The Internet is no longer just a plaything, it’s a way of life for everyone from grandma to teenagers. You can use it to stay in touch with friends and family or earn a six-figure income, the possibilities are just about endless.
But when it comes to living as a full-time RVers, these pros and cons of mobile internet for RVers shows that it’s not always easy and often expensive to get online.
You don’t often think about internet access when you’re in a city or at home in a sticks-and-bricks. Much like the water that flows from the sink, broadband is usually cheap and plentiful. But getting online when you go RVing is like dry camping without a water hookup. You’ve got to savor every bit of data your computers and mobile devices use up because you’ll quickly run out if you don’t.
When you live in your RV and enjoy seeing the best nature has to offer, getting online can be a challenge. You’ll find that where internet access does exist in the hinterlands, cellular broadband speeds can be slow and frustrating. And while commercial RV parks make a valiant effort to keep up with demand for fast internet, seasoned RVers know that relying on park WiFi is a gamble.
Sometimes it’s great but more often it’s lackluster at best. Only a fool (or someone who doesn’t need to earn a living online) relies on RV park internet to get connected.
Three things to consider for mobile internet access
Whether you plan to work from your RV or are living the retired life, you’ll most likely need to get online at some point during the week. Costs can exceed $200 if you actually rely on the internet to make a living. Don’t hit the road until you examine your internet connectivity footprint and know what to budget. Consider these three important factors:
How much data do you normally use each month?
A 2016 report published Ericsson Mobility Report indicates that the average smartphone user today uses about 1.4 GB of data every month. However, the reality is that if mobile internet is your only connectivity option, you will probably exceed that amount. If you have no idea how much bandwidth to budget for, the Verizon Wireless data calculator can help you estimate your wireless bandwidth usage.
What can you afford to get online?
If you are a heavy internet user, the best way to maintain consistent reliable internet access is to invest in a mobile WiFi hotspot device supported by your cell phone provider. The device itself only runs about $100 but be prepared: monthly fees for getting online with it will add more to your cell phone bill.
A cellular signal booster is also helpful, especially if you want to explore rural areas. This device costs upwards of $200 but its ability to boost weak cellular data signals is worth the investment.
Where will you spend most of your time? Remotely or in big cities?
Cellular broadband using the two aforementioned devices can get you on in more developed parts of North America. But if you are the type of RVer who prefers camping in really remote areas, consider investing in a mobile satellite internet system. Equipment costs can reach up to $6,000 (not including ongoing data plans), but a system like the RV DataSat guarantees you can get online anywhere outside of cell range.
Wireless broadband coverage is better than ever. Today you can enjoy getting online in many places but coverage gaps still remain. Don’t wait to experience slow bandwidth speeds and dropped connections. Do your homework now and be prepared before you hit the road.
For more information about mobile internet for RVers be sure to download The Mobile Internet Handbook. You can also start a conversation in the iRV2 Technology: Internet, TV, Satellite, Cell Phones, etc. to compare notes with other RVers.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.