chromebook and att wifi – part 2

Two years ago, I set up my mother with an AT&T 4G wifi hotspot. Overall, she is happy with it. The hardware is starting to get less than optimal. It doesn’t keep a charge as long. I think a wire needs replacing. It shut down randomly twice. Since it is two years old, I decided to buy a new one for her and keep the old one for me to play with.

The price came down. Without a contact, the ATT Velocity hotspot is now $60. (two years ago it was $150). And this time, I could buy it from BestBuy rather than AT&T. A far easier buying experience. No shipping so sent right to me.

Setting up an account

Since I bought the hotspot from BestBuy rather than AT&T, I had to set up my own account online. Hardly difficult. The steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Enter the SIM number – this is listed as the ICCID on the bottom of the box
  3. Enter IMEI number – this is on a sticker inside the phone (easy to see before putting in the battery). It’s also on the bottom of the box.
  4. The zip code of the user – I used my mother’s
  5. Enter user’s email. I used my mother’s
  6. Pick a plan. I chose the same plan I had before. $25/month for 2GB
  7. Sign up for autopay
  8. Choose a password
  9. Then I went to manage account to set up a name. I repeatedly got “We seem to be experiencing system issues. Please try again later.” on saving. It was true though. I waited 5 minutes and then it saved.

Trying out the hotspot

The battery/case comes separated so I put that together. The device tells you the charge, connection strength and whether you have any new messages. Unlike last time, I didn’t have any messages right away. I had the flashing green light and six messages once I signed up for automatic payment.

New since last time – the device appears to tell you how much bandwidth was used up. This is an illusion. Once I started using data, it directed me to the web for this.

It still shows the number of connected devices.

I connected to the wifi using the default password from a Chromebook and went to http://attwifimanager. I logged in with attadmin (the default) and changed:

  • Network name (it prompted me that I would be disconnected so I reconnected) – I made sure to use a different password
  • The wifi password (it prompted me that I would be disconnected so I reconnected – should have done this with the network name to save a reconnect)
  • Set max number of devices to 2
  • On advanced settings, changed admin login

There was an option to hide the password on the device. I chose this because my mother wanted a password that has other meaning.

Connecting from the Chromebook

Connecting to the new wifi name is easy. Note that the network name is case sensitive
  1. Click the connection from the wifi list
  2. Type password

This didn’t work on the first shot. I tried from my iPad and also no connectivity. So I rebooted the hotspot and it worked.

To remember the connection 

  1. Click the wifi icon and click “Connected to X”
  2. Click network name
  3. Click “Prefer this network”
  4. Ensure “Automatically connect to this network is checked”
  5. Click “close”


How fast is the connection?

I ran a speedtest both to see how fast the connection was and to use a chunk of bandwidth to see how reporting worked. The answer was:

  • ping 36 ms
  • download 13 Mbps
  • upload 9 Mbps


Every once in a while, I have to push the power button on the wifi device for the ChromeBook to connect. I haven’t seen a pattern on this, but it only happens on trying to connect.


Most problems can be dealt with online at prepaid, but they do have a phone number: 800-901-9878

AT&T Grandfathers Unlimited Data Plans with iPhone 5 [CONFIRMED]

Following the much anticipated announcement of Apple’s iPhone 5 today, a single unanswered question has been weighing on my mind. Will AT&T customers with existing unlimited data plans still be grandfathered in if they choose to purchase a new iPhone 5 at the subsidized prices ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB)? The answer is here, and it is a resounding “yes”!

CONFIRMED [9/12/2012]: According to today’s AT&T press release, users with unlimited plans will definitely be able to keep them:

“We are thrilled to offer iPhone 5 on the nation’s largest 4G network. We’ve worked with Apple since the original in 2007 and this is hands-down their best phone yet,” said Ralph de la Vega, president & CEO, AT&T Mobility. “We offer customers the flexibility to keep the iPhone data plans they already have or choose any of our individual or new Mobile Share plans. We’re proud that more customers choose AT&T for iPhone than any other U.S. carrier and look forward to making iPhone 5 the newest addition to our lineup.”

Verizon’s Poor Customer Service Decision

Avid Apple enthusiasts may recall that Verizon nixed unlimited plans for subsidized upgrades back in May 2012, a poor customer service move indeed. While Verizon still allows users to keep the plans by purchasing the unsubsidized iPhone, it does not make a lot of sense to spend hundreds of extra dollars on what may amount to $5-$20 per month (or nothing at all) in savings on the tiered plans.

Two AT&T Representatives Confirm Grandfather Rule

I called AT&T (1-888-333-6651) and spoke with a woman named Patricia, who assured me that as long as I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 5 through an AT&T representative, I would be able to keep my plan. She did caution me against upgrading at the Apple Store, not because it was not allowed, but that because last year some less-educated customers accidentally signed up for a new data plan at the Apple Store, and as AT&T will tell you, “Once the unlimited data plan has been removed, it cannot be added again”.

I also used Live Chat support on AT&T’s website and spoke to a person name Andre who confirmed that information; the transcript is posted below:

You are now chatting with Andre S., an AT&T sales representative.

Andre S.: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?

Scott: Hi Andre S. I currently have an unlimited Data plan for my iPhone 4. Will I lose this unlimited data plan if I choose to upgrade to an iPhone 5 at the subsidized price?

Andre S.: Hi Scott!! I'll be happy to assist you today with your inquiry.
Andre S.: You will not lose your data plan if you upgrade to a new phone.

Scott: even the iPhone 5 with LTE?

Andre S.: No matter which phone you get.

Scott: does it matter if I order via the Apple Store or the AT&T store?

Andre S.: It would not matter you will still be keeping your old plan.

Scott: Thank you

Disclaimer: I do not work for AT&T and cannot guarantee that, even if AT&T has a company-wide policy of grandfathering plans, your particular representative will be able to upgrade your phone without accidentally losing your data plan. As always, buyer beware.