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ShaunaH

FT Telecommuting and FT RVing possible?

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Hello all, so happy to find this forum. I am in need of honest answers on whether to start full-timing considering my situation. This is a long post and I'm grateful to anyone that can help.

 

I work in IT and am able to work from anywhere, as long as I can connect through a VPN to my company, and then I use RDP to connect to my work computer. I'm unsure at the moment how much data that takes up, I am measuring it over the next few days. As far as bandwidth needed, I'm guessing that I would need the equivalent of consistent 500k to 1Mb/sec connection from 9-5 Monday through Friday.

 

I have bought and read Technomadia's book, which was wonderful but a little discouraging. I will most likely be a temporary full-timer, ranging somewhere between 6 and 36 months. That can change at any time if I get laid off or work telecommuting policies change. So, upfront costs that cannot be sold/recouped to some extent are an issue. However, I am willing to spend up to $1,000 if needed. I also may hire the Technomads for a consultation on my best options.

 

The idea is to stay in one spot for a week and then travel/sightsee on the weekends. I won’t need internet access while we are moving (although that would be a plus!)

 

My boss will expect to see me logged in most of the time (9-5 Monday-Friday). An occasional dropped connection is ok if I can reconnect, but I don't want to be in a panic trying to find usable public wifi on very short notice. Also, other than logging into work, I can live without much Internet access (streaming, surfing, etc.)

 

Questions:

 

  1. If I go with Technomadia’s recommendation of 2 cell providers (likely Verizon and AT&T), plus Wifi with booster, what are the odds that my required connection will be available and reliable? Also, on a score from 1 (easy) to 10 (hard), how much planning and hassle will be involved?
  2. If 1 has a good chance of happening, how much will I be restricted to certain parks with good wifi, or urban areas? How often would I need to head to a library/Starbucks etc.?
  3. I barely know a flathead from a Phillips screwdriver….not a chance I’ll be drilling holes in RV roof, running conduit, caulking, etc for antennas. Any way around this, or is it possible to hire someone to do it?
  4. Assuming I can get all the above done, what am I looking at for monthly expense? I had hoped to stay around $200 a month but I sounds like a Verizon unlimited alone (if I can get one) is around that.

Thanks much in advance. I’d love to fulfill my life-long dream of seeing the States!

 

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My wife has been telecommuting and partime rving for seven years, and telecommuting and fulltiming for more than two years. Her current setup is a Verizon 6620L Mifi and a smartphone with a 24 gig plan with shared data for about $120 per month. She also has FoxFi on her phone to connect to work if the MiFi should not work. For a booster she has a Wilson sleek that will work on both Verizon and AT&T. We have had it for 3 or 4 years and it works well, when we are in marginal areas with just using the antenna that comes with it and placing the antenna high up inside the motorhome she has always been able to connect.

 

I would never count on park wifi to connect for work.

 

Before I would travel to a new place, I would look at a coverage map of the carrier you choose. We only have Verizon and have been able to connect everywhere we have been, which is mainly the Southwest in the Winter and the Central US in the summer. The issue we have had with connecting using Verizon is the times we were in and around Del Rio Texas a few years ago, when we bought a Virgin Mobile USB cellular modem on a pay as you go plan.

 

I personally would not worry about going full Technomadia to start with, but only if nothing else works.

 

I hope this is at least a start for you.

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I would never Count of park WiFi but I sure use it when it is available. I have a 40 GB plan but getting through a whole month on 40 GB is highly improbable.

 

So maximize the ability to use park WiFi using a WiFi-as-Wan router and a CPE radio on the roof for more range.

 

Maximize the ability of your wireless with an amplifier with a roof antenna. I have found a wireless modem into the router works better than a MiFi for reasons of power and reliability.

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As you know from reading our book, we've been full time working remotely for over 10 years now.

 

If we were choosing our own system today, I'd personally probably skip trying to have anything extensive for WiFi repeating (it's so rare we find it - and we much prefer state parks and such that don't even typically offer it) and optimize for two of the major cellular carriers. Either Verizon & AT&T or Verizon & T-Mobile, with a cellular booster. And this is a setup we end up advising a lot of folks on, that unless you KNOW you'll be places with great WiFi - it's usually not worth the effort.

 

I'd say we keep connected with fast speeds about 95+% of the time in our travels between Verizon and a secondary carrier & some signal enhancing. And we visited 80 different locations last year, and we don't do too much planning in advance - just check the coverage maps and campground reviews before booking sites.

 

Our monthly costs for a Verizon UDP is currently $45/month (but a big upfront expense to get it - there are rental plans out there with their own risks at around $120-150/month). And we're tracking several options for AT&T and T-Mobile - either unlimited and/or high cap. You can very likely get a cellular setup under $200/month that keeps you reliably connected, as long as you don't have expectations of staying away from cell towers. Many do so.

 

If we can help further, let us know. Don't forget to supplement the book with browsing around the www.RVMobileInternet.com website - we have a lot of further resources there that are kept up to date.

- Cherie

Edited by Technomadia

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We currently have a 20GB 4G/LTE Verizon Jetpack at $100/mo, an unlimited 3G Verizon Jetpack at $10/mo, and an unlimited 4G/LTE AT&T plan at $69/mo. The two unlimited plans are from Mobile Solutions, and the 20GB plan is direct with Verizon. To keep everything connected as much as possible, we have a Maximum Signal Max Amp RV booster/repeater that has worked well for us even in areas where our previous WeBoost 4G-M failed to deliver a 4G/LT signal or any signal at all. It's very rare these days that we use a park's WiFi system, but we also have a Pepwave Surf Mini On-The-Go WiFi/cell repeater for those occasions.

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I work for a large multinational as software developer/team lead. I have been full timing for 5 years. I have evolved into a 30 Gb Verizon plan. They had a double data promotion a few years back and I got a nice deal. I am paying about 188 for three phones a hotspot and 30Gig. I use the wifiranger go2 as the house lan with about 3 computers and a printer. Very occassionally I find reliable wifi at a park, and then just use the go2 (no fancy external antenna). But mostly I rely on the hotspot.

 

I do presentations and screen sharing and a fair amount of data, but usually 30 Gigs is fine. I have recently bought Gord's cellular amplifier, but in reality unless you are intent on the sticks, you are going to find a decent verizon signal that is fine. I was in the Everglades and very remote and thought it would be fun to have a little more flexibility.

 

I do like you plan....Move on the weekends and chained to the computer from 9-5. Although a trip to the pool might happen at lunchtime. It is a nice life, although being surrounded by retired folks does make that lifestyle look tempting.

 

Alex

04 Itasca Meridian, 00 VW Jetta

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I'm also in the planning stages of being able to go full time and telecommute for my job which is managing a software testing team. I've been working for home for 5-6 years already, but the last 2 years it has been "official" with me listed as a WFH employee. I'm thinking it should be a pretty easy transition to working on the road. I've already spoken to my boss about my plans and he was okay with that.

 

One of the things I've setup already at my work in preparation for this is I was able to work with my IT dept and get a Virtual desktop setup on our network and my plan is to RDP into that and use that as much as possible for my day to day activities. I already spend a lot of times RDP into other machines on our network, but I'll RDP into this VM as my main desktop and that way the the only traffic passing back and forth between my laptop and over the cell traffic will be RDP traffic which should be much less than normal everyday traffic. For instance, once I have it setup, none of my e-mail traffic will be going over my cell connection, so if I get some really big files I need to download and look at, no biggie, they'll download to the VM and I'll only be looking at them through my RDP connection. There's a lot of other ways it should be able to help keep my cell traffic to a minimum and I think even if my upload/download speeds aren't that best, it might just be my display that suffers a bit vs everything that I do.

 

Unfortunately my ISP dosen't show me my daily data usage, so I really have no idea what I use on a daily basis, but I'm going to spend a couple days in the near future using cell data only for a day of work like I work now, and then a day RDP in and get some data usage counts and that will give me a much better idea of my needs and what it would take. During the fall, I went to a local park one day and using my Mifi, worked a few hours from there and everything did well.

 

I do plan on having Verizon at the mimium for the best chance of possible coverage along with maybe Tmobile or AT&T as backups and of course a good cell booster setup. I currently do have one of the Verizon unlimited 3g only mifi devices and although the speed isn't that great, I've actually used that to work already a couple times to try it out and I've had good luck. I would love a unlimited Verizon LTE plan, but that may not be feasible right now for the up front cost, so maybe a metered Verizon 4G plan, and metered plans from other carriers and I can keep my data usage in check.

Edited by BlueLghtning

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I am not FT yet but I worked from my rig the last 2 weeks in december. Are you sure about the speeds of 500k to 1Mb/sec being sufficient for your work ? I am using a VDI ( Virtual Desktop Infrastructure ) for work and that can get painfully slow below speeds of 2 Mbit/sec.. I can only imagine a RDP connection being more painful. I use between 300MB and 900 MB of data per work day so that might give you some insight on what plan to get.

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For those thinking of going on the road, maybe this is time to get a router that both support "WiFi as WAN" and can track your usage. "WiFi as WAN: allow you to use a Wifi as an internet source, but still let you use one Wifi name (SSID) for all of your devices, including wireless printers. Two examples are the WiFiRanger series and the Pepwave Surf SOHO (I have the MK1, but the MK3 is now out). With these you can determine how much you are really using. You do have to be disciplined and only use the WiFi from the router, not directly from your ISP or your mobile hotspot, or the numbers will not be accurate. These routers do have Ethernet, so you can use them with desktop computers. I switch between a Verizon mobile hotspot (Jetpack), the hotspot from my AT&T tablet, the mobile hotspot from a T-Mobile smartphone and have occasionally used campground wifi through the router. Real number for your own usage are golden.

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I'm also in the planning stages of being able to go full time and telecommute for my job which is managing a software testing team. I've been working for home for 5-6 years already, but the last 2 years it has been "official" with me listed as a WFH employee. I'm thinking it should be a pretty easy transition to working on the road. I've already spoken to my boss about my plans and he was okay with that.

 

One of the things I've setup already at my work in preparation for this is I was able to work with my IT dept and get a Virtual desktop setup on our network and my plan is to RDP into that and use that as much as possible for my day to day activities. I already spend a lot of times RDP into other machines on our network, but I'll RDP into this VM as my main desktop and that way the the only traffic passing back and forth between my laptop and over the cell traffic will be RDP traffic which should be much less than normal everyday traffic. For instance, once I have it setup, none of my e-mail traffic will be going over my cell connection, so if I get some really big files I need to download and look at, no biggie, they'll download to the VM and I'll only be looking at them through my RDP connection. There's a lot of other ways it should be able to help keep my cell traffic to a minimum and I think even if my upload/download speeds aren't that best, it might just be my display that suffers a bit vs everything that I do.

 

Unfortunately my ISP dosen't show me my daily data usage, so I really have no idea what I use on a daily basis, but I'm going to spend a couple days in the near future using cell data only for a day of work like I work now, and then a day RDP in and get some data usage counts and that will give me a much better idea of my needs and what it would take. During the fall, I went to a local park one day and using my Mifi, worked a few hours from there and everything did well.

 

I do plan on having Verizon at the mimium for the best chance of possible coverage along with maybe Tmobile or AT&T as backups and of course a good cell booster setup. I currently do have one of the Verizon unlimited 3g only mifi devices and although the speed isn't that great, I've actually used that to work already a couple times to try it out and I've had good luck. I would love a unlimited Verizon LTE plan, but that may not be feasible right now for the up front cost, so maybe a metered Verizon 4G plan, and metered plans from other carriers and I can keep my data usage in check.

 

That's exactly what I do, a Cisco/web-based VPN and then RDP. I am using a prog called Glasswire, it's free and no malware, is awesome at tracking your bandwidth, but even more interesting is it tells you what apps, protocols, etc. are being used. Software has all been programmed to call home (looking at you Microsoft!) so much that I think my strategy is to use the built in Glasswire firewall to block ALL connections and then I'm in total control of data usage with no surprises.

 

It looks like I use about a gig of data per day for work, so I'll need minimum of 25 GB a month. I think I can manage that without risky unlimited Verizon plans or the "unauthorized" resellers.

 

Thanks to all of you that replied, nice to meet some other full-timers and wannabees!

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I am not FT yet but I worked from my rig the last 2 weeks in december. Are you sure about the speeds of 500k to 1Mb/sec being sufficient for your work ? I am using a VDI ( Virtual Desktop Infrastructure ) for work and that can get painfully slow below speeds of 2 Mbit/sec.. I can only imagine a RDP connection being more painful. I use between 300MB and 900 MB of data per work day so that might give you some insight on what plan to get.

No, that was just a wild guess....I was under the impression that RDP could work over relatively low bandwidth, but since then I have found that it is highly variable....depends on what you are doing on the remote screen, lots of screen refreshes mean more bandwidth.

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That's exactly what I do, a Cisco/web-based VPN and then RDP. I am using a prog called Glasswire, it's free and no malware, is awesome at tracking your bandwidth, but even more interesting is it tells you what apps, protocols, etc. are being used. Software has all been programmed to call home (looking at you Microsoft!) so much that I think my strategy is to use the built in Glasswire firewall to block ALL connections and then I'm in total control of data usage with no surprises.

 

It looks like I use about a gig of data per day for work, so I'll need minimum of 25 GB a month. I think I can manage that without risky unlimited Verizon plans or the "unauthorized" resellers.

 

Thanks to all of you that replied, nice to meet some other full-timers and wannabees!

 

Thanks, I'll give that glasswire a shot too. One of things I'll know I'll need to keep in check is dropbox. I use that quite a bit for work and store any files I need easy access to, but I want to make sure it's not trying to do big sync's over cell data connections. I do like the idea like you said of blocking connections unless you specifically allow them.

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In the interests of full disclosure, I would also offer up the following. I am an employee of a large multi national. After about three and a half years on the road, the auditors found me. I blythely assumed that my domicile sort of solved the whole roaming thing. My corporation's auditors made it very clear that that was not the case. That where I worked mattered even if it was in an RV park in the hinterland. So they went back two years and figured out my state taxes due and reported that and I paid taxes and penalties. I was given to understand that short times in tax states are Ok, but longer times means reporting in that state and an eventual state return. The auditors gave me guidelines of how many days in which states before I needed to inform payroll and get things withheld.

 

The other complexity was something the IRS calls a "Tax Home". I don't have one. This means that when I travel for business, and business reemburses me for flight, hotel, meals and car. That reembursement is actually to be reported as income to me. And shows up on my W2. As I said large multi national and they have a way to account for this additional tax and make me whole, but there is a whole new level of complexity and forms and hassle.

 

Anyway I never saw this coming and it might come to you. Just fyi

Alex

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