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What do you do for internet when on the road?


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A current thread about being too connected got me to thinking about the entire question and made me wonder what others do now and have done in the past. We first took communications on the road with us via one of the old "bag phones" and thought that was really grand. When we went fulltime back in 2000 we were really connected as we had a small cell phone(1) and a "Pocketmail" device for when we didn't have internet access via an available phone to call our ISP supplier. Next we got really modern and got ourselves a satellite dish that mounted to a surveyor's tripod and it even had a "bird on a wire" device that got us satellite TV on the same device. From there we went to a cell internet device which connected to a router to share it with both of our computers and that was grand, as long as we had good cell service we next got a directional antenna and cellular repeater to extend the range.

 

Just today we dropped our DSL home service via a wire and we now both use our "smart phones" in the hot spot mode to get our internet whether home of out on the road. Since we still have the ability to turn off the phones, too connected is not a problem but our addiction to internet does make a lack of it a real problem! ;)

 

How about it, would you share your internet story and let us know what you are doing at present?

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Use my DataStorm for Satellite Internet. Sprint iPhone5 Plus with unlimited plan.

Got a Straight talk Hot Spot for Verizon when Sprint signal is bad. But at present location this week neither Sprint or Verizon(1X) has a good signal even with a roof mounted Wilson antenna and booster.

 

So when in the MH the Datastorm is the king Internet. Other then using my sons Comcast WiFi.

I also use some campgrounds WiFi if they are faster and connect good. Other wise the Datastorm wins out.

 

Where I was at all last week neither cell system were good enough. So the Datastorm was king again. I was wanting to get ween off the Datastorm this summer and switching to cell data.

But so far it hasn't happened.

 

Next 3 1/2 months I will be at a campground that has fast 29 down Internet at least it did last summer. So for the first time in over 12 years I will put the Datastorm on a 3 month vacation. And use the $240 for something else.

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We have AT&T iphones and a myfi device by which we get really good internet service. We get service everywhere we have ever gone with a very few exceptions (mountains, deep valleys, etc.) I also have my grandson on our phone service (additional $15 monthly charge). Unlimited texting. Internet on iphones, too. Rollover data plan, too. Wife has a kindle. We have GPS in the Ram truck. Usually have 65 Gs of data capacity. Very pleased...except paying the bill each month. lol

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We go back to the bag phone days. Communication is vital for us. we now have two smart phones. Wife has a nook. We use the Verizon jet pack while on the road and during the winter in Florida. We still have DSL in the S&B but are considering giving it up. We like the DSL for the speed. C.G internet has improved greatly over the last 5 years or so but we rarely use it as it is easy to fire up the jet pack.

 

We have satellite TV and GPS. We were just talking about how did we ever get anywhere before we had GPS.

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When we hit the road back in 2006, we carried two smartphones - one on T-Mobile and one on Verizon, and we could tether from either. We also picked up an unlimited Sprint Express Card and Cradlepoint router that was our savored connection to the world. I can remember rejoicing at getting a solid 1xRT (aka '2G') signal when we stopped for the night so I could get some work done.

 

Then we added on a tripod mounted satellite dish to get online in more remote locations.

 

These days, we snagged an unlimited Verizon plan last fall after Millenicom went away, and a 40GB double data plan on AT&T for our smartphones. Between the two, and some cellular boosting magic - we keep online pretty well at amazingly fast speeds in most locations. We do have some WiFi repeating gear on board, but with our preferred style of being out in nature, we rarely use them.

 

We ditched the satellite dish almost 2 years ago - the trade-offs just are no longer worth it for us anymore.

 

 

- Cherie

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Kirk, we walked the same path as you starting in 1999 (except for the bagphone). Ran across some of my old Pocket Mail messages from 2001 in Europe last week!

 

Wife's health has force a downsize to a small condo for most of the year but still hope to get a couple of months. Millenicom has gone away while we transitioned. Now have cable at the condo, but returning to the road this summer will require some sort of MIFI. Since it'll only be for a few months a pay as you go seems to fit the need. Saw 6 different prepaid MIFI options at Wally World today. $10 a Gig seems to be the going rate. Straight Talk and Verizon seemed to have the best coverage maps: $100 for Verizon for 10GB; $90 for Straight Talk for 10GB, but the Straight Talk unused data can be rolled forward. Comments from users of either or both of these options, or others are appreciated. Hope to be on the road in about 5 weeks.

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We have Verizon's 20GB/$100 plan that was offered to former Millenicom subscribers, with $8/GB for overages. We've found we rarely go over by more than 2 or 3 GB, so it serves our needs well. I don't know if there's a similar plan available to non-Millenicom subscribers. Our smartphones are with Tracfone and our average cost is about $10/month each buying annual service cards.

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When we first started fulltiming, I had a Verizon cell phone with Mobile Office software. It allowed me to connect to the Internet at 14.4 kb/s. It was slow and did not work everywhere. I also had an Ace of Spades modem that allowed me to use a conventional dial up account over the cell phone. It was also very slow but worked almost everywhere. As a backup I had (and still have) a Pactor modem connected to an HF radio. Using the amateur radio Winlink system, I can send and receive email anywhere in the world. If we were lucky, the campgrounds where we stopped had a phone line for dial up access.

 

In late 2003, I tried an aircard from Verizon. By today's standards, it was pathetically slow, but it was vastly superior to what I had been using. Unfortunately it only worked in a few, widely scattered locations and I returned it at the end of my 30 day trial. In 2004 I purchased a Hughes satellite system. It served me well until 2010 when I started having problems and could not get the support required to resolve the issue. By then the cellular system had been built out to the point it was almost ubiquitous. I switched to a Millenicom air card which I used until they went belly up.

 

We now use a combination of campground WiFi and a prepaid Straight Talk hotspot while traveling and have a DSL line at our lot in Florida. Toni and I also have smart phones with limited data plans for use in a pinch.

 

Safe Travels...

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We started fulltiming in 2000. It was a LOT different back then, as Kirk will tell you.

 

No wifi. But some parks had a modem hookup you could use with your laptop for 10-15 minutes (limit). That was RARE. We had a Pocketmail device as well, like Kirk. That did your email from a pay phone for free. YES, there were pay phones everywhere then. The dark ages. WiFi did not appear in many parks until 2004/2005. There were some earlier implementations, but we first started seeing WiFI in that era. The laptops I had in the early 2000's did not even have wifi radios in them.

 

Now we use two smartphones on Verizon (Note 3 and S4). A Jetpack 291 on Verizon for cellular data. Various cellular-capable routers (Primarily the WiFIRanger Go2) to run our private network. Our entire 5th wheel is wired with Ethernet. We have dozens (literally) of wifi capture devices for park wifi. But we rarely use them, since most park wifi is nowhere near as good and reliable in speed as 4G LTE cellular. We have a Wilson Sleek for boosting cellular signals, and various external cellular antennas, including directional antennas. We currently use a BoatAnt as our primary cellular antenna.

 

At the rate of propagation of the cellular technology, having wifi as a primary connection media for those that are mobile is certainly on the decline. If you are mobile and serious about connectivity then your money should probably be spent on cellular data capability with BOTH ATT and Verizon before investing a dime in wifi capture gear. (Mr. Technomadia - Chris - and I were just discussing this last night). The secondary cellular connection can just be a phone hotspot, but I still like having a dedicated modem/jetpack device for the primary cellular data connection. That is my opinion....

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I remember those days of lugging a laptop down to the RV park's office to plug in to download email! No surfing the Internet, though, as there was usually a time limit...10 minutes or so, rarely longer than 30 minutes. Some RV parks had a dedicated jack you could plug into; others had to unplug their fax or credit card machines. We, too, had a Pocketmail for downloading email plus a few other devices whose names I've long forgotten.

 

We went the satellite Internet route around 2007 and used that for several years. We then got a Mifi device and used that for a few years. For the past two years, we've used the hotspot feature on a smartphone for Internet access. Earlier this month, I upgraded to a new smartphone (Note 4) and an Ellipsis tablet. I'm now using the tablet as a hotspot.

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I started with a WiFi Ranger combined with a USB Stick cell modem, a Wilson Vehicle Booster Kit for an amp, and Millenicom as a service provider. I currently use a 291 Jetpack in a Wilson Sleek with a WireNg antenna. While the jetpack provides enough WiFi connections & range for my use, I still keep the WiFi Ranger for the rare times I use park WiFi connections. Currently using Verizon as a service provider (using the pricing deal offered for former Millenicom users) and have an AT&T iPhone with unlimited data (but no tethering).

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We use a Verizon Jetpack and if we are in a park that has wi-fi that works I use that for the little surfing I do. Of course we use the Jetpack for banking, etc. Then again all we have is a flip phone. After being a telephone man for 34 years, phones, etc. just don't excite me.,

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Yes, it has changed over the years... and now question, it will continue to change in the years ahead too.

 

We currently:

-Verizon Motorola RAZR M (Shopping Craigslist now for the Motorola Turbo.), grandfathered unlimited data plan with hotspot. This is our primary internet connection.

-ATT iPhone 5S also with unlimited data plan, but not hotspot.

(We retain two carriers, so that we have much higher probability to obtaining cellphone contact with family members. We have an elderly parent that makes remaining connected, very important to us. And yes, we've had locations where we both share the iPhone to check emails, when no Verizon or WiFi is available:)!)

-Wilson Sleek, with roof top Maximum Signal 39" antenna

-WiFiRanger GO2 with older Mobile Bullet and the new XT antenna. We too, use WiFi only when Verizon signal is weak. And we have a few times, used Connectify to pair a weak WiFi and weak Verizon signal, to provide a better internet pathway. We do use the WifiRanger via Verizon, to get the signal outside of the coach. The RAZR M Hotspot, does a good job inside of our 40' coach. Communication cabinet is in the bedroom, about 1/3 from the back of the coach. And the signal feed the front of the coaches Samsung Smart TV well, as well as lap tops too.

 

Future updates:

-Replace the Wilson Sleek with one of the more robust amps. Waiting for Maximum Singal's.

-Do a final review of rooftop antennas to pair with the newer amp, currently also leaning to the BoatAnt.

 

Though it has typically not been a problem, the removal of the Verizon phone and the lost of internal WiFi Hotspot, would probably not fly for many. My wife uses her ATT iPhone 5S 85%+ of the time while in or outside of the coach. Even when ATT has no or poor signal, as then she'd connect to the WiFiRanger via WiFi and continue to use it... So for us, the lost of the Verizon Hotspot when I take it to go somewhere, has very little impact.

 

Fun times, with many changes coming down the pipeline!

Best to all,

Smitty

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We now have an iPhone 6 and a LG G3 with 40 GB on ATT with rollover and use the phones hotspots most of the time. Also have a prepaid Verizon Jetpack we put money on when ATT coverage is bad.

Later,

J

PS. In days gone by I tethered to my Iridium sat phone to check email and SMS messages. This set up was super s-l-o-w but the only thing going when standing in the middle of nowhere.

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It is interesting to me the way so many have traveled pretty much the same paths for internet access over the years on the road. Back when Jack & I hit the road (the same year) email was gaining importance but surfing the net was mostly a hobby. It has been very interesting to observe the growth & improvements in access over the relatively short period of time. I am often amused by those who hang on to the past from fear the electronic world will control them as I find that the best versed users are the same ones who control its use best & most. Is refusing to get a smart phone so very different than it was when some insisted that automobiles would never replace the horse for transportation?

These days, we snagged an unlimited Verizon plan last fall after Millenicom went away, and a 40GB double data plan on AT&T for our smartphones. Between the two, and some cellular boosting magic - we keep online pretty well at amazingly fast speeds in most locations........

 

We ditched the satellite dish almost 2 years ago - the trade-offs just are no longer worth it for us anymore.

It was our conversation with the two of you and some of the information you shared at Escapade in Tucson which inspired us to dump our DSL line at our home-base and go completely with the smart phones as our connection. Thanks to people like the "Technomadia" and the "Geeks on Tour" it is very easy for one to learn the new skills and uses for the latest in phones, without the need to be be part of the "bleeding edge" in the way we once needed to be. I know of nobody who is any more "connected" than the two couples mentioned, yet we have spent a fair amount of time with each and not one time has either of them been interrupted by their phones or been glued to the electronic device while ignoring the people around them. The true tech experts control their devices allowing the devices to make life easier and never allow a device to control them or to interrupt their personal relationships.

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The true tech experts control their devices allowing the devices to make life easier and never allow a device to control them or to interrupt their personal relationships.

Exactly. I can not go "backward". I want more capabilities, not less. I can control both myself and the technology just fine. Bring on more conveniences that allow me more free time to allocate as I wish. Time is the valuable property. And used properly, technology allows you to better allocate your time to the things you want to do.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're about a year out from our planned retirement. We recently purchased our coach and are now using it almost weekly for short local trips. This past week was our longest trip to day (6 days) - and the first that I've tried working my day gig from the coach (I perform network analysis work for a large financial institution). I put in 3 eight hour days using a Verizon MIFI hotspot. The hotspot was showing "3 bars" where we were parked - and I did not experience any connectivity disruptions. I burned thru roughly 175 MB of data each day - and performance wasn't noticeably different from that which I get when working from my cable modem at home. Granted ... most of my work is basically an RDP session with servers in my organization's data center - so it's pretty much just screen scrapes and keystrokes crossing the network.

 

I was so impressed with how well it worked - that I'm seriously rethinking my retirement plans. It's highly likely that I may simply reduce my hours to "part time" and continue to work for a 2-3 more years - doing it 100% remotely. Fortunately, my organization is amenable to arrangements like this (I currently work from home 3-4 days each week ... so going to 100% remote work isn't much of a stretch).

 

I'm now looking into a more "permanent" setup for the coach - and am considering a Cradlepoint router (COR IBR600LPE-VZ) and a signal booster (specifics on that are still TBD).

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Hey SpaceNorman - Good for you, what a great opportunity to transition into an on the road shorter work week as you slide into full time retirement ahead!

 

Much depends upon where you are, and signal strength. Even when my wife and I were on vacations, we both had to check in with our places of work and do support from the road. My company provided a Sprint MiFi, and both had our VPN's. The first trip out, we had not amp. And in the Southwest where we were traveling, we had a few days of no coverage, and a few days of watching the screen fill in slowness.

 

We bought the then Sleek 3G amp, and used it's small antenna on a broom pole sticking up as high as I could get it. We had better coverage with this.

 

I then got a Droid on a Verizon plan, with unlimited data, as my personal phone. We found that it had much better coverage in the places we traveled then the Spring MiFi. So it gave me to options to connect. Still riding in the 3G Sleek.

 

I'll skip some steps, but we are now both retired, but still want the internet with as strong of data signal as we can get. I have an newer droid 4G now (a bit old itself, at it's a RAZR M). We bought the Sleek 4G amp for Verizon (they now have a universal that is a good way to go if buying a Sleek), and a roof top antenna feeding it. We've also added a WiFi Ranger, that broadcasts the signal for us while in or out of the coach. It can also pick up park wifi when available, and has a Bullet type antenna on the roof too.

 

We just placed our order for the long await Maximum Signal new amp. Read up on amps by checking in some older thread here until you find Technomadia link to their analysis on amps. Or go to their web page:

http://www.technomadia.com

 

Some good reading on options for connecting well while on the road.

 

IMO, depending upon where you travel - invest some into a better connectivity method then a stand alone MiFi. It will help you in marginal areas, and allow you other options then staying in parks or places close to main cell towers. And, since it is for business, you might check to see if it could be written off on your taxes:)!

 

Have fun, and congrats on having this option!!

Smitty

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Kinda the same here. We first went on the road in '94. Did the Pocket Mail, take the gadget to a pay phone, same as Jack and Kirk. Tried Hughes Net Sat but after 2 years and not being able to speak "India English" gave up on that.

 

Got a 3G Verizon card and a CradlePoint 500 in '08. We were in tall cotton then. Now my 3G is slowing down and I have got to do something. Wife is on her 2nd or 3rd "smart phone" and I have my T Mobile phone that I turn on maybe once a year.

 

Got to do something, just don't know which way to go. Too many options today.

 

Jim

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I guess we did just like many here. Our first bag phone was $599, but I used that in my business as well. Then we got the

Pocket Mail, and thought that was the neatest thing yet. BTW, I have a brand new one if interested. Then went with the Sprint

thingy in the laptop, and that was kinda neat, and slow, and no service much of the time. Then got the Hughesnet w/tripod, and

the bird on the wire, until we had to change satellites, then the bird did not work, so we just quit Direct TV, because we had

250 channels of nothing to watch anyway. Still have the Hughesnet tripod system until something better comes along.

For us, and the places we go, none of the phone companies will work. I know they work for many of you folks, but we boondock

most of the time in the SW, and trust me, we would seldom have service.

So, until something better comes along, I guess that's what I'll keep.

 

Dick T

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We are snowbirds just back from our first winter in the US. We just started fulltiming and I luckily bought into Millenicom about 2 weeks before the Verizon takeover. So far in our 6 months in the US we had no problems getting a good Verizon signal, using a Wilson 4G booster when needed. I have a Wind Mobile phone that gives me unlimited talk from US to Canada but signal is often hard to get - its on T-mobile network. I bought a Go2/wifi ranger but so far I havent actually used it. We only spent about 2 weeks in trailer parks and most of the time we boondocked so WiFi wasnt available. On our return to Canada I was able to get a Rogers WiFi hub and a 20Gb data plan. I had to buy the hub for $280 and the plan is $90/month but I guess thats not too bad. I feel like I'm on a starvation diet tho. At home we had cable internet and I used to DL all my TV shows online rather than watch network TV. I could stop and start when I liked and no commercials. Sadly those days are over. On the good side I dont feel I want to watch more than one or two shows a day so my needs are a lot less.

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