Never getting another laptop without cellular access (aka I can’t get Personal Hotspot to work)

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Argh, this is so frustrating. I had an unusual two hours between meetings today and it didn’t make sense to go home. So I thought I would try the T-Personal Hotspot that is on both my phone and my iPad. While I absolutely love the iPad with the cellular. Yes, it costs $20/month, but the convenience of always-on is immense.

So for instance, the iPad gets 24Mbps up and 17Mbps down in real world downtown.

Also, the new iPad Pro with cellular although expensive has both a virtual SIM and also a real physical SIM card. This means that you can have a T-Mobile data plan that is $10/month with LTE speeds up to 30GB for the hotspot. It worked well at one point, but lately has been really unreliable. The Macbook connects, but the data is very slow or there is some sort of strange router problem when you get a Wifi or Bluetooth connection, but when you ping google.com it says no route which is not good.

$ ping google.com
PING google.com (216.58.194.206): 56 data bytes
ping: sendto: No route to host
ping: sendto: No route to host
Request timeout for icmp_seq 0

I also tried the slower 3G Personal Hotspot with an iPhone X and that is equally unreliable. So here we go into diagnostics. Apple suggests the normal stuff:

  1. Restart the iPad or iPhone
  2. Reset the Network settings

I did this and also looked up the “no route to host” and didn’t find anything that was clear to me. But it did talk about docker networking but when starting docker, this didn’t seem like a problem.

And then suddenly it just started to work. But the speeds are very slow. Originally this was supposed to be LTE speed networking, but with the recent change from T-Mobile One to T-Mobile Magenta, They derated the current plans, but I got 130Kbps up and 400Kbps down. So you have to upgrade to T-Mobile Magenta to get LTE speeds. Argh!

The main problem is that I have a sweet deal so $20/month sounds great, but I can’t upgrade to the new plan without upgrading all the old phone plans. Another Argh. I guess I’m living with a slow laptop 🙂

I usually buy MacBook Pros but now I’m wondering when they will just build cellular right in so I don’t have to worry about this

On the plus side, these days, as long as you give away a “junk” email, Starbucks will give you pretty decent Wifi. Alternatively, I wonder what happens if you put a T-mobile Tablet plan card into a cellular modem router, do you get the full speed for $20?

For about $200, you can get a Netgear Cellular Router. This has a battery in it and you put a data sim into it. You get a wifi access point with cellular backhaul. This isn’t a bad solution if you have a MacBook without the right connection:

  1. Netgear MR1100. It’s a pricey $349, but it is 4G LTE and should work.
  2. Netgear LB1120. This is just $119, but it has some drawback, it needs AC power and it has no Wifi, so you need an ethernet connection

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