Home - , , , - Straight Talk Now Offering Verizon and AT&T Based LTE Mobile Hotspots

Straight Talk Now Offering Verizon and AT&T Based LTE Mobile Hotspots

TracFone's Straight Talk brand has expanded their mobile broadband offering. Two new Straight Talk LTE hotspots showed up at Walmart yesterday. One looks like it uses the Verizon network and the other AT&T.

A reader posted the top photo to the PrepaidPhoneNews Facebook page today, It shows the new ZTE Z288L hotspot on display at a local Walmart $99.88. The box carries the red map that Straight Talk uses to denote Verizon coverage and I can just barely make out the "LTE-V" code in the lower left corner of the box which also indicates Verizon (click the image to view full size and see it).

Straight Talk has ZTE Z288L's interactive tutorial and User guide online which lists the following specs:

  • 1XRTT/HRPD/eHRPD/LTE Networks
  • 4G/Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Download Speed: 50 Mbps
  • Internal Memory: 128MB
  • Micro SD Card Slot: Support up to 32GB
  • Processor Speed: 550MHz
  • Upload Speed: 25 Mbps
  • Wi-Fi hotspot with Screen
  • Browsing time Up to 13 hours
  • Standby time Up to 10 days
  • Size 3.87" x 2.26" x 0.76"
  • Weight 4.13 (ounces)
The other hotspot appeared on the Walmart site
icon yesterday It's the ZTE Z289G and it's a GSM plus LTE device. Like the Z288L, it's priced at $99.88. Walmart lists the full model number as STZEZ289GP4P. TracFone family devices with model numbers ending in "P4P" use the AT&T network.

I couldn't find Straight Talk's tutorial for the ZTE Z289G hotspot but I did find one for a ZTE Z289L which looks identical to the Walmart device and is GSM plus LTE. I think the model number discrepancy is an error. But it's possible that the Z289L is a different device, perhaps for the T-Mobile network. The Z289L's appearance and specs are similar to those of the verizon Z288L except for the network technologies supported and slower claimed speeds:

  • 4G/Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Download Speed: 21 Mbps
  • Internal Memory: 128MB
  • Micro SD Card Slot: Support up to 32GB
  • Processor Speed: 550MHz
  • Upload Speed: 5.76 Mbps
  • WCDMA/HSDPA+/HSPA+/LTE Networks
  • Wi-Fi hotspot with Screen
  • Browsing time Up to 13 hours
  • Standby time Up to 10 days
  • Size 3.87" x 2.26" x 0.76"
  • Weight 4.13 (ounces)
Both Hotspots along with Straight Talk's year old UniMax U240C Verizon based 3G only model use the same plans:

  • $15 for 1 GB good for 30 days
  • $25 - 2 GB - 30 days
  • $40 - 4 GB - 60 days
  • $50 - 5 GB - 60 days
  • $75 - 7GB - 60 days
Those are very competitive prices for AT&T or Verizon based LTE mobile broadband. The big question is whether speeds will be throttled. Straight Talk's AT&T based phone service generally delivers full LTE speeds but TracFone owned Verizon based Page Plus has its LTE speeds throttled to just 3.5 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Here's hoping that Verizon LTE on Straight Talk isn't so badly crippled.

Related:
US Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans Compared
Straight Talk Launches $79.88 Verizon Based 3G Mobile Hotspot, Plans Starting at $15/Month

62 comments:

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  1. I wonder if I'd be able to request a SIM unlock for the GSM hotspots sometime down the road. Meh... my T-Mobile $30/mo with unlimited txt, 5 GB of LTE data (with free 100 Mb tethering, & option to tether for an additional $15/mo), + 100 mins of talk is still a better value!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People have said that TMo will cut off your $30 plan if they see you using a device that isn't a phone.

      Delete
    2. Nevermind...it looks like there is now $30 5GB mobile internet plan too.

      Delete
  2. Is Millecom still activating new customers? Their pricing was more appealing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Also, I never quite understood why the 7GB plan costs more than 10.00 a gig. Usually, by buying in bulk, you get a discount.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it has longer than 60 days use?

      Delete
  4. Now t-mobile prepaid will have a competitive reason not to raise their 1gb above $10.

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  5. Can somebody who has purchased the one on Verizon (the Z288L), confirm one way or the other whether it is throttled to 3.5 Mbps down (1 Mbps up), or if it is giving true 4G LTE speeds? ...please. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. I got on the other day. I put a 4gig card on it and did a few updates on my desk top an half of that was gone . There are things I still don't know about this stuff like testing for speed but that was rediculous.

      Delete
  6. I just purchased the Straight Talk Verizon (ZTE Z288L) from walmart yesterday and finally got a chance to set it up this morning. The outer box says LTE-V and has a red map on it. I did three speedtest and these are my results. For those who are curious, I am in Los Angeles California. I conducted these test at 4:15am. My signal Strength is Full (5 bars out of 5).

    Ping:40ms Down:3.07Mbps Up: 1.05Mbps
    Ping:29ms Down:3.08Mbps Up: 1.05Mbps
    Ping:31ms Down:3.08Mbps Up: 1.02Mbps

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, hard to believe they can advertise this service as LTE. That's horrible. If someone sets up the AT&T version, please let us know your speeds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They can because it is LTE. Throttled LTE is still LTE. Besides, my current ST hotspot on 3g only rarely gets above 1.5. Throttled at 3mbs isn't that bad. That's as fast a a lot of DSL lines not that long ago. Also, by being on LTE, you are likely to still get 3mbps a lot more even on low signal.

      Delete
  8. Should have known Straight Talk was throttled at 3MB's as suspected and at 1.5 MB Upload. It still could work for me as a back up however since my station streams at 128K up so there would still be some headroom. Plus if AT&T allows unlimited throttled data for smartphones it could also mean unlimited throttled broadband. Its not too bad for AT&T but for Verizon it may be a deal breaker there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On AT&T we get ping 150, download 2.75 and upload 1. Within three miles of tower. On Verizon jetpack we regularly get 16-20 down. Clearly, either Straight Talk or AT&T is limiting speed.

      Delete
  9. What's the purpose of the memory card slots in these hotspot devices?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Appears on a computer when connected via USB, that's all.

      Delete
    2. Some hotspot devices feature wireless file-sharing using the expanded memory to all devices connected to the network.

      Delete
  10. Would anyone know what download speed the Gophone Unite hotspot provides? Straight Talk advertising the ZTE as LTE seems misleading. I understand the 3G Straight Talk, Hockey Puck that Walmart/Straight Talk/Verizon offers for $79.95, provides the same 3 MBPS download speed. Can anyone reading this post confirm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The GoPhone LTE hotspot gets the same speeds as AT&T postpaid, up to 50 Mbps, but typically 10-20 Mbps.

      No one gets the theoretical max of 3 Mbps on Verizon 3G. The real world max is about 2 Mbps with .6-1.2 Mbps being more typical

      Delete
  11. Hi,

    On October 30 I purchased the ZTE Z289L device at my local Walmart. It's not ZTE Z289G as the Walmart webpage shows - the "G" seems to be a glitch. It is for the AT&T network. I was looking for a review before I purchased one, but found none...
    My experience is that this device is not working on the 4G LTE network. If you reset it, it gets connected to 3G/4G network and it works for awhile, but as soon (after few minutes) as it connects to 4G LTE (it does it automatically - no user control) it's not working. If you're in the 4G LTE signal, it would stay there until you do another factory reset. To be precise, my speed test (if the app is lucky to connect to servers) shows 0 Mbps download and some generous upload (6-9 Mbps). Sorry for being a little chaotic, but after 6 days of dealing with it, I'm already tired of the whole experience and just don't have the energy to go further into details...

    The bottom line is that I spent several hours talking to Straight Talk customer service people, ZTE technical support and even Tracfone (parent company) with no resolution. I even bought another device and transferred the service to discover that it didn't make a difference. At this point I'm giving up on it. My conclusion is that there is a problem how the device/account is being set up on the AT&T network, but I wasn't able to find any help. BEWARE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately our experience was about the same as yours. Our Z289L worked the first day, showed three bars, and LTE. Ping was 150. Download was around 2.75. Upload was l.0. Following days it would not connect at all...or with download of 1.0 at most. Hours with Straight Talk finally got a tech type who said it must be a "device problem" because my location shows a strong AT&T site.

      Some posts suggest that the Z288L, Z289G, and Z289L may actually be Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, in that order. And that the 289L may have a T-Mobile sim. Does anyone know the answer to that? Straight Talk isn't telling. Does anyone know Straight Talk's policy on throttling? Not on so-called unlimited but on actual speeds? In other words, is LTE service throttled at some speed, notwithstanding the amount of data purchased. I remember that one carrier used to describe 10 megs at 3G and 10 megs at 4G, for a total of 20 per month. Are we dealing with something like that?

      Delete
    2. I bought the Z289L. It does have the SIM ending in C4 and 890141 which indicate this is ATT and not T-Mobile.

      Delete
    3. From what I red, the Z288L is Verizon and Z289L, the one I bought, is definitely AT&T - I tested it in an area without T-Mobile being present and it was showing 3 bars of 4G LTE. I don't think the Z289G even exists - the one on Walmart's website is actually the Z289L.

      I expect throttling... The giveaway for me is that the device is being limited to 5 simultaneous users. Most 4G LTE devices with full access to LTE allow for 10. My hope was that being on the LTE network, with good ping, it would be usable for VoIP. Unfortunately I don't think the setup between Straight Talk and AT&T is ready for prime time yet. It's simply not working on LTE for me at all, even though I'm in an area with five bars of LTE. If nothing changes soon, I'm returning mine to the store. I already did the first one I checked. I'm not calling Straight Talk again - they're completely not prepared to deal with this issue in my experience.

      I'm curious, is this device being successfully used by anybody? Please share your experience.

      Delete
    4. I have experienced the exact same thing with ZTE Z289L and Straight Talk. I have been trying to use this device in the Los Angeles area. I noticed that when the hotspot tries to connect to LTE the service cuts out. I also have tried two difference ZTE Z289L and I get the same results. Straight Talk customer service does not know how to handle this issue. Apparently there is a disconnect between AT&T and Straight Talk on service.

      Delete
    5. Thank you. That confirms that I'm not alone and not crazy :) I'm in Chicago.

      Delete
    6. Below is my email exchange with Straight Talk Customer Service. This is my testimony on how they solve legitimate issues :) :


      Dear *****,

      Thank you for your interest in Straight Talk Wireless. We are responding to your recent inquiry.

      Our customer is very important to us. Rest assured that your experience will be taken into consideration and it would serve as the backbone of our research as we continue working on improving and expanding our products and services. Be assured that we are doing our best to provide you the best service possible. If you have any additional suggestions or comments that might help us improve our products and services, please let us know. It will be greatly appreciated.

      If you have any further questions or concerns, you may contact us via Chat or contact one of our customer care representatives at 1-877-430-2355. For your convenience, our representatives are available Monday-Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:45 PM EST.

      Thank you for being a Straight Talk Wireless customer. We appreciate your business.

      Sincerely,

      Straight Talk Wireless

      We would like to get your feedback regarding your experience today. The purpose of this survey is to better understand and improve your customer service experience. This survey should take no longer than three minutes to complete.
      Please click on the link below to complete a brief survey.

      Begin Survey


      Original Message Follows: ------------------------

      Hi,

      I already spent hours talking to your customer service people, ZTE technical support and your parent company TracFone... with NO RESOLUTION!

      My conclusion is that the device you have been selling through Walmart - ZTE Z289L in not functioning properly on the 4G LTE network - PERIOD!

      I'm already trying a second device to eliminate the possibility that the first one was defective. Unfortunately the results are the same.

      For details check the record of my conversations with your representatives and also check this thread:

      http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2014/10/straight-talk-now-offering-verizon-and.html

      I spent $15 for 1GB of data for Straight Talk service I can't use. How can I get my money back?

      Sincerely,

      ***** *****
      (***) ***-****

      Delete
    7. Device does not work in Cheyenne WY either. I had the same results as everyone else in this thread. It worked best if it did not show LTE. I had 4 sometime 5 bars and 2.78 Mbps download speed tops. Would get time out on all web pages I tried to visit. I used their email support. I took the thing back when they said I would need to call them.

      Delete
  12. Mine connect to lte but I can only browse google.com.......go figure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only search after 15 minutes of use, I cannot open web pages. I reset and it works fine for 15 minutes. have to reset again, no help from straight talk. this is the second one with the same problem

      Delete
  13. I've been using Z289G on AT&T for a few days now and it's finally working well after a couple of things: (1) a device reset; and (2) changed to the Chrome browser with data compression enabled. I found that Safari on iOS 8.1 was hanging badly on iPhone and iPad, but Chrome works very well. IE11 and Firefox on PC also seem to work OK but most of my testing has been on iPhone/iPad. Hope this helps...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing... It seems to be a very limited use... Is your device Z289G, or Z289L? ...on Straight Talk? Are you able to test the speed of the connection with Speedtest by Ookla? My Windows Phone connects to the Wifi generated by this device but when the Speedtest app connects to the internet, it gets 0.0 Mbps download, but most of the time is not even connecting to the internet, stating network issues. My android phone doesn't even get me that far. It rejects the Wifi network (turns it off) after trying for few minutes to connect to the internet...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hm . . . these new LTE plans include pageplus' are not very compelling.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The device is a Z289G. The box is printed as "Z289L",but I believe this is a misprint because the barcode sticker on the bottom of the box says "STZEZ289GP4P, which I understand identifies it as the AT&T variant.

    I tried an Ookla test on my iPhone last night and got 3 MBPS down and 10 MBPS up (!).

    My overall impression is that the device is probably not as reliable as an AT&T-branded hotspot, but at less than half the cost per gigabyte I can live with a few quirks....

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think the sweet spot on AT&T usage would be at under 5 gb of usage a month...going directly with AT&T GoPhone or AT&T postpaid Data Connect would be cheaper and faster for 5gb and higher.
    For Verizon prepaid LTE cost benefit analysis versus StraightTalk Verizon LTE, the cutoff point would likely be 10 gb (10 gb/$90 directly on Verizon works out to slightly less than Straight Talk).
    Very interested in the Straight Talk Verizon LTE model, but haven't seen it yet on their website. Have only seen the Straight Talk AT&T LTE model or the Straight Talk Verizon 3G model so far. Might buy the ST Verizon LTE model once it shows up on their website and in local stores...but will likely wait until they work out the bugs mentioned above.
    Other options for Verizon prepaid mifi resellers would be Selectel or Blue Mountain Internet.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am using the Z289L on the Verizon network. I can always get google and gmail, but each time I power down the router I must then login to the router and reset it to factory defaults before I can go to any other site. Without a reset, it just loops endlessly waiting for the dns server to respond. I tried pointing it to the google dns servers, but it choked saying they were not compatible with the LAN settings. It appears to be a dns issue that I'm unable to solve or get help with. ZTE does not even list the Verizon version of the modem on its website as yet. Resetting to factory defaults is growing old fast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same problem (googleverse AOK always, all others timeout after random times and ALWAYS after power down), and AOK always after reset to factory default and reconfig.

      Bizzarely my unit is confirmed AT&T carrier and SIM. Wondering if "hosted data solutions llc" who is listed as the ISP of record is the culprit.

      Also, perhaps the hotspots were so cheap because they are from the future, where the googleverse is the only content provider?

      Delete
    2. I've posted previously. I can watch youtube videos (a google product) to my heart's content, at expected speeds, but need to do a factory reset and reconfiguration to get anywhere else on teh interwebz.

      Delete
    3. I have the same problem you are having. I can always get to Google. I can get to some of my bank websites as long as they do not have allot of URL sub-links. As an example, Etrade has allot of sub-links and the connection hangs 90% of the time. Most of the time it hangs on just one sub-link. Straight Talk’s ISP’s DNS server does not know the IP address for this link! If you turn off packet filtering in WIndows, Amazon and Ebay and their website page links will now work. In short, the problem lies with Straight Talk’s ISP. ZTE makes the hardware, which is nothing more than a Router. Wi-Fi on the input end, Cell phone tower RF on the output end. From what I have determined, the ZTE H/W works just fine. When I called Straight Talk Product support and asked who their ISP was, they said they did not know. When I pushed the issue they said I would have to live with this poor performance. They then punctuated their response with a rude hang-up. In short, >95% of the internet’s websites are not accessible with this device. Your browser will endlessly say “waiting for a response from XXXX” in its connection status box. Connecting to an outside DNS server for DNS services should help this problem, but I couldn’t get this approach to work. In short, the spinning browser connection wheel is your only entertainment if you use this device. I feel like I’m browsing the web in china, where the Chinese Government is the ISP and limits website access. The message must be getting through because Wallmart just pulled this device off the shelf where I live. Bottom line, don’t waste your time and energy trying to get this device to work. You can wear out a paper clip doing Hot Spot H/W resets and it won’t do you any good.

      Delete
    4. I'm not sure what you mean by "sub-links". Do you mean subdomains (subdomain.example.com)? It's rare to see more than one subdomain on a URL, I'm not even sure multiple ones (sub1.sub2.example.com) are even valid HTTP.

      If turning off packet filtering fixes the issue it sounds like there's a problem with your firewall's rules rather than at the ISP level. Are you using the Windows firewall or a custom one? Have you added your own rules or are you using the defaults?

      I'm not defending Straight Talk here, it's clear that there's a problem with these hotspots. But it sounds like you've found a solution and I'm trying to understand why it works.

      Delete
  19. My experience in Rochester NY is frustratingly similar. Slower than expected and very unreliable. Benefits from resets. Tech support poor. JUNK!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Update: My device is a Z289GP4P. Service is apparently through AT&T. Today I noticed I can put in my Rochester ZIP code at the Walmart page for this device and got the message "Warning:This phone will not work in the" "zip code". Looks like I have to try to return it...

      Delete
  20. Does anyone know how to get data use reports on the Z288L? I have the 1 GB card to try this out, but there is no data usage app on the device and my ST online account only shows 0.0MB and service end date.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Update. I just ran out of data with ST. No warning, I had switched websites while in my current session and instead received a "You have exhausted your data, please refill account" type message. I have done speed tests and ST hotspot is around one third to one half speed of my current wireless service. (I'm getting a weaker signal with Z288L, so that may be the cause.)

      Delete
    2. To check your balance on the Z288L:

      Log in to your account and click on "Set Up Auto-Refill" - one of the quick links.

      Look for the line that says:

      To check your balance "Click here"

      Click on the "Click here" - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (when the device is off (?))

      You're welcome :)

      Delete
    3. There is absolutely a data usage app on the device. Check the device's Prepaid menu, on the device.

      Delete
    4. The Prepaid menu exists on the Z289L (AT&T):

      http://tracfone.deviceanywhere.com/straighttalk/home.seam?custId=STZEZ289L&locale=en_US

      ...but not on the Z288L (Verizon):

      http://tracfone.deviceanywhere.com/straighttalk/home.seam?locale=en_US&deviceId=1461&cid=212861

      Delete
    5. Thank you all for the replies. I have a data counter on my PC that records for a month, so I'll have to use that. There is also one in network and sharing center that shows data used per session.

      Delete
    6. Thank you for the "Auto-Refill" check data quirk.....
      I was just ready to return the unit because of not knowing where my data plan was at....

      Delete
  21. I purchased ZTE Z289L from Wal Mart for use near Lake Panasoffkee FL in our camper. Camp ground has poor WiFi, this is worse! Web Site said this mobile hotspot would work in 33538 (Lake Panasoffkee) but unit hangs up, all I get is the rotating circle when I try to surf the web. All I'm trying to do is do some web purchasing and read e-mail. I'd rate this a zero. Just an expensive paper weight. It had the Blue coverage map, which I think is AT&T

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. purchase a long range wifi antenna and use the campground wifi. 60 bucks and done deal.

      Delete
  22. I think the Straight Talk ZTE Z289L (AT&T) unit is almost criminal. It's a fraud. It does not work at all. The poster above is the ONLY personal I have ever heard that got it to work. Everyone says the same thing. They work on the Google sites (Google, Gmail, Google Adsense) but pretty much nothing else. You can't even get a Speed test to work. I think a class action lawsuit needs to happen or the BBB should get involved to insist on either a fix, refunds, or exchanges of these units.

    Go look at other sites. You hear the same story. Even the Walmart page for the ZTE Z288L (Verizon) has the tons of negative comments about the Z289L.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello.

    I just bought a Z289L at Walmart yesterday and I wish I saw this article before.

    The device comes with a 1 GB/30 days plan which should have been enough as I only bought the device for a 15 days stay in US.

    In Miami, data speed is so slow.
    Takes minutes to show one webpage.

    In my opinion : don't buy this sh....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What good would adding a "Micro SD Card" do for me on the Z288L ¿

      Delete
    2. Personal cloud storage. Save files (music, video, documents, etc.) to the card from one device and access them from all WiFi connected devices.

      Delete
    3. Dennis....thanks. Kinda useless on a Hotspot I would think ¿

      I'm glad someone found a work-around to check the data balance....device worked great during our power/DSL outage....

      Delete
  24. What is the microSD card slot for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personal cloud storage. Save files (music, video, documents, etc.) to the card from one device and access them from all WiFi connected devices.

      Delete
  25. Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows of someone that has been able to use a "verizon" hotspot device with straight talk service. I have heard that now that verizon unlocks all their devices I may be able to use my hotpsot I purchased and previously used through verizon with straight talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Straight Talk's hotspor plan does not support non-Straight Talk devices. You could probably activate a Verizon LTE phone on Straight Talk's $45 phone plan and then put the SIM from that phone in the hotspot and it should work. That's against Straight Talk's terns of service so they night eventually cancel the account.

      Delete
  26. Some of this could just be what browser you are using. I upload my books to amazon and could sit there for days watching that circle spin and never upload. Use firefox or internet explorer.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I purchased the ZTE-Z289L from Wal-Mart. It appears to be using the AT&T network. I am getting only 3 bars on the signal meter; however, on my first speed test by speedtest.net I had a Ping of 58ms, Download of 26.24 Mb/s, and an Upload of 4.13 Mb/s. My second attempt was a Ping of 59ms, Download of 24.56 Mbs, and an Upload of 4.53 Mb/s.

    I am in a rural area where I once had terrible cellular service because of poor signal. It looks like AT&T has better towers in the area now.

    ReplyDelete
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