Data Only Prepaid Plans? LTE

(Eric) #1

I know there are a couple old threads out there. I’m adding a backup to my network. What are the companies that I can get a pay as you go data plan (data only)? I’d prefer to not have a monthly payment. Something like you buy 10 gigs and you get to use them whenever…


I must be in sync with a lot of people today… was researching this the other day, I must admit it didn’t last very long until I got sidetracked.

What router do you plan on using it with? We have a peplink balance 20 at work but a little pricey for home use.

(Benji) #3

I got in on a T-Mobile deal that gave me three lines of unlimited everything for $100 exactly (tax and everything). I use a line, the GF uses a line and I bought a Netgear LTE Modem (LB1121) which uses the third line, connected to a Ubiquiti USG with failover WAN setup.

I was curious as to whether or not they’d see it as ‘hotspot’ data which is the only thing limited to 10GB. I know T-Mobile in the past has inspected HTTP traffic for the User-Agent header but what with HTTPS being more common, I didn’t know what they did now. Anyway I managed to push 77GB before I got a text on the LTE modem saying I’d used 80% of my hotspot data, I figure that they probably exempted the Netflix/YouTube/Spotify traffic I was pushing through it for testing, due to ‘Binge On’ being turned on which is why I hit 77GB without issue.

Anyway, the long and short of it is, I don’t buy these ‘data only/hotspot’ plans/devices, I just get a normal line like I would a normal phone and I just put it in my LTE modem. If you don’t have a router that can do WAN failover, the LB2120 has dual Ethernet ports to do a pass through (e.g. Cable modem --> LTE Modem --> Router) which might work as a sudo failover.

(Eric) #4

I am currently using a Ubiquiti Edge Router. However, I have a Ubiquiti USG Pro 4 waiting for me to install it. I will be adding the backup connection to the USG Pro 4.

As for the LTE modem, I am going to use the Netgear 4G LTE Modem LB1121. It has PoE which is nice.

I’d really like to just pay someone $10-15 per gigabyte, maybe 5-10 at a time and get to use them over a year. Unfortunately, it looks like everything is still monthly or 3 months at a time. I might give the following a try, unless there is something better.

2 GB / Month for 12 Months @ $16.58 / month


I couldn’t find anything viable so I ended up using two separate isp for dual wan setup with pfsense. I am using it more for load balancing than fail over almost 100% if the time. Would love a cheaper alternative.

(Eric) #6

I’m going to give a try. I hope my regular monthly rate is just $6, but I suspect more like $9. Anything more it would be worthing paying monthly.

(Benji) #7

That’s exactly the setup I have pretty much. Just make sure you have an updated UniFi Controller (I’m currently on 5.5.17 stable) and that your USG is using the latest firmware as well. The PoE version was a nice touch by Netgear, I wish the ST hub was PoE as well but I realise that’s added costs and a little niche, though I’d gladly pay an extra $10 for a PoE version.

In the UniFi Controller you can enable WAN failover which is what I use between TWC and my LTE modem. There is a big issue with the LB1121 though when trying to use it in bridge mode (by default it’s routed mode and double NATs, yuck), the IP address that gets passed through from DHCP is a /32 and thus is automatically outside the same range as the default gateway that gets applied.

No one knows if this is a Ubiquiti, Netgear or provider issue with regards to the DHCP offer however, someone has written a script that forces the interface on the USG into point-to-point mode so that it can work, it would seem then that Ubiquiti could actually fix this…

(Eric) #8

The SAD thing about this is that ST could include a cellular data option plan with the hub that only connects to ST and I’d pay $10 / month easy. Income for them.


If you are a project fi user they offer a data only SIM card that consumes data from the same data pool as your phone so no monthly charge for the additional simcard. $10/1GB, see link for compatible devices

(Eric) #10

Unfortunately, I am not.


Thanks for the link to, I’m going to see if I can use my old verizon s6 there and tether it to the asus router as a failover. What I’m interested to find out next is if I can set rules to allow only certain devices to use that failover connection.


Please share if you come up with a solution for this, I have an Asus router but could not figure out how to restrict which devices had access to the secondary WAN without using a separate managed switch.

(Benji) #13

Normally that kind of thing (setting rules to direct specific traffic to use different WAN interfaces) requires a much more complex router than consumer grad stuff.

Heck I’m not even sure the Ubiquiti USG/ERL can do that yet.

(Michael Hess) #14

Pfsense or monowall are fantastic for this. I think I’ve heard you mention that before though Benji.

(Benji) #15

Yeah they’d probably do it. The USG / ERL will do WAN failover but you can’t (currently) direct traffic via specific WAN gateways.

(Craiginpa) #16

I have exactly the same question.

I have a new MoFi Networks LTE router than supports just about every band and frequency in the USA so I just need a data plan and SIM that I can “failover” to with my SmartThings hub (and security cameras & NAS) if my wired Internet access ever fails.

But I can’t seem to find any data plan that meets my needs:

  1. Allowed to connect all my security system devices as downstream devices (all wired, though I might add a one via WiFi sooner or later)
  2. Low base costs/month since I assume I’ll never actually need to use it more than a few minutes a month just to test it.
  3. Reasonable $/GB
  4. No additional hardware required, no phone (unless free or I can use a cheap old one), no bundle, no family-plan, etc.

I did look at Google Fi ($20 + $10/GB) so I could get as much or as little as I actually need to use, with any & all downstream devices I need to use, but they won’t let you set up an account (through which you can order & add additional data-only SIMs) unless you have a particular $$$expensive$$$ model of Pixel or Nexus phone, so that seems a dead end.

A local T-Mobile dealer said they have a cheap $25 data-only plan of some kind but I’m not sure what restrictions it has or how painfully low the speed gets when I might need it.

The idea seems like it’d fit the need very well, so I’ll look into that one. I do have some issues with their web site’s Mobile side though. (I can’t get their web site to work today so I can’t read any of the FAQ’s for their mobile services, (and it won’t let me order a SIM card because it doesn’t recognize my LTE modem in their list of phones for ordering a SIM, though I think I can fake it through by pretending it’s a Google Pixel since that, too, is a multi-network device.)

Best regards,

Craig in PA

(Eric) #17

Craig, my SIM card is on the way. I’ll let you know how it goes. BTW - Where in PA? I used to live in Erie, Pittsburgh, Hershey.


I thought of a hacky way of working around this issue. I can have all my regular devices that I want excluded from use of the LTE data plugged into a switch that is plugged into a smart outlet. IF my IP address changes from the normal ISP used day to day, then turn off the power to the switch :slight_smile:, just need to figure out how to check if my regular internet comes back online. I use dyndns already so that might come into play.

I couldn’t justify the $250+ cost of equipment that can do this gracefully :slight_smile:

(Craiginpa) #19

Eric whoismoses – I have a SIM card ordered too. I’m going with the “GSM network” (alias T-mobile) SIM rather than the “CDMA network” (alias Sprint) because T-mobile seems to have better odds of being strong at my house according to If it works badly, I can switch if I need to. FWIW, I’m near Montgomeryville, an exurb N-NE of Philadelphia.



Thats a nifty idea, I might have to adopt that if it works well for you. I have a basic powershell script that that loops on a local pc and checks your public IP, I’ve used that to shut down individual devices when using the cellular backup. I can provide it if it would be helpful to you.

Also if you have wrt-Merlin on your asus router you can run scripts and cron jobs directly from the router, I havent messed with this much but I think the potential is there to have the router execute scripts based on its public ip changing…