This article will discuss various methods to connect to the internet when traveling in a recreational vehicle (RV). The equipment involved with each method and the download speed of each type will be addressed. With many of us now depending on access to the internet for both personal and business needs, a reliable method for internet use is necessary when traveling in an RV.
These internet access methods are:
Satellite internet service requires a receiver dish that would either be mounted on the roof of the RV or one that is portable and sits on the ground. The roof mounted installation is more expensive initially, but does not require manual set up of the dish at each new location. The roof mounted dish also requires clear access to the southern sky, so being parked under a tree is a problem. This method allows internet access no matter where you are and achieves near broadband speeds. The cost is between $70 and $100 a month.
o Air Card
This internet solution is offered by the major telephone companies. It involves the use of a small modem that plugs either directly into your computer or into a router. The signal that the modem receives is delivered from cell towers, just like your cell phone. Most areas of the country have this service available, but speeds will vary. In major metropolitan areas the speeds will be near broadband, but as you get into rural areas the speed will drop. In remote areas you will not get any service at all. You can improve your signal reception in rural areas with the use of antennas and amplifiers. The cost is $60 a month, but can be limited in terms of the amount of data downloaded before being charged extra.
o Cell Phone
Most cell phone plans now offer an internet access option. In order to use this method, you’ll need the following things:
1. Add internet access to your cell phone plan
2. A cell phone you have will work for accessing the internet, not all phones will do this
3. A cable to connect your cell phone to your computer
The speed of this method will will be faster than dial up, but no where near broadband. There is a monthly charge added to your cell phone plan for this service.
This service uses equipment that is the size of a credit card, which combines a modem, router, and access point. The signal is again delivered from a telephone company cell tower. The speeds you’ll have are near broadband, with coverage once again good in the cities and degrading into rural areas. This method supports up to five users at a time with a wireless signal. A monthly subscription is needed with a telephone company for this service.
o Free WiFi
A number of RV parks and campgrounds offer free WiFi to their guests, but naturally some parks do not have this service. If you don’t need daily internet access, using a free signal at places where it is available may be enough such that you would not need to subscribe to one of the other plans.