By Rene Agredano
Getting online while RVing has become a necessity for everything from location research to keeping in touch with friends and family. While connecting to the web with your cell phone provider is becoming easier, many places still elude cell tower signals. That’s when having a mobile satellite Internet system comes in handy.
RVers can get online using one of two different types of mobile satellite hardware. The first is a fixed, rooftop-mounted dish that sets up with the push of a button. Although it’s the most expensive type of system, it’s convenient when you need to get online in a hurry. A stand-alone tripod with a mounted satellite dish is an inexpensive alternative, but the tripod must be manually pointed to an orbiting satellite using a GPS, which can be time-consuming.
Setup and Maintenance Costs
When you buy a rooftop mounted mobile satellite system, you’ll pay a professional installer a few thousand dollars for hardware and installation. Monthly Internet access fees start at around $100 and go up depending on your plan’s bandwidth speed allowance. A stand-alone tripod system costs less than $1,000 in hardware and at least $60 a month in access fees.
Pros and Cons of Mobile Satellite Internet
Mobile satellite Internet systems allow you to get online anywhere on the continent, but they’re not perfect. Connection speeds are slower than DSL, and hardware and software often needs fine-tuning for optimal performance. If you aren’t a mechanically-inclined, computer hardware geek, a rooftop mounted system probably isn’t for you. Tripod systems are less complicated, but can be cumbersome and tricky to connect to the web.
Mobile satellite Internet has its challenges, but it’s your best bet to ensure connectivity. For more information, check out the Datastorm Users Forum.
Rene Agredano and her husband Jim publish an excellent website about full-time RVing, LiveWorkDream.com.