promotional period would have been way too expensive for the utility I was getting out of it. I still have the access point around here somewhere.
  • Tantek Γ‡elik: I have used a Verizon MiFi and it seems to work reasonably well in the U.S., and has a much cheaper monthly data plan (less than half at least I think) than popular "mobile smartphone" plans.


Waiting for review from user...

Freedom Pop

Freedom Pop is a discount mobile provider which offers "freemium" mobile plans. fluffy has been an occasional user in the past, while attempting to use this to get away from traditional phone service. General findings:

  • The billing is purposefully confusing, and "free" isn't really free; for unused accounts they sneak random small charges onto peoples' credit cards with various nonsensical explanations for why it's "required"
  • Coverage is spotty at best, and even in major metro areas it experiences frequent dropouts and low availability
  • The available devices are always a few generations behind, and the hardware appears to be poorly-refurbished returns to discount cellular providers
  • If a device is unused for too long it will be shut off, and getting it reactivated is an onerous process

See Also