RV Internet and Mobile WIFI * The On the Go Guide

rv-internet-wifiIn our conversations with fellow RV’ers, communicating in the RV forums, and other general chats with folks we find that there is one consistent issue most RV’ers struggle with and thats the issue of RV Internet. RV Internet or “Mobile Wifi or Mobile Broadband” as some refer to it is easily the most common issue people face as the world continues the trend of staying connected.  We will attempt to  address this issue and offer some clarity on what the options are and how to proceed. We have seen far to many people overpay, get unnecessary services and receive poor results with their RV Internet trials and tribulations. Below you will find a graph outlining the major players in the Mobile Wifi world and what they offer.

You may notice we omitted some names. We did so on purpose because many others only exist while using the below companies cellular towers under a different marketing name and offer very little real value to the end user. Some of them only operate regionally and tend to be uncompetitive on price. If you happen to find a company offering better deals with the same level of service quality, support, and value as what we are describing here than we applaud you! Just be sure to check the fine print.

There are 3 main ways to access the internet while on the road:

  1. Public/Private Accessible WIFI Networks – McDonalds, RV Parks, Libraries, Rest Stops, Starbucks, etc
  2. Satellite Connection – Dish, Hughesnet, Starband, etc
  3. Wireless Service Provides (Cell Phone Networks) – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Millenicom, etc

Public/Private Accesible WIFI Networks

They are available throughout the US. The connections as well as speeds are hit or miss. Your experience can be improved through the use of additional equipment installed in your RV. This will not be the focus of this guide though it will touch on it briefly

Satellite Connection

Through the use of a satellite dish your RV uploads and downloads data through the same satellites that your TV would. This service tends to be more expensive and equipment heavy than other options. This will not be covered in this guide.

Wireless Service Providers

rv-wifi-internet-carriersThrough the use of MIFI “Mobile WIFI” stand alone devices or the use of your smartphone your device becomes a wireless connection device that uses wireless towers to send and receive data. Your service experience relies heavily on coverage and the quality of the network you choose to use. This is the most cost effective and popular way to connect while on the go and will be the focus of this guide. If you already have a device and looking to boost your wireless coverage signal, be sure look over our cell phone signal booster guide.

RV Internet / Mobile WIFI Comparison Chart:

As you review this chart below you can find a guide below it to address the definitions of the items described as you begin to make your decision on what makes the most sense for you. Farther down you will find my recommendations based on the “RV Internet” profiles that we commonly see. If you feel like you have a unique situation we have not addressed here please feel free to leave a comment or visit our forums describing your situation and we will be happy to customize my thoughts for you!

If your having trouble viewing the RV internet comparison table please CLICK HERE

 
True Prepaid
Monthly Use It or Lose It
Contract
Option
3G Speeds
4G Speeds
Shared Data Option
Plan Options
True Connect Internet To GoxxMore Info
Verizon WirelessxxxxxContract
Prepaid
AT&TxxxxxContract
Prepaid
SprintxxxxxMore Info
T-MobilexxxxMore Info
Virgin MobilexxxMore Info
MillenicomxxxMore Info

If your having trouble viewing the RV internet comparison table please CLICK HERE


RV Internet Graph ExplanationClick to show table explanation.

Comments

  1. f vogel says

    Hope to be on the road in May. Paying bills for two months is what I’m after. Do I purchase a device like prepaid from Verizon to do the job.?
    working from my laptop.
    Thanks

    • says

      If all you need is simple access for a few months then any pre-paid service should work well for you. If connection speed is a concern then Verizon is a good choice, if not then you can consider TrueConnect through Wal-Mart which is the best pre-paid option for the money in our opinion.

      Have fun on your trip!

  2. DnCWhitney says

    packing now for our next full-timer adventure and found this site. Very informative! thank you for all your work!!

    We in market to purchase a smartphone, tablet and laptop combo and want to go with the most up-to-date wifi capabilities; cell-accessible as well as in remote locations. Don’t care about or need t.v. satellite. We will be in dispersed dry-camping areas with campgrounds and RV parks as the occasional alternative.

    your suggestions? :)

    read up a bit on the remote wife info you presented. anything newer, less expensive yet?

    thank you!

    • says

      Hi There!
      Hope you guys have a great trip!
      Even though this article is a few months old, 99% of the information holds true. Mostly because the entire “mobile data” industry has locked onto it like a leech. They are linking the future of their companies to the thought that they can milk data users for decades to come.
      Dry camping and Wi-Fi just don’t mix unless you are going to go with Satellite internet. The mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T just don’t have the incentive to build coverage in remote areas.
      If you are serious about connectivity and less concerned about the cost, then we still think that a combination of Satellite internet and a mobile MIFI device is the way to go (Either from Millenicom or Verizon).
      As for devices you need to make a commitment to an operating ecosystem such as Apple iOS or Android from Google. Then choose your devices. Apple is recommended for more casual users that are not tech savvy. Android allows for much more customization and options.
      Tablet: Apple iPad (obviously) or the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (Android)
      Smartphone: Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4/LG G2 (Android)
      Laptop: This one is hard to answer. Way too many options. Many on our staff use Asus Zenbooks or MacBooks

      I hope that helps!

    • says

      Hi LL,

      AutoNet is a company we have heard about. Made famous by some of the automakers using their equipment to provide in vehicle WiFi and routers. It would be a fine choice for gaining access to the internet while traveling. The only problem we see with it is the value for what you get is not on par with other options. The price of the equipment/monthly fee is nowhere near what you could get from Millenicom, Sprint, or Verizon. Granted the AutoNet uses sophisticated technology to ensure you are always connected while actually driving, but most mobile data companies have hardware that performs close if not the same to what AutoNet is doing. AutoNet also does not have access to the faster 4G connection speeds that make internet use so snappy. They are still using a 3G/2G infrastructure.

      Hope you find it helpful,

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