Advice: getting Internet while RVing

A lot of people are interested in being able to get on the Internet as they RV. While campgrounds may advertise the availability of WIFI your internet experience will be iffy at best. We’ve found decent WIFI to be the exception rather than the rule. Your best chance of getting good WIFI is to stay in more upscale facilities and/or in urban campgrounds. Even then, we’ve found that some places that advertise WIFI only provide it if you go to a specific location. At that point you’ll generally be competing with other RVers who are on the same Internet connect. Evenings and weekends can be brutal for even the most basic internet operations. If you want to do Netflix – sorry, but it will be practically impossible to do on WIFI at 99% of the campgrounds you visit. So, the bottom line on WIFI is this: for the occasional user; for the person who just wants to check email once a day – campground WIFI will probably be sufficient. For Facebook addicts, for people who like to surf the web, and especially for people who “need” internet for business or home schooling – you’ll need a different solution. Many people get WIFI boosters to extend their reach to the campground WIFI (we have a WIFI Ranger). Just know this: reaching out farther to connect to a pitiful campground WIFI won’t make the connect speed any faster, it will only save your walking to the Activity center, etc. to access that same poor connection.

The alternative is cell data. Companies like Verizon will happily sell you big buckets of data for a price. If (and that’s a big “if”) you are staying in an area with decent cell coverage for your carrier, you can do fairly good using your cell phone as a hot spot or, even better, using a dedicated hot spot device. There are two big cautions here. First, you do have to be in range of a cell tower for your carrier. Verizon is the undisputed leader in coverage but for the RVer who truly wants to get away from it all there’s the real possibility that you’ll get away from cell coverage too. Second, it’s going to cost you. Be ready to fork over serious cash if you want to web surf and Facebook to your heart’s content. Again, forget Netflix. Just streaming one movie will eat up a good part of your month’s allotment of all but the biggest buckets of data. Also, even as there are WIFI signal boosters there are cell signal boosters. Our Weboost Drive can make a real difference in internet connectivity. Just remember that you have to have a signal to boost. If you have, say 2 bars of 4G a booster can give you a boost of a bar or maybe even two. Sometimes that is a noticeable difference in connect speed.

One strategy people use is to have service from two different providers. You might be in range of one but not the other. Again, though, you are buying that capability.

This is, of course a very general overview. There are websites and books on the topic that get into the weeds of this subject. Depending on your needs, you may want to spend some time researching this topic using these resources. One of these best is Technomadia’s RV Mobile Internet site.

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