If you are like me, internet service is crucial for happiness!
Since I worked in the Telecommunications field for 25 plus years and understand the complexities of network buildout, customer service, and service reliability, I was aware that Verizon really does have the largest footprint for a cellular network in the country. For that reason alone, I have been a Verizon customer for cell phone / internet service for years, and am paying their exorbitant prices for the pleasure.
In a case of “do as I say, not as I do” I’ve spent years telling my business customers that having a single provider and connection for their mission critical online presence is inviting disaster into their lives, but I never felt my needs justified the expense – until now!
Until we landed in Mountain Home Idaho I was satisfied with Verizon’s footprint and service, but given my experience here, which is too painful to discuss publicly, I decided it was finally time to heed my own advice and augment that service with another provider for a little network diversity.
So after a lot of hemming and hawing, I started looking into an option I heard about through my favorite RV forum www.irv2.com. I was skeptical at first, but this option really paid off for me in this neck of the woods.
I know, I know “get to the point already” – here goes:
AT&T has a “connected car standalone” plan. It is a plan to allow your car to have mobile internet hotspot on the AT&T network powered by your OBDII port in your car. The device can be purchased on a 2 year contract and you get the Mobley free. There IS an activation fee. But, If you purchase through AT&T directly, and buy it without the contract, the Mobley is 99.00 plus taxes and no activation fee plus 20.00 per month. It also comes completely set up other than calling at&t connected car hotline to get your account number and to set up your online account. If you call or go to an AT&T store It’s best to refer to it as the ‘Connected Car Standalone’ plan. It is highly likely that neither online or in-store reps will have ever heard of this plan, but it is real and a great deal in my opinion.
I found 2 issues getting this set up:
1) When I purchased on the at&t website, it tried to switch me to a 3gigabyte plan right before checkout. So, doublecheck that the final screen before checkout is correctly showing the device purchase at 99.00 and that you are on the connected car plan for 20.00 per month. Once you complete the purchase it will be mighty difficult to change if there is a mistake – so be careful! Once your purchase is complete you will get a ton of emails showing confirmation of purchase etc… one of these will have a link to set up your online account. I found it easier to do this after I received the Mobley device in the mail as the box will have some important information like the phone number assigned to your Mobley hotspot and other important information.
2) When setting up at at&t.com/getstarted you have to know your account number. So you have to call them at AT&T Connected Car number 866 595 1222 and they will give you the account number. They have to send you a code to validate your account but they want to send it via text to your Mobley hot spot which of course cannot receive text messages. You have to get them to send it to your email address on record. This phone call also gives them a chance to upswell you on their direct tv plans – you do NOT have to add any upgrades!
They will also tell you the DirectTV streaming does not count towards your 22gb monthly plan but the fine print says it does. Remember, your 22gb plan is at 4g or LTE speeds, after which they have the right to bump you down to 3G speeds. Just like EVERY other provider stipulates in their unlimited plans. It IS unlimited data but does not guarantee 4g/LTE after 22gb of monthly usage!
Some other info:
ZTE VM6200 is the actual device model #
AT&T direct purchase link.
https://www.att.com/devices/zte/mobley.html#sku=sku7700323 if it shows out of stock keep checking back. You can now order a Mobley directly on the ATT Wireless website and select the $20/month “Connected Car Unlimited” data plan. Or
When I purchased, there was NO need to have an existing ATT account. No activation fee and no shipping cost if you purchase outright. You can get a Mobley free with a 2-yr contract or for $99+tax with no contract. These terms are subject to change!
This is a popular plan right now and they sell out fast.
Let me reiterate that It is 20.00 per month unlimited but they have the right to slow you down to 3G after 22gigabytes of use each month if you are on a busy tower. (This means your connection may slow down but it will still work and you can use as much data as you want. I have not seen any slowdown of speeds yet but it is possible).
You can purchase from EBay, ABC Wharehouse, Best Buy etc… but I have heard of fewer issues when buying from AT&T directly. (For example: Many who bought from other outlets find that they have to call or go into an AT&T store to get a SIM card sent to them).
Now, this plan is designed to be plugged into your OBDII port on your car for mobile internet service on the road. But, many users are purchasing adapters of various types to allow it to be plugged into your cigarette lighter, computer, or house wiring.
Here is one such Power adapter https://www.amazon.com/3-1-Adapter-ZTE-Mobley/dp/B072QDDB86/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1497048182&sr=8-7&keywords=Vegajf or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0…?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The Mobley device allows the user to connect up to 5 devices to WIFI at a time. You can purchase various routers to set up the Mobley as the WIFI as WAN and use the router as your wifi manager. This would allow you to connect more than 5 devices if desired.
Another quirk is that older versions of the Mobley may have an old firmware version VM6200V1.0.0 that shuts off the device after a period of time. Hopefully yours will come with the version VM6200V1.0.1 that has an updated firmware to allow you to turn that feature off. Not to fear if it doesn’t as most are downloading the correct firmware automagically. If yours doesn’t update in a couple of days, give AT&T a call. Once on correct version of firmware set it to “no time out” by going to:
attwifimanager >settings > advanced > power save > then chose no time out > then yes > then apply.
I have to say that the price and my experience so far make this one heck of a deal. That being the case, many people are saying it won’t last long or that getting the 2 year contract guarantees your price or the plan won’t go away, or that AT&T will renegotiate you into a higher cost plan. While that is possible, I have not seen these providers actually do so. Usually you will be grandfathered in as long as you don’t make other changes like upgrading to a different type of device. They could end new customer access to the plan however, so if you are in the market, act fast!
I also wish to clearly state that I have no connection with AT&T other than being one of their customers. I gain no benefit for bringing this information to my readers other than the satisfaction in knowing it will help my readers obtain a good product at a great price!
Enjoy the connectivity!