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Old 02-08-2013, 10:37 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 199
BEST option for reliable internet/Working from the road

I've done some searching on the forums and can't find any threads that are very recent, so sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here...

Here's my situation. We are planning to take a 5-6 week trip from NC out to Grand Canyon, up though Colorado, on to Yellowstone and then back home through the Dakotas, etc. Problem is that I do have a job and only have 20 vacation days per year, AND I am the only one who does my job so can't be away for an entire month anyway.

The GOOD news is that I work from home full time already, so my boss is used to me not being in a physical office... all I need is a phone and internet to do my job.

SOOOO I'm hoping to convince the boss to let me hit the road this summer, taking about 15 days vacation time over the 6 weeks, and working the other days from the TT. In order for me to convince him this is a good plan, I MUST have reliable intenet for my laptop. It won't work if I get out there and then can't get my job done due to crappy internet.

What I've found in almost every place we've stayed so far, is when a campground says 'WiFi', that even IF you can get a connection, it's almost impossible to find decent speed - ie, it's faster for me to check email on my cell phone than on my laptop, click and wait 5 minutes for pages to load - and absolutely no chance for any type of 'realtime' streaming, etc.

So, I'm considering my options for take-along internet.

Right now I'm leaning towards Verizon's hot spot. They seem to have the best coverage out west as compared to Sprint or ATT. Does anyone have specific experience with that at the Grand Canyon South Rim? That's where we will be for several of my 'working' days. How about West entrance to Yellowstone? Downsides are the long term contract. I won't really need it when I get back home... anyone have experience with their pay as you go service? Is it the same coverage area and speed as the contract version?

Also, I've done some research on Hughesnet satellite. Seems like the cons are that it's a bit expensive for the setup, but I'm willing to go there if it means I have 100% decent signal and no worries about a steady, good connection. I'm a former network support person, so I'm not concerned about it being a bit more techincally complex or finicky to setup - I figure I can handle that part of it.

So, any experience with HughesNet on an RV?

Just looking to get a good feel for what's out there, and if there is anything new over the past year or so...

Anyone else work from the road and have any wisdom to share?

2012 Flagstaff V-lite 30 WTBS
2011 Ford Expedition
4 kids and a hubby & never enough time to camp!
2011: 17 nights 2012: 26 nights 2013: 46 2014: 20 2015: 16
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:44 AM   #2
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I work on the road using AT&T and a HotSpot through my iPhone but I'm on the East Coast and generally have been near to major metro areas where the phone has consistently worked.

I did have one situation in Colonial Beach, VA that my connection was fine until the free nights and weekends Friday hit - about 7pm my connection speed dropped horribly to the point it was unusable (and in the middle of production troubleshooting; yeah, that went well).

I've heard about fulltimers using Millenicom (sp?):
Some blog about it

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Old 02-08-2013, 10:55 AM   #3
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I use the Verizon 4G not the hot spot, it plugs into my laptop. I went from Virginia to Oregon and back. We stopped at the Grand Canyon and never had a problem. I never ever went below a 3G connection. I travel a lot and it has not failed me yet. The cost for 5gigs that's the least you can get is $50.00 per month, I think you have to sign up for a 2 year contract. My contract is almost up. The hot spot would let you use more things off it. But saying that I'm not in Business either. Verizon is the best coverage in my opinion....
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:12 AM   #4
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I just changed to the Verizon share everything family plan so I can have wifi on the road this summer. With it, I can make my phone a hotspot at no additional charge, just make sure I have a sufficiently date package to cover everyone. I haven't tried it out yet, but that is how it is supposed to work. I don't know how the reception is at the GC, but it was ok around yellowstone.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:48 AM   #5
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I know a few people locally who have hughesnet for their home internet due to their rural location. They are generally indifferent about it. They claim the speeds are not true high speed like a landline, and that like all satellite based systems, it tends to degrade in certain weather conditions.

With a hotspot you could always look at the carriers map and try to find camprgrounds in their coverage areas.

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Old 02-08-2013, 09:45 PM   #6
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The biggest issue with Hughesnet is latency. It just takes a long time for a packet to travel 22000 miles up to a satellite and back down. If your work involves having to remotely access systems with a GUI you will be frustrated. CLI will seem slow but bearable. As always, your mileage will vary.
As an option to a dedicated mifi and its associated contract, you may want to look into tethering via your phone. Sometimes there are contractual advantages. If you're a Verizon customer, and not in an area with LTE service (likely given the plans you have), remember that you cannot talk and use data simultaneously. I hear that's not a problem anymore when using LTE but I have no firsthand experience.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:15 AM   #7
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We went with the Verizon great!!
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:34 AM   #8
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I have a Verizon phone and use the mobile hotspot for the one week per month that I'm on the road. I too "work from home" and my boss knows that "home is where my pillow is" and it's great to have that flexibility.

We are "quarter-timers plus" - since we are on the road one week out of each month - plus vacations and other occasional long-weekend trips and I always have my Verizon WiFi with me.

Robert & Estha Shiflet
'12 Columbus 320RS - 2015 Ford F-350 King Ranch & 2010 Ford F-250 King Ranch
Nights Camping 2012 & 2013 & 2014 & 2015: 458 ~ Nights Camping 2016: 95 So Far
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:06 AM   #9
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Another Verizon Jetpack user here. You can also use the newer smartphones as a mobile hotspot assuming you added that feature to your data plan. My Jetpack replaced DSL at home and now I can take it with me. I am online alot and go through about 4 gigs of data a month. Yes this is more expensive than DSL, cable modem, etc. but again it's mobile so I only need one data plan. IF you use standard internet service at your house AND a mobile data plan when you travel, the two plans will be more expensive than one mobile hotspot hosting device. Verizon = 4GLTE Jetpack. The other carriers are coming on board with their versions of this also.

4GLTE is WAAAAY faster than standard 4G. 3G is a joke for anything other than email and very slow websurfing. Remember all this stuff you pay for it.

Want free - go with free hosted wifi. Many companies installed wifi which is dirt cheap for them to do anyway! The idea is you will spend more time in their business and buy extra food/drink as you surf away. Panera Bread, McDonalds, Hardees, Culvers, coffee shops are good examples. Google free wifi locator to find them. This will get you started. Free Wi-Fi Hotspot Locators - Find Free Hotspots

All this techno mumbo jumbo confusing? Buy a teenager a large french fry and they will set you up in no time. They live online!
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:12 AM   #10
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I can't help you with the Grand Canyon, but in West Yellowstone the MiFi will work without problems. We use the Verizon Hot Spot when we travel and wouldn't be without it.

That sounds like an awesome trip you have planned. The scenery is spectacular.


Bob and Joyce
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