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Old 06-18-2014, 02:02 PM   #1
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Internet connectivity

OK, I did a forum search and could not find a direct answer. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home or on the road as long as I have a reliable internet connection. I am presently with Metro PCS and it is "ok" but I cant take a chance on being away from work for an extended period when I am out in the RV. What is everyone else using? AT&T, Verizon, etc? I don't mind switching and the cost is not a factor, reliability and dependability on the connection is.
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:09 PM   #2
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Hi Matt, and welcome to the Forums!! There are a couple of 1/2 time+ telecommuters on the FRF - they will probably see this post and respond.

In most cases, it has been our experience that Verizon is the best in terms of National coverage with AT&T being close behind. If price is no object, perhaps a MiFi from each will suit your needs (Or perhaps the MiFi from Verizon is all you will need)

Also, where you stay on the road is important. Almost all private RV campgrounds offer WIFI. There are WIFI booster antennas out there for @$200 that can snag a WIFI signal from as far away as several miles (I have plans on getting one of these!)

Hope this helps while we wait for the real telecommuters to weigh in on this
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:11 PM   #3
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Here are the coverage maps for the various carriers:

Coverage Maps For All Prepaid Carriers | Prepaid Phone News

Note that data coverage may be different from voice service, so be sure to check the details. Most people seem to feel that Verizon has the best coverage, but it all depends on where you need the service. If cost is truly not an issue, you could consider satellite service.
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:12 PM   #4
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I have AT&T and have been able to do most work via VPN and also stream some Netflix (ATT employee plan for data) in most locations I have been to. New Mexico was the exception and their WiFi wasn't going to cut it. I cannot speak to Verizon, but my DW has MetroPCS (that's going to change) and that I would not depend on at all due to limited coverage regardless of what their coverage map says. Particularly heading West.
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:23 PM   #5
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As mentioned above, you usually have two options: Campground wifi, or mobile hotspot.

Regarding campground wifi - it usually sucks. Sure, you get a great strong signal and connection to the router, but the campground usually has crummy dog slow service. On top of that, you're usually also fighting everyone else for a piece of that slow connection, and it slows down even further. Because of this, we almost always rely on our mobile hot spots provided by our phone.

Verizon, in my experience, has the broadest coverage. I can get a 3G signal from them most anywhere I go. I'm getting LTE high speed connections at some places now as well!

I cover both of my bases - I'll try the campground wifi and see if it's acceptable before using my expensive cellular data plan. Make sure you have a high enough data plan that you won't go over, because the cell providers love to charge you an exorbitant amount if you go over. Verizon lets me increase my plan through my iPhone via their app if I need to do so, on the fly. We've got 3GB by default, which usually covers us for a 4-5 day trip each month. Two week camping trip? 6GB+. (My wife uses the internet a LOT).

As Bob mentions, another failing of campground wifi is weak signal. Here's the antenna booster to get: Amazon.com: C. Crane US3 Super USB Wifi Antenna 3: Electronics

Yes, there will be folks that tell you to get a router, mod it with software that can extend the campground wifi, and put a big antenna outside. I'm an IT guy, and this method sucked. It was not very productive, and cost a bundle. The little Crane antenna I linked works great. I plug it into my Mac via the USB port, run the software provided, and then share that data coming in through my wifi to our other computers and mobile devices. (Yes, we're nerds, and travel with a lot of gear).

I'll be happy to answer further questions!
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:25 PM   #6
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It all depends on where you're going and what you need. AT&T is based off of GSM, Version is based off of CDMA. There's several debates about the validity of these two technologies, but generally I see them as:

GSM:
- Can use both voice and data on phone at same time
- Short distance to a cell tower therefore not as much fringe coverage.

CDMA:
- Can only use voice or data at one time
- Longer distance to a cell tower so better fringe coverage.

If you're using a hotspot device (mifi), I'd go with Verizon, since you should (in theory) get better coverage in the fringes where campgrounds are generally located.

If you're using your smartphone as a hotspot, I'd go with AT&T so you don't get kicked off the internet when a phone call comes in.
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for all of the great info. I have 4g coverage with Metro PCS right now, but last weekend at Ft Wilderness at Disney I could not get the hotspot to work and could not connect. At Disney! That made me mad. All I really need it for is internet connection and email, no streaming of large files so I don't think data usage will be a problem. I am checking out AT&T and Verizon hotspots now.
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:40 PM   #8
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I like to keep my cell phone separate so I have mobile broadband with T-Mobile that works for my needs. The cost is low because I am a T-Mobile customer.
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:35 PM   #9
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Hey Red - what is yout IT-pinion of these...read somewhere that this was the "idea" RV solution - not so sure now after seeing what you use (and we are Mac users as well LOL)

Amazon.com: Ubiquiti ROCKETM5 5GHz Hi Power 2x2 MIMO TDMA BaseStation: Computers & Accessories

Amazon.com: Ubiquiti Nanostation NSM5, 5GHz, 802.11a/n Hi-power 20 dBm Minimum, 2x2 MIMO AirMax TDMA PoE Station: Computers & Accessories

Amazon.com: Ubiquiti Networks NanoStation Window/Wall Mount: Computers & Accessories
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:11 PM   #10
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I use PdaNet/FOXFi for my laptop. It lets you use your phones 4G connection with your computer.

I do USB tethering, and its fast enough. I am grandfathered in on ATT unlimited data plan. They can tell if you use FoxFi for a WiFi hotspot, and they will pull your unlimited plan, but they cannot tell if you use USB tethering.

http://www.junefabrics.com/index.php

Tim
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