Having an internet connection on a consistent basis is the biggest battle we face working remotely. We have found that having multiple options is a necessity and gives us our best chance at getting a connection wherever we are.
The Unfortunate Truth about WiFi
While WiFi technology is getting better, RV Parks, Resorts, and Campgrounds have not caught up. Of all the places we have stayed, only 3 parks have had true high speed WiFi. This is probably one the more expensive and complicated amenities for park owners to provide their guest and as we've discovered, its pretty rare. For the places that do provide WiFi, there is usually only one access point located by the office, which doesn't broadcast anywhere outside of the office. While a few parks did have multiple access points, they didn’t have enough bandwidth to support the 100+ sites or they throttled your speed to a crawl. In short Internet at RV campgrounds is extremely slow and unreliable and at times we have felt like were were using an AOL dial up connection.
Our Internet Setup
WiFi Ranger Elite AC Pack FM
The heart of our RV internet solution is our WiFiRanger Elite AC Pack FM. The WiFiRanger is specially made for RVers and makes mobile connectivity easy and pain free. Here are the features we liked:
When WiFi isn’t an option at your site, you will need another solution. We rely on cellular when WiFi is not available. We have 3 options for cellular; our two T-Mobile cell phones (Google Pixel 2 & Google Pixel 3) and a Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack MHS900L. We like having two different carriers because it gives us options when one carrier is stronger than the other. We even notice speed differences between our two T-Mobile phones. Ideally, we connect the WiFiRanger to one of the cellular devices which in turns provides internet to the whole RV.
Cellular Data Reception
We really enjoy camping in sites that are remote and secluded but when you are in the middle of Nowhere, USA with a population of 10 cows, a cell signal is pretty scarce.
To combat that, we use a cellular signal booster. There are a bunch on the market but we chose the WeBoost Drive 4G-X.
This device helps receive the signal with an outdoor antenna, boost signal and broadcast signal with an indoor antenna in the RV and it works with all carriers. The only problem is the indoor antenna doesn’t broadcast very far so you have to keep your devices close to the antenna. We keep our Verizon Jetpack close to the antenna in our media cabinet.
The Problem with Cellular: Data Throttling
You are being data throttled no matter what your carrier or data plan is. For our phones, we are on the T-Mobile ONE Unlimited Plan which we really like. The plan also allows you to use the Mobile Hotspot data at 3G speeds. Our Verizon Jetpack is also an unlimited plan up to 22GB of high-speed 4G. Despite all our devices being “Unlimited” data, our data speed is still being throttled at a certain point. But luckily, we found a way around the data throttling for our Android Phones.
PdaNet+ & FoxFi (Android)
This is a must have and another great option. PdaNet+ is one of the top Android applications of all time. It shares the internet access from your Android cell phone to your laptop, computer or tablets. The nice thing is it doesn’t require a tethering plan from your carrier which some carriers charge additional for. PdaNet+ has multiple connection options like USB and WiFi. Most cell phone carrier meter there hotspot/tethering . PdaNet+ doesn’t have any speed limits. You can download the free version on the Google Play Store but it has a timed usage limit. This means you’ll have to reconnect it after a certain amount of time. We opted to purchase the full version for $7.99. We highly recommend this app and use it all the time.
Internet is a must have for our nomadic lifestyle. Whether it’s for work, route planning or researching our next stop, we rely on our devices and can’t survive without a good connection. Our solutions aren't perfect and often we are frustrated at the speed but considering the locations we’ve been able to work in, its worked pretty well and gotten the job done. When your office is mobile and ever changing like ours, our biggest recommendation is multiple options for connecting to the world.
What are some ways you connect to the internet while RVing? Let us know in the comments below.
By Kevin Quiambao
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