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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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