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If you want to work on the road, you need RV internet. Which unfortunately isn’t as simple as setting up internet in a house.
Today we are bringing back Chris and Cherie of RV Mobile Internet to share the best options and updates on internet for RVers in 2021.
Chris and Cherie are OG full-time digital nomads and have been traveling for nearly 15 years! They both work on the road and knew that this lifestyle couldn’t work long-term without solid internet. After years of testing and experience, they’ve become the gold standard for understanding and finding gear for internet for RVers.
Like us this past year, Chris and Cherie have stayed put and focused on their business. (Darn you, COVID) We all have businesses in the RV space that have boomed in the past year because the demand for RV life is so high right now.
The world has finally caught up with all of us and realized that taking life on the road is awesome.
Before we dive into this week’s episode details, I want to give a quick shoutout to this week’s unsponsored sponsor, Future Joy Music! Thanks guys!
So how do you get reliable internet for RVers? Chris and Cherie shared a few big things you should know!
If you’re working on the road, knowing where you will have internet signal tends to dictate your travel plans. If you have backup options for staying connected, you can (almost) always stay connected.
For example, we use an unlimited AT&T data plan for our hot spot and main internet connection.
But we also have unlimited Verizon data on our phones that we can tether to our computers as a backup.
And we also use a wifi extender in case we need to use RV park wifi. (RV park wifi has improved leaps and bounds in the past few years! Chris and Cherie share a few reasons why in the podcast episode.)
Redundancies will improve your chances of staying connected.
This is also something employers love to hear you have in place if you’re working remotely. Being able to say “Don’t worry boss, if this doesn’t work, here’s my backup plan, and my backup backup plan” goes a long way!
This does NOT have to be hugely expensive to set up either.
We pay $105/month for unlimited AT&T, our unlimited data plans on our phones costs the same as 10 GB of data would cost us, so that was a no brainer upgrade, and the wifi extender we use is built into newer RVs. (And I’ll cover more internet gear you’ll need in a sec!)
Unlimited Data is…Gone?
When we started RVing in 2014, you had basically one internet option: unlimited data.
Now, carriers don’t offer truly unlimited data plans anymore. (You’ll have to search for a grandfathered plan from a third party vendor.)
Most “unlimited” data plans have hidden caps, ones that even the sales people probably don’t know about. So before you buy an unlimited data plan from a carrier, read the fine print.
Do they throttle after 35 GBs? Because throttling in our experience means your internet goes from speedy to won’t-load-anything in a snap.
(Chris and Cherie do recommend an AT&T plan by Cricket in the episode!)
Despite the limitations of data, cellular data is still the best option for staying connected (other options would be relying on RV park wifi or lugging around a satellite with your RV).
If you can find a grandfathered unlimited data plan, it can be the best way to stay connected on the road. However, because carriers are cracking down on data plans that use lots of data every month (think 250+ GB), these data plans are becoming more scarce.
Internet Gear You (Probably) Need
In addition to a hotspot (sometimes called nighthawk, jetpack, velocity, unite, and other random names depending on where you buy it), you may consider a few pieces of gear to boost and extend your internet signal.
So to make it overly simple, here’s a quick reference list of some of the types of gear Chris and Cherie mention in their interview:
- weBoost cell booster This boosts your cell signal from your carrier and can be installed on your RV.
- Netgear MIMO antenna This is not a cell booster, but works similarly. You plug in into your hotspot and can move it around your RV to the location with the best cell signal. It works better than a cell booster about 70% of the time according to Chris and Cherie.
- Pepwave Max Router This is one of the newer internet developments in the past few years. A router can help you stay connected to the strongest internet option in your arsenal, but it’s on the more expensive side when it comes to RV internet gear.
- Winegard Wifi Extender For connecting to RV park or public wifi, this is going to extend signal into your RV if you’re far away from a router. This doesn’t boost your internet speeds like a cell booster does, but can be most helpful in RV parks where you’re likely far away from the internet source.
- King WifiMax Extender Same function as above, but this extender is slightly cheaper and was built into our last RV, the Winnebago Forza. More and more RV manufacturers are starting to build wifi extenders into their new rigs.
So what should your RV internet setup look like?
I know, not what you want to hear, right?
But everyone has different needs!
Someone doing Youtube needs amazing upload speeds.
Someone doing Zoom calls with customers five hours a day needs more redundancies.
Someone who blogs like me and doesn’t have tight deadlines, doesn’t need a complicated internet setup.
Chris and Cherie lay out a ton of options in the podcast episode, which is why if you’re trying to figure out the best internet set up for you in 2021, I recommend listening to episode for their expert advice.
In the full episode, Chris and Cherie dive into the major changes internet for RVers has faced in the past few years and how to get internet on the road this year. They cover:
- How to stay connected for working remotely
- How unlimited data options have changed
- Who the top 2 carriers are for data (and it’s not who we thought!)
- How throttling works
- What 5G even is
- How close Starlink is to nationwide internet access
And if you don’t what throttling means or 4G or boosters or any of those tech terms you’ve seen thrown around when RVers started talking internet, don’t worry. Chris and Cherie do a truly amazing job of taking something really complicated and technical like internet and explaining so it makes sense.
Other Helpful Links Mentioned in the episode:
- Cricket Wireless (for an AT&T plan for about $90/month)
- RV Mobile Internet
- How to Use Your iPad as a Second Screen (Sidecar)
- Visible by Verizon
- The RV Entrepreneur Facebook Group