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Old 04-29-2019, 10:26 PM   #1
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Hotspot musings

For the past few years my internet service has been provided by a wifi hotspot, both when I'm home and when I'm on the road with the trailer. First the provider was Millennicom, then Verizon. Since my usage pattern involves no video or music, this has suited me well. I tend to use about 15 gigabytes of data per month, well below Verizon's 20 GB limit.

Beginning last September I started having overages, using more than 20 GB and getting charged a lot for it-- an additional $8 per GB over 20 GB. My usage pattern had not changed. Also, I could no longer get an updated measure of my data usage from the hotspot, either via its screen or from the browser address that interfaces with it. The hotspot at the time was a Novatel 6620L, which I had used for a couple of years.

In January I replaced the 6620L with a Novatel 7730L, again through Verizon. It seemed to work better, I could once again see a usage update daily, and the usage went down. A lot. Nowadays I barely use half of my 20 GB allotment. For instance, today the usage for my billing period was about 9.8 GB, I think. The billing period ends on May 2. My usage pattern has not changed.

I don't get it. The difference is so great with the new hotspot that it doesn't make any sense. How could it be that much more efficient-- with a new encoding algorithm or something? Sometimes I almost think VZW just makes up these numbers. Any comments?
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:42 PM   #2
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When my son hiked the PCT in 2015 I had a Verizon plan with 12GB and 4 phones. It worked well for us for two years. Towards the end of his six month hike from Mexico to Canada I started getting messages from Verizon. Supposedly he was using a GB or more in a single day! Spoke to them and they insisted it was possible. He claimed he accidentally had his pictures uploading anytime instead of wifi only. To me that alone couldn't cause that to happen. It wasn't just one GB but about 4 over a few days. They did work with me to get on a higher plan and ended up working pretty good economically.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lewis View Post
Beginning last September I started having overages, using more than 20 GB and getting charged a lot for it-- an additional $8 per GB over 20 GB. My usage pattern had not changed. Also, I could no longer get an updated measure of my data usage from the hotspot, either via its screen or from the browser address that interfaces with it. The hotspot at the time was a Novatel 6620L, which I had used for a couple of years.

In January I replaced the 6620L with a Novatel 7730L, again through Verizon. It seemed to work better, I could once again see a usage update daily, and the usage went down. A lot. Nowadays I barely use half of my 20 GB allotment. For instance, today the usage for my billing period was about 9.8 GB, I think. The billing period ends on May 2. My usage pattern has not changed.

I don't get it. The difference is so great with the new hotspot that it doesn't make any sense. How could it be that much more efficient-- with a new encoding algorithm or something? Sometimes I almost think VZW just makes up these numbers. Any comments?
Your hotspot is just passing data between your end devices and your targets (websites, etc) - it doesn't have an opportunity to compress data. Rather than crediting the new hotspot with better performance, I would suspect the old one with having had software problems which both killed the usage monitoring feature, and caused the extra data traffic. It may have been chattering with the Novatel server while repeatedly trying to do a software update, for instance.
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Old 04-30-2019, 11:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I would suspect the old one with having had software problems which both killed the usage monitoring feature, and caused the extra data traffic. It may have been chattering with the Novatel server while repeatedly trying to do a software update, for instance.

This could be it. For the last year or so that I used it, the old hotspot would give me a message saying it needed to update its software. When I approved the update it would sit there for a bit then say the update had failed. This is about the time usage data became unavailable. Then later the unexplained overages began. I called Verizon then went to one of their stores about this and got no good answer. After the overage problems I bought a new hotspot. This seemed to resolve the problem.

But it doesn't explain why I'm now using so little data compared to anytime before. It's probably due to an upgrade on Verizon's end. In fact, I'm using so little now that I might have to start watching those TED talks so I can feel smug and knowledgeable.
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Old 04-30-2019, 11:42 AM   #5
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Two more things-- the Novatel 7730L hotspot seems to have a much stronger signal, at least in the 2.4 GHz wifi band, than did my old hotspot. I can locate this one centrally in my house and reach the whole house, something I couldn't do before.

It will also automatically degrade to 3G service if 4G is unavailable. This may still be important to travelers, and other newer Novatel hotspots won't do this.


For these two reasons I would recommend the 7730L if you need to upgrade and it is available from your service provider.
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