Best Internet Options for Truckers

Best unlimited MVNO plan
Visible
Visible+
  • pro
    $45.00/mo.
  • pro
    50GB of premium data, possible slowed speeds thereafter
  • pro
    Verizon 5G network
Best hotspot plan
T Mobile
T-Mobile
  • pro
    $30.00/mo.
  • pro
    10GB of high-speed data, unlimited 3G thereafter
  • pro
    Bring your own hotspot device
Starlink Roam
Starlink
Starlink Mobile Regional
  • pro
    $150.00/mo.*
  • pro
    Unlimited data
  • pro
    99% availability
  • pro
    $599.00–$2,500.00 equipment fee

Data as of 11/28/23. *Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.


Hannah Rivera
Nov 30, 2023
bullet11 min read

What is the best internet for truckers?

We can confidently say that using your mobile phone is the best overall internet option for the trucker lifestyle. This goes for all kinds of vehicles—from your neighborhood food trucks to those long-commute F150s, all the way up to long-hauling semi-trucks. The sheer flexibility and coverage of mobile networks makes using your mobile phone for internet a great option on the road.

Other options for getting connected in your truck include hotspot connections, which are high-speed connections but limited by location or data caps, and satellite internet, which excels in remote areas but can definitely be pricey. You can also use free public Wi-Fi, but it can be annoying to hunt down, and if you’re out on remote highways, you might not even find a business that offers it.

Each option has its pros and cons, but after four days of research and our own personal testing, we’ve broken down the best options for truck Wi-Fi.

Unlimited mobile phone plans

Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile Unlimited Plan
● Unlimited data for $30.00/mo. (with 1 phone line)
● Deprioritized after 40GB
● Access to 5G network
● 10 GB mobile hotspot
T Mobile
T-Mobile Essentials Plan
● Unlimited data for $60.00/mo. (with 1 phone line)
● Deprioritized after 50GB
● Access to 5G network
● 3G hotspot

Unlimited mobile phone plans for truckers

An unlimited mobile phone plan is a really practical option for getting internet in your truck. Here are some reasons we think an unlimited data plan will work best for your trucking needs:

  1. You can stay connected almost everywhere. Most mobile carriers have widespread coverage across the nation, so you’ll experience a pretty stable connection in most places. no matter where you are.
  2. They’re versatile. Mobile phones with unlimited plans can be used as hotspots, allowing you to create a Wi-Fi network in your truck. This capability is a real boon, as tethering will let you connect multiple devices for all your in-cabin browsing needs.
  3. They’re cost-effective. While unlimited plans are slightly more expensive upfront, they usually end up saving you money. Accidentally going over your data limit on a limited plan can cost a pretty penny. If you find yourself on the road in unpredictable situations, you don’t want the dread of a data overage charge to make a stressful situation any worse.

Overall, unlimited data plans for your mobile phone are the ideal mix of flexibility for your on-the-road lifestyle, consistent in-motion connection, and expansive network coverage, all for more reasonable prices than satellite internet.

Keep in mind: Unlimited data is almost never actually unlimited. These plans give you a roomy high-speed data allotment, and after you use it up, your speeds will reduce. Luckily, the slower speeds are usually still capable of handling your major needs. 

So, if you can’t tell, we really recommend opting for an unlimited mobile phone plan; they’re generally a cost-effective and versatile solution for keeping a consistent internet connection during your journeys. Here are some of our favorite unlimited data plans below to get you started.

What are MVNOs?

MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) are like the middle child of the mobile carrier world; they might not get the most attention, but they’re quiet workhorses that you definitely want to know about before you choose between unlimited mobile phone plans.

These mobile phone companies don't own their own cell towers, but instead lease access to major carrier towers. MVNOs basically rent network services in bulk and then resell them to consumers at way discounted rates.  If you use an MVNO cell plan, you’ll get access to the same coverage and network quality as the major carriers for cheaper prices, since these companies don’t have to account for as much overhead investment.

 Be warned, the trade-off with MVNOs is that your mobile data will take a backseat to direct customers of the big carriers(the fancy tech people call it deprioritization); when the network gets congested, your speed will be sacrificed so direct customers can get what they’re paying the premium price for. Popular MVNOs that you’ve probably heard of include Cricket Wireless, Mint Mobile (Ryan Reynolds, anyone?), and Visible.

Pros and cons of mobile phone plans as internet for truckers

Pros
pro MVNOs are super affordable.
pro You get access to big carrier towers means your MVNO coverage area will be widespread and generally reliable.
Cons
con Your MVNO unlimited plan’s speed will be deprioritized by big carriers during network congestion (this can happen at any time and you’ll have no way to control it).

Cell phone boosters for a stronger signal

A cell phone booster is designed to improve your cellular signal strength in areas with poor network coverage. They work by capturing the existing weak signal outside, amplifying it, and then broadcasting the enhanced signal within a certain area, like your truck’s cabin. We recommend using one along with your mobile phone data plan to get the strongest signal, and in turn internet connection, possible. 

Best cell boosters for trucks

Device
Price
Special features
Learn more
$519.99*● Comes with mounting brackets for the external antenna
● Has a stronger signal amplification
$199.99*● Comes with a magnetic external antenna
● Has a weaker signal amplification

*Data as of 11/22/23

Mobile hotspot devices

A mobile hotspot device is a compact, portable piece of tech that essentially functions as a small router, allowing multiple devices to connect to the internet using cellular data. The key difference between a mobile hotspot device and using your phone plan for tethering lies in the dedicated hardware.

When you use your phone's tethering feature, you are essentially turning your smartphone into a hotspot, while a hotspot device is a separate piece of equipment with its own battery and often superior features.

A mobile hotspot device is especially useful in situations where you always need a good internet connection on a long-term basis. If you need internet in your truck for longhauling or cross-country drives on a routine basis, these devices might feel like the heaven-sent answer to your internet woes.

Using your phone as a hotspot is convenient and cheaper, but it's best to use sparingly. Choosing between a hotspot device (with a plan) and a mobile phone data plan (with tethering) will depend on how often you need to share the internet and what you need it for.

Why we recommend a hotspot device for your truck

  1. You can support more devices with a dedicated hotspot device than if you just use your phone’s tethering.
  2. You can usually purchase a hotspot device through your current cellular provider, making the process pretty convenient to just bundle with your existing plan.
  3. With a device, you can keep your software downloading on your laptop in the truck, even if you take your phone inside the gas station.
  4. You don’t have to drain your phone’s battery life; your hotspot device has its own internal battery that you can charge and let ride.

Drawbacks of hotspot devices to keep in mind

  1. Your internet coverage will still be dependent on your hotspot’s carrier network—your connection might be great in some places and poor in others.
  2. Data overage fees might catch you off guard. Most hotspot device plans have data caps that, if you exceed the allotment, can add up to a pretty penny.
  3. You’ll have one more device to manage. A hotspot device has to be charged—or left plugged in all the time—and updated, and it might be more complicated to troubleshoot issues on it than your phone.

Overall, we think using a mobile hotspot device is a really great option for the right trucker or commuter. If you need your Wi-Fi to be available in your truck constantly, and would rather keep your phone free to use and take inside places, we recommend a dedicated hotspot device—as long as you have a way to charge it.

Satellite internet

We’d usually recommend Hughesnet and Viasat as great satellite internet providers, but they don’t offer portable satellite internet options. So, until they do, SpaceX’s Starlink is currently the only reasonable option for drivers who want a portable and high-speed satellite internet solution.

Starlink has changed the name of its portable satellite plans a few times now; once Starlink RV, then Starlink Roam, and most recently, Starlink Mobile. Whatever name it uses by the time you’re reading this, its pricey service has some seriously nice features.

Starlink Roam and Mobility plans

Starlink Plans
Price
(Satellite type) One-time equipment fee
Mobile Regional$150.00/mo.(Standard portable) $599.00
Mobile Global$200.00/mo.(Standard portable) $599.00
Mobile Priority 50GB$250.00/mo.(Flat high-performance) $2,500.00
Mobile Priority 1TB$1,000.00/mo.(Flat high-performance) $2,500.00
Mobile Priority 5TB$5,000.00/mo.(Flat high-performance) $2,500.00

Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill. Data as of 11/28/23.

The plan you pick and the accompanying equipment fee you’ll pay will depend on your needs. Starlink Roam’s standard portable satellite ($599.00) can’t be used while actively moving. It has to be set up and put away every time you stop. The flat high-performance satellite ($2,500.00), however, can be installed onto your vehicle so you can use it in motion.  

If your desire for satellite internet in your truck stems from the fact that you own and operate an entire fleet of private emergency response vehicles, then we recommend you sign up for one of the Mobile Priority plans.

If it’s just you and your long-haul truck, and you don’t mind that you’ll have to stop your vehicle and set it up every time you need to browse the web, we suggest Starlink’s Mobile Regional plan.

Why Starlink satellite plans aren’t our first choice for truckers

  1. While it does offer cutting-edge features, its price and equipment may be considered a bit overkill for most truckers.
  2. Since the cheaper satellite hardware can’t be used while moving, if you need in-motion capability, you’d be forced to spend $2,500.00 upfront and get a larger monthly payment just for that ability. Or get a mobile cell phone plan anyway, to compensate.
  3. If you opt for the flat high-performance satellite, and you ever switch vehicles, you’d have to uninstall the entire satellite and remount it onto your new truck.

Public Wi-Fi hotspots

Free public Wi-Fi options

Free public Wi-Fi is readily available and offers cost-free access to internet for truck drivers on the go. It's a convenient option for quick stuff, like checking emails or casual browsing. You’ll usually find free public Wi-Fi at libraries, restaurants, campgrounds, rest areas, gas stations, and shopping centers.

It might be a nice idea, in theory, to get the internet for free, but it comes with a few important trade-offs:

  • Finding a business that offers free Wi-Fi isn’t a great idea for truckers who spend a lot of time on rural highways.
  • Being careful when entering sensitive information on public unsecured networks, as they’re susceptible to hacking.
  • Managing your expectations when it comes to speed and reliability, which can vary based on location and network congestion, factors completely beyond your control.

If you decide that you still want to try out free public Wi-Fi networks, we recommend a few things to keep your information safe while you browse.

Tips for staying safe on public Wi-Fi

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). We like Express VPN, Nord VPN, and Proton VPN.
  • Keep the devices you want to connect to the public network updated.
  • Make sure your passwords aren’t too short or easy to guess.
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.

Internet provider hotspots

How internet provider hotspots work

Internet provider hotspots are Wi-Fi access points provided by your home internet service provider (ISP). These hotspots come with your provider’s existing network and are placed in specific locations, like coffee shops, restaurants, and airports.

You’ll still have to seek them out in public places, but they can give you convenient access to the internet outside your home while providing better benefits than free public Wi-Fi.

How internet provider hotspots are different from public Wi-Fi

While both internet provider hotspots and free public Wi-Fi offer wireless internet access, there are key reasons that make provider hotspots better overall.

  1. They’re safer: Internet provider hotspots will ask for authentication using your ISP account login info, so they’re more secure than public Wi-Fi.
  2. You’ll probably get a better connection: Internet provider hotspots are typically part of your home internet provider’s network infrastructure, so you’ll get a more consistent and reliable connection.
  3. They’re still free: Okay, maybe not technically, but your home internet plan usually gives you access to these hotspots for free with your existing ISP plan. 

Here are some ISPs that offer hotspots with their home internet service:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Xfinity
  • Spectrum

Wi-Fi antenna boosters

Wi-Fi antenna boosters (aka signal boosters or range extenders) are devices designed to enhance and extend the range of a Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi boosters don’t create an internet source where one doesn’t already exist, but they are great for making whatever signal you do have stronger.

In areas where free public Wi-Fi is available, Wi-Fi antenna boosters can amplify these signals to be strong enough to reach your vehicle. Then, you’ll be able to use free public Wi-Fi while maintaining your privacy inside your truck cabin.

Because Wi-Fi boosters don’t make their own signal, it’s important to remember that you’re better off using them as a supplemental accessory and not as a primary Wi-Fi solution. We still recommend using cellular data as your primary internet source for your long commute.

Best Wi-Fi antenna boosters for truckers

Device
Price
Special Info
Details
$205.57*● Must be mounted to the outside of the vehicle
● Compatible with iOS and Windows
● Weather-resistant
$59.97*● Three mounting options
● Only compatible with PC
● Only one computer at a time (single USB)
● Weather-resistant
$124.99*● Requires wall plug
● Compact design
● Compatible with iOS and Windows
● Not weather-resistant

*Data as of 11/22/23

Cellular home internet

Cellular home internet is a type of internet service that uses cellular networks—instead of traditional wired connections like DSL or cable—to provide high-speed internet. Cellular home internet, or fixed wireless internet, relies on the same data networks that power your mobile phone to deliver internet service to your residence.

5G home internet options

A lot of people think T-Mobile’s Home Internet would be a great internet option on the road due to its excellent 5G performance and portability. We totally understand the appeal, but taking it on the road violates its terms of service and could even get you banned from T-Mobile services.

So, for this reason, even though we recommend the service for home use, we seriously advise against using it on the road. Plus, the gateway—aside from being bulkier than we’d like for a vehicle—poses an issue as it requires power that might conflict with other devices in your truck cabin’s setup.

4G LTE portable internet

Nomad Internet

Nomad Internet's 4G LTE traveling plan gained popularity in recent years among the RV community, but the Texas Attorney General is pursuing a $75 million lawsuit against Nomad, accusing the founder of repackaging SIM cards from other providers without disclosing it. When the original providers found out, they disabled the cards, and Nomad customers were left without a connection.

Despite numerous complaints, Nomad offered lackluster solutions but continued charging its customers. Due to its practices and poor service in general, we advise against using Nomad's service if you like keeping your money.

A heads up about 4G LTE internet options

While you’re totally free to try them out, we don’t recommend 4G LTE internet service options over using your cellular data for internet. You’ll often get a better deal and more reliable service if you opt for a mobile data plan or hotspot plan with your existing cell carrier.

So, to wrap things up…

Overall, our top two recommendations are mobile phone data plans and mobile hotspot devices with a hotspot plan. When you’re on the road all day, the last thing you want to worry about when you get off work is whether you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your Netflix series, or if you’ll be stuck buffering all night. Mobile plans and hotspots offer the flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and ease you want in an internet solution for your truck.

Remember, it’s imperative to choose the right data plan and network for your needs. Read the fine print to find out if your provider charges data overage fees, roaming charges, throttles speed after a certain data allotment, and if its network will prioritize your data or other customers first. 

If you want to give your data plan or hotspot a break every now and then by using a free or ISP public hotspot, consider investing in a Wi-Fi antenna booster to help you get the most out of the public signal.

Methodology

We always provide you results found using individual and first-hand testing, customer reviews gathered through interviews (sometimes sourced through Quora and Reddit, only when necessary), our survey results, and proprietary data from our built-in website tools. We aim to deliver thorough and trustworthy reviews, and in the end, offer you valuable insight to guide your decision-making process.

Internet for truckers FAQ

How do I get Wi-Fi in my semi-truck?

The best way to get internet in a semi is with a mobile phone from T-Mobile or Verizon, since these providers have the largest 5G coverage maps in the US. If you need more data than a single phone line offers, get a mobile hotspot to keep laptops and other devices connected on the road.

Which cellular network has the most coverage for truckers on the road?

As of 2023, OpenSignal found T-Mobile has the largest 5G coverage area in the US out of all the major carriers. Your mileage may vary, but we believe T-Mobile plans offer great reliability, and their customers report they rarely lose service.

Are there internet options that cater to rest areas and truck stops?

Most rest areas and truck stops will offer some form of free public Wi-Fi. It’s an okay option if you don’t mind slow internet with random availability, but make sure you use a VPN and have strong passwords set before you connect, since public networks can be susceptible to hacking.

Hannah Rivera
Written by
Hannah Rivera
Hannah is new to freelancing, but not to the tech world. She grew up with the internet at her fingertips and has been following along with tech trends since the dawn of Facebook. She is dedicated to making tech information more digestible and accessible to the general public, and she writes for anyone who needs it.