Starlink & T-Mobile Changing the Game for Internet for Truck Drivers (And Homesteaders)

When Jenna and I first stepped foot on our land at Revere Ranch one of my initial thoughts was “how in the hell are we going to get internet out here?” The land is beautiful. Everything we could hope for in plenty of peaceful space to homestead on. But after multiple years of running a truck pulling refrigerated freight across all lower 48 with extremely expensive cell phone plans we were concerned about being able to remain connected with a reasonable service.

AT&T (our provider) is very weak out there. And even if it was strong, their plans don’t really facilitate truly unlimited data being passed on to things like TVs and computers. TVs can rack up a LOT of data usage in a hurry. AT&T doesn’t like that. And they’ll charge you an arm and a leg for it.

There is no fiber optic or high speed internet of any kind running out to our land. Our neighbors were all telling us they’ve been jumping around between various crappy unreliable satellite internet providers (looking at you, HughesNet), or providers that use cell towers with very low data caps. This was in no way encouraging.

Fortunately we ended up doing business with a small contractor/company just down the road and they had great internet. I asked the receptionist what they were using and she told me they had Starlink as a primary service backed up by T-Mobile home internet.

Do tell. They were using the “RVer” version of Starlink. With a monthly fee of $135. And T-mobile home internet for $50 a month. At $185 a month that’s a steep bill. But not that steep compared to what AT&T would want for similar data usage. Not anywhere close.

I asked about speeds and was told Starlink pulls down 90Mbps with 15Mbps up. T-mobile enjoyed well over 100 down and 25 up. Now this isn’t blazing fast, but it kicks the shit out of HughesNet. Especially when both Starlink and T-mobile are truly unlimited data with no caps.

We ended up with T-Mobile and here’s my review on it thus far.

T-Mobile Home Internet

Yes, it is $50 a month with a $35 activation fee. It’s actually $55 a month if you don’t use auto-pay. There is a 15 day trial period as well. So if you don’t like it, or the way it works, you can return it with a full refund.

There are zero equipment fees. I paid $35 for the activation fee plus a few bucks in taxes and I was out the door. The equipment is basically a signal receiver and wifi-router all in one device.

The map showed our property just outside the range of the closest 5G tower so I was a bit concerned. But in my mind if I got a steady 50 Mbps down I would be happy. Our ranch is in rural Texas so while that isn’t fast, it’s reasonable for where our property is. The best we could ask/hope for.

After firing up the router we ended up with 4 bars of 5G. I placed the device in a window in a room facing the nearest tower. I walked to the other end of the house and clocked 170Mbps down and 40 Mbps up.

HELL. YES.

No, that isn’t Spectrum’s fiber 1GB internet, but for a ranch in the middle of rural country that is insanely fast. And it has remained consistent.

T-Mobile’s website states you can’t take the device and move it anywhere. But I talked to the rep about this and he told me flat out he has a lot of customers who drive a truck and take the router with them. With no issue whatsoever. Granted, the router still has to have access to a nearby tower. Meaning it won’t work where there is no coverage, obviously.

But if you’re parked in an area with good coverage and want to watch a movie in HD, this thing will handle it with ease. And no disruption to the media. With no concerns about data usage or caps.

5 stars. Easily.

STARLINK FOR RV

Starlink for RVs is out now and available nationwide. There are some caveats though. It’s more expensive, it has high equipment costs and if you’re using the “mobile” (RV) service you can see somewhat throttled service in high consumption areas. Starlink’s stationary customers get priority over the RVer service.

So if you use Starlink’s mobile receiver and you’re in a big Starlink customer area you could see speeds drop to below 50Mbps. The business I talked to hasn’t experienced this. They don’t see the 300Mbps+ that non-mobile Starlink customers get, but they also don’t see speeds drop below 50Mbps. Their speeds were a consistent 90+ down.

Let’s talk costs…

Service is $135 per month. There are two options for equipment.

1) Stationary yet mobile equipment: This is a small dish you need to sit out when parked. Or maybe put in your dash if in a truck. But you can only use it when not in motion. It costs $599 and you own the equipment.

2) In-Motion equipment: For a whopping $2500 you can buy the in-motion receiver that will provide constant coverage whether you’re moving or not. While this could be a good investment (and a business expense) I find the barrier to entry quite high.

Either way, unlike T-Mobile Starlink has nationwide coverage. No matter where you are. No cell towers needed. Even at a rest area in Wyoming, you’ll have high speed internet with Starlink.

CONCLUSION

I wish these options had been available 3-4 years ago when we started our trucking career. Internet is an important part of our business and this would have been a game-changer for us. But, better late than never.

I probably would have utilized both and expensed it all. Especially since we ran freight in a lot of areas where there was ZERO cell coverage.

Our AT&T bill was always way over $185 a month so even using both T-Mobile and Starlink we probably would have broke even after downscaling our AT&T plan.

These may work for you or they may not. But more and more these days we’re starting to have better options to consider. And this is great news!