The 2015 WheelingIt Internet & Phone Set-Up
I get quite a lot of questions about what we do for internet and phone on the road. The truth is that the “best” deals are constantly changing and vary from person to person. What may work perfectly for us might not work for you (or might not be worth the cost to you). Do you need a lot of internet? Or just a bit? Do you CARE about snazzy phone service? Or will a cheap pre-paid phone do the job?
It’s such a complex topic that I can’t possibly talk about all the options in one blog post, and much prefer to leave that to the experts. For those of you just getting into this, I really recommend researching all your options by buying the most excellent The Mobile Internet Handbook (just updated this year), checking the latest articles on the RV Mobile Internet Resource Center and, if you want to go into even more depth, joining the Mobile Internet Afficionado group. All three are run by our RV buddies Technomadia, and I don’t just recommend them because they’re friends of ours. Their expertise & constant research in this area has been essential to keeping us up to date on what’s going on. That’s how we find our best deals!
That said I’m quite happy to talk about what we currently have since the previous posts I have on the blog on this are woefully out-dated. So, here goes…
Which Cellular Provider?
Most RVers get both their data & phone plans from a cellular provider, and that’s how we’ve operated since we hit the road in 2010.
When we first started RVing Verizon had the absolute best coverage nationwide, and these days that’s pretty much still true. However AT&T has significantly expanded over the years and is now a very serious contender for RV travelers, so much so that in many areas you can’t tell the difference between the two and in some spots AT&T is even better!
We RV’d our first 4 years exclusively with Verizon and haven’t regretted it. If I had to chose only ONE provider today, that’s still who I’d go with. Last winter we switched to a combo of AT&T & Verizon and we’ve also been very happy with that. For those of you who really “need” internet having both is a nice combo since sometimes one is better (or faster) than the other.
The other guys (Sprint, T-Mobile etc.) don’t really do well outside of big cities, so unless you’re traveling in very restricted, city-dense areas I wouldn’t consider them at all.
Note/ The Coverage? App (iPhone/iPad) is a great way to check coverage while you’re traveling and see overlay comparisons of the various providers out there. The screen shots above are from that App.
Contract or No Contract?
I’ve always been a fan of no contract plans. You might get a cheaper up-front deal on a phone with a 2-year contract, but you invariably pay more over the long term and you are immediately locked in and at the whim of waiting out the contract.
For the past many years every single plan we’ve signed on the road has been no contract (month-to-month) and it’s served us very well indeed. We’ve been able to ditch and pick-up the best new plans as they come out without any long-term ties. Given how much this stuff changes I highly recommend this approach.
Cellphone Plan -> From Straight Talk to AT&T
For many years we ran a single, joint cellphone on Straight Talk which, for $45/mo provided us unlimited talk/text and 3GB of data (they call it “unlimited” on their website, but you’re actually throttled after 3GB). Our phone ran on the Verizon network and honestly worked fine. We didn’t have the snazziest or newest phone, and we weren’t able to hotspot or share the data, but the price & service worked. We also carried a super-cheap “backup” pre-paid phone from Tracfone to use when we were separated. This phone could only really be used for phone calls, but was so cheap it didn’t matter. It ran on the AT&T network and cost us ~$100 per year.
If a better deal hadn’t shown up, we’d probably still be on this combo and I still recommend both Straight Talk & Tracfone for folks looking for cheap service. Just make sure you chose your phone model carefully since the phone you buy determines which network you’ll end up on.
The “better” deal that came up for us was joining a family plan with some extended family back when AT&T & Verizon had their data wars going on last fall. We bought our own phones (I got mine on eBay) so that we only had to pay $15/mo for each phone plus whatever data we were going to share.
The advantage was that we got to add Paul’s mom to the plan PLUS we got our own individual phones (Paul had been lobbying for this for a while) PLUS we got 10GB of shareable data that we could hotspot as needed to any device. We initially signed up with Verizon (see below), but eventually ended up on ATT. That’s what we have now.
Data Plan -> From Millenicom to Verizon Unlimited
When Millenicom died in Oct of last year we (and many other RVers) were very sad indeed. We’d had it as our main dataplan for years and couldn’t possibly imagine finding a better deal. What were we going to do?
Then came the “double data wars”. All of a sudden AT&T and Verizon started battling it out offering BIG deals (40GB, 60GB etc. plans) on their Family Share plans for quite reasonable prices. For folks like us who rely on a pretty hefty amount of data this was a very attractive proposal. We immediately jumped into a Verizon no-contract family plan offering 40GB/mo and two phones. For a while that worked perfectly for us and if a better deal hadn’t come along we’d STILL be on that plan since it far and above supersedes anything on offer at those data levels today.
What came along was the chance to get a Verizon Unlimited plan. Now I’m going to say up-front that this is NOT something for everyone. There are real risks involved in getting an unlimited plan and real risks involved in how long these plans will be around (there are ZERO guarantees!), but for us it was worth it. We managed to snag an unlimited plan a few days before the particular method we used to get it went extinct.
I didn’t blog about it at the time since there wasn’t much point in writing about a method that no-one else could use, but it turns out there is a recently confirmed loophole which makes them a possibility again. My recommendation if you’re serious about this is to read about the process in detail on some of the phone forums or follow the MIA guide (you must be a member for the latter). Again, NOT for everyone and NOT something I would recommend as a standard due to the initial costs & risks (most folks are better off with a Family Share plan), but it might be worth it for some.
We run our data plan on a Novatel 6620L MiFi that I acquired recently from eBay. Full price on this device is over $200, but I bought it for under $150 (brand new). It’s one of the recommended MiFi’s in MIA.
Boosting -> Wilson Sleek
Given how much we rely on internet and love traveling in the “boonies” I consider boosting equipment pretty essential stuff. It can’t do magic (you can’t boost a signal that isn’t there), but it’s given us solid, usable signal in places where we might otherwise have almost none.
We’ve only really bought a few iterations of boosting equipment over the years. The Wilson Sleek has been our go-to booster since 2013 and boosts both our AT&T phones and Verizon MiFi (one at a time) and we’ve been very happy with it. The company now calls itself Weboost, but still sells similar stuff. We typically just slip our 6620L MiFi into the Wilson Sleek cradle, run the antenna wire out the window and put the stock antenna on the roof (it’s magnetic and needs a metal ground-plane to function properly). Voilà…boosting complete.
In addition to the stock antenna we also have a Wilson Paddle Antenna for more marginal areas that attaches to the Sleek with a beefy cable and an adapter connector. We’ve only really used this set-up once since the stock antenna does the job most of the time, but I like having it around. New boosters are coming out ALL the time, so research before you buy.
That wraps up our set-up. Those of you astute enough to add-up the numbers will see that we’re currently paying ~$178/mo for our combo of 3 phones, 10GB of AT&T data and unlimited Verizon data. Since we don’t have a TV plan anymore this is the sum total of what we pay for our connectivity & online entertaniment, and if a better deal comes along well, we don’t have any contracts so you know we’ll be ON IT!
Feel free to ask questions about our current set-up below. I’m no expert (that’s what I go to MIA for), but I can certainly answer stuff related to what we have now.SPONSORED LINK:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
TIMING TIMING TIMING!
Thanks so very much for posting this and the links.
I am leaving in 12 hours for a round the country trip–CA to IN to PA to NC to FL to TX and CA. I didn’t resolve this issue in my reading up because I never got around to figuring how to compute how much data I would need. Heck. I’m still trying to figure out how I accidentally use up 3g data on phone in one day!!!!!
I wasn’t able to read your whole post today, but will get the book at the top and when I hit Richfield UT, I’ll get to reading it tomorrow nite.
Thanks for all you do. Hope you got credit for all the junk I ordered thru your Amazon link from your RV hacks from a couple years ago. I’m watching prices on the TPMS device, since I had that on my jeep for years and it was invaluable. Since I go off road so much, its almost a necessity for getting back on the hwy to know if you’ve given yourself a problem with that last lava field your dragged your poor trailer across.
Gratefully, and with bated breath for your next post!
Data management can be a mystery sometimes. We’ve gotten pretty good at finding all the “hidden” applications and such that use data, but we still get weird usage every now and then.
Thanks for the compliment and wish you the best on your awesome road trip!
Alan Hanson says
Your comment on hidden applications really caught my eye.
Last October we were at Jackson Rancheria RV Resort and had one 24 hour period that we were charged for just under 5 GB of data. We also hit a similar 5 GB 24 hour period on the Oregon Coast around the time of the big storm you also experienced at Cape Blanco. Including those and other dates we ran over 40 GB of data in one month. We have a Verizon Jet Pack. In several years of Verizon Mifi usage we had never exceeded the 5 GB allowance. The only difference on this trip is my wife and I both had new Lenovo laptops. I’m very curious about “Hidden Applications”, could you possibly elaborate on that a bit?
BTW, after going through several different Verizon “supervisors” all I ever got was “the data is legitimate” and was finally offered a $100.00 credit I told them that was unacceptable and filed a written complaint on their forms. I eventually got a phonecall from a “Big Cheese” in Phoenix and was given a complete $400.00 credit, although he still insisted the data was legit, and the credit was offered because of our longtime Verizon loyality. This brings me back to “Hidden Applications” and any coaching/theories you could offer. We haven’t done any heavy usage since last fall, but probably will be soon and have our concerns about future data usage. Hope you can enlighten us a little bit.
The hidden stuff is hard to find (as you may imagine). Some of my biggest hidden things were apps & programs that do automatic downloads. So, one of the first things I did was stop automatic downloads on my windows and for any and all programs I could find. I did the same on my phone.
Automatic play of video and ads can also suck some data. I installed an ad-blocker on my Chrome and turned off automatic video play (see this link for tips: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/internet/how-stop-autoplaying-ads-videos-media-on-web-pages-3497991/). I’m pretty sure this has helped.
Lastly you can download a data tracker program for your phone & PCs to track real-time data usage. Lots of free and paid versions out there. Here’s an example:
And lastly of course, just make sure you don’t use programs that use online video (which is by far the biggest gobbler of data). So, avoid Youtube, watching video’s on Facebook, streaming etc.
Hope that helps you get started.
Alan Hanson says
Nina, thank you so much for the valuable input. I have done all the things you suggested and believe there is already a fairly significant difference in data usage. Time will tell, but thanks to you I believe we’re really on the right track.
Alan Hanson says
As an update, my data usage seems to be well under control except for one day. I installed NetWorx as a data tracker and last Tuesday 7/28, it showed a 3.6 GB spike between 8:00 am and 10:00 am. Wasn’t doing anything different and have no clue why that happened. Have looked everywhere I can think of and nothing shows up. Any ideas what could cause something like that?
With that size of download I can only think of some sort of major software update. The only specific thing I can think of is that 7/28 was the day Windows 10 was released and auto-downloaded to everyone who reserved a copy. 4GB would be about the right size for this. Did you pre-reserve a copy?
Unfortunately Windows 10 auto-downloads everything and cannot be metered or stopped, at least not yet. It’s a big buzz item around mobile travelers at the moment. The RV Mobile Internet team wrote a good announcement here:
Alan Hanson says
Well Nina you’re pretty darn sharp. I did reserve a copy of windows 10 and looked at my computer after your reply and saw this> $windows.~BT. Looks like it’s there but not up and running yet. Thanks again, you are an absolute “Fountain of Information”, love your website!!!
DeVora Clark says
I’ve been using Comcast at a stationary site but now I’ll be travelling and need to know if this information (hot spot) takes the place of cable internet? I have 1 phone, 1 kindle HD 7, and 1 iMac which I use to transfer WAV files as a musician. Can I do that on a Novatel 6620L? I don’t understand how this works.
Yes, the MiFi essentially takes the place of the cable, but you need to have a data plan for it.
First you need to sign-up for a data plan with a cellular provider (e.g. Verizon or AT&T). Once you have a plan you can either run it from your phone (by hot-spotting the phone) or from a MiFi (like the 6620L). All your devices will be able to connect to it that way. You may have to learn to limit how much data you use since cellular plans are limited and most people use way more data at home than they think. If you have BIG files that require a lot of data to transfer you can always find public WiFi (e.g. libraries) and use those for the bigger transfers. That helps manage the data usage on your cellular plan.
This article might help explain the options: http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/overview
DeVora Clark says
Thanks for this info. I’ll see if the campground I’ll be staying at inbetween travels has a good cable plan:)
Signing up for fixed cable if you’re stationary at a campground for an extended period makes A LOT of sense. You can get cheaper (and more) internet than any of the cellphone plans can offer. Not all campgrounds allow this, but some do. Good luck w/ everything!
DeVora Clark says
Thanks! STill curious about getting an unlimited data plan on Verizon if I can find one. It would make everything easier for me b/c I wouldn’t have Internet when I am on the road with the cable option.
We’re into a seaonsal site for the summer again – and just put our Verizon 20GB plan on hold & signed up for a Comcast/Xfininity account for ~$50/mo. I’m paying cable modem rental fees – we didn’t have one and it was a wash cost-wise to go buy one.
The odd thing with putting Verizon on hold is that they will only do it for 90 days and then you have to call them again.
We were another Millenicom to Verizon customer and haven’t been thrilled with working with Verizon directly. We seem to be eating our bandwidth faster ever since doing so as well.
Sometimes the campgrounds don’t know that it’s possible.. but if they have cable TV pulled to the sites, sometimes all it takes is calling the cable company (and subscribing) to turn on the internet access too.
Jim and Gayle says
We managed to snag one of those unlimited Verizon plans about 6 months ago. We pay $120/mo for it but it’s worth it compared to what we were paying Verizon directly for 20G, plus the overage they claimed we used. So far so good and it’s wonderful not to have to worry about how much data we’re using.
You got an awesome deal! Most of these plans are going for more like $400-$800 now, plus it’s trickier to get them transferred to your name. I’m also very happy we snagged one back when it was easier.
Hey guys.. just curious as to why your monthly bill is $120/month for your UDP? If you’re not needing the phone service that goes along with it (and are using it like Nina & Paul are in a JetPack) – you can dial back the minutes and drop the Texting plan that might have been on the plan you transferred over and get the cost down to $69.99/month 🙂
My understanding was that if you try to toy with the options of the original grandfathered plan, you run the risk of losing the unlimited data. So I made sure the AOL guy configured the plan to my needs. For less than $75/mo, I got the UDP plus free VZW calling plus free night/weekend plus 450 anytime minutes. I bought a $27 Android phone off eBay and installed Cyanogenmod on it to get the free hotspot. There is NOTHING sweeter than unlimited data—I only wish Millenicom had met its demise sooner!
Jim and Gayle says
This is the type of plan we have, although through a different seller. We just pay him through Paypal and have had no problems in six months.
We use Ting for our phone service with average bills around $30/mo for two smart phones. Highly recommend them! https://ting.com/
Cheers for the link! Looks like you guys ended up with one of the “rental” unlimited plans, as opposed to one of the plans that you buy and transfer the ownership over to your name. The former type are cheaper up-front, but you do pay more in monthly fees. Makes total sense, and it’s certainly another (unlimited plan) option for folks out there who are willing to go that route.
Also cheers for the info on Ting. I’ve looked at them many times, but don’t have any personal experience. The price is right, that’s for sure! How has their coverage been?
Jim and Gayle says
We started using Ting in 2013. They use Sprint’s CDMA network and roam on Verizon’s as well. However, when roaming you only get voice and texting and no data. The only issue that we have seen happen is that you will not switch over to a VZ tower if you get any signal from Sprint. That can result in having a poor signal even though you know there is a good VZ signal available. That said, it has worked well for us and we have experienced the best customer service that I have seen in many years.
Here is a page they have on roaming. When you scroll down to customer comments you will see a lot of commentary regarding VZ. I should note that the commenter with blue icons are Ting customer service folks replying.
I have one of the grandfathered Verizon unlimited data plans, and I’m afraid to do ANYTHING. My understanding is that if I change the plan, I loose my unlimited. And there’s NO going back! I did finally upgrade to a 4G phone, but not until I spoke with a few Verizon customer service people, taking down names and dates and times. I bought my phone on E-bay and changed from 3G to 4G through Verizon, and all is well. I was holding my breath, though.
You guys are my “go-to” source for all things technical. Hubby and I will be embarking on full time RVing in a few weeks. I’m still trying to figure out the whole wi-fi thing i.e. what hardware do we need, how much data, etc. Hubby is a news junkie and likes reading online news channels. I’m an author, blogger and dabble in graphics. I’m thinking 10 GB to start since we don’t watch a lot of television. My confusion stems from the difference in setting up one of our phones as a hotspot or using a MiFi. Is a MiFi device used to connect several devices like tablet, laptop and phone?
You can actually do either or. Both the phone and the MiFi will allow multiple devices to connect. The only negative with using your phone as your main hotspot is that you can’t really use it for anything else while that’s happening. So say one of you wants to go shopping and bring the phone. If that happens the other one loses the WiFI. Or, you want to make a call. That’s why most folks end up with a MiFi. It’s just more convenient (and sometimes more stable too).
That said, I know many folks who just use the phone and if you’re just starting out it’s really not a bad idea so that you don’t have to shell out the extra $$ for a MiFi right away. Maybe try it for a while and see how it goes?
It really comes down to personal preference as to if hot spotting of your phone/tablet or a dedicated MiFi/Jetpack makes better sense for you. We have an article that goes over the pros and cons of each at: http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/resources/mifijetpack-usb-modem-or-smartphone-hotspotting/ Enjoy.. and much cheer towards your upcoming adventures!
Thanks so much for the link, Cherie. I’m navigating over there right now!
Oh Nina.. you warm our hearts with this post. Thank you for sharing your setup so others can learn. And we are just so honored that you speak so highly of the RV Mobile Internet Resource center. Thank you!
We’re constantly tracking the industry so we can catch the next great deal so that our RVing friends & community can snag some of these great deals like we did last fall.
You are most welcome. I never recommend stuff unless it’s something I use myself, and I can honestly say that the praise here is fully warranted. You guys do an awesome job of tracking and reporting everything in this industry! Such a valuable resource for RVers!
How do you connect the Paddle Antenna, through the window like you do the sleek or did you drill a hole for the wires….
I will second how awesome the RV Mobile Internet Resource center is and the people who run it…a invaluable tool ….
We run the wire through the window just like the stock antenna. I guess we could create a more permanent thing, but I like having the ability to move the antenna and our Sleek cradle around. Sometimes we get better signal in the back of the RV than the front, for example. So it’s just nice to have that flexibility.
Hi – I have an unlimited plan on my Verizon phone – got it long ago and have steadfastly refused to let it go. I think this is a silly question, but the whole mobile access topic is murky to me — Is hotspotting my phone the only access to that unlimited data? Meaning if I bought a mifi does it require I purchase its own individual data plan (like I do with my iPad), or can the mifi be a vehicle to access the unlimited phone data plan?
BTW, was happy to see Technomadia was updating their mobile handbook and had planned to pick it up and get smart when it was available – guess now’s the time!
You can take out the SIM from your phone and put it in the MiFi. That’s what we do, and it’s totally acceptable per Verizon’s TOS (terms of service).
If the SIMs are different sizes (say, your phone has a nano and your MiFi needs a micro, or visa versa) you can get super cheap SIM cutters and/or SIM adapters to switch from one size to another. Of course I learned about that here:
This won’t necessarily get you online or allow you to talk, but, we are out in the boonies of North Fl/Alabama right now and noticed that our Verizon MiFi battery has started bulging! Yikes, in 3 days it has bulged even more. Turns out that you cannot run your MiFi without having a battery in it even when hooked up to a charger. I use a Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MHS291L and searched for this problem and it does happen to these devices. You might want to go to Amazon and order a replacement battery (snap the back off the device and replace battery) to have around because you know that it will stop working at the most inopportune moment. Here is a link to my battery. “http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MYL95HM?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00”. Click through Nina’s site and look up your battery, buy one, and keep it in a drawer for the day you need it. I wish I had done that:(
I’ve heard of this happening to a few folks, sadly. In fact the MIA team reported it as a known issue for the Pantech hotspot specifically:
Having a backup battery is an excellent idea.
Yes, this is a common issue with the batteries. And if you’re running the hotspot in a cradle type booster (like the one Nina is using), the heat generated by the booster can make it worse. We recommend providing a small ‘air gap’ between the MiFi and the cradle booster to better dissipate the heat.
Gary Haynes says
Chuck, having a bunch of experience with lithium batteries and bulging battery is a sign that one of the cells in the battery pack has reached end of life/failed. Dispose of it in an approved battery recycle spot. But don’t try to ‘save’ it. With years of using lithiums for UAV operations first sign of ‘puffing’ that battery is retired from flight operations.
I think I have 4-5 months left on my 2 year VZW cellular contract. At about that time, the latest version of the iPhone should be released also. I’ll be getting a new phone at full cost, and researching the best deal for a non contract cellular plan. No more contracts for me either.
At my sticks and bricks, I’m on Comcast for Internet and cable TV. At the same time I will be looking at my options there too. I really dislike Comcast, and their prices, and don’t watch much TV anyway. So I’m hoping that can go away too. And some WeBoost equipment wil be a part of this overall plan also, tho I need to do more homework there before making any purchases.
Bottom line is that I think I can get myself set up in such a manner as to have unlimited cellular calling, text (as I do now), and a large enough allotment of data for my needs at about half the price I now pay for my current cellular plan plus Comcast plan (approx $265/mo). Plus the benefit of making me as mobile as I want to be, when I want and/or need to be, without the burden of limited plans and the possibilities of data overages. (God forbid tho$e!!! Yike$!!!)
Thanks for another great post, Nina.
Oh definitely! At that price you should be able to get a pretty decent deal for exactly what you’re looking for. Sounds like a good plan!
We were sooooooo happy when we finally got ourselves out from long-term contracts. Haven’t looked back since.
kathi williams says
Your extensive knowledge and generous sharing are more than terrific. Hope you can get out of internet orbit just now and then to refresh! Best wishes from Mt. Shasta….
Do you have any confirmation of the confirmed loop hole for UDP transfer. It seams the people with Verizon has no idea it exists.
There are people on the MIA forum who have confirmed they’ve been successful with transfers. You can’t go through Verizon regular channels on this, you have to go through the AOL (Assumption of Liability) channel and even then it’s tricky since not everyone on the AOL line will agree to do it. So, it can be hit and miss. At least that’s what I’ve heard from the most recent news (= transfers done within the last few weeks). If you’re a member of MIA I’d advise asking on there for more info.
Hello Nina. Great post and perfect timing…my wife and I will be hitting the road in a few months and I am in the processes of figuring out how to setup internet connection. Since we will be traveling in a fifth wheel I thought it would be nice to have internet in both the truck and RV. I am looking at using the Wilson Sleek as a booster so I can move it between the two. I plan to mount the small magnetic antenna on the truck and install the paddle antenna permanently on the RV. Wilson makes a paddle antenna with an F-type connector so I should be able to simple split off from the existing coax that runs to my TV antenna. Is the paddle antenna in your picture permanently mounted to your TV antenna tower? If so, how did you mount it? I thought the two tower tubes had to move independently form each other as the antenna was raised and lowered…or am I mistaken.
PS: Good to know there will be a fellow Materials Engineer out there…just not many of us around:)
You are absolutely right on the TV antenna mechanism. When we use our Paddle it’s a temporary mount on the antenna. No way to keep it there permanently. Since we don’t use the paddle much, we don’t mind getting up there for the temp mount when it’s needed.
“Wilson makes a paddle antenna with an F-type connector so I should be able to simple split off from the existing coax that runs to my TV antenna”.
Do some investigation before you hook up a splitter to the TV antenna. Most RV antennas are powered by a preamp located inside the RV. Using the splitter might allow voltage to get to the paddle antenna or voltage NOT to get to the TV antenna which could result in loss of signal or damage to the equipment.
Also realize that you would be combining signals from 700Mhz to 2100Mhz (cell) and 88Mhz to 900Mhz which could result in intereference between the two types of signals.
I would hook up your Wilson unit temporarily with its own cable and make sure it works, then check for voltage on the TV antenna line and try the splitter if there is no voltage. Recheck your cell results and see if either the cell signal or the TV signal is affected.
Height is one of the keys to getting a cell signal where there should not be one. Look at a flag pole buddy (http://www.flagpolebuddy.com/) to mount your paddle antenna on. I did and I get more height and only pull it out when needed and plug into a coaxial connected mounted on the side of my 5th wheel. Works very well.
Thanks Chuck. I was curious about the impact of the preamp on the signal but did not consider the potential for equipment damage. I did talk to a Weboost tech about the setup and he seemed to think I would not have a problem using a splitter…we did not discuss the preamp effects. Looks like I have some more homework to do. Thanks for the link.
Cheers for chiming in. Flagpole Buddy is a great option and has been on our “list” for a while.
Chris and Juli says
New to the site. Excellent blog and photos. Keep them coming. I wanted to let you know what our family uses. We were using AT&T family plan and decided to jump ship since the quality was bad in the area where we live. We are now using republic wireless. My wife has the $25 voice and data plan and I have the $10 voice only plan. Total cost is $35 a month for both of us. Check it out, it is saving us a ton each month. The phone tries wifi first then off loads to the Sprint network first then to Verizon. http://www.republicwireless.com
I first saw info about Republic Wireless on MMM (Mr.Money Mustache). I agree it’s a great solution for folks who just need an inexpensive voice/text plan and are not overly interested in data. My understanding is that data roaming is limited to 100MB/mo on non-Sprint towers (which would be most of our travels given where we go), so the data side can be very limited. For folks who don’t care much about that that, it’s a great plan.
Hey i have been doing research non stop for 3 – 4 month’s and i have had no luck at all is there any way to get high speed internet for online gaming in a rv i have been living in a rv for 4 months and before this i was a online gamer, like player vs player game’s etc satelite internet simply can not work as the ping make’s real time game’s un playable please let me no if there are any option’s Tyvm!
Hey i have been doing research non stop for 3 – 4 month’s and i have had no luck at all is there any way to get high speed internet for online gaming in a rv i have been living in a rv for 4 months and before this i was a online gamer, like player vs player game’s etc satelite internet simply can not work as the ping make’s real time game’s un playable please let me no if there are any option’s Tyvm! Edit [ i forgot to mention i am permanently stationary in a rv park in arizona ]
Since you’re permanently stationed your best bet is actually to see if you can get cable internet installed directly at your site. That’ll give you the speed you need and a ton more bandwidth too. If cellphone data pings are fast enough you may be able to go with Verizon or ATT, but you’ll need to find and/or purchase a higher bandwidth plan. Satellite, like you mentioned has too much latency.
Direct connection Internet would be (by far) your least expensive and best option. Many RV parks allow this for their more permanent renters.
Hi…I’m in the beginning stages of researching full time RVing. I currently work from home and have been concerned how this would happen on the road. My current thought is I would be in a place for 3 mos minimum. I would need internet and faxing capabilities(which i have no idea if you can even do that). I’ve been reading some of the comments and now am more concerned w/the data usage I would need for work. Could you steer me in the right direction for further research? thanks!
Faxing is easy to do online. There are several online fax services such as FaxItNice, eFax and so on, where you either pay per fax or a flat monthly rate. Just make sure you bring a scanner and printer with you on the road, and choose your online fax service depending on how many faxes you typically send in a month.
For Internet usage it’s very variable. I’d actually recommend you download a data usage monitor (many free options for this) and track the data usage on your computer for several months. E-mail and such don’t use much, but video is a hog. Also I recommend buying The Mobile Internet Handbook which I linked to in the first paragraph of this post.
Over the past 7 years I have used Faxzero several times. It is free for faxing 2-3 pages but charges for more. I have found it to be very reasonable and based on my research the data you transmit is safe.
Straight talk has a bring your own phone plan, GSM phone, that now gives 5 gb of high speed data, then throttled down unlimited. That would be on ATT towers. Get an inexpensive verizon phone off ebay and get a 10 dollar, 100 minutes/120 days plan on page plus. That would be Verizon towers. PP also has 80 dollars/2000 minutes/one year plan. As previously mentioned, having ATT and Verizon is the best way to insure coverage, if coverage is going to be available.
My family is living in a trailer on my in-laws property. We don’t travel and the main house is maybe 50 yards from us.
If the main house has internet could we pick that up?
What are our options as a stable trailer for getting internet?
We love Google Maps!!!
This our first winter on the road and Google Maps and our smart phone have been an unbelievable help. Forget MapQuest. They have not kept up with the searching and viewing of what stores are around ones location. Yelp is working wonderfully for finding great restaurants. Being in a new town every few days can be disorienting. I hope these tools help you.
We regularly use both and like them slot. In fact I wrote about Google Maps in more detail here:
Jeff Kreisberg says
So basically you use phone/computer as hotspot?
No. Our Verizon unlimited SIM is in our MiFi (the Novatel 6620L that I mentioned in the blog post). So, our internet runs from there. All our computers and pad just connect to the MiFi.
Mary Burch says
I am planning on starting my life at 53 and living my new life travelling. I am not a technical or electronically smart person but I enjoy having them. In my current living situation I have these conveniences that I know I pay too much for and DO NOT WANT to when I get out there on the road. I want to be able to enjoy the country plus I do not want the companies to rape me as they do when you are in one area. I am reading up on as much as I can since I am not up to doing a lot on my own and I am single. I have Boost mobile for my phone but Century Link seems to be raping me for my internet then of course there is DirecTV which I enjoy but I believe there is a way to connect with it without being taken advantage of. Also, I am planning on enjoying my travels instead of the idiot tube. I will listen to any advice you might have for me.
On the internet side my best advice is to start out by figuring out how much internet you typically use. Download a data tracker (lots of free ones out there) so you can start monitoring your usage on all your devices (PC, pads etc.). That’ll give you an idea of how big a data plan you might need on the road. Plus you can practice using less. Most folks find it quite hard to downsize from unlimited home cable plans to limited mobile phone plans, but figuring out how much you currently use is a good place to start.
For TV, unless you’re really attached to Direct TV you could try going without for a while? Most RVs have TV roof antennas that allow you to get free over-the-air programs. Not all places have over-the-air channels, but most spots have at least some. We ditched Direct TV last year and have been using over-the-air since then. Works fine for us and costs nothing at all. If you find you can’t live without it, you can take Direct TV with you on the road too. You’ll just need a mobile dish and a monthly plan (much the same as you have currently).
Hope that helps to get you planning.
i plan on traveling in an RV while working remotely from it also … I found it interesting you have Verizon and at@t .. What would you suggest the best option be for one making a living on the road, as having internet is a necessity in my case .
Honestly we have both because internet connectivity is key to us (it’s how we make our living). Verizon has (by far) the largest nationwide coverage so if you can only afford one supplier, that’s the one I would recommend. It’s how we traveled (Verizon only) our first 4 years on the road. However there are areas that Verizon has poor coverage where AT&T has better coverage, so if you have both options you have much more flexibility. That’s how we currently travel and it’s definitely improved where we can get signal.
Thank you, Thank you for all your work and commitment to putting your experience out there! You were my first website that I found and have become my primary reference for all things RV Living. You have inspired my husband and me, letting us know this lifestyle is possible.
We hit the road Feb 1, 2017, selling everything! We’re souping up our travel trailer now. Boy, its overwhelming. One question I have for you is about the cell booster cradle from above. The work I do will be done on sessions over the phone. In your humble opinion 🙂 would this work? Would I have to hook up headphones to be able to use my phone if its in the cell booster cradle? I’d appreciate any help. This of course is only when we are way out in the boonies.
So, there are a few option here if most of your work is via Phone and you need to boost:
1/ Apple system – If you’re part of the Apple eco-system (Apple phone plus Apple computers) you can simply leave your phone in the booster and answer/make calls from your computer. The phone should just direct to your computer as needed.
2/ Non-Apple system + headset – If you don’t have all Apple stuff, then you can certainly leave the phone in the booster and use a headset of some sort to do calls.
3/ Non-Apple system + Skype (or other online system) – If you don’t have Apple another idea is to do all your phone stuff over Skype or Google Voice or something else that can run on your computer. Then just pair that with a headset and you’re good to go. This is what I do currently since I don’t have a Mac.
So, a few options there. With the phone in the booster cradle it IS possible to hold it to your ear and make calls that way (I’ve done it), but it wouldn’t be very comfortable long term. You definitely need a headset or something you can run from your computer (with a headset).
Thank you so much, Nina! Very helpful.
Patrice Wilde says
I’m not sure if you’ll find this comment since your post is from 2015. My husband and I are really technically challenged Canadians who spend 5 to 6 months in the US each year. We have installed a WiFi Ranger on our roof and purchased a Verizon hotspot from Wal-Mart and have been loading data at a huge cost to us. (It gets sucked up so fast because my phone starts updating apps etc. I know, I know we can stop this but I keep forgetting). We should buy Cherie and Chris’ book but I’m afraid it will be too difficult to understand (I have watched their videos and am completely flummoxed). Any ideas on how we can benefit from some kind of unlimited data plan?
The unlimited space is constantly changing. We were lucky enough to get ourselves an unlimited plan a few years back, but the one we have doesn’t exist anymore. I’d actually recommend joining Chris and Cherie’s MIA (Mobile Internet Aficionados) group. They keep track off all the latest unlimited plans there, as well as how to get them. Plus you’ll be able to ask any kind of question you wish. Here’s their public article on unlimited plans. Have a read through and see if it gets you the answer you’re looking for:
I just wanted to suggest one other alternative for whole-RV internet without paying for a hotspot. You can actually connect a 4g phone with unlimited data directly to certain wireless routers (or any router with your PC as an intermediary). It only works with android devices, but by using a USB-tethering app like PDA+net you can fully circumvent tethering caps.
The guide: https://www.vpnuniversity.com/tutorial/how-to-share-unlimited-4g-data-with-your-router
You’ll still be limited by the caps on your phone. Many of the unlimited phone plans are not actually unlimited anymore (or they are “network managed” after a certain level). But yes it’s an option.