Just because your traveling the open road and living the RV lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect yourself from the rest of the world.
However if you think WIFI comes standard in RVs, unfortunately that’s not the case.
There are a number of great options that are available that will get you on the internet in even some of the most remote locations.
However the internet plan that you need is going to be dependent on the type of RV lifestyle you live.
Do you only travel several times per month and just need internet service for those few days?
Are you living in an RV full-time and want to stream videos and music daily?
Or are you the type of person that likes to park your RV in the middle of the forest off the beaten path but still wants to be able to have a connection to the outside world.
Whatever your situation there is most likely an option that will work for you.
Below are the best internet/wifi options that I know of and I think they should work for you whatever your RV internet needs.
1. RV Satellite Internet Access
The first option that I am going to go over is Satellite Internet for your RV.
This is definitely the most expensive internet option and unfortunately it’s also the slowest, but it may be your only choice if you’re the remote RVer type.
You also cannot use it while your driving, well you can, but it’s going to cost you nearly six figures in order to get the setup that would allow you to do that.
The primary advantage of Satellite is that you can get it anywhere as long as you have good exposure to the sky and you aren’t dealing with inclement weather which can also cause signal interruptions.
Let’s go over the different types of satellite setups that are available.
Roof Mounted Satellite
This option will require a certain level of installation and will be somewhat of a permanent fixture since the Satellite will be mounted to the roof of your RV.
I recommend pursuing this option if you have a limited amount of space in your RV and don’t have much room to store a Tripod Satellite.
This option is also more common among larger RV owners because they have much more roof space then those that own smaller RVs.
RV roof mounted Satellites are also the most convenient since you can control them with the push of a button and they come with automatic signal finders to help get you the best connection.
This process can still take a little time for the satellite to attain a good signal, but it should take no longer than 15 minutes.
Roof Mounted Satellite Equipment Costs
The provider and packages that you choose will depend on the total cost of the system, but you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 for the setup. This does not include the monthly service fees.
Tripod Satellite – Manual Setup
This is just what it sounds like. It’s a a satellite dish on a tripod base. I would personally avoid this setup for a number of reasons. They are very bulky and can be a hassle to store when you already have very limited space in your RV. Every time you setup it will probably take you 30-45 minutes due to the assembly and signal finding process.
Tripod Satellite Equipment Costs
Expect the setup to cost you between $1500 – $2,000. You then of course need to also pick a monthly service plan.
Roof Mounted Tripod
This is really just the option above with similar costs. The advantage with the setup is that you don’t need to constantly assemble and break down the device.
I think its also safer from a theft standpoint when compared to the basic tripod setup.
List of RV Satellite Internet Providers
RVDataSat has six different service plans available with a price range of $79.99 per month – $329.00 per month. Download speeds range between 1Mbps and 4Mbps.
All packages require a 1 year contract.
Their higher tiered packages also include the option to add in VOIP for an extra $24.95 per month.
The complete roof top system installation according to RVDataSat will cost you $6,495. Obviously thats quite high but it could be worth the price tag if you are looking for reliable internet in remote locations.
Nice ala carte system that lets you choose exactly what you need to get setup as quickly as possible.
Their website does not provide a lot of information about setup costs but they do offer plans ranging from $49.99 – 389.99 per month.
Each plan gives you a set amount of data that can be used at any time. The data packages range between 10-150 GBPS.
This is another company that I recently became aware of and they seem to be very solid in their offerings.
They do not specialize in only RV Satellite systems but instead have options for all sorts of ground and mobile satellite communication needs.
Note: I was just as surprised as you probably are right now, but these are really the only options I could find for RV Satellite Internet access. Most of the companies that have offered this service have either closed down or simply stopped selling the service.
2. Wireless Mobile Hotspots
Many of the major phone carriers offer whats called a mobile hotspot device (also known as myfi or jetpacks).
Similar to your cell phone they will provide you with access to the internet, the difference here being that the devices only purpose is for internet access.
These devices are actually quite cool, I have used these before while living abroad and always found them to be quite reliable with very acceptable internet speeds.
I personally recommend you check out the ones that Verizon carries mostly because they offer the best network in my opinion with the greatest amount of coverage (AT&T is second in terms of coverage).
Another cool feature is that they have an external antenna port that allows you to plugin the device directly to the antenna.
This will boost the signal and will give your RV more reliable internet at greater speeds.
Add to Current Carrier Plan
Depending on the carrier you may already have mobile hotspot usage included in your plan.
The Verizon Unlimited Plan has it included which means that you would only need to pay for the device in order to begin using the hotspot.
Prepaid Mobile Hotspots
If your current carrier does not offer hotspot capability a great option is to purchase a prepaid plan. This will cost you on average between $30-$80 per month depending on the carrier that you select.
If you are planning to use hotspot for your RV I would also recommend taking a look at the MOFI router which you can find here on Amazon. It will work with major carriers like Verizon or AT&T and will give you much faster internet speeds. There is also no connected device limit.
Note: Many mobile hotspots have a device limit of 5-15 devices.
Major Carriers & Prices for Prepaid Mobile Hotspots
Note: Keep in mind that there are really only 4 major carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Every other company for the most part is just a reseller that utilizes one of the networks.
- Verizon $20-$80 per month (2GB-14GB)
- Xfinity $12-$45 per month (Only available for Xfinity Customers)
- T-Mobile $5-$95 per month (500mb to 22GB)
- Total Wireless $35-$100 per month (5GB – 25GB)
- Straight Talk Wireless $15-$75 per month (1GB – 7GB)
- Netzero $0 – $89.95 per month (200MB – 6GB)
- Net10 $10 – $50 per month (500MB – 5GB)
- FreedomPop $0 – $74.99 per month (500MB – 10GB)
- Boost Mobile $25 – $50 per month (1.5GB – 10GB)
- AT&T $25 – $75 per month (2GB – 8GB)
- Karma $39.99 – $79.99 per month (5GB – 10GB)
The Prices above are for monthly data plan costs only and do not include the cost of the hotspot device.
3. Using the Campgrounds WiFi
This should really be the very last option. While many RV Campgrounds are beginning to offer standard wifi, its often a very hit or miss situation.
This can be incredibly frustrating when you have driven for a number of hours and are looking forward to relaxing to one of your favorite shows or want to just surf the web only to find out that your browser can barely load your email.
The fact of the matter is that most RV parks either are not suited for great WIFI or they have simply not expanded their network enough to allow for quality connections, the varying number of devices and the speeds necessary to stream at high quality.
Surprisingly it’s not uncommon to still find an RV park with Dial-up internet.
If this is the option that you are currently stuck with I recommend learning how to change the channel on your router by consulting the manufacturers guide (every router is different).
RV parks contain a high amount of signal interference (lots of devices) and sometimes by simply changing the channel on the router you can bypass the interference and get a stronger internet signal. I used to work for an internet provider and this was a common problem that many of our customers experienced, try it out).
Helpful Tips to Save on Cost & Bandwidth
- When devices are not in use make sure they are turned off. Some devices can still be running apps that take up bandwidth even though they are not in use.
- Consider purchasing whats called an amplifier or extender. These can help boost the signal and provide you with greater range and speeds. Just make sure you set them up correctly otherwise they can cause you even more issues.
- Use public WIFI whenever possible. As long as your stop is a place of business where people spend long periods of time the place is bound to have some sort of wifi available for its customers. My personal favorites for stops are McDonalds and Starbucks since their internet is always reliable.
- Download what you can in order to limit streaming. Service like YouTube Premium and Netflix will allow you to download videos so that you can watch it later when you have no service. My wife and I have used this option quite a bit in order to download videos for our kids tablets while we are on the road.
- If your data is limited make sure that you only stream when you are connected to WIFI in order to limit the consumption of data. An example of how fast you can go through your data its important to think of 1 hour of SD Netflix streaming as 1GB of data and 1 hour of HD streaming as 3GB of data.
While we can all agree that it’s time for RV parks to get with the times and improve their WIFI in the meantime we still have some great options that can keep us connected while enjoying the RV lifestyle.
Take a look at the solutions I recommended in this post and send me a message if you find that you have a better alternative to what I have explained here.
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