RV Internet | Getting Started

Taking the Internet With You

Before you hit the road these days, one of the bigger concerns you may have is getting a good signal and using the Internet while you travel.

Once you roll out you can’t use DSL and other wired solutions. Your Internet source must be ‘wireless’, so that you can use it without connecting to any post or buildings.

How Much i$ Thi$ Going to Co$t

Like any travel, your Internet access goals need to be clear. You can spend a little or a lot, depending on your requirements.

So let’s be clear, both FREE and PAID solutions are commonly available, so you can set requirements that will work within the available FREE Internet options, or you may have requirements that will not work with free options and you must pay for Internet in that case.

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What You Need to Get Internet Access?

The question is an important starting point. For some, this is not so obvious.

So let’s get very basic, here’s everything you need:

Not Covered in This Post

1 – Computer (Laptop, Tablet, Smartphone, or Desktop Computer);
2 – Software (System drivers, web browser, etc.);
3 – Modem (let’s your computer talk to the Internet);
4 – Internet user Account / or / a free user account;

** if you need help with these issues, you won’t find that here. Sorry.

The Focus of this Post

5 – Internet Connection
……(Wireless; Smartphone USB or Hotspot);

Items #1 – 4 are substantially more complex considering the countless options. So we hope you arrived here with a ready computer solution, a modem, basic software and if needed, your user account ready to go.

Note: Fortunately, today most computers have Internet drivers and browsers ready to go as well a built-in modem for WIFI use. Most DO NOT have a built-in modem for cellular use (ie; AT&T, Verizon, etc.), read on to learn more. 

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RV Internet Options

Your mobile, so you have three basic choices:

..0 = Free Local WIFI Access;
..$ = Cellular Internet Access (ie; Hotspot or USB tethering);
$$ = Satellite Internet Access;


Free Local WIFI Access

If you do not need every day convenient access to the Internet, then you can focus on using local Internet access rooms.

Many RV parks offer this FREE and you can just have a seat and use the Internet.

However, if you want to use it on demand, or when it’s busy, you will want your own access device. Otherwise; you may have to wait in line to use a free computer and free Internet.

NOTE: Because Local WIFI is connected to some sort of ground access, ie; cable, DSL, etc. The speed may be substantially better than other options. Also, there are seldom data limits on local WIFI, so you can watch a movie without data charges… this matters if the alternative is cellular access and you don’t have an unlimited data plan.

Required: (when in the Internet Room)

Computer and WIFI Modem
(some offer 1-3 time limited computers / a fee may apply)

Required: (to get good access inside your RV)

Computer, WIFI Modem, Antenna, Router, Booster (optional)

** You will need this option if you want to watch movies at your RV


Cellular Internet Access

Today it’s common to use a smartphone to access the Internet.

If you have such a plan with your smartphone, then you may be able to use either ‘USB tethering’ or select an APP that will make your phone function as a ‘Wireless Hotspot’.

In either of these cases, you likely already know how to use this configuration to access the Internet.

Required: (to get good access inside your RV)

Computer and (WIFI Modem or USB)**, Antenna, Router, Booster (optional)

NOTE: This method of access is affected by your cellular service plan. Best case, you have an unlimited data plan. Worst case, your data plan is so limited you will want to be very careful how much you watch movies, Youtube, etc.


Satellite Internet Access

Of all choices, this is the most flexible to your remote locations. But is also the most expensive service to purchase.

Almost no current option is affordable though we will update this article several times a year to get fresh on what’s available.

Required: (to get good access inside your RV)

Computer, Satellite Modem, Satellite Dish, Router

**For now, consider this subsection section pending.


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RV Internet | Equipment Solutions

Each Internet strategy will require different equipment solutions. While it is possible to use a combination device to manage both WIFI and Cellular access, it is not always the best configuration plan.

How you configure your solution is completely up to you. There are perhaps 100+ solutions that will work. But, this post is about narrowing that to just twelve (12) possible combinations of equipment that will suit 90% of the people this post is meant to help. So, let’s ignore the other 88+ possible configurations, these are comprehensive enough one is likely just right for you.

For this to work, I am going to present my best ideas for system configuration. Feel free to make suggestions, comments, etc. But this post is aimed at saving many people a hundred plus hours of research that takes to figure this stuff out on your own.

Yep, I did that… everything from frequencies used by cell phone carriers, to frequencies used by WIFI 2.4ghz and 5ghz for example. Then I looked at hundreds of antennas, took time to read feedback, cross-check brands, dbi, watts, etc. Looked at trees in the way, buildings, etc. you name it.

Next, I researched cables, cable connectors, RP connectors (reverse polarity), dbi loss per foot of cable, by cable type. I then purchased and tested multiple antenna, boosters, routers, cables, etc.

So guess what… you don’t have to do that now!!

** Note: We will be doing a lot more testing with dozens of installations, so this post will be updated as new information is available.

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Equipment Configurations

These are my best suggestions. Based on various assumptions starting with; you want to save money and go El Cheapio, moving to you want to pick a rung in the ladder toward the best. But, what’s best for one person is not the same for another.

So, we have an important modifier to consider;

(a) Min. Access Option;
(b) Most Flexible and adaptable configuration.

For example,  I prefer a combination of options that result in a cost sensitive, but wide range flexibility and adaptability. In short, we want to for example watch and download movies using any available free wifi. While at the same time concurrently using secure, firewall protected high speed access, using a mobile cellular hotspot solution.

For this reason, serving a full spectrum of target needs, we also present our Silver, Gold and Ruby level system configurations. These are for those with more aggressive desires for Internet access, cost control, etc., see these at Series 400 & Series 500 & the ‘Top Dollar’ Series 600 configurations below.

Here we go…

101 – Free WIFI | El Cheapio = $36

Here your going to setup a single computer, with a USB based booster and good light weight, easy to stand alone or mount antenna.

You will need to order first the following device, there are many similar, so just focus on good review to make your purchase.

(click here) – Kit | USB WIFI Booster = $36

Range Est: 500 ft (inside) – 1500 ft (roof or pole mount)

This is a directional solution, so you must be able to aim it the direction your source WIFI is coming from. This change when you move your RV, so it cannot be just mounted to a wall.

102 – Free WIFI | High Gain Deluxe

details pending

(click here) – Signal Booster | Wifi 2.4Ghz | 4W = $25

(click here) – Simple Router | Bullet | WiFi 2.4Ghz = $72

(click here) – Advanced Router | Nighthawk | 2.4Ghz + 5Ghz = $102

(click here) – Inside Ceiling Antenna = $17   *Optional

103 – Free WIFI | Premium

pending

201 – Cellular Internet | Budget Plan = $179

Starting with your current smartphone and service plan. You just need to use the hotspot or USB tethering on your phone.

But, you need a boost to reception. So for this plan, your going to add one special antenna and a cellular signal booster that doubles as a phone cradle.

COMPATIBLE WITH MOST US NETWORKS – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Straight Talk and more. Not recommended for use with Sprint. Helps more with data speeds, not so much for phone calls.

(click here) – Kit | Cradle Mount Signal Booster = $179

Est. Boost: 32x signal increase

In better zones, expect a steady 50db gain and in poor areas expect 15-25db gain.

For roof mount on fiberglass RV, use silicon sealant to glue down a piece of 10×10 flat metal to your RV roof first. This metal provides not just a magnet ready surface, there is a reception dynamic as well, where the metal plays an important role.

202 – Cellular Internet | Data Monster = $186

Again, you will start with your current smartphone and service plan. You just need to use the hotspot or USB tethering on your phone.

For this plan, your going to add two special antennas only, and your phone can sit anywhere inside or within 50ft of your RV.

COMPATIBLE WITH MOST US NETWORKS – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Straight Talk and more. Not recommended for use with Sprint. Helps more with data speeds, not so much for phone calls.

(click here) – Kit | 2 Antenna + Booster + Cable = $186

Est. Boost: 65dB

This is a directional solution, so you must be able to aim it the direction your source cellular tower is coming from. This change when you move your RV, so it cannot be just mounted to a wall, it must be direction adjustable.

203 – Cellular Internet | Premium

pending

301 – Satellite Internet | Budget Plan

pending

302 – Satellite Internet | Premium Data

pending

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Multi-Source | Extreme Systems

The following configurations are for those with more aggressive desires for Internet access, cost control, etc. Each of the following are Dual source system that can concurrently receive and boost both Free WIFI and Paid Cellular Internet access at the same time. These are also High-Gain, Long-Distance solutions.

So each has a higher boost (service distance) and some associated costs:


401 – Multi-Source | Silver = $308

Here the goal is to have more than one source for Internet access on a beer budget.

Source One – Cellular Internet

Starting with your current smartphone and service plan. You just need to use the hotspot or USB tethering on your phone.

But, you need a boost to reception. So for this plan, your going to add one special antenna and a cellular signal booster that doubles as a phone cradle.

COMPATIBLE WITH MOST US NETWORKS – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Straight Talk and more. Not recommended for use with Sprint. Helps more with data speeds, not so much for phone calls.

(click here) – Kit | Cradle Mount Signal Booster = $179

Est. Boost: 32x signal increase

In better zones, expect a steady 50db gain and in poor areas expect 15-25db gain.

For roof mount on fiberglass RV, use silicon sealant to glue down a piece of 10×10 flat metal to your RV roof first. This metal provides not just a magnet ready surface, there is a reception dynamic as well, where the metal plays an important role.

Source Two – Free WIFI

Here your going to setup a single computer, with a USB based booster and good light weight, easy to stand alone or mount antenna.

You will need to order first the following device, there are many similar, so just focus on good review to make your purchase.

(click here) – Kit | USB WIFI Booster = $36

Range Est: 500 ft (inside) – 1500 ft (roof or pole mount)

This is a directional solution, so you must be able to aim it the direction your source WIFI is coming from. This change when you move your RV, so it cannot be just mounted to a wall.

Source 3 – HDTV | Omni Antenna Array

(click here) – Omni-directional RV TV Antenna = $93


501 – Multi-Source | Gold

Source 1 – Cellular Internet

Again, starting with your current smartphone and service plan. You will need use the hotspot APP on your phone. Next, you boost your reception. Again for this plan, your going to add two special antennas and much better a cellular signal booster.

All must feature the correct frequencies for your selected cellular carrier so we focused on equipment that will service all USA carriers unless noted otherwise.

(click here) – Roof Top Antenna | 3g/4g/LTE

(click here) – Required Cable

(click here) – Cellular Signal Booster | 3g/4g/LTE

(click here) – Inside Ceiling Antenna | 3g/4g/LTE = $17   *Optional

The next listed kit is not cheap, but it is complete and highly recommended with 85% or more users very satisfied. In better zones, expect a steady 50db gain and in poor areas expect 15-25db gain. (3g/4g/LTE)

(click here) – Kit | Trucker / RV System = $499

Source 2 – Free WIFI

Here your going to setup a single computer, USB based booster and good light weight, easy to mount antenna. You can even build that antenna, see instructions (click here).

You will need to order first the following device, there are many similar, so just focus on good review to make your purchase.

(click here) – Roof Top Antenna | 2.4ghz WIFI

(click here) – Required Cable | RP

(click here) – WIFI Signal Booster | 2.4ghz

(click here) – Inside Ceiling Antenna | 2.4ghz WIFI

Source 3 – HDTV | Omni Antenna Array

(click here) – Omni-directional RV TV Antenna = $93

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601 – Multi-Source | Ruby

This is a multi-array solution, so you will have two completely different antenna arrays. One that is omni-directional, and one that is very directional. You will also receive WIFI, Cellular and HDTV with this configuration.

This is perhaps the most powerful non-industrial system possible, though more expensive components are available. Though Satellite Internet would improve this system as a 3rd source, we left it out for high service fees and most people will not need it, this is a ton of power, while being affordable equipment and service fees.

Pickup will boost to form 3-10 miles for WIFI and Cellular and 80-120 miles for HDTV. This will cost more for equipment, while reducing operation costs like TV + Movie access and making 80% of remote locations high-speed Internet friendly.

To make this possible, we are installing two separate antenna array for each target frequency. One being omni directional, and the other being directional with a dish boost. The omni directional will boost all the signals with the least trouble, but the directional array will allow you to reach out miles for a signal.

The remaining bonus comes from combining all the signals for additional bandwidth. Mostly this good for multiple users. However in many cases, this aggregation will positively improve download/upload speed as well. 

Source 1 – Cellular Internet | Omni Antenna Array

pending

Source 2 – Free WIFI | Omni Antenna Array

pending

Source 3 – HDTV | Omni Antenna Array

(click here) – Omni-directional RV TV Antenna = $93

Source 4 – Cellular Internet | Directional Array

pending

Source 5 – Free WIFI | Directional Array

pending

Source 6 – HDTV | Directional Array

pending

**May 7, 2016: This subsection section pending also… more in day or two…


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