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Old 02-20-2017, 08:29 AM   #1
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Alternative to Satellite?

Is anyone using a cell hot spot and unlimited data as an alternative to satellite TV? If so what plan, what apps, do you just watch movies, can you get regular programing and news? We usually stay in state or federal CGs and are considering satellite but first want to check on the alternatives. The more detailed info the better.
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:58 AM   #2
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That is a complicated issue. With the advent of new unlimited cell plans you can now stream unlimited data for movies such as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu from your smartphone to your TV. Most plans (not AT&T...yet) allow unlimited streaming of HD video to your device with no limits or throttling. You will need an adapter for your phone to connect it to your TV HDMI connector, but with this done, you will be all set.

However, you will find it hard to get real time news in this way. Sure you can connect to FOX or MSNBC or whatever, but in order to stream in real time, you will need an account at a cable provider or satellite provider.

We also use a $200 crank up DirecTV dish (we already have an account at home) and stream from phones for movies, etc. The DirecTV is only SD but nothing is that important on real time news anyway.

You can also use your phone as a hot spot to connect to a streaming player like an Amazon Fire, Roku or Apple TV, but right now, those hotspot connections are limited to 10GB per month, per device. Now, with two phones you get 20 GB, but you will go through that easily with HD streaming and there are no applications for those devices for live news at the moment.

Works for us.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:07 AM   #3
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download an app called kodi. if you subscribe to dish or direct tv at home they will let you watch those programs on kodi. also lots of other programming on kodi. You may be able to screen mirror the cell phone picture to your newer televisions if not then I found an adapter at best buy that will plug in to the charging/usb port on your phone and convert it to hdmi. kodi also has access to the national channels nbc abc cbs and such. https://kodi.tv/
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:52 AM   #4
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We had subscribed to AT&T's DirecTV Now during the promo period (100 channels + HBO/Cinemax for $45 a month), got a free Apple TV by pre-paying three months of service and cancelled our cable at home.

Works great at the house so I decided to try it at the campsite this past weekend.

Using my T-Mobile $30 a month plan that includes 5GB of 4G data I set my phone up as the hotspot and opened DirecTV Now on a laptop. Worked great!

We watched several "live" channels for a bit and then a couple of full length on-demand movies. Approximately 4 hours of streaming and data usage according to TMobile was only 30mb. If you have an AT&T data plan they don't count DirecTV Now streaming against your data usage.

My plan is to get a small wifi router and install PLEX on a spare laptop with a 2TB drive where I can load a bunch of ripped Blu-rays, and another Apple TV for the flat panel in the camper. Setting up the router as a wifi repeater, I'll be able to broadcast my phone hotspot thru it and on the flat panel and any other device (phone, tablet, laptop) connected to the camper wifi network watch:

1) Movies from the laptop PLEX server (no data connection required)
2) Netflix
3) DirecTV Now
4) HBO Go

The PLEX media server won't need a data connection to stream local video, but for those campsites where I can't get a decent 4G signal I'm investigating 4G modems that support an external antenna that I can just move my SIM into.
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Austintatious View Post
We had subscribed to AT&T's DirecTV Now during the promo period (100 channels + HBO/Cinemax for $45 a month), got a free Apple TV by pre-paying three months of service and cancelled our cable at home.

Works great at the house so I decided to try it at the campsite this past weekend.

Using my T-Mobile $30 a month plan that includes 5GB of 4G data I set my phone up as the hotspot and opened DirecTV Now on a laptop. Worked great!

We watched several "live" channels for a bit and then a couple of full length on-demand movies. Approximately 4 hours of streaming and data usage according to TMobile was only 30mb. If you have an AT&T data plan they don't count DirecTV Now streaming against your data usage.

My plan is to get a small wifi router and install PLEX on a spare laptop with a 2TB drive where I can load a bunch of ripped Blu-rays, and another Apple TV for the flat panel in the camper. Setting up the router as a wifi repeater, I'll be able to broadcast my phone hotspot thru it and on the flat panel and any other device (phone, tablet, laptop) connected to the camper wifi network watch:

1) Movies from the laptop PLEX server (no data connection required)
2) Netflix
3) DirecTV Now
4) HBO Go

The PLEX media server won't need a data connection to stream local video, but for those campsites where I can't get a decent 4G signal I'm investigating 4G modems that support an external antenna that I can just move my SIM into.


I have AT&T cell service. If I get Direct tv At home I can stream live tv for as long as I want and display it on my RV TV? Is that correct.? Sounds too good to be true. I was just about to buy a satellite system.
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:12 PM   #6
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I have att and direct tv. I had a dish at the camper that mirrored my package. Worked great until the trees got to big and blocked the signal. It'd be worth it if I paid to hotspot my phone and stream off that. Assuming I could get a sufficient 4g signal, which may be an issue.
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cmccul View Post
I have AT&T cell service. If I get Direct tv At home I can stream live tv for as long as I want and display it on my RV TV? Is that correct.? Sounds too good to be true. I was just about to buy a satellite system.
If you get DirecTV NOW and have AT&T cell service, yes that is true.

https://directvnow.com/

"DATA FREE TV: DIRECTV NOW & select wireless customers in the U.S. (excludes PR and U.S.V.I.). Requires eligible DIRECTV NOW & AT&T data services. Excl. & restr. apply. Content varies and must be streamed through the DIRECTV NOW App. In-App streaming does not count against your data allotments."

AT&T has made it known that they intend to migrate DirecTV satellite subscribers to their new streaming service DirecTV NOW over the next few years. Makes sense, a server farm and bandwidth has to be much cheaper than LEO satellites. Their current model of not counting the streaming against your data allotments is sure to test Net Neutrality but I have a feeling considering the current climate they will prevail.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:41 PM   #8
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I bought a grandfathered Verizon Unlimited Data Plan and keep it in contract to hopefully avoid big bad Verizon from up and cancelling on me like they've done to others.

I use a Jetpack hotspot as the source of our Internet in the camper. I found that its range is really lacking- you can SEE the network for a good distance, but anything more than 10-15' (especially with walls in the way) and my speed dropped off significantly. To combat the range issues, I bought a WifiRanger and use that as the backbone of my network. I thought I'd be able to suck in free wifi from outside sources and bought the rooftop antenna- but the reality is, my self-carried cellular wifi is better than most anything I connect to and I never even try other sources any longer.

As a backup to my Verizon plan, I have AT&T on my cell phones and I have a hotspot with them. I'm only on a 15gb shared data plan (3 phones + the hotspot share the same pool of data). I don't allow the family to stream on it when we're switched over to it. I recently caught a promotion by Verizon for a "home internet and phone" plan- where you buy a special piece of hardware and you get a 250gb plan for $60/month. This will let me switch between the 2, depending on whoever has the better service wherever I am. And it'll let me drop the hotspot from my shared data plan.

(I honestly find a pretty even split between AT&T and Verizon for speeds where one is significantly better than the other or they're pretty much the same. I can't say one provider is better than the other. In areas like Florida in the winter where you have such a high concentration of snowbirders, the cellular towers are overwhelmed and speed sucks no matter which- I always have the option of going with T-Mobile in that case but haven't signed up for that yet.)

The nice part about the WifiRanger is that I can switch everyone from one network to the other easily. No one/nothing is supposed to connect directly to the hotspot. So when I switch the WifiRanger, it in turn switches all of the devices.

And finally- we have a Roku at each TV. Alternative products for the TV are Chromecast and Apple TV. On the Roku, I have Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Each phone/tablet has the same apps as well as my son's tablet has things like Nick Jr and PBS Kids.

Here are a couple of articles that might help:
http://learntorv.com/mobile-internet-on-the-road/

http://learntorv.com/cellular-wifi-and-networks-oh-my/
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Old 02-22-2017, 01:49 AM   #9
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tdiller mentioned watching video content using an app called Kodi.
It works pretty well and there are pre-programmed add-ons that give you a user experience similar to Netflix.
I added this to my Amazon Fire TV Stick which seems to have an Android-like operating system. Kodi is also available for some phones and video can be screen mirrored with some phone/tv combinations. Like Roku, as long as I have a decent wi-fi signal I can find a wide variety of entertainment for those rainy rv days.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:12 AM   #10
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I want to thank everyone that responded for all the good info. Given that we are ľ timers, the cost of equipment and plans make satellite impracticable for us. It seems the cell plans with the unlimited video we would want donít have the coverage we would need. Cell plans are constantly changing, so weíll keep an eye out, but until we find what we need we are going to keep what we have. Hot spot for data, whatever broadcast TV we can find, recorded video and books.
I will use Kodi to set up all the recorded video on a laptop connected to the TV, that was a great suggestion.
Again, thanks to all for youíre responses.
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