Something to keep in mind when traveling with a non-Verizon phone is that there may be times when you have only voice services or no signal at all — meaning, you’ll be without even the ability to make an emergency phone call. With no signal, if you misplace your phone, you can’t call it to hear it ringing, and it can no longer be located using the ‘find my phone’ features available from most companies. With voice services only, the GPS mapping images won’t download and update. Even if you have data services available on your non-Verizon device, the slower remote service typically can’t keep up with map reloads. Most people don’t discover these things until they are already traveling
So, if you’re traveling to someplace other than a big city, and aren’t a Verizon customer, plan on being without Internet during your travels and when you get where you’re going.
Hotel Wireless Isn’t Reliable
Don’t expect to rely on your hotel’s WiFi service because it will probably be very slow or inaccessible (as shown below).
Need to meet a deadline or catch up on important emails? Sorry. Better luck next time.
Best Verizon Mobile Hotspot
Your best option is to travel with a Verizon MiFi 6620L Jetpack 4G LTE mobile WiFi hotspot (shown below). This will allow you to get data services such as GPS mapping updates and look up important information on the internet. You’ll also be able to make phone calls using Skype, Hangouts, or a similar VOiP (voice over IP) service.
Here’s Why Verizon Costs More
Companies like AT&T and Sprint offer lots of shared data and typically lower monthly prices, with relatively good signal coverage in most cities, but they don’t cover rural or remote areas well. This is because they’ve not invested in the additional tower placements (therefore the lower monthly bills). Verizon costs more because they provide service in bigger cities as well as in rural and remote areas. They’ve invested in more tower locations nation-wide.
Hybrid Service Model
A hybrid service model will save money while giving you the services you need when you need them. In other words, rather than paying higher monthly fees for Verizon’s amazing national coverage year-round, pay for it only when traveling (unless you travel all the time or live in a rural area). Then, for your year-round phone service, get a lower priced local service provider.
Cost of a Mobile WiFi Hotspot
The cost of a mobile hotspot is a $200 one-time purchase price (with no contract) and then $50 for 5GB data during any month you’re planning to travel. Other data plans are also available. When you’re not traveling, you can set your Verizon service to dormant and not pay anything until your next trip. There are other lower cost mobile hotspot devices, but they work only with 4G and won’t provide service in 3G areas. Also, they don’t have the large color screen with buttons for navigation and system configuration.
Limitations and Problems
Even if you use a Verizon mobile WiFi hotspot as described above, you’ll still have some limitations with your non-Verizon phone. For example, although the data will work, and you can make outbound calls with Skype, any inbound phone calls or SMS text messages won’t come through (although, Apple iMessage still works).