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RV Satellite Internet, Mobile Internet, Portable Internet

 As increasing numbers of Americans and Canadians take to the roads, the question arises, how do I have internet access while traveling.

Termed by some as rv internet, mobile internet, portable internet, or WiFi, the goal is the same, take my internet with me. Options are limited for those who are not in a hotel room with DSL or a phone dial up port.

Let me share some of the pros and cons of the different options, and the price variations.

First enhancement on the scene was WiFi. WiFi works when you have a wireless enabled computer or use a wireless card in your computer. Costs vary between $3.00 to $5.00 per day, depending upon the hotspot you are in. There is an advantage to being close to the WiFi antenna which broadcasts the signal. If you are close, the speed is great and you can sign up a day at a time for service, without being tied to a contract. And once you have your wireless card or wireless enabled computer, there is no additional equipment to buy.

The disadvantages are the farther you are from the antenna, the lower the signal strength available to you, therefore less and less speed and reliability. The major disadvantage to most WiFi systems is the lack of encryption. Therefore, your sensitive information can be obtained by the less than honest thief. Identity theft is on the rise each day.

WiFi hotspots are available in many rv parks, airports, hotels, coffee shops, and truck stops. They are also being added to some states roadside parks.

 The second option is the roof mounted systems that you see on motorhome roofs. Most of these systems are automated, meaning that they automatically seek out your assigned satellite. Some systems work without a phone connection, and some require at least a connection through your cell phone to sight in your satellite. After your system has locked onto the satellite, the phone connection is no longer necessary. These systems are wonderful! But very expensive! Costs vary from $4,000.00 to $6,000.00.

Before you try one of these systems, verify the warranty on the roof of your rig. Many manufacturers will not honor a roof warranty once these systems have been installed. The major provider of internet satellite service to these setups is Direcway, and monthly charges are about $100.00 per month. And be aware that these are stationary systems, not for use in motion.

A 3rd option is to use an Air Card for your cell phone. The card basically functions as an antenna to pick up the satellite signal. Price varies from $150.00 to $300.00. There are monthly usage plans starting at about $80.00 per month, or you may be able to use your cell phone minutes. However, speed is similar to dial up, but it does function in motion, so if you are a passenger traveling down the highway, you would be able to access the internet. However, once again, your data is no more secure than it is using your cell phone for a telephone call.

A 4th option is the mobile internet satellite system, or tripod system. While these systems are not sanctioned by Direcway, who will tell you that a Certified Installer must install your system on a stationary mount, such as roof mount or pole mount in your yard, there are many hundreds of rvers out there currently using the system.

Most important is to work with a dealer who will provide good technical support if you should need it. Be wary of dealers who don't return phone calls when you're interested in buying a system. If they won't return phone calls when you're a potential customer, it's doubtful that they will be interested in handling your tech support calls.

The FCC requires that these 2 way satellite systems, meaning they send as well as receive data, unlike a tv dish, be mounted at least 5 feet above the ground. You are looking for a sturdy, stabilized tripod system rather than a spindly tripod which will not hold up well in the wind. Also be sure that your system is grounded.

The new DW7000, produced by Hughes ,which in a few days from this writing will be purchasing Direcway, who will become HughesNet, is a great improvement over the old DW4000's and DW6000's. They're faster and very reliable. These systems range in price from $1400.00 to $2300.00, with monthly service packages at $59.99 or $69.99 per month. Your service will be available in the U.S., Southern Canada, and Northern Mexico with a standard sized dish.

There is a learning curve to this set up, but once you have set your system up about 3 times, it should only take you about 5 to10 minutes to sight in your dish. They store very compactly, and many people find that letting the dish ride in the rig on the bed is the easiest way to transport that part of the system. The downside is that you have to move your system and re-sight the dish at each new location. The upside is that the data that passes through these systems is encrypted, so your sensitive information is safe, other than the normal risks associated with doing business on the internet.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you as you investigate the possibilities of taking your internet with you.

If I can answer any questions, just drop me a line!

About the Author

Cheryl is owner of  She is a full time rv'er, published author, webmaster, addiction counselor, and professional relationship intuitive. She maintains a home base on a private lake in Gilmer, Texas.

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