Tax Deductible, Low Cost, High Speed Internet You Can Take Anywhere

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Internet service in the U.S. can be spotty for people living out in the boondocks, like your favorite accountant. Travelers need to hunt for an open Wi-Fi hotspot to stay in touch. Even worse, internet is frequently bundled with cable, forcing you to buy both or face wildly overpriced stand-alone internet service. They got you where they want you and your pocketbook is the victim. There has to be a better way. There is. And since I’m an accountant I want a big tax deduction too.

Internet service can cost $50 a month and more for high-speed broadband. (Please sit for this next part. I don’t want anyone falling and getting hurt.) How would you like fast internet (I’m talking 10 Mbps and higher with 10 people on at the same time) for $41.67 a month, paid annually? That works out to $500 per year. After the first year the cost drops to $400 per year or $33.33 per month. You can take this little gem with you on vacation, too. Your fast and low-cost internet is as small as a cell phone, has a 10 hour battery life and is very portable.

Okay, enough of the baiting. Time to get down to facts, get a tax deduction and details on obtaining this money-saving, tax deductible gem.

Where It Started

Back when I was writing about library millionaires I ran across a device my library lent out. (Actually, my youngest daughter saw the library was lending a new Wi-Fi hotspot and she was hungry for internet that worked.) We checked the device out and were amazed by the quality. The backwoods of Wisconsin never saw internet work like this.

All good things must end. Our new Wi-Fi hotspot was everything we wanted, but everybody else wanted the darn thing too. After we were the first to get the thing from the library, a waiting list developed. Quick as a lick I sprung into action (actually, it was my daughter springing again) looking for more information on this little gizmo.

Turns out a non-profit organization called The Calyx Institute issues the device. The best part was that it was free! All you had to do was become a member. Okay. But what does Calyx do with my membership dues? They are a non-profit dedicated to education and internet privacy. They are also the company that got the first Patriot Act warrant unsealed.

My research unveiled the reason why this LTE/4G is available. Spectrum was set aside for educational purposes. Calyx, as a non-profit, gets a sweetheart deal on the service and passes along the savings to you. Membership is $500 and includes the Wi-Fi hotspot pre-loaded with one year of unlimited use and a t-shirt. (Hell, they had me with the t-shirt.) The cost is $400 a year afterwards because you don’t need to buy new hardware.

Before you rush out and join Calyx for the free Wi-Fi hotspot, check the coverage map to verify it works in your area. The hotspot uses the Sprint network. Be sure to check the “Data” tab as Sprint coverage is different between voice and data.

Uses

Now you can take your Wi-Fi with you on vacations and business trips. No more searching for open Wi-Fi or using an unsecured hotel or airport hotspot to view girly videos, ah, I mean stock quotes and catch up on email.

Many readers here retire early due to intelligent money management. (They save half their income and invest in broad-based index funds.) These people like taking a year or so off and traveling the country. Now your Wi-Fi can come with you at no extra cost. You can thank me later

Tax Deduction

Calyx is a 501(c)3 non-profit. This means your membership dues, which include a t-shirt and the Wi-Fi hotspot, are deductible on Schedule A.

Just a minute as I wipe a tear from my eye.

Final Note

This is not an affiliate program where I get revenue if you join Calyx. This is all them, not me. I’m doing it out of the love of my heart. (Awwwwwe!) But if you insist on helping me financially you can use the DIY tax software link in this post. Or, when you are planning an Amazon buy you can start with this link. (Remember, no spending for spending’s sake. I like more money, but my waistline tells me I am eating just fine, so crazy spending is not allowed. Now, if you were going to purchase that thingie over there anyway . . .)

Update: 4Gcommunity.org is no longer available. A reader reported in the comment section about 4Gcommunity.org and I decided to go that direction based on cost. My original recommendation of Calyx seems to have been the smarter move. There are several smaller companies doing the same thing, but the risk is we end up with another 4Gcommunity.org.



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Keith Schroeder

36 Comments

  1. Kevin on March 24, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Keith, you’re the man! I had no idea this existed, but I’m signing up now!

    • Keith Schroeder on March 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      I know nothing about IT, but I sure can sniff out a deal. The links in the post give details above my pay grade. This is a real money saver, especially for my situation.

  2. Kyle on March 24, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Awesome post Keith! Love more options in the marketplace and I can’t wait for 4G-Pro and 5G so we can truly dump Comcast for good!

  3. Michael on March 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    4gcommunity.org is a another cheap source of internet connectivity. Unsure if it’s tax deductable though.

    http://www.4gcommunity.org/

    • Justin on October 25, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      4gcommunity is dead at the end of November 2017.

  4. Michael on March 24, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    4Gcommunity.org is another provider of cheap internet connectivity.

    Not sure if it’s tax deductible though.

  5. Jonah on March 24, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    This is awesome! I am planning switching to Google FI after my $700 credit on my Sprint bill expires, but was deterred by the low data. This is awesome, and should help bridge the gap!

  6. Michelle Kry on March 24, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I am one of those people who retired early and have been touring the USA for over 3 years now Well, semi-retired, I work remotely part-time here and there. I use a Verizon MiFi for $100/month for 20GB. We are constantly monitoring our usage. Unlimited for half the cost is an excellent deal. I just worry about the coverage with Sprint. Our Verizon coverage has been very reliable especially when I need to have a connection for work. Otherwise I could let it go for a couple of days. I am not sure my husband could though…but he could use his Verizon phone. I am going to have to discuss this with him. Thanks!

  7. John on March 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Where on the website did you see that it costs $400 after year 1? All I see is free 4G / LTE data with “Contributor” Level support. Which is $500.

    Thanks!!

  8. Jonah on March 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Where did you see that the cost would go down after year 1?

    All I see on the website is that you get free 4G / LTE service with “Contributor” Level support, which is $500 / year.

    thanks!

  9. mimoza on March 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Michael, I checked out 4Gcommunity.org and it appears to use Sprint as well. I wonder if these not-for-profit organization have a long term deal with Sprint. If not, what happens to users once such a deal expires.
    To be honest, it’s above my payroll level to understand how this whole thing would work at my house. Can I ditch my AT&T U-verse completely and just set up my internet through one of these non-profits? Then buy Magic Jack or something similar for the phone service and that’s it? OTOH, as we use Schedule A every other year (as we bunch house taxes), I wouldn’t get serious savings. I’d save $200-300/year max. I wouldn’t call it huge. Sure it’s money in my pocket, but as even as a frugal person I don’t want to go totally bare bones and then try to figure if/when there’s a problem. IT is not for me. Maybe after I early retire I’d have more time and patience to figure such stuff out.
    Thanks for sharing though.

    • Lucas on March 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

      MIMOZA – Best way to do that would be to get a wifi to ethernet converter like http://amzn.to/2mCrvUr . I have this plugged into my existing router, then connected to the hotspot. Then all your wired/wireless devices don’t know any different. I have a OOMA VOIP phone ($4.5/month) directly wired into my router and has been working fine.

  10. Victoria Lola on March 25, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Great post, Keith. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Subscribed!

  11. Lucas on March 25, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I will put another vote in for 4Gcommunity.org. they offer the same thing, just cheaper. It is $250 a year for the first year, then down to $160 a year after that. I typically get 5-6Mbit up and 6-7Mbit down at my house in the country. They also offer an LTE + tear for even higher speed (closer to the calyx price). I also use an ethernet to wifi converter as well and have that plugged into the uplink port on my regular wireless router and connected to the hotspot – so all my wired and wireless devices connect up just fine. Setting it up this way also gives you ability to put the hotspot in the best place in your house (especially needed if you are on the edge of a coverage area). I have my hotspot in my attic connected to an outlet i installed up there 🙂 Ah the joys of country living.

  12. Michael on March 27, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I had heard that the tax deduction was reduced by the value of the product they have you? If you pay $100 a plate for a charity dinner, only $75 of it is deductible because a steak dinner is worth $25, for example?

    • Keith Schroeder on March 27, 2017 at 9:35 am

      I agree with you, Michael. But they got the IRS to agree with them it is de minimis only since the cost to the non-profit is very small and therefore deductible.

  13. John McCarthy on March 29, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Nice article. I will definitely look into this (after tax season!)

  14. Cassie Coats on August 2, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Are you still happy with the service. I’m wanting to give it a shot but am worried it might be unreliable even though the sprint map says I’d be okay. I have a sprint phone and it runs sprint LTE but not plus

    • Keith Schroeder on August 2, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      I had Sprint in the past and it was bad in my area. However, the wi-fi hotspot works extremely well in my area. I would still recommend.

  15. Tony on August 4, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Hi, thanks a lot for posting this article.
    After months of procrastination, I finally got fed up with AT&T and pulled the trigger to switch.
    So far, it’s only been a few weeks and I had one hiccup in service.
    I like it so far and I hope there aren’t any more hiccups.

  16. craig on September 4, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    You recently posted an update of a lower cost option. Please post.

    • Keith Schroeder on September 4, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      4Gcommunity.org

  17. Bill on October 24, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Just got this email from 4g community (signed up in July). I wonder if this means I actually paid for very expensive internet service ($~400 for internet for a few months). Thoughts or recommendations? Calyx institute, or will they crumble as well?

    Dear 4GCommunity.org Members,

    We are saddened to inform you that due to circumstances beyond the organization’s control the Internet connectivity benefit of membership will be ceasing no later than November 30, 2017. It may be sooner, so please begin looking for other Internet connectivity options right away.

    The member online support center will remain a resource through this time next year. Member and support team volunteers will be providing their general assistance through the online support center to assist with questions about basic home computing, networking, and related technologies. It can be accessed through the Support Center page of the website, or directly at: https://4gcommunityorg.happyfox.com/

    Respectfully yours,

    Support Team

    • Keith Schroeder on October 24, 2017 at 11:41 pm

      Bill, got the same email. I will work on a solution and publish it on this post if find an adequate alternative. Stay tuned.

  18. Nathan on October 27, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I received the same email as well.

    I have tried to call, email and login on the website to get ahold of someone at 4G to understand:
    1) See if I can find out some idea of why
    2) See if I can get a refund for the months of service I am not going to receive anymore
    3) Any other misc information

    I have not been able to get through anywhere. The customer service email sends a bounce back return email saying this email no longer is monitored… go to the website and click on support center. Which requires you to login… I have not been able to successfully login. So I either wrote my login information down incorrectly or it is shutdown. So I tried requesting a new account… it says that it sent you an email to start the account from, but I never get an email. I also tried calling their phone number. You start off thinking you got through…. says push “0” for operator and then after you push “0” you get a recording that basically says this number is no longer in use.

    I haven’t done anything yet for new internet service other than look at (I hate to say this) Comcast again to see what new members are being offered right now. This is a bummer… I was so happy when I was able to give Comcast the boot!

    • Keith Schroeder on October 27, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Nathan, we are good until November 30th. I am on the road at a financial conference and will be researching options when I return home. My youngest daughter found the exact same product in a few other place, but at a higher price. Once I can review and check other options I will update you guys. I use the same service and live out in the boondocks. I have limited options and am heavily motivated. Stay tuned.

      • Andy on November 23, 2017 at 2:41 am

        Keith, I too was stuck with only a half year of 4G Community service but pre-paid for a full year. There is an alternative that exists, but only if you are or were a student at a college or university, and you had a .EDU email account that by default identifies you as a student in their verification process. Here is the link: https://store.thinkedu.com/community-connects-4g-lte-mobile-internet-2499monthly-p8135.aspx
        The device cost is $85, and monthly on the same Sprint 30GB (Unlimited) plan is $24.99 billed monthly to your credit card, and thereby no risky annual advance payments that can go up in smoke like 4GC! Also share your info on FB and they knock off $2.00 off the total tab. The device is a ZTE Warp Connect Mobile Hotspot. The other one they have is the Franklin wireless 850 Hotspot. I opted for the ZTE because it has better specs and is similar to the ZTE MF975S pocket wifi that I had with 4GC. The only downside is that the device is 4G LTE and does not have 3G fallback with just 2.4GHz capability. The MF975S has 2.4GHz & 5GHz dual capability. The upside on the ZTE Warp Connect is that the device has capability to attach an antenna for a stronger signal. So will see how this pans out when the device arrives.

        • Keith Schroeder on November 23, 2017 at 7:41 am

          Thanks for the info, Andy! I should’ve had my daughter sign us up but I already swung for Calyx. Hopefully readers find this and benefit.

          • Andy on December 11, 2017 at 3:14 am

            You’re welcome Keith. 4GC officially shut me down on December 4, so there were a few bonus days, and after that I called my credit card company to dispute loss of service time. I did a little searching though to see what I can provision for my now useless ZTE Pocket WiFi. I found a product from MintSim that sells SIM cards that may work in the ZTE Pocket WiFi. Their website has a portal that you can enter your device IMEI info to see if it is compatible and it said that their SIM will work in my old 4GC device. Here is their website: https://www.mintsim.com/plans/
            Looks like they sell a variety of SIMS and data plans for phones that apparently doesn’t exclude hotspot usage. Although its not an “unlimited” plan, the promotional offer they are having now gets you 3 months of 4G LTE data with 10 GIGS/ month for $75 or $25/month, and they give you an additional 3 months FREE! Whoa, that makes it $12.50/month for 6 months! Can’t beat that if you use it conservatively where you just need to access email and send pix or some light video streaming. I called them and they said that the offer ends December 31, 2017 and you have 45 days to activate the SIM after you receive it. I will get one to give to my wife as she is in FL helping with her elderly mom, so she has to “bum” off of the home network there. This way she can have here own network to take anywhere.
            Promotion terms: https://www.mintsim.com/promotions/



        • Jen on November 23, 2017 at 7:07 pm

          Thank you Andy. Your info was helpful!

          • jen on November 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

            FYI, the thinkedu offer is not unlimited. I emailed them and they said there will be charges if you go over 60GB.



          • Andy on December 11, 2017 at 4:05 am

            Hi Jen, thanks for the update on the 60GB provision. Can you possibly provide a link where they actually publish this because I can’t find that info any where, or hopefully you were dealing with a misinformed CS rep? On the thinkedu website they say that they utilize their service through Mobile Citizen …here’s the specific page: https://store.thinkedu.com/community-connects-4g-lte-mobile-internet-p6267.aspx
            Quick Facts:
            “Mobile Citizen is providing Customers with a 30 GB+ 4G LTE data-only plan.”
            and Mobile Citizen page confirms this: https://mobilecitizen.org/about/faqs/
            What are the details of your offer?
            “Mobile Citizen offers a 30 GB+ 4G LTE data-only plan (with no throttling, suspension or overage charges after 30 GB). The plan does not include off-network roaming and is subject to any standard network management that Sprint may apply to commercial broadband data-only account users.”
            Unless thinkedu has structured its own cap on service which may be a wise move to help keep controls on network abuse that may have potentially led to 4GC’s demise? Also I noticed that thinkedu must be sold out on the ZTE as they only show the Franklin device as being available. I’m using my ZTE Warp for a week now, and so far it is performing well.



          • Jen on December 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm

            Andy, the info I have was from an email I sent to ThinkEDU. However, I did go ahead and buy it based on my research and email #2. See both below:

            Email#1
            Lora replied:
            Hi Jennifer,
            No, it is for 30 GB of data. Nothing happens until you go over 60 GB of data. Then there will be fees on the subscription.
            Regards,
            CollegeBuys Support Center

            Email #2
            Hi Jennifer,
            We are not certain as of yet and they may be that it is unlimited. We have not had anyone get charged for overages as of yet.
            Regards,
            CollegeBuys Support Center

            So, I bought it and I am using it now. I will update if I ever get charged for overage.



          • Andy on December 12, 2017 at 1:31 pm

            Jen, Thanks for the follow up. Since ThinkEdu never mentioned any overage fees, this may just be a scare tactic to keep people from abusing the system. Again, I believe that this may be what got 4GC “unplugged” as I saw many people bragging on different blogs how the were using up 1T (1000GB) of data! If Sprint was monitoring this can anyone blame them? Guess I’m just a lightweight-if I hit 20GB/mo. that’s a lot for me!



  19. Dan on November 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I stuck with Calyx since I had already paid for one year. I can’t remember exactly when I started the service but it was fine for my needs which are admittedly light usage. However, in the past 2 months or so, I have seen service degrade. In particular, the internet connection between the computer & the mobile hotspot “hiccups” frequently causing me to lose the connection. Usually it reconnects within a few seconds but at times, it has take 15 to 30 minutes. This rarely happened before but it has been a daily occurrence recently. If I am on the internet for more than one hour, guaranteed that my internet connection will stall at some point.

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