Life on an RV has been highly glamorized in the media. Allowing you to travel around the country and even the world, it is often seen as the thing to do as soon as you retire. Well, we can definitely see the attraction it holds—if only it came with internet services you could depend on!
What’s the point in traveling around if you can’t share it with the people you love? Got great pictures, but don’t have a connection to upload it to social media? Well, that simply won’t do. Getting back to your RV-home only to find the cellular service is so anticlimactic that an attempt to share media online is not even worth considering. So, what do you do?
Well, you’ll be happy to learn internet service providers are adapting fast with changing times. Considering how tough the housing market has become lately that’s not surprising.
These days, having a home on wheels is way more common than you’d think. And it’s not just people bit by the wanderlust bug who are opting for vans and RVs. Many are opting to go for mobile homes as it’s not just an adventure anymore, it’s a way of life that offers a chance at survival. And once you have secured a roof over your head, the next logical step is acquiring an internet connection.
Access to the World Wide Web opens doors. From helping you learn to finding a job or starting your own business. It is an essential tool. Practically a basic necessity. One that helps keep your life together. And, internet providers are acutely aware that there’s now a huge new market out there to take on.
But, the trouble many urban nomads still face is finding a pocket-friendly connection for their mobile homes. Internet providers don’t often target these users in their marketing campaigns, so it becomes a struggle to find the right one. But that’s why we’re here. Today, we’ll talk about how you can find an internet connection in the middle of the wilderness, far from city centers, without burning a hole in your pocket.
When you think of an internet service on the go, your mind automatically thinks of satellite internet services that the likes of HughesNet have to offer. It makes sense that they should work right? Well, not exactly. Satellite internet services are great to use if you’re living in a remote area, but in a home that is stationary.
Sure there are options in the market like the mounted satellite dishes which can fold down when you are on the go and can be controlled from inside your mobile home. But, if your mobile home is not big enough, you’ll be restricted in terms of the size of the dish you use. And, the smaller the dish, the lesser the area of the sky that gets covered. Which in turn would affect the quality of the connection you establish.
Smaller manual dishes are also available in the market which is mounted on a tripod or another kind of stand so that you can move these around to catch a stronger signal. But that involves more work and necessitates manual calibration. That is why if you opt for a roof-mounted or portable dish for a satellite internet connection, you must remember automatic satellite signal acquisition is a necessary feature.
With that said, let us add, the cost involved in getting the equipment is considerable—especially if you go for a roof-mounted dish. The portable tripod mounted dish can cost you only a fraction of that, but in that case, you are your own installer—each time you move your RV-home, you will have to set the whole thing up, and get it right too!
Plus, if you don’t already have a satellite internet connection for your stationary home, you are not eligible for an add-on plan for your RV-home with satellite services such as HughesNet Internet. The same holds true for connecting to the DISH network internet—only when you are subscribed to a residential plan for DISH TV and internet, you are able to sign up for an add-on plan for your RV or van.
So, as long as Elon Musk does not develop SpaceX Starlink enough to offer better “mobility options” that allow your Starlink connection to move to different addresses, satellite internet for your mobile home may not cut it in terms of feasibility.
Now, if your mobile home is the only home you own, getting a satellite internet connection with providers like HughesNet or DISH may not be a viable option.
RVDataSat is the third option that gets you connected via satellite internet. The service is offered by MobilSat, which claims to be an expert in the provision of the internet for RVs and vans. RVDataSat offers an automatic satellite antenna designed for the consumer market. It comes complete with a one-touch automatic satellite controller, and a wireless router for RV Wi-Fi.
The biggest drawback however is that the satellite dishes are priced between $7000 and $15000 approximately. While monthly plans start at about $80 a month—offering a slow connection that runs at a max. 1 Mbps download and 200 Kbps upload speeds. And, if you move up to RV Entertainment plans, the download speed climbs to 4 Mbps but costs you a dear $330.
So, in spite of an un-metered connection, what you get in return is not really worth it. True that you get internet even if you land in the middle of nowhere but, cost-wise RVDataSat is an unsustainable option for mobile homeowners looking to cut on their expenses. A definite no-no. So, which internet service should you get?
Thanks to 4G LTE tech, you can access high-speed internet on the go. Sure there are regions where you may not be able to access 4G and the connection falls back on 3G or 2G. But, with 5G in the market, chances are things will only get better for those living out of RVs and vans. 4G LTE can give you download speeds as fast as 15 Mbps on average.
With cellular internet you have two options: You can either connect your cell phone to your laptop via USB and enable mobile tethering. Or you can purchase a purpose-built mobile hotspot device, which works with a 4G enabled SIM card and functions as a Wi-Fi router too. This way you will have RV Wi-Fi and you can connect other devices too.
If your data usage is not excessive, and it is not more than one device that you need to be connected at a time, it may be very practical to rely on your cellular data. The only downside is if you are not on an unlimited data plan like the AT&T Unlimited plans, you may as well find yourself stuck with no data at the wrong time. AT&T wireless plans start at $35 per line per month. And, give you unlimited talk, text, and mobile data. You can also benefit from mobile hotspot data allowance, premium data allowance, and enjoy SD to HD streaming depending on the plan you choose.
Even if you want to connect more than one device, and choose the hotspot device option for in-RV Wi-Fi, AT&T has a choice of data plans on offer. And, the provider also brings you bargain deals on high-end mobile hotspot devices.
Whichever way you connect to cellular internet in your RV home, you will need a data service plan. We’d recommend you opt for a data plan with the same provider as you currently use for your cellular service. This will help keep things simple. Like your tiny living. Unless of course lack of network coverage or unavailability of data plans makes it improbable.
If you are not living out of a van or RV, and only take your mobile camper out once or twice a year for vacation, there are other options you can make use of. If you’re a Spectrum subscriber for example and are already paying for Spectrum internet service at your residence, you may want to consider the Spectrum Mobile add-on.
Spectrum Mobile offers two plans: The Gig plan lets you pay by the GBs used. For each gigabit used you pay $14. And, the best part is that you can share this data with other By the Gig lines. The Unlimited plan costs $45 per line, which is a lot while on the go, but if internet usage is heavy it’ll be worth it.
The only thing you need to check is if the area you’d be traveling to and the route in between are covered by Spectrum Mobile. Sure Charter Spectrum™ is a cable provider with the second most expanded coverage in the U.S., but as for Spectrum Mobile, it piggybacks like other MVNOs—fortunately, it uses the Verizon 4G LTE network, which is the largest in the US. So, chances are there won’t be many regions where you’d be left without connectivity. Yet, to ensure availability make it a point to check Verizon’s coverage map before you set off.
Those who like to stay on the go in their mobile homes may find cellular internet data service rather expensive in the long run—and in that it’d kind of beat the purpose of tiny living on the wheels. Unless of course, you earn your living by working remotely.
If you do not depend on the internet to make a living or run your day-to-day errands, and the internet is primarily for connecting to the Web and socializing online, we’d recommend two things: Minimize your usage of the internet when you are moving. And connect to a public Wi-Fi network when you are parked.
For instance, when you’re near park grounds or stationed near a public building or a restaurant, you can check for the availability of public Wi-Fi and connect with relative ease. Sure, it’s not something you can depend on since you’ll be changing locations but, wherever you find yourself near one you can make use of that internet connection and save on your data.
So there you go. Staying connected while on a motor home shouldn’t be difficult, nor should it drain your wallet if you go about it smartly. At the end of the day, it is all about what fits your needs and your budget. We hope this discussion has helped you find some useful information. Traveling is difficult in itself. Even if it is your chosen lifestyle. But, it doesn’t have to be any tougher. So, we’d recommend you assess your digital requirements in your mobile tiny home, and make a smart pick. AT&T Wireless is a great option to alternate with the use of public networks when you are stationed. So, do check that out.
RVDataSat plans start at around $80 for the 1 Mbps plan with unlimited data. And, you also have to pay a minimum of about $7000 for the equipment up front. On the other hand, AT&T Wireless Unlimited plans start at $35 per line, with wide network coverage. And, make for a more practical and cost-effective option if you do not need to connect more than one device at a time.
Cellular internet is the best option for vans and RVs. But, if you find yourself strapped for cash, alternate use of cellular data with access to public Wi-Fi. A good balance may just work for you.
Yes, you can. But only if you are already subscribed to a residential plan from HughesNet and get an add-on plan for a short camping vacation. Satellite internet from the likes of HughesNet and Viasat is suited well for a remote living but in one place.
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