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Ask Dave: How can I get internet service in my RV?

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses getting internet service in your RV.

Dear Dave,
The RV park I’m staying at has very poor internet service. I decided to sign up for internet service. However, I couldn’t get it to work. The internet service guy said, “You have no signal because your RV connections don’t support anything other than analog.” He also said other RVers have cables all over their RVs in order to jimmy rig internet service. Can you explain this? And how do I remedy the situation? —Carol

Dear Carol,
I would start by getting a different provider and internet “service guy.” Depending on the year and make of your rig, there should be a coax cable in the service center that has either older R59 or RG6. Both will handle a digital signal, although RG6 is superior. For years, most RV manufacturers have also installed an internet connection with a line commonly referred to as a CAT 5 wire into the rig.

How is the sigal coming to the rig?

My first question would be, “How is the signal coming to the rig? Is it a hard wire from the campground source such as a cable provider, or wireless from a cell phone provider, or other over-the-air or satellite provider? Either way, you should not have cables all over the RV and “jimmy rigged.”

If you use a cable provider, the coax will come into the rig to a modem or router and then the connection depends on the type of computer or TV you are trying to connect. If it is to a desktop computer, most of these do not have a wireless connection and need a CAT 5 hardwired. This would require a physical wire going from the router to the computer. Here is an example of a router you can buy a router on Amazon.

In my opinion the best option is to get a wireless program with either a laptop or wireless adapter for your tower computer. There are several options for this, as follows.

Satellite

Several companies offer internet services via satellite transmission. That is more reliable when camping in the boonies but typically more expensive. One of the most popular companies is Dish Network, who partners with several providers depending on the area you are in.

Over-the-air Wi-Fi

Most campgrounds as well as rest stops, coffee shops and other locations offer free Wi-Fi service. The challenge with these is a very weak signal and lack of mobility. Very few campgrounds offer much more than a single router located in the campground manager’s office and it only goes out a few hundred feet. However, some campgrounds are expanding with repeaters and booster to provide a stronger signal throughout the campground. The advantage is free internet service, so check with your campground source to see what has been done to boost the signal.

Cellular providers

Getting a signal or “hot spot” from a cellular provider is typically the best solution for connectivity and affordability. In the past you needed to pick the provider from the top 4 providers, which were AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. However, I recently previewed a new product from TravlFi called the Journey 1. It uses the strongest signal from the major providers in the area you are connecting to.

I have used this for the past 2 months all over the country and the connectivity is outstanding. Also, I can purchase a data plan that meets my internet needs, and I can purchase just one month at a time rather than a 2-year contract and no activation fees. In my opinion this is the best option when it comes to mobility and connectivity as I can customize it to my needs. Check out the data plans here.

I would like to hear from others on the plans and providers you are using, as well.

Read more from Dave here

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Brian
1 month ago

Been using All Over Internet out of Mesa, AZ who provides you AT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon 4G and soon 5G service at a realistic price since December 2020. Since Dec 2020 we’ve traveled in 13 states and almost 20k miles. Works streaming speeds everywhere without cables, throttling, freezing etc. No tree problems! Got 4 tv’s and 2 computers signed on. Got rid of Direct and Dish. Stream everything including live national tv and local stations from home. They have a 50GB program. Other larger programs are available at great prices. Mine has no contract, No start-up fees, no cancellation fees. . Call 800-403-8402 or empiredirecttv@gmail.com.

manfred manville
1 month ago

With my Visible (by Verizon) phone connected to a travel router I routinely use over 300Gig a month for $25.

Ray Leissner
1 month ago

Just to be clear, for Travelfi, one cannot jump from one specific provider to the other, even if the other happens to have the stronger signal at a given location. Your data access is limited to the provider you subscribe to, and subsequently, the towers that your provider utilizes. Yes, Travelfi will connect to any/all of the nationally known providers, but you will need a subscription to that provider to do so.

Thomas D
1 month ago

Dave thinks like the government. Just get a different provider.our home and our rv park has one provider. Take it or leave it. Oh, we wish there was another provider

Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Keep reading … you may be thinking like some governments that you don’t have options but as the other posts show .. you do!
I personally have a hot spot plan through Straight Talk (can be bought thru Wal-Mart or online) and no park manager can tell me not to use it. I do need minimal cell signal to use it effectively.

tom
1 month ago

FMCA has an excellent MiFi plan for members. Ours works reliably every where we travel. We even are able to stream movies, without a skip, from Amazon Prime. Your choice of 2 national providers.

Bob Wallace
1 month ago
Reply to  tom

Ditto-we have this same device/plan via FMCA and as Tom mentioned the MiFi is very reliable. I use it for my personal laptop, work computer (and conduct multiple Teams meetings with no issues) and we connect our Smart TV (Visio) to it wirelessly and stream to our hearts content. Very much recommend!

Bob p
1 month ago

We bought a Verizon MIFI Jetpak in 2017, in 2018 Verizon offered a onetime deal of unlimited data for prepaid service. I immediately signed up and have had it since, it uses cellular service and I’ve only found one place in TX down in the Red river valley that I didn’t have service because we were 9 miles away from the nearest tower and down in a “hole”. Otherwise it’s flawless and gives great speed. My wife uses it going down the highway while I’m driving to play her games on her iPad.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

A P.S. don’t buy it at a Verizon retail store go to a Verizon owned facility, we paid over twice as much at a retail store. I’ve had to replace the battery a year ago because I was lazy and left it plugged in 24/7, the battery swelled up and popped the back off. Now I use it all day and recharge while I’m sleeping. Lol

Don
1 month ago

Got to check out that TravelFi. I’m using a Verizon 5G hotspot and find minimal service and/or I’m using up my monthly 30 Gigs way too fast…

Larry Lee
1 month ago

Just went to the TravlFi site and found that they do charge an activation fee

David Solberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Lee

It’s a one time fee to set up your account, then you can buy a month at a time with no activation fees after that? That is what I was told?