When my husband and I decided to sell our business and home to travel the continent by RV, we knew that reliable Internet connectivity was a must.
As self-employed Internet-based entrepreneurs, having web access would keep us in touch with the world and more importantly enable us to stay connected to colleagues and associates that could help us grow our next small business.
We had heard about mobile RV satellite internet but knew there were other options to consider.
The Three Popular Ways RVers Get Online:
1. Hop on Wi-Fi service at RV parks, cafes and in bigger cities
2. Utilize wireless broadband Internet coverage through carriers like Verizon and AT&T
3. Mobile RV Satellite Internet
After talking to RVers about their Internet connectivity experiences, we decided that mobile satellite Internet was the only option that could give us reliable online access in the kinds of remote, far away places that we enjoy visiting most.
Although wireless broadband coverage is always improving and many of our entrepreneurial friends are happy with their cell-based Internet access, we learned that good coverage still isn’t available in places like far West Texas, deep in the Rocky Mountains or in the woods of Northern Maine.
We selected a roof-mounted mobile satellite Internet system for our 24′ Arctic Fox fifth wheel.
This type of setup allows RVers to have a roof-mounted, mechanical satellite dish that automatically sets up and locates satellite signals with just the click of a mouse.
There are no standalone tripod-mounted satellite dishes to set up and usually no fussing trying to get online.
But as you know, convenience comes at a cost and acquiring this system wasn’t cheap: we ended up paying around $7,000 for a .9 meter roof-mounted dish and associated hardware that would accommodate our usage needs (less costly smaller dishes for lighter Internet users are available). In addition, we spend about $130 a month to actually get us online with a provider.
The investment was steep but through the years it’s paid for itself.
Today we love this equipment more than anything else we acquired for our full-timing lifestyle. The system has repeatedly justified its cost as we camp in the most stunning and remote settings all over North America, allowing us to work and play in places where cell coverage is non-existent for a hundred miles in every direction.
Most recently our mobile RV satellite internet configuration held its own while we were staying in Northern Colorado. Last September after horrific flooding wiped out cell and Internet services all around us, we escaped the destruction and were able to stay online doing business as usual while our neighbors were completely cut off from the world for almost a week.
Mobile RV Satellite Internet Drawbacks
But like every relationship, we have occasional spats with the mobile RV satellite Internet system.
We’ve learned that if you’re not a technically-inclined computer nerd who understands the intricacies of network management then a roof-mounted satellite Internet system can cause enough headaches to make you regret your purchase.
Fortunately, I have a husband who’s not only a geek but is also able to handle the fine-tuning needs required of the system’s hardware and software.
He’s learned more than he ever thought possible about this the system however even though he’s a great trouble shooter, occasionally the system has stumped him and we’ve had to resort to finding a technician for help.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to mobile satellite Internet are the connection speeds – they’re far slower than DSL and occasionally you’ll experience temporary glitches when trying to get online.
These glitches can be cause by anything from bad weather to a tree branch that’s blocking the satellite signal you’re trying to reach. Instead of getting stranded without service during these frustrating times, we utilize a Verizon mobile Internet hot spot contraption for redundancy, which adds an extra $60 a month to our Internet connectivity expenses.
Despite our love/hate relationship with mobile RV satellite internet, we’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Because if you enjoy getting away from crowds and cities but want to be connected to the world for business or pleasure – and you have the kind of temperament and skills needed to occasionally troubleshoot the system’s technical issue – a mobile satellite Internet system is the way to go.
Still not sure about mobile RV satellite internet? I encourage you to talk to experts at DataStormUsers.com, an online community of mobile satellite Internet users who tackle mobile satellite Internet issues in a helpful and respectful discussion forum setting.
9 thoughts on “The Love/Hate Relationship with Mobile RV Satellite Internet”
Hi there, thanks for this post. We live in Colorado and LOVE the summer camping season. My desire is to be able to spend a few extra days camping with our trailer in Colorado and be able to work (use phone and internet) from the boonies. For the full timers I can see the 7k spend being worthwhile, but I can’t stomach that amount for what my needs are. I see several portable units that may work but it is hard to determine what is so different..? Any help for feedback?
Hi Kirk, thanks so much for your kind note. I would love to write future articles with more in-depth coverage about mobile satellite Internet, so feel free to contact me via our blog at LiveWorkDream.com. Thanks!
I just came across your website, thank you for for your many years as a loyal customer of Mobil Satellite Technologies, and for including a link to our HughesNet service plans on this page.
Please let me know if there is ever any information that I can provide to you for any future article/post/update regarding satellite Internet or satellite TV.
Hi Bruce, thanks for asking. Although we recently upgraded our rig, we kept the same sat system and just reinstalled it on our new fifth wheel. However that move opened a HUGE can of worms when the RV dealer tech broke our dish during the install, then we had to deal with a long troubleshooting process that lead to a $900 software upgrade. Ugh! I will write about that soon. Meanwhile, the sat is still working great and until we can afford the upgrade to a faster iDirect system (another $7k to start), we’ll stick with this one. We still love it!
Hi Georgia, thanks for asking. Sorry I just saw your comment. Here’s a link to the different plans and accompanying speeds. Keep in mind that in the world of satellite Internet, there’s no such thing as net neutrality; you want more speeds, you pay for them–a lot! Still, we think it’s worthwhile. We have the Internet Access 200 plan and were told that we wouldn’t see much better speeds unless we upgraded to an iDirect system (about $7k to start), so we’ve stuck with our plan.
As a designer, you would want to have redundancy in a backup like a wifi hotspot (we have a Verizon MiFi for times when we need faster speeds for uploads/downloads).
Anyhow, here’s the link.
It’s been a year since your original post. Any new thoughts or changes (equipment, prices, etc) in your setup? Thanks!
Thanks for the post. It was very informative. You mentioned your connection speeds are not comparable to DSL. Would you share what your connection speeds are for download and upload? I’m a web designer and am thinking of living in a 5th wheel. To support my website clients with new designs and ongoing maintenance, I’d need fairly decent connection speeds.
Thanks for stopping by
Thanks for sharing your experience about Satellite Internet, i enjoyed your post and learned a lot from this blog.
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