Are you tired of depending on campground wi-fi? It seems like every time you actually need Wifi, it lets you down.
You’re on your way to living your best RV life, but you have to stay connected for work, family, and the occasional entertainment service. How do you connect on the go?
Obviously, you can’t get internet from traditional service providers because you’re moving around a lot. You need mobile internet to keep in touch with the outside world.
Whether you’re a digital nomad who needs to stay connected with clients or you like to relax with your favorite YouTubers while on vacation, you have options that can provide a stable internet connection more reliably than campground wifi.
So, what are the best RV internet options?
First, you need to decide what kind of internet you need – cellular or satellite – then we’ll go through the best mobile internet solution for you.
- If you only use wifi for checking email and scrolling through social media, then campground wifi should be sufficient for you.
- If you need a reliable connection for working on the road, then you need to provide your own internet.
How to Choose the Best RV Internet for You
When it comes to internet access for RVers, there are three primary options: satellite, cellular data, and public wi-fi networks. Before you make a decision, you’ll need to ask yourself: what do you need from your wi-fi connection?
Satellite Internet Connection: Reaching Remote Corners
If your RV adventures take you to off-the-grid locations, RV satellite internet could be your ticket to staying connected. They offer broad coverage that reaches remote areas and provides a reliable connection.
The setup requires a satellite dish and a router. The downside is that satellites can be out of range, so you won’t be able to connect while located in that shadow.
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Cellular Data: On-the-Move Connectivity
For RVers who are always on the move, cellular data provides a solid and reliable connectivity option when you’re in the range of cell towers. Major wireless carriers offer extensive network coverage, including 5G, making it easier to stay connected even in some remote locations.
You can use your cell phone to connect or other specialized equipment that has a better range than your cell phones. We’ll discuss those in a minute.
Public Wi-Fi: A Cost-Effective Choice
Public Wi-Fi is a great, cost-effective solution, especially if you only need occasional access to the internet. You can often find public Wi-Fi at:
- Coffee shops
- RV parks
However, free wi-fi can present issues such as inconsistent speeds and unreliable connections, making it less suitable for demanding tasks like video calls or streaming. You also have the added security risk–since anyone who is sharing the same network can find information on your computer (if you don’t have proper cyber security measures installed on your device).
Do You Plan on Staying in One Place?
While these options are good, reliable ways to stay connected, they still can’t offer top speeds. So, if you plan to park your RV or tiny home and live full-time on one piece of property, you might look into traditional internet service providers to see if they service your area.
If they do, you’ll have access to faster internet speeds, ideal for gaming and streaming from multiple devices.
The Best Internet for RV Enthusiasts
So, what are the top mobile internet solutions? Here are the four best internet options for RVers who are on the move – complete with how they work and how much each one costs.
Cellular Data Plans
This is by far the simplest solution because you likely already have a smartphone. And smartphones can be mobile hotspots.
How it works: Get an unlimited data plan on your phone, and then go to “settings” and turn on the “mobile hotspot” setting. Now, you can connect to your computer, and get some work done. You can even stream videos if you have a strong enough connection.
Drawbacks: The downside here is that your phone has limited bandwidth. So it can’t connect to several devices. It also only works where you have a cellular connection, so it’s not good if you know you’ll be out of reach of the nearest cell tower.
Photo courtesy of UbiFi.net
UbiFi was designed to bring internet access to underserved, rural communities. With UbiFi, you can connect 15-30 devices at a time (depending on your hardware), and you get download speeds of up to 200 Mbps.
How it works: You pay a one-time membership fee to receive the router of your choice. They offer 4G/5G LTE options as well as an outdoor modem. After purchasing your equipment, you pay a monthly fee for service.
Drawbacks: While the equipment receives signals better than a cell phone, if you don’t have cellular coverage, you won’t be able to establish a connection to fulfill your internet needs.
Price: One-time membership $69-$599
A flat rate of $89.99/month for service
Photo courtesy of HomeFi.info
Similar to UbiFi, HomeFi operates in rural areas of the US. They also offer 4G/5G LTE connections.
But they offer two options. An orange disk that acts as a mobile hotspot–which you can connect up to 10 devices to. You can pick it up and take it with you wherever you go. Or you can choose the 5G interior router.
How it works: Unlike UbiFi, you’re not charged a membership fee. The setup is still a simple plug-and-play setup. And you rent the equipment for a $10 monthly fee.
Drawbacks: You’re still using cell towers, so test the cell service first to be sure you’re close enough to receive the cellular signal.
Price: Equipment rental is $10/month
Service fee is $80/month
Photo courtesy of Starlink.com/roam
Starlink is a privately owned satellite internet service that’s currently owned by SpaceX. It provides high-speed internet to off-the-grid locations around the world and even in the middle of the ocean.
How it works: You order your modern Starlink dish, which actually looks more like a flat rectangle than your traditional satellite dish. You plug it in and place it where it can see the sky. Establishing a connection with one of its satellites may take a few minutes. Then, you’re ready to go.
Starlink has a constellation of satellites to prevent shadows and keep your internet stable.
Drawbacks: While regular clouds don’t affect Starlink’s connection, moisture and storm clouds do. So, your signal won’t be as strong, and the quality of your connection suffers.
So Starlink is a great option for arid climates that typically see clear skies with only occasional storms, but it’s not the best option for areas that experience regular thunderstorms – like Florida.
Price: Hardware costs $599
Service fees: Between $150-$250
Do I Need a Wi-Fi Extender or Booster?
A wi-fi extender is great if you have a stationary router whose signal you want to boost. That way, you can connect from farther away. For example, if you’re using campground wifi, you can hook up a wifi extender and boost the campground’s signal, ensuring it reaches your camper that’s parked further away.
So yes! You could absolutely benefit from a wifi extender if you want to use campground wifi. But remember, the wifi booster can’t increase the bandwidth for your RV internet. It can only boost the signal that it receives.
That means if the campground is busy or has cheap wifi, you still may not get a good signal.
Staying connected on the road is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for many RVers. And a reliable internet connection is worth the extra expense. So check out these brands and find the best RV internet solution for you.
Now, if you’re using an internet option with a physical router or mobile hotspot that you keep inside your RV, make sure you’re storing your RV properly. You’d hate to find an internet solution that works, only to have it ruined by an unplanned leak.
Finding safe, covered storage limits the risk of your camper – and the wifi equipment that you’re renting – being damaged from storms or leaks.
That’s where Neighbor can help.