Visible Part 2: Hands-on testing Verizon’s $40 per month unlimited brand

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

15 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Best deal in town if your over 55! $50/mo one line $35/mo unlimited two lines (max)
    • Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data
    • Global roaming in more than 200 locations worldwide
    • DVD quality video streaming of up to 480p
    • Unlimited mobile hotspot at 3G speeds to connect all devices (that’s slow)
    • Music streaming of up to 500 kbps
    • Gaming streams of up to 2 Mbps

    • Ed Stanton says:

      Who is this through!.

      • Michael says:

        Sorry. Sprint. T-Mobile may have it too because they’re trying to merge….You can’t get it over the phone or Internet you have to go into an office so they can verify your age.

        • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

          Well, I’m surprised to see that Sprint is claiming “Extended 4G LTE” at no extra cost along the Maine coast east of Brunswick… but I’m skeptical. Also the closest Sprint store to Camden is about 75 miles away. I think that Ben S is intrigued with Visible because it’s built on Verizon’s huge cell network. A good deal can be a lousy deal if you don’t have service.

        • Michael says:

          Good point, makes sense up there. Sprint (started in CA) and AT&T (formerly SW Bell and Pacific Bell) are both strong here in the West and Gulf, while Verizon (formerly NYNEX and Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone) is strong in the East/NE…

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Although this plan wouldn’t work for me (too young — and it’s been a while since I could say that) I think there are some things potential customers should be aware of with it.

      In addition to the comment I made below about Sprint’s lack of coverage in my cruising grounds I want to point out that hotspot restriction. 3g speeds usually equates to 600 kilobits per second or .6 megabits per second (mbps). In my own expereinces anything under 1 mbps is painfully slow for even minimal activities like email and web browsing. I consider 1 mbps the absolute minimum to even try. 3 mbps is the typical floor I see for acceptable streaming. As you can see in the Netflix screenshot above the 720p stream is using 3.7mbps so the 5 mbps Visible allows should result in decent 720p streams.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Ben, I have two questions:

    1. If and when Visible enforces a one-device-per-hotspot limitation, do you think it will apply to a boat WiFi router that’s connected to several devices? (I’ve experienced a few commercial shore access points that can detect and block WiFi routers.)

    2. You mention that Visible is using a “limited number of access points” (cellular, I presume) as it builds out its network. Doesn’t that mean it’s not using the whole Verizon network?

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      There’s no way to have certainty, but… Visible is already enforcing a one connected device limit on Android phones. I’ve been able to connect a travel router in between (basically another layer doing network address translation) and hence multiple devices without any troubles. While it’s possible to detect the presence of NAT by the carriers it’s not an easy or foolproof process, especially on phones in users’ hands that can be modified to thwart that detection. So, my guess is they won’t try. That guess is bolstered by the fact they’re willing to accept that iOS doesn’t have a means for the carrier to limit to one device on a hotspot so they are living with iOS’ 5 device default limit.

      For #2 the answer is more complicated that I think anyone really wants to hear but the shortest answer is that they are using all of the tower infrastructure of Verizon’s network. But, once your phone has made the connection to the tower Visible is using their own access poitns to connect to the internet. Access points are the connections between the carrier’s network and the public internet. In theory it would be possible to operate an entire nation-wide cell network that only connects to the internet in one spot. Verizon peers to the public internet in every major market, Visible is only connecting in a handful of places right now, though they say they are adding more.

  3. Leftbrain Stuff says:

    We’ve been TMobile for 5 years and this includes plenty of international roaming. My wife has seen consistent good 3g in Australia, even though they say only 2g.

    Their coverage is really good. Although my only issues have been near their US headquarters. WTF. I travel every week and get to see most of the US, Canada and some International locales. Such a different and better experience than our experience with Aussie carriers. Uggh.

    Price is really good and TMobile is really much less hassle than other carriers we’ve tried over the years.

  4. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    One interesting note. I’ve tested Visible’s service using an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S9, an iPhone 7 and Visible’s own R2 (made by ZTE). I picked up the R2 from Visible for $19 which is pretty impressively cheap and it’s actually a totally servicable phone. BUT, where the S9 and iPhone are getting 50-60 mbps down in speed tests the R2 gets 12-17 mbps. Two identical phones with identical service sitting side-by-side.

  5. Curious if you see this as a viable replacement for “household” internet. We’re in the process of moving aboard from a dirt dwelling and need decent internet (work-aboard, YouTubeTV, Netflix, Prime, surfing, etc).

    According to Comcast we’re currently consuming between 500GB and 750GB per month. Cutting the cord and moving everything to Wifi, including TV.

    Replacing this with a hotspot seems to quickly run into throttles with most carriers but this is an intriguing option if it’s truly unlimited.

    Finally, is the hotspot phone only or can you drop the sim into Glomex or Rouge (or similar) device.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      Right now I don’t think this is quite a replacement for home internet. If you’re using 500-750gb of bandwidth that suggests you’re doing a moderate amount of streaming. With this you will likely be limited to 5mbps for streaming. I’ve also seen a fair amount of variability in data performance which is also being reported by other users.

      As to your other question the plan currently offered by Visible is phone only and won’t work in any sort of data only device be it iPad, mobile hotspot, LTE modem, etc.

      Ben S.

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