How do you get internet in an RV? What is the best RV internet setup? Do you need an RV internet booster? Read on to learn about RV internet solutions.
A lot of RVers choose a life on the road to get away from all the worries of the world, including the internet. But full-time RVing means working while you travel. So how do you get internet when you're on the road? Staying connected is a big part of any RVing journey; you don't just need the internet for work but also for things like booking parking spots and paying your bills, checking in with family and friends, and much more.
So how do you get internet in an RV? Is there such a thing as unlimited internet for RV? Read on to learn about the best RV internet options.
Mobile Data and Hotspot
Mobile data is one of the most popular ways of getting internet in your RV. With today's 4G and 5G mobile internet packages, you get internet speeds and connectivity that rivals (and sometimes even surpasses) those of cable internet. Mobile internet service for RV isn't just limited to getting internet access in your phone, you can also boost the signal to use the same internet access on other devices. You can do that by using the internet booster on your cellphone.
Most new cellphones have an in-built feature to convert your smartphone into a mobile hotspot. Once you activate the feature on your smartphone you can connect any nearby device to your mobile data. Whether it is your laptop, tablet, smart TV, or any other smart device, all of them can use the internet from your mobile hotspot. Just bear in mind that doing this can easily rack up your mobile phone bills so keep an eye on how much data you consume.
Mobile Hotspot Router
Using your cellphone as a mobile router may also affect the performance of your cell phone. Your cell phone battery will drain faster, it might get really hot, and the speed of some mobile functions may also be affected. One way to make sure this doesn't happen is to use a mobile hotspot device. Many cellphone service providers now sell mobile hotspot devices that are designed for providing internet services specifically. You can find dongle mobile hotspot devices that can be connected to your device's USB port, you can also find stand-alone devices that act as the cable internet router at your home.
Mobile Data Signal Boosters
A lot of full-time RVers suggest getting RV internet boosters. These devices don't provide access to RV Wi-Fi, they only boost the signal to your phone service for increased internet speed. Most RV wifi boosters come with an antenna that you can install on the roof of your RV. The RV wifi antenna releases a signal that bounces off other cell phone towers to bring your service closer to home. You can buy WiFi boosters for as low as $50 but the best RV wifi booster can cost up to $500 (and more). If you’re working on the road and need reliable RV WiFi, they are the best way to ensure you’ll have access to mobile data even in remote places.
How to pick the right cellular carrier and data plan?
Mobile internet is only as good as your cellular data service provider. Choosing the right service provider can get a little tricky, especially since all cellular carriers provide competitive data plans. It all boils down to which provider has the most coverage and the best data plans. Here are some of the most popular cellular carriers in the US.
T-Mobile RV Internet: T-Mobile recently expanded its coverage to reach far and wide in the US. Their international plans are some of the best in the market. If you're going to be staying at campgrounds and coasting along bigger cities, then T-Mobile is your best bet.
AT&T RV Internet: AT&T has the second-best coverage map in the market. Their Unlimited & More Premium plan gives users live TV, unlimited talk, text, data, and a 15GB hotspot.
Verizon RV Wifi: Verizon has the best 4G coverage map in the market. It is the most popular RV internet provider for full-time RVers and travelers. If you're looking for unlimited internet for RV, then you can't go wrong with Verizon unlimited plans: GoUnlimited, BeyondUnlimited, and AboveUnlimited.
Advantages of Mobile Data Internet Access
Access to RV internet almost everywhere
Convenience of wireless internet
Internet speeds and coverage rivals cable internet
Some service providers offer unlimited data plans
Disadvantages of Mobile Data Internet Access
Dependance on mobile signal strength
May not be possible to get internet everywhere
Data plans may be costly
Have to invest in additional gear like mobile hotspots and signal boosters
Cellular Data RV Internet Recommended for
A lot of RV campgrounds have Wi-Fi hotspots installed that RVers parked there can access either for free or for a small fee. RV park wifi works in the same way cable internet does; you park at the campground and connect to the RV wi-fi router as you would in your home. But remember not all RV parks have internet access and finding RV parks with high-speed internet may not be so easy.
Campgrounds aren't the only place you can get access to public wi-fi, you can also use free wi-fi services at places like Mcdonalds, Starbucks, Lowes, and more. But no matter which public wi-fi you use, you need to make peace with the fact that internet speeds will vary and you might not be able to access everything.
RV Wi-Fi Extenders
How to boost wifi signal in an RV park? You can install wi-fi extenders to get the most out of campground wi-fi. The best wifi extender for RV takes a weak Wi-Fi signal and boosts it so your devices can use it regardless of your distance from the wi-fi router in the park. So no matter where you are parked, you can still get a good signal. You can also use wi-fi extenders to use the internet from other public areas, for example, borrowing the wi-fi at Mcdonalds while parked near one.
Advantages of Public Wi-Fi Internet Access
A good way to get free wifi for RV
Good option if you're parked at a campground
Can be fast
Disadvantages of Public Wi-Fi Internet Access
Speeds are usually very slow
Limited internet access, streaming might not be possible
RV park wifi systems are unsafe
Public Wi-Fi RV Internet Recommended For
Staying parked at RV parks and campgrounds for long
Emergency use when you run out of data on your mobile
Another way to get internet on the go is to install a satellite on top of your RV and get internet through a satellite internet provider like Viasat (formerly WildBlue) or HughesNet. The setup is similar to the one you would use for satellite TV. Once you install a satellite internet setup you can add some additional equipment and get access to satellite TV as well (but this cannot work the other way around).
How to get satellite internet for RV?
The first thing you need to do is choose a satellite internet provider. Viasat boasts faster internet speeds but HughesNet plans tend to be more affordable. Once you choose a provider and a plan, it is time to buy some equipment for your RV wifi setup. You will need to buy a satellite, satellite modem, and cables to connect the Internet to your PC. You will also need to figure out if you want a roof-mounted or a tri-pod mounted satellite dish. A roof-mounted satellite dish is more expensive and increases the height clearance of your rig. However, it works automatically and gets a better signal. A tripod-mounted satellite dish is cheaper but will need to be installed and uninstalled every time you want to use the internet.
Advantages of Satellite Internet Access
The only option to get internet anywhere and everywhere
One-time setup required
Disadvantages of Satellite Internet Access
Setup is complicated and expensive
Slow internet speeds during peak hours
Restrictive access policies
Weather can affect connectivity
Satellite RV Internet Recommended For
Boondocking or dry camping in the wilderness
Long-term stays in areas where cellular and wi-fi data is not available
Cable and DSL
Cable and DSL internet can be installed in an RV that stays parked in one location. Many RVers use their RV as a home base and use another smaller vehicle to get around. The trailer or RV usually stays parked in the same place which can be a campground or a land legally owned by you. The cable will be installed much in the same way it is installed in our houses. You can use a wi-fi router to make sure you have access.
Some campgrounds also offer cable and DSL internet access to RVs parked on their premises. In fact, it is one of the premium amenities offered by higher-end RV parks. These amenities are usually targeted towards seasonal RVers who leave their trailers parked in the campground for the season.
Advantages of Cable Internet Access
Fastest and most reliable internet access
Disadvantages of Cable Internet Access
Only suitable for RVs parked in one place
Will need to add on other internet options like a mobile data plan when traveling
DSL RV Internet Recommended For
RVs parked in the one place indefinitely
What is the Best RV Internet Setup?
Getting internet while traveling in an RV can get tricky especially if you're planning to camp in the wilderness. Whether you want to use RV internet for gaming, streaming, or simply checking your email, it is important that you have a reliable internet connection. The best full-time RV internet option depends on a number of factors like where you plan to travel and park your rig, your internet usage, and your budget. Choose the RV wifi option that suits your needs and pocket.