best deal on unlimited data anywhere!
(UPDATE 5/11/2020: Detroit has informed me that this deal is no longer available.)
One of the things I enjoy about living in Puerto Rico is there is always some challenge to overcome; whether small or large. Things that are simple and easy in the states such as paying at the pump or finding fresh veggies and specialty items such as nattō take a bit of creativity here. I personally take satisfaction in working out a not-so-obvious solution to the little inconveniences that can sometimes grate on you after a while.
Internet access is obviously another example of something that just works in the states, but cannot be taken for granted in Puerto Rico. We STILL don’t have cable internet service from Liberty at my condo nearly 7 months after Hurricane Maria!
In my last post, I laid out the tools we use to stay connected. A reader, Todd, took that information as a starting point and went down the rabbit hole even further. He reached out to compare notes and share his findings.
Todd found a website that shows the cell towers on the island. According to this site, the closest AT&T cell tower to us is in Aguadilla. That may explain why I’m only able to get download speeds of around 9mbs. (There is another site that shows antennas which are a bit more numerous in the area.)
Then he told me about a guy he found on eBay who can set you up with unlimited data from AT&T for only $29.99 a month! (UPDATE 6/1/2019 – They have just increased the price to $34.99 which is still well worth it in my opinion) Frankly, I thought this sounded too good to be true. Somewhat skeptical, I told Todd to let me know how it goes after he tries it for a week. After he got set up, he reported that everything looked legit and he was getting download speeds of 40mbs! Of course, that’s in San Juan where there are a lot more cell towers. Either way, that was all I needed to hear.
how to get started
The first step was to find an unregistered SIM card. Todd was able to convince the folks at the AT&T kiosk in Kmart into selling him one to get his. Apparently, I was not as persuasive. They wouldn’t budge with me and insisted the SIM card HAD to be registered in order to sell it.
Fortunately, there are other options. You can sometimes find unregistered SIM cards at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and/or Best Buy. They are also available on eBay and Amazon. I ended up finding a stash of them on the shelf at Walgreens.
With SIM card in hand, the next step was to get in touch with Detroit (yes, that’s his name). For a one time fee of about $40, he registered the SIM card in my name so that I will be paying AT&T directly going forward. After I logged in, selected the unlimited plan, and entered my payment information, I was up and running. It’s likely that the other guy from eBay I had been paying $60 a month to has this very same plan and was pocketing the difference.
One thing to note is that AT&T makes the disclaimer that once you use more than 22 gigabytes in a given billing period, you may have your speeds throttled back. Personally, I’ve never experienced this and Detroit told me he regularly pulls 150 gigs a month and has never seen his speeds slowed. Of course, that’s not to say it will never be done.
best deal on unlimited data!
I asked Detroit if I could share this information and he assured me it was fine. Apparently, these plans were specifically meant for iPads but the SIM cards work in hotspots as well. Of course, AT&T doesn’t advertise these plans anymore but is still required to honor them. At this price, I will likely keep it even after Liberty comes back up just to have redundancy and automatic failover using a hotspot like the Netgear LB2120.
That said, there is no contract, and according to Detroit, you can stop and start this plan as needed which is really nice. If you would like to get one of these plans for yourself, feel free to get in touch with Detroit via email after you’ve purchased an unregistered SIM card. It’s an excellent, affordable option for those of us in Puerto Rico who are still struggling with reliable internet access in Hurricane Maria’s wake.