Best Internet Options for Truckers

Here's how to stay connected on the road with data-rich cell phone plans, portable hotspots, and more.
Best Verizon data hotspot plan
Verizon
Verizon 150 GB prepaid data plan
  • pro
    $100.00/mo.
  • pro
    150 GB/mo. high-speed data
Best budget cell phone plan
Visible
Visible phone plan
  • pro
    $40.00/mo. for unlimited data
  • pro
    Verizon network (deprioritized data)
Best for multiple devices
ATT
AT&T Unlimited Elite
  • pro
    $85.00/mo.
  • pro
    HBO Max included

Data as of 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.


Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
Read More
September 16, 2021

Professional truck drivers know that reliable Wi-Fi is essential when you're OTR every week. Good wireless internet access can make the difference between taking unpaid backhauls and earning profit, for example.

So we’ve rounded up the best internet options for truckers—from mobile hotspot devices to portable 4G LTE internet modems.

Best cell phone plans for truckers

Phone plan
Price
Hotspot data
Additional info
Get it
$80.00/mo.15 GBIncludes Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+
$40.00/mo.UnlimitedSpeeds capped at 5 Mbps
$85.00/mo.40 GBIncludes HBO Max

Data as of 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Cellular data is the most common way to get internet for truckers and stay connected on the road. With the right cell phone plan, you can stay connected to trip-planning apps, dispatchers, music, friends, and podcasts while driving and even do some limited TV streaming during off hours.

But not all cellular plans work as well on the road. T-Mobile’s network, for example, is great in urban areas but unreliable in rural areas where AT&T and Verizon have better coverage.

Another thing to watch out for is how much hotspot data a cellular plan offers. Many claim to be unlimited, but if you read the fine print, they offer a limited amount of full-speed data before, and once you use that up, you get slow unlimited data (as in too slow to use for streaming or gaming). Verizon and AT&T are both guilty of this, but since their networks are so robust, they’re still preferred by most truckers.

If you know you're a heavy data user, a cellular phone plan probably won’t give you enough data. In that case, we recommend a mobile hotspot or 4G LTE portable internet, which should better serve your needs.

Reliable internet options for truckers

If you use a lot of data, you’ll want an internet source in addition to your phone plan. You'll need a mobile hotspot or a 4G LTE internet plan. You don’t want to be stuck without service when you have a breakdown, or be unreachable when your family has an emergency.

Mobile hotspots vs. LTE internet service

Internet option
Download Speed
Data
Get it
Mobile hotspot device + data plan5–12 Mbps2–150 GB/mo.
4G LTE modem + monthly service plan5–25 Mbps400–500 GB/mo.

Data as of 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best mobile hotspots for truckers

Mobile hotspot devices deliver the best internet experience for truck drivers because you can add a mobile hotspot data plan to your current cell phone plan for a relatively low fee (Verizon charges $20 per month for customers who already have at least one phone line through Verizon).

Mobile hotspot devices aren’t infallible—you’ll be driving in areas without a phone signal sometimes. And sometimes you won’t have a signal at remote truck stops or rest areas in mountain passes. But mobile data is still more reliable than any other kind of portable internet you can get.

If you’re driving through a lot of no service areas, get a signal extender to use with your hotspot or cell phone. You can use a signal extender to stretch service areas a few miles and get slightly better service away from cities.

Data as of 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best Verizon hotspot

Best Verizon hotspot
Verizon MiFi
Verizon MiFi M2100 5G UW
  • Device cost: $399.99 or $16.66/mo.*
  • Data plan price: Starts at $20.00/mo.
 

Data as of 10/27/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The Verizon MiFi M2100 mobile hotspot device is a great option for truckers. It gives you access to priority Verizon data, which has the widest coverage area of any cellular network. It also has a long battery life (it’s good for up to 24 hours of usage per charge). If you already have a Verizon Unlimited phone plan, you can add an extra line for this hotspot for just $20 per month—although this low priced data plan gives you only 15 GB of high-speed data. Upgrade your data plan to Verizon’s $150 per month plan and you will have 150 GB of data for hours and hours of streaming and video calls every month.

You can use your Verizon MiFi M2100 mobile hotspot to connect laptops, gaming consoles, and other devices to the internet while you’re away from home. Just know that your internet connection will work only in Verizon service areas.

Best AT&T hotspot

Best AT&T hotspot
Netgear Nighthawk
NETGEAR Nighthawk MR1100 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Router
  • Device cost: $249.99
  • Data plan price: Starts at $40.00/mo.

Data as of 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you have cell service with AT&T, it makes sense to get a mobile hotspot through AT&T (since carriers offer discounts for second lines). AT&T has a strong nationwide network, like Verizon, and will give you maximum connectivity while on the road. You’ll still drive through dead zones where there isn’t service, but it won’t be as many dead zones as you’d drive through if you were on T-Mobile or Sprint.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk MR1100 4G LTE mobile hotspot router has good battery life (up to 24 hours, like the Verizon MiFi). It’s a good way to connect multiple devices to the internet while you’re on the road or at layovers.

Best hotspot for easy setup

Best hotspot for easy setup
Network Modem
Verizon Global Modem USB730L
  • Device cost: $249.99
  • Data plan price: starting at $20.00/mo.
 

Data as of 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you’ll be using your mobile hotspot device exclusively to connect a laptop to the internet, the Verizon Global Modem USB730L is a handy plug-and-play portable modem. It doesn’t connect as many devices as the other options we mention, but it’s well suited to single laptop use. As a bonus, it works in over 200 countries, so if you’re driving loads to Canada or Mexico, you can use it internationally (although varying data rates apply).

Using your mobile phone as a hotspot

If you just need to occasionally get Wi-Fi on a laptop, you can skip the mobile hotspot and use the personal hotspot feature on your mobile phone instead. You’ll just need to make sure you have hotspot data as part of your cell phone plan.

To create a hotspot, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and turn it to “on.” You’ll then be able to pick up the internet signal from your phone on another device, such as a laptop. On your laptop, click on the network icon and scroll down to your phone connection. Select your phone’s name and type in the password you’ve previously set on your phone. This will share your phone internet with your laptop.

Keep in mind that mobile phone plans allow only a limited amount of data use for a personal hotspot—usually between 15 to 20 GB per month. For more information on how to use your mobile phone as a personal hotspot, check out “Should You Use Your Phone for Home Internet?

Best portable 4G LTE internet providers for data hogs

Provider
Price
Learn more

UbiFi

$99.99/mo.

Ladybug Wireless

$94.99/mo.

Wahoo Internet

$99.99/mo.

Data effective 10/29/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you have serious data needs while on the road (like a gamer in the passenger seat), 4G LTE internet is something to look into. Connecting with 4G LTE internet will give you much more data than any other type of internet you can get on the road. Most 4G LTE home internet plans give you 400 GB or more per month—which is much more than you’ll get with a typical mobile hotspot.

There are a few limitations to 4G LTE internet though. It works only in areas with mobile phone service (of course). You’ll also need to keep the router plugged in while it’s in use (there isn’t a battery option), which should be fairly simple in a sleeper truck.

To get 4G LTE internet service, you’ll have to pay for the router/modem up front and then pay for monthly service. The advantage to this type of service is that you can take it with you on the road and also set it up at home.

There are dozens of 4G LTE internet providers around the country that will give you good wireless internet service for around $100 per month. Some of them run on Sprint or T-Mobile networks, which won’t offer very good coverage. Opt for a 4G LTE internet provider that runs on Verizon or AT&T networks for the best coverage on roads and highways across the country. Most 4G LTE providers are MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators), so it can be hard to find out which networks they operate on. Check this list of MVNOs in the US to find out which network a particular 4G LTE internet provider operates on.

Best signal boosters for truckers

weBoost Drive 4G-X OTR (470210) Truck Cell Phone Signal Booster
weBoost Drive Sleek
Cel-Fi GO Trucker

Amazon.com prices are: $499.99, $279.99, and $869.99 (as of 10/29/21 10:15 MST). See full disclaimer.

A cell phone signal booster can extend your cell phone’s signal beyond the normal service area. This means less time in no-signal areas where you’re cut off from communication and the information you need to get your job done. If your regular routes are taking you through no-signal areas or you’re a long-haul trucker taking long trips, we recommend getting a signal booster for safety and reliability.

How better Wi-Fi can help truckers

Truckers and delivery drivers of all types rely on Wi-Fi. Long-haul truckers and local delivery drivers use Wi-Fi to pick up jobs, file delivery reports, get navigation and road condition updates, and to stay in touch with friends and fellow truckers along the way. CB radios are still used by truckers in some parts of the country, but they’re used mostly for camaraderie and local information. 

Good Wi-Fi also helps truckers stay connected to friends, family, and fellow truckers. Trucking requires long days at the wheel and most of your workweek spent away from home, day and night. Reliable Wi-Fi means you can contact people when you need them and when they need you, and that gives you peace of mind.

A few trucking companies provide a satellite internet connection in their rigs, but it’s slower than Wi-Fi in most areas and expensive to get set up. Others provide mobile phones, hotspots, or other internet options for their drivers, but most truckers are on their own finding the best solutions to stay connected to the internet while on the road and during 18-hour layovers.

Final verdict: Choose Verizon or AT&T to stay connected OTR

Truckers will get the best internet experience with cellular data—mobile networks are made to be mobile, after all! If you need more data than you can get from your phone plan alone, get a mobile hotspot from Verizon or AT&T. And if you’re part of a trucker team and you really eat through a lot of data, a 4G LTE internet plan will give you loads of data at an affordable price.

Steer clear of Sprint, T-Mobile, Boost, US Cellular, and any other mobile provider other than Verizon or AT&T because they just don’t deliver adequate coverage for truckers. You’ll want Verizon or AT&T for the best coverage outside metro areas.

FAQ about internet for truckers

The best way to get internet in a semi is with a mobile phone from AT&T or Verizon. 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.

We don’t recommend satellite internet for truckers for several reasons. Satellite internet for trucks is expensive to get set up (the equipment costs $5,000 or more), the data is pricey, and the service is slow. A few companies outfitted their rigs with satellite internet equipment, so some drivers have access to a roaming satellite connection when they’re driving through an area without mobile service. But we don’t recommend that you install satellite internet in semitrucks on your own. Mobile Wi-Fi is faster and more cost-effective.

Most truck stops do have internet, but it's usually slower and less reliable than mobile phone data. We recommend truck stop Wi-Fi only for recreational use.

At some truck stops, you can pay an annual fee to access better quality internet, but it can still be unreliable and subject to slowing. If you're a truck driver depending on internet to pick up jobs, file paperwork, and get the latest road conditions, you need your own connection that you can access on the road, like a good AT&T or Verizon mobile plan.

Most truckers use Verizon or AT&T for internet access on the road. Some truckers also have mobile hotspot devices from AT&T or Verizon, which give you more data for streaming and entertainment than a mobile phone plan alone.

Visible is a cost-effective alternative to Verizon for truckers on a budget. Visible runs on the Verizon network, but is half the price. Data is slower than typical Verizon speeds, but it offers unlimited hotspot data. If you’re on a budget and looking for unlimited data on the Verizon network, Visible is a good choice.

Sources

1. Abbott, Tyler, “Best Cell Phone Coverage 2020,” September 2020. Accessed October 1, 2020.

Amazon.com prices as of 10/29/21 10:15 MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SatelliteInternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at SatelliteInternet.com. Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor, Space.com, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.