UPDATE! I no longer recommend Calyx over poor service quality and the high price. You can get a better deal with better quality Best Buy. Starlink and similar services are coming online in late 2020 and early 2021. Those will be an even better deal if the pricing I’m hearing is accurate.
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.
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
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.
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.
Saturday 7th of December 2019
I decided to give Calyx a try and have had nothing but headaches even though I live in a very strong Sprint service area. Have had nothing but constantly dropped connection, extremely low speed and the hassle of having to return devices only to have the new device not be any better. The speed is enough to load a webpage....if you're the type that loves waiting around twiddling your thumbs for a few minutes with every page loaded and every picture on that page. Have been through the whole routine with Calyx/Sprint tech support over and over, nothing getting fixed. And of course, no refund for a year's worth of internet (non)service. It's been horrible experience overall and a costly one due to having to pay for a second internet service.
Tuesday 19th of December 2017
Not too exciting or even frugal, but sprint gave me unlimited data to the existing zte 4gcomnunity sent for $50/month. Not great, but it's at least a temporary solution and allowed me to escape Spectrum/time warner' s clutches
Thursday 2nd of November 2017
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.
Friday 27th of October 2017
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!
Friday 27th of October 2017
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.
Tuesday 24th of October 2017
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/
Tuesday 24th of October 2017
Bill, got the same email. I will work on a solution and publish it on this post if find an adequate alternative. Stay tuned.