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Nanny&Timbo

Canadian watching tv in a motorhome in the USA

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Hi.  My husband and I are in the process of buying a motorhome to travel across the USA next winter for 4 months.  We will want to watch some tv while we are gone.  Everything from live tv, to live sports, netflix, and some other things in between. The people at the rv stores say it is a very easy thing to do, but they don't seem to give me a straight answer to exactly how it can be done.  One thing that seems to be said quite regularly is go through DISH.  Well, I tried, but I live in Canada and they don't answer a phone from Canada, so I can't get any more info from them.  Is there anyone out there that can help me?  I would need to know what exactly I need to do, and exactly what I would need on the motorhome that I will purchase. The motorhomes we have been looking at are usually 2007-2010 models.  Thank you :)

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My camper has an over the air HDTV antenna. 40 miles SW of Tucson in the boondocks I could receive 56 channels 80% not worth watching and the other half stupid stuff. 

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There are three common routes to watching TV.  First is to rely strictly on over-the-air broadcasts as described by Noteven.  This is pretty hit and miss, as many remote areas have little or no OTA broadcasts, and you are limited to live broadcasts. 

Satellite TV has been the mainstay of full-time RV'ers for quite some time, and is still a viable way to go.  Either DISH or DIRECTV can provide you the service.  Contacting a company like TV4RV might be the simplest way to understand the options and equipment necessary. 

As cellular broadband becomes more widespread and reliable many folks have switched from satellite to streaming as their primary way to watch TV. You mention netflix and obviously this is a streaming service.  Beware that without a specific broadband internet package that allows large amounts of data each month this can get very expensive, depending on how much you intend to watch and at what quality.

If you are planning to stay in campgrounds you may well find cable TV and/or wireless internet available there, but it can be hit and miss as you travel across the country.  

The option that you choose will probably come down to how much television you plan to watch and how certain you want to be regarding what you see.  With satellite there is also the need to be able to set up and aim the equipment, unless you opt for one of the automatic dish setups which can be quite expensive. 

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The easiest option for watching satellite TV is an automatic system, such as Winguard.

https://winegard.com/products/satellite-tv

and

https://www.canadasatellite.ca/Shaw-Direct-Satellite-Dishes-s/830.htm

This is much easier than carrying and setting up a stand alone dish each time you stop.

Winguard can receive Shaw Direct signals, so you can watch Canadian channels. You can set up your account with Shaw while in Canada and set up automatic monthly payments from your Canadian Bank Account.

Shaw does not want you to receive signals while outside of Canada due to broadcasting rights issues - but it works - but keep quiet about your travel plans south of the border. Say to Shaw that you want service to your RV for travel across Canada.

John

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I have the Shaw auto sat dish.  It receives down in southern Florida no problem.  No hassle from Shaw.

If you want the for real info contact RF Mogul in Salt Lake City.  Jim is the owner and Carlo is the whizbang tech who can walk you thru any problems you may encounter, mechanically or software wise. 

If you are in the area, they will install it for you and test it.  Activate the system with your Canadian cel phone, not a US phone.

Set up the account if possible in Canada.  Not sure how not having the unit on the roof affects getting an account with no Serial #.  It may or may not be needed.

Carlo will send you updates on the computer you can download on a thumb drive to reload into the black box.

Every once in a while Shaw changes thing sup which requires a newer version.

Trust me, I've been thru this for the last 10 yrs back into the Motosat era....CALL RF MOGUL..I'm shouting.

Hiljoball is on the mark.

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There is one issue with satelliet TV which is the most reliable way for an RV to have a wide choice of TV programing in the US and that is that as you travel north the the ability to receive sattelite TV degrades due to the fact that all of the sattellites are located in GEO:- GEOSTIONARY EARTH ORBIT. That means that they are directly over the equator and traveling at a speed to stay in the same location, relative to our positions on earth. Because of the equatorial location, the farther north one travels the lower a dish elevation must be in order to receive the satellite signal and so you reach a point that trees, buildings ane even hills block the signal from the satellites to where you can't receive them. We traveled in Canada and northern US with a 36" dish, sattelite internet system using a tripod outside which I set up at each stop. Even with the large dish as we traveled farther north it became impossible to get internet and TV. (We received both from the same dish.) It may well be that this difficulty plays a part in the reluctance of your Canadian RV dealers to address it. The Nimiq satellites are a Canadian fleet of geostationary telecommunications satellites owned by Telesat and used by satellite television providers including Bell TV and EchoStar (Dish Network). Hopefully some of our Canadian members of the forum will join this discussion and comment on the availability to RV travelers in Canada as my experience was now more than 10 years ago. 

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#noteven and #rdickinson are Canadians. #hilijoball sounds like one. The issue is purely one of jurisdiction. If a retailer is encouraging sales based on usage in the US, they WILL lose their sales agreement. Discussion of use in the US is grounds for losing your service, too.

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Hi Nanny,

just a couple more TV/Communications items to be aware of as a Canadian traveling in the US.

Canadian cell phones roaming in the US is expensive - so be aware of large data usage if you stream over cell networks. Getting a US cell phone (like pay as you  go) may be a cheaper solution. Getting a normal pay plan you may have issues with credit approval as you don;t have a US Social Security number nor US credit history and lack of US address (this applies to trying to get any contract in the US for TV satellite too)

Relying on wifi  is restricted to wifi availability and service in campgrounds if available is shared and streaming may not be possible.

If you have a Canadian contract with a streaming service like Netflix, it may not work in the US and they can tell from your IP address that you are in the US. There have been attempts to use VPN services to fool the provider, but they are getting smarter in detecting and blocking this.

There are two Canadian satellite TV providers, Bell and Shaw. Bell was very strict on not allowing Snowbirds to receive signals in the US so most snowbirds switched to Shaw. But now Shaw is also being more restrictive - so use don't ask/don't tell.

Shaw now uses three satellites, G1, F1 and F2 for its programming. F1 and F2 are accessible in the US and even Mexico. G1 (the new one) beams more to the north and is not accessible once you are two hundred mile or so south of the border. So your new satellite dish needs to be able to locate all three satellite for all channels in Canada,, but you will lose some channels (these on G1) as you go south. The satellite dish provider should be able to help you on this issue - and you will need a 600 or 800 Shaw receiver in your rig attached to your TV via HDMI cable for HD picture.

John

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If you go to the Forest River Owner's Group Forum on line you will be able to post in the Canadian section and I am sure that you will get good advice. After all we all know that Canadian's are the nicest people anywhere! Good Luck

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John is right about sat tv, there are 2 footprints of coverage.  One is restricted to fairly close to the Canadian, US border.  Mine covers all the USA, at least where I've been.

The auto dish will hut for the location  on its own or you can punch in the co-ordinates.  I get reception in Ft Meyers, no problem.

Re the phone, again this is something I've had to deal with.  John is correct again, you can't get a contract because it asks for a zip code and won't accept a Canadian Postal code, ie T2K 0E6.

BUT, you can get around that fairly easily.  This was done by Verizon for me....here goes,

- Buy a cheap smart phone..even on Visa.

- Prepay for 1 month by Cash...40 bucks back 3 yrs ago.

- Prepay 10 bucks for unlimited calling back to Canadia...cash again.

- You get unlimited calling and texting in the US.

- For internet, get a Hub.

All this works, I've done it.

Re using our Canadian cel phones in the USA, with Fido, I pay 8$ a day when using the phone to a max of 70 bucks a month max...I think.

It used to be 50$

Get South of the border, drop into a Verizon store and show them what I did.

When I travel, I don't mess around, I have both sat tv and internet.

RF Mogul has an internet dish but it's over 4' diameter and the packages are very expensive..  I've seen the dish and talked to Jim about the packages.  You can download movies late at night at a non premium time but it is a really big dish.

Again, call RF Mogul in Salt lake City, you have nothing to lose.

 

 

 

 

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If you have an unlocked smart phone, which most are these days, all you need to do is to stop at a Verizon store in the US and buy a pay as you go SIM card.  No need to buy a new phone.  The store will put it in your phone for you.  But make sure you wrap up your old Canadian SIM card carefully so you can replace it when you go home.  https://www.verizonwireless.com/prepaid/?cmp=KNC-C-HQ-PRO-R-BP-NONE-PrepaidDoubleData-2K0PX0-PX-GAW-71700000010306182&ds_rl=1037682&ds_rl=1275402&gclid=CjwKCAjw8ZHsBRA6EiwA7hw_sXXQTo-oAVmMxKVusFr-LAGfqVuN1VEZGIAZnN_mDJpp_7NWDopaSRoCGOoQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

I did this in Canada and in the UK.  People in Europe are very used to doing this.  For $45 per month, you will get 16 gigs of data and unlimited calling to Canada and Mexico. You will now have a completely US phone for making local calls.  If you have two phones, you could leave one of them as a Canadian phone and turn one of them into a US phone.  But it would cost you international rates to call back to Canada, depending on your current plan.

When I spent 6 weeks in the UK, I bought a pay as you go SIM card for $20 and had unlimited cell phone service and unlimited international and local texting, although i had only 5 gigs of data, but it was enough to use maps and a lot of the other features. 

It will be easier for you to access your Canadian satellite in the US than it was for me to access mine in Canada because it was so far north.  Mine worked in southern Ontario but not in Nova Scotia!! 

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If you use Solo18's plan, contact you cell provider and ask t "park" your current Canadian number. This will de-activate your number, but hold it in your name, until you remove the "park". The advantage of this is a way lower monthly bill while using the US SIM card, but the same number when you come back to Canada.

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If you park the # you may miss out on important calls.  Leave the Canadian phone at home, change the outgoing message to reflect your absence and to call the US#.  If they don't want to do that then leave a message and you can check for messages with your US phone.

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True enough, Roger. On the other hand, I refuse to pay a cell bill for a phone I'm not using. Anyone that needs to contact me already knows when I'll be in the US, and in the case of a long lost inheritance, there's other relatives to contact, that will have my contact info. It's worked for 5 winters, going on 6.

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All valid points for the OP to consider.

In my case I look after First Aid and Safety on the 2nd shift at Esquimalt Drydock in Victoria.  Work is spotty.  Most of it comes in the Fall and Winter so if I'm down South for a few months between December and end of April and a ship comes in with damage or some other issue and Esquimalt calls me, I need to know.  With the money they pay, I'd park the rig, fly back, rent a fleatrap for a month and rent a car and still be thousands ahead.

Like I stated, all valid points for the OP to consider.

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I’ve been getting a Verizon “unlimited” data Can-USA-Mex call and text plan with a 406 phone number. I’m not a VIP so family and my 2 friends are sent the number. I put my Telus plan on vacation hold for $10/month.

I have the same plan except data is limited on my home mobile number. No roaming charges, no daily charge. This winter I may keep my own phone going, reduce its data to save a few $ a month and get a Verizon “unlimited” hot spot plan instead.

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We have a (Canadian) Shaw satellite system at home & a Winegard dish on our RV. When travelling to the US, we just take one of our boxes with us.

Worked great until Shaw started broadcasting from a new satellite. Winegard dish no longer locks on automatically, but can be manually pointed.

But I don't think it will pick up the new satellite in the Southern US. Can anyone confirm that?

Also, what channels will I be able to pick up in the southern US from the old satellites?

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Will not see the new bird from Phoenix area. The channels you lose will depend on your time zone, but expect to lose most of your local channels. Some locals will make the cut, but not all. 

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3 hours ago, DanielAndrew said:

But I don't think it will pick up the new satellite in the Southern US. Can anyone confirm that?

Also, what channels will I be able to pick up in the southern US from the old satellites?

The new satellite is called G1 - and it is not accessible beyond about 200 miles south of the border. The old satellites called F1 and F 2 are accessible.

You should be able to receive all the channels that are on the F1/F2 satellites.

Here is a list of all the channels and the G1 channels are crossed off, showing what you will loose. The channel numbers are for the 'National' list.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1X2LbuIEnaCqMqwbmhg-398nKWfCM088r/view

John

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