Remote camping internet access made easier
Living and working on the road has tons of benefits. Unrestricted internet access for RVers usually isn’t one of them. Getting online to work and play on the web has always been challenging and expensive for RVers like myself, until now. A new cellular broadband plan with unlimited, unthrottled data for $99 a month is making getting online easier for full-time and part-time RVers, even when camping in remote locations.
Getting online is easier, but not perfect
Internet access has become a necessity for many RVers. That’s why so many RVers flock to popular sites like CampgroundReviews.com where they can see which cellular carriers are available at any given campground.
When my husband and I hit the road in 2007, cellular broadband coverage was poor outside of major cities. Knowing that we wanted to work and go RVing, we purchased a roof-top mounted, automatically deploying mobile satellite Internet system to get us online. The hardware and data plans weren’t cheap, but it was the only way we could reliably connect to the web and work from the remote, off-grid locations we love.
Since then, cellular broadband coverage has improved in rural areas and we rely on our dish less than before. But as working wanderers know, Internet connectivity for nomads still has issues. For example, if you camp in a rural location near crowds or on busy holiday weekends, local cellular towers quickly become overloaded and connections are painfully slow. When you do get online, your so-called “unlimited” data usage is automatically throttled down once you’ve exceeded your plan’s monthly limit.
Many full-time RVers use multiple cellular broadband providers for redundant Internet connectivity. It’s expensive, and a hassle to roll over from plan to plan. This is why my husband and I still rely on our second satellite Internet system, the RV Datasat 840, as a backup method.
Since we often camp outside of broadband coverage to get away from crowds, our system comes in handy. The dish has even been deployed in big cities with cellular coverage gaps. We’ve also used it during natural disasters when power lines were cut-off because of flooding or wildfires.
Old TV tech enables unrestricted internet access for RVers
Mobile satellite Internet is a handy tool if you’re tech-savvy and can pay for it. But a new service provided by the same company we use for our satellite Internet system is now delivering unlimited, unthrottled 4G LTE cellular broadband. At $99 a month without a contract, this new plan could soon send our satellite Internet system to the electronics graveyard.
Are you old enough to remember old television sets with rabbit ear antennas? Or the “UHF” knob that tuned in regional oddball TV stations? Those channels were made obsolete a decade ago. That’s when digital broadcasting took over television airwaves.
In 2017, the FCC auctioned off the funky UHF broadcast spectrum. It was known as “Band 71,” a wavelength used by low-budget TV stations numbered 38-51. When the FCC announced the auction, major cellular providers like Verizon and AT&T turned their noses up at purchasing it. The low-frequency spectrum appeared to be worthless because it broadcasts at a lower radio frequency than most other bands used for mobile phones.
But T-Mobile didn’t laugh at Band 71. They knew it had value because lower frequencies can travel farther. It can penetrate trees, buildings and terrain better than higher frequencies. Engineers knew Band 71 could enable T-Mobile’s signal to reach more remote, rural places than ever before. The “UHF” of cellular broadband companies gobbled it up and within a year, T-Mobile’s coverage exploded thanks to that old broadcast band. Today, the company’s coverage has caught up to major cellular broadband providers and is close to exceeding them.
Stream 3 TVs, and your X-box, too!
When T-Mobile service is coupled with the Pepwave MAX Transit Mini Router and the Mobilsat service plan, Internet connectivity for nomads takes another leap forward. Mobilsat is the only company offering an unlimited, unthrottled 4G LTE data plan, making it a full-time RVer’s dream.
To decipher how this cellular broadband service works, I spoke with Jon Grote, Partner Development Manager at Frontier Computer Corp. Frontier is an IT solutions provider and Peplink distributor. Grote is a weekend RVer and lives in a remote area of Northern Michigan. The new 600 MHz service has transformed how he, his wife, and two kids connect to the Internet. They use it whether they’re at home or on the road.
Until the new Mobilsat plan came along, the Grotes endured painfully slow and expensive broadband coverage. All it took was getting on-board with Mobilsat and one external rooftop antenna that enabled him to connect a T-Mobile tower three miles away. “Now we can stream 3 TVs at a time, with an X-box going too!” he says.
Grote explained that what makes Band 71 so effective in remote areas, and for Internet access for RVers, is that the 600 MHz frequency is literally broadcast lower to the ground than other bands.
“It’s a wide band that goes up and over trees in a circular arch fashion,” he explained. “It’s still a classic cellular signal being broadcast from the tower, but with it being lower it does penetrate through buildings and terrain a little bit better than normal cellular frequencies.” Since RVs are also closer to ground level than a sticks-and-bricks home, they’re an ideal recipient of Band 71 connectivity.
Pepwave MAX Transit Mini + Mobilsat = Best Internet Access Yet
Mobilsat isn’t the only provider connecting users with Band 71. But, they’re the only company Grote is aware of that is currently offering unrestricted data usage. He says the service and coverage is hard to beat. “It’s becoming the winner as far as the size of network in the U.S. Band 71 is hard to beat, especially for an RV,” says Grote. “It just makes a lot more sense for traveling Internet requirements.”
When coupled with the Pepwave MAX Transit Mini router, Mobilsat’s plan offers ideal Internet connectivity for nomads. Since the router features multiple SIM card slots, users can purchase a card for every provider if they desire.
As a user RVs around while being connected to the Internet, the router automatically switches over to a local tower when a T-Mobile signal disappears. And if a user purchases a Bell & Rogers SIM card for the device, RVing to Canada becomes seamless and without roaming charges or data restrictions. This was a common frustration I encountered when RVing through the North Country.
It’s a blast to see that more people than ever before have become full-time RVers like my husband and me. Unfortunately, Internet access for RVers has been relatively stagnant. Things are changing though. After fourteen years on the road, it’s great to see that ubiquitous Internet coverage is available. And, it’s affordable for anyone who wants to enjoy this lifestyle while working to pay for it. Learn about 4G LTE unlimited data at RVdatsat.com.
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.
Drew Mueller says
This might be fine for people who are willing to pay $100.00 per month. We go rv’ing about 12 times a year- mostly in private parks. What’s wrong with park operators who can’t invest in a managed wireless network that provides basic service?
carl newton says
interesting article for sure.. what I do not see on the RVdatasat website is speed of service.. if you only get like 1 meg down at it fastest that is not a lot of unlimited, unrestricted internet..
So my question is what is average download speed seen in both good and not so good locations??
I am currently on an ATT hotspot that get me currently at this location 3 meg down and at others can be high as 25 megs down.
just asking the questions to the answers we did not see on FAQ’s which is suprizing to me..
Steve Samuels says
The speed of the service is 4G/LTE. The speed you see on any cellular connection is based on many variables including use of an external antenna, distance from the tower and inundation of traffic on that tower. That is why exact speeds cannot be determined remotely. This equipment and service enables a customer the best chance to connect at a distance. The new 600Mhz bandwidth (that only T-Mobile is using) is increasing connectivity in unserviced or poorly serviced areas. This is a work in progress, but has been picking up steam in the last year.
George Laiacona says
We have a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban, it has WiFi access almost every where we travel other continental US.
4G LTE is not a speed. What is the upload download capacity of this service? Up-to numbers are ok.
Is there a contract associated with this service? As part time RVers, we hate to pay for a service we don’t need every month. Is the router installed on the roof of the RV or must it be installed inside the vehicle?
Rene Agredano says
There are no contracts Cat. The router is a box that sits inside the RV. And while an external antenna is helpful, it’s not required as far as I know.
This is all above my pay grade, so these questions may be naive…
So to get started, I need to buy the Pepwave router and install SIM card for service.
Do I need a cell signal booster (like weboost)?
Do I need a T-Mobile data plan, Mobilsat plan, and RVdatasat plan?
Steve Samuels says
Hi Cat. The router is capable of working in a standalone method, but the external antenna maximizes your ability to travel further from a cell tower and increases the speeds you can obtain. I highly suggest it for anyone who is mobile and looking to stream their entertainment.
Jeremy B. says
Yeah…not seeing any plan for unlimited or for $99. The 500GB plan is $249.
Might be time for an update?
John Powell says
pricey, compared to my ATT at $35.00 and I don’t see a coverage map or a search option for coverage. No speeds shown. Also UHF band is not all that low of a frequency band, it does not travel farther it is not as absorbed by trees and buildings. Satellite frequencies are much higher and can travel thousands of miles.
I don’t think it is a cure all just yet .
Steve Samuels says
Hi John! Here is a coverage map for your viewing:
Your AT&T service has unlimited data, but you are throttled or managed once you hit your paid GB allowance for high speed bandwidth (video or streaming).
Band 71 coverage uses the 600Mhz frequency which is the lowest frequency available for cellular transmission at this time. This signal is weaker but travels further than any other signal available. T-Mobile is the only company that has 600Mhz bandwidth. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all have 700Mhz frequency which is the next step up.
We own and operate our Ku band satellite network and can provide connectivity for all those who travel outside of 600Mhz cellular coverage.
Neal G West says
Looking on Mobile Internet Resource Center; this is a 3rd party operation with no direct link to T-mobile and that these 3rd party plans can disappear with no notice and may be violating T-mobile’s terms of service – especially since T-mobile itself does not offer unlimited/unthrottled services. The gear is legit, but I personally wouldn’t buy it.
I’ve had T-Mobile for 6 months now and I can’t recommend it. The coverage is absolutely terrible here in Michigan!
Steve Samuels says
Hi Kevin. You are absolutely right! Everyone should take at look at the coverage maps for T-Mobile to see if the service make sense for them:
All three companies, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have strong and weak areas. You may live right down the street from someone who would have a totally different experience with the same equipment. As Band 71 service areas continue to grow, this equipment and service offering will give customers the best chance for connectivity in remote areas. But the key to this is the unlimited, unthrottled high speed service at a low price.
Seems not unlimited. Only 500gb and it’s $250 a month now? Not $99?
Chris Dunphy says
Good article, but you have a bit of the history wrong – T-Mobile was actually the late comer in converting former television spectrum into long-range cellular.
The LTE era actually began when analog television was replaced with digital in 2009, and in the process UHF channels 52-69 where converted to cellular and auctioned off – with AT&T and especially Verizon being the big winners.
This was a large part of why AT&T and Verizon had such a dominant coverage lead for most of the past decade.
A new auction in 2016 allowed for the virtual bulldozers to clear away another huge chunk of the UHF TV spectrum to be dedicated towards cellular – this time clearing away channels 38-51.
T-Mobile was the big winner in this auction – at last putting it on relatively equal footing with AT&T and Verizon when it comes to long range low-band holdings.
But Verizon and AT&T didn’t turn their nose up at this spectrum – they already had control of a lot of low-band with similar range characteristics.
BTW – there actually are a lot of other providers offering unlimited data plans on T-Mobile like what you’ve described here. I think we have a bit over 30 on our list that we are tracking, including RVDataSat.
Rene Agredano says
Thanks for that bit of history Chris. I’ll be sure to check with you next time I write an article like this. I can’t speak to how this service compares to the other providers, hopefully Mobilsat will comment soon.
Steve Samuels says
Thanks Chris for the follow up. You are absolutely correct about 700Mhz frequencies. T-Mobile was beat badly in the marketing and build out of their nationwide network over the last decade. As you know, all three networks have pluses and minuses to their coverage areas and service plans. Our plan will provide customers with the best way to stream their entertainment in remote areas. We have hundreds of customers who previously were in Verizon and AT&T 700Mhz frequencies and only receiving a couple of Mbps (unable to stream). With their new equipment and service on 600Mhz, they have been able to increase their speeds 10 to 20 fold and now have the ability to stream in an unlimited method. As you know, this is what customers in a mobile environment are craving.
I don’t know how these communications companies plot their so called coverage. T mobiles is exceptionally poor even though their published map shows areas covered they often are not. But as always it depends where you are. We stay in state and national parks and the best for these in AZ, TX, and NM is Verizon in our opinion. Roosevelt lake has zero T mobile coverage same for other parks even near cities.
Steve Samuels says
Hi Great. You are right, Verizon has the most proven network in most areas of the country. But they do not offer unlimited, unthrottled streaming of entertainment. If someone is not looking to stream Netflix, Roku, or their favorite app, and want to stay connected only for email and web browsing, then Verizon is the best option. But if someone would like 95% of the coverage area of Verizon and maximize their ability to stream in an unlimited, unthrottled method, then a plan using T-Mobile’s towers makes much more sense.
Vanessa Simmons says
I have Sprint hotspot through FMCA for $50 unlimited. It is great. Have had service everywhere there is service. I also have Verizon but they throttle at 25gbs. Plus I can put them on hold for less than half price a month if I’m not using them.
I understand the commercial aspect of this article, so… in the interest of sharing I offer this information. The FMCA, an Rv’ers non-profit organization advocating for the specific interests of RV’ers has (among its many benefits) a special arrangement with Sprint (T-Mobile) to provide unlimited, unthrottled broadband for the monthly price of $49.00 final. I am completing my second year with the service. I have nothing but good news to share about the service. Like all services, speed varies. I’ve never experienced “no service”. I have had connections up to 45mb download. I am a full-timer. I use my TCL ROKU television with a Sling ($30 mo) connection. I check my usage occasionally. I average about 150 gb a month. I had one month at 230 gb. I have my card charged once a month by FMCA and never give it another thought. I use a “MIFI” brand modem. (Google it). The modem beats the pants off any of the hotspots available. Additionally you get the option of remote antenna if you see fit. You do have to be a member of FMCA if you use your RV, you will get good value for your membership. It is the foremost advocacy association in the field of RVing. Just say’n.
Rene Agredano says
That’s great Pat, glad you’re enjoying the service. For those of use who are NOT FMCA members, we are exploring the alternatives. Thanks for sharing.
Mindy S. says
Hi Pat! Thanks so much for this tip! We just joined and are going to try this option! I was wondering if you use a different mifi modem than Sprint provides …and if you can tell me what kind of antenna you would suggest? Thanks a lot.
Lisa Wagner says
I checked the fmca website. Sprint offers 300 mg for $50. Nowhere close to even 1 gig.
Ron White says
Starlink.com $50 month unlimited…rolling out beta in Washington state and norther US plus southern Canada .
Rene Agredano says
Regarding speed, Mobilsat representatives have since informed me that “this device and our service runs on 4G/LTE. Only about 1/3 of the nation is up and running on band 71 at this time. Within the next year, most of the country will have it. Distance from a tower and contention rate will still dictate exact speed that is seen. Our customers can see speeds of 1Mbps to 60Mbps download with the same equipment as they travel the country. Our service on Band 71 increases the chance of faster speeds without being throttled.”
carl newton says
another comment here..
I have both ATT and t-mobile. We are currently traveling fulltime in RV. between them i have good to great tmobile and att or tmobile or ATT..
usually its att is better
right now I am sitting on the nomad view dispersed camping land overlooking badlands some 3 miles south of Wall Drug SD.
on my att I am getting 13 meg down and tmobile 1.2 down..
Steve Samuels says
You will need a different router that has the ability to see Band 71. Standard routers don’t have that ability. You are right that each provider has different areas where they are more powerful, but a router with the ability to see T-Mobile’s Band 71 will maximize someone’s ability for connectivity in as many remote areas as possible. As the next 12 months prove, this will be a game changer for those wanting to connect and stream remotely.
Jeffrey P Bennett says
My wife and I purchased the BEC MX210 Mini 4G lite. Works well every where. The cost per month is $85.00 when not using you can have them turn it off, no charges, when you want to use it again call them they will send you a new pin and off you go.
Douglas Laurell says
We are new to the full-time RV life, and would like to know how this system compares to the wineguard systems we see advertised on so many new class A & C RV’s? There are satellite dishes (unknown cost/mth) and remote cell extenders, wifi extenders… we don’t know what all of them do. Where to investigate and where to put our precious and limited retirement dollars?
Joyce Wilhelm says
Hello, we purchased the costly WeBoost device years ago. It’s never worked! 500.00 wasted. My husband wants to know the difference between this device vs a booster?
Thanks in advance, Fulltimer, Joyce
Rene Agredano says
Joyce, what WeBoost device? If you are talking about a WeBoost cell-signal booster, then it doesn’t provide Internet access on it’s own. It merely improves cellular reception for your broadband device (i.e., mobile hotspot, phone, etc). The Pepwave Router is a mobile broadband device and Wifi router that allows you to access the Internet via your own Internet service provider.
Joyce Wilhelm says
So if our T-Mobile signal has a weak or non existent how can this device help us?
Champ Ferguson says
Just wait until Starlink comes fully online (2021?) and you get cell like coverage of the internet (and VOIP).
Roger Bryant says
Looks like the plan has changed significantly and is no longer unlimited. Their site shows Verizon plans ranging from $149-$299 per month.
I looked at the website and cannot find this plan?? Is it not available any longer?
I’m new to all of this and trying to understand the details. You say “When T-Mobile service is coupled with the Pepwave MAX Transit Mini Router and the Mobilsat service plan”, do I get all this for $99/mo? Or do I have to buy three separate product/plans and only one is $99/mo? is this “whole” setup offer by T-Mobile?
Larry Smith Jr says
Why are you people talking about unlimited internet for $99 a month and when I go to the website it is $159 a month with a cap!
Lisa Wagner says
This sounds GREAT! We work online in the road 20 days a mo, 9 hrs day. This is exactly what we need. They recommend an antenna as well. Looking forward to not being throttled!
Cooper David says
I am using a Pepwave Max Transit Duo LTEA router in my fifthwheel and am a full time RVer. Will this plan work with my setup?
Alan Tomson says
Mobilsat lists the plan at $159/month and it is capped at 500GB/month after purchasing $734 in equipment. It may be nicer than past solutions, but this is far from a sweet deal.
They must have realized that they could make more money and cap people, because it’s no longer unlimited and it’s WAY more than $99/mo.
Does this plan no longer exist? The best I can find is 500 gb for $250. That is an enormous drop in value.
Conversely, perhaps don’t read an old article and expect current information?
Desperately need a “RV data for dummies “ guide that interprets all this techno-babble.
Martin McGann says
lol..The past 2 years I have traveled in my RV over 50k miles around this country. From the Mountains of upstate NY to the tip of Key West to the shores of the pacific ocean in San Diego through the deserts of Arizona utah and Nevada. route 66 route 40 route 10 route 80 route 70 route 5 and route 95 ,85 75 and 35 and many miles in between. imho all these internet and cell companies are a bunch of crooks and liars. There are so many holes it is ridiculous. then they tell you when you sitting in traffic in a city that you dont have the right unlimited plan that why it doesnt work in traffic.!! wth? when i went to school unlimited had 1 hear me 1 definition!! now it has several depending on how they want to scrape the money from you.i dont trust not one of them. Thank God i dont watch tv. I have switched back to extended hard drives cataloged my music documents and such so i do not need the internet as deeply. i stop at more coffee shops now also. but im retired and i have the time.I really have to crack up when they show me one of those coverage they maps.know they are full of it and i know they are full of it. so we just stare at each other hahaha. its been 30 years of computers and internet and they are not making much head way but they are making much money. and i guess thats the way they need it. they know everyone wants the internet badly and so we get the runaround as usual. easy fix. dont need the internet and they will come crying again as they always do in the begining. can u tell i hate corporations lol./ truth from my eyes on the road.
Pat Cattin says
The FMCA program is honestly unlimited. I average 300 to 350gb monthly. $49.99 monthly all in. My speed is ~ 15 to 25 mb download.
Corey Peterson says
No longer unlimited data and more expensive now.
kenneth galla says
After reading all comments ,I am no closer to an answer? I am full time RVing and have T-Mobile Hotspot. Even though I have service in almost every area I have been in ,its $50 a month for 100gb. Once that runs out you cant even check emails. Really a shame . These Companies are crooks. I lived in lake placid Fl. and got United PC. I thought it was a scam. $13 a mo. . Not kidding I could stream 2 TVs and be on computer. So how is it legal for these other companies to bend us over?
Advise – if you do get a plan go with a company / vendor that will stand behind their offering – most resellers don’t really care about your wellbeing and support is spotty at best. I purchased a plan from MobileMustHave, as they come with great reviews and recomendations…however came to learn they were reselling from EZMobileData and literally said “good luck” once I reported a problem (no internet for days). No one at EZMobileData responds,, but they keep billing – I purchased an unlimited plan (US$140/month) powered by AT&T, but now am getting a notice that I have no data available and need to buy a data plan – this after I had to scramble to get a new SIM card a few months ago. I would avoid both these vendors and go directly to a reputable source (if there is such a thing). As I work remotely and require a good connection and am willing to invest in redundancy, i will get SkyLink as an option as don’t feel confident that any reseller will stand behind their offering based on personal experience. To quote from MobileMustHave…Good Luck!!!