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Transportation Wireless Networking Hardware

(Near) Constant Internet While RV'ing? 438

Posted by timothy
from the use-a-thumper dept.
Neilio writes "What systems would Slashdotters recommend for staying connected while RV'ing across the US and Canada? While a 3G data plan seems obvious, the intrepid RV'er wants to get remote and into those parts of the coverage map that are usually gray (no coverage). But satellite can be expensive, includes high latency for VoIP and gaming, and requires a clear view of the southern sky. I've come across some intriguing products that use an amplified 2G/3G signal and bridge to WiFi, like WiFi In Motion, and CradlePoint's MBR1000 (I have no affiliation with either). Do folks have any experience with these, or can you recommend another approach (even homebrew)? While I am an electrical engineer by degree, you have to go back a few decades since I last expertly sported a soldering iron, so the less DIY the better. My wife and I now run a web-based business, so nearly daily connectivity is a must, no matter where we are."
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(Near) Constant Internet While RV'ing?

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  • random comments (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fred fleenblat (463628) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:21PM (#29444641) Homepage

    2-way sat modems are very tricky to set up the dish. You can't just point them with a compass and azimuth guess like you do with DBS...you have to get feedback about how well the satellite is receiving your uplink. And if you do get it pointed correctly, every time you walk around the RV you'll move the dish a little bit and lose the uplink. Also, the "flat" dishes you see on top of escalades that work in motion are receive only. You cannot use a 2-way sat modem while in motion, period.

    I think 3G is your best bet. I'd go with a cradlepoint and have a tetherable 3G phone (on a different network) as a backup. ( Possibly, you can plug two different providers' USB modems into the same cradlepoint and make handoffs seamless; you'd have to ask them to be sure.)

    If you can park near someplace near civilization you'll probably spot an open wifi in about 30 seconds.

    Final thing is if you're running a web-based business and can afford an RV and 3G phones and stuff, perhaps you can afford some employees to run the business for you while you go on an actual vacation.

  • Wifi (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WPIDalamar (122110) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:25PM (#29444707) Homepage

    Nationwide wireless internet sucks.

    Stay at campgrounds that offer Wifi, problem solved.

    KOA has tons.

    http://koa.com/ [koa.com]

  • by ndege (12658) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:42PM (#29444955)

    I admin a number of servers and work from home most days. My wife and I would love to live further out in the countryside without all the noise and light pollution. Most people that I mention this too have an instant solution: satellite. The problem that most people don't understand, and the problem I find myself explaining, is the concept of high latency. As I use SSH for my livelihood, low latency is extremely important.

    Most people don't understand the negative effect of latency on interactive real-time communication until I use the example of gaming. That's when people "get it"...even though I haven't playing anything online in a couple of years.

    The most important service to my life right now, and the way I earn my livelihood, is via SSH.

    Could it be that because he runs some webservers, he _might_ need SSH...that, and he might have kids and/or a spouse that likes to game?

    Seems reasonable to me.

    Just FYI, I do agree with a post from another thread that explains it this way:

    1. user wishes to be out in the sticks
    2. user wants connectivity
    3. connectivity isn't always available in the sticks.
    4. therefore user isn't always able to get connectivity when in the sticks.
    5. profit?

  • by ahoehn (301327) <andrew@noSpAM.hoe.hn> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:54PM (#29445161) Homepage
    I donno, these [globalxvehicles.com] are pretty #&$**!@ intrepid. Or at least, built to allow for some rather intrepid RV'ing. So, you know, it could happen. We live near the hospital that commissioned this particularly ridiculous piece of machinery [unicatamericas.com], and every time I see it, I get filled with the desire to drive over some shit. In a very manful way.
  • Exactly the opposite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:09PM (#29446331)
    No, it is not. Since I telecommute and I homeschool my child, I have seriously considered packing up an RV and traveling the country. When we want to study the Civil War, we could go spend some time actually visiting historic battles sites. When we want to study the Revolution, we can go to Boston and look at the Boston Harbor. When we study desert ecosystems, we could go to the desert. In fact, for me, I don't want to go RVing to get away from it all. I want to go RVing to get TO it all.
  • Re:What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:22PM (#29446533) Homepage Journal
    "I advise forgetting the RV and traveling by hotel instead. I do a lot of traveling and all hotels have internet connectivity, even it's just a phone line. The better hotels let you connect direct to an ethernet line, like the one I stayed at in Oklahoma City which only cost ~$800 a month with free net access.

    And the distance from the hotel to "nature" is typically only half-an-hour. You can go picnic, enjoy the outdoors, and then come back to the hotel for a hot shower and free cable TV."

    I've wanted to do this kind of trip by motorcycle!! If I could somehow get 2-3 weeks off, and friends that could do the same, and just to the 'iron-butt' ride around a good bit of the US.

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:51PM (#29446899)

    advocating common sense on Slashdot!?

    Except it's not common sense. Common sense says a person doesn't need to be always connected. I know when I'm out hiking, with my camera equipment and laptop, I'd like to be able to upload photos and updates occasionally. I oppose being always available but connecting perhaps once or twice a day may be good.

    Falcon

  • by blincoln (592401) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:53PM (#29446931) Homepage Journal

    But will it work outside of major metropolitan areas?

    I live in Seattle. Last month I drove out to Yellowstone and camped there for three nights. My G1 (T-Mobile service, of course) had only roaming coverage east of Spokane (Washington). That meant no data access* in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming. None. Good thing I was always planning on using Streets and Trips on my laptop if necessary and not Google Maps, eh?

    Three years ago I went on a long loop drive that took me as far east as Ohio. I had a Nextel phone at the time. I had no coverage at all east of Spokane (even in Chicago!). I had a work-provided BlackBerry at the time (AT&T coverage, I think) which was more reliable, but I still had to be in a reasonably populated area to get a signal.

    The thing about the US is that in the middle of the continent, populations are *very* spread out. There are many, many areas where there's just no economic incentive to provide cell coverage, because there aren't enough customers to justify it. And that's in regular areas. If you're the National Park Service, are you really going to want telecom companies throwing up cell towers on your land? I was really happy I visited all those places, but it was also a huge eye-opener about how different things are when you get away from the coasts (including the coasts of the Great Lakes).

    * I suppose if you're Daddy Warbucks you might be able to use roaming data coverage, but as I'm not I didn't test whether that actually works or not.

  • Red Ball Internet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RyDog (1638931) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:31PM (#29448705)
    I highly recommend you check out Red Ball Internet hxxp://www.redballinternet.com They have some pretty sweet highspeed mobile wireless solutions.
  • by AugstWest (79042) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:44PM (#29448813)

    The only technology that blankets the planet is satellite. No other signal has the reach. It's that simple.

    It isn't just HughesNet anymore, there are other companies in the space (get it?) now too, like WildBlue [wildblue.com], Skycasters [skycasters.com] and some others.

    I would highly recommend picking up a portable satellite setup like you'll find by clicking on my signature. I'm not really shilling for it, it's my father-in-law's hobby business, but he has come up with some pretty cool stuff.

  • Re:freak (Score:3, Interesting)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @10:13PM (#29449477)

    most people (ie, non-slashdotters) take the RV to get away from the constant barrage of tech and telecom, to see sights not (web)sites, to look out the window and not at Windows.

    Some of those people like to photograph, write, and otherwise document it too. Even when camping or hiking I like bringing my camera with me. When I was in the army my commanding officer made me the unit's photographer because no matter where we went to out in the field, my military occupation specialty or MOS was small arms specialist or infantry [wikipedia.org], I always took my camera. We didn't have laptops or the web then but with them and a digital camera I could go crazy shooting pictures and uploading them. Once the unit went to an Army base in Alaska for winter warfare training for 3 weeks. I took 11 rolls of film, 4 rolls of black and white film with 24 exposures the CO gave me and 7 rolls of 36 exposure colour film. I shot every shot before the first week was over. I could fill up drives for digital camera faster.

    Or I could take my camera with me scuba diving, which I also love doing. I could go under water and fill up my storage, then upload the photos to a server before back in the water.

    Quite simply, just because you may not think of a use for wireless access out in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean there aren't good reasons to have it. Another use for wireless access is medical, in an accident a paramedic could record and upload vital life signs among other things.

    Falcon

  • Re:Iridium? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by itwerx (165526) <itwerx@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @10:19PM (#29449517) Homepage
    Iridum is a good start. But take that, a generic WIFI card, whatever 3G service you like, and heck, anything else you can think of, and glue it all together with pfSense [pfsense.org]. Only time you'll have trouble is if you're actually in motion and have a secure connection established (e.g. VPN or SSL), and you lose the active connection, the other end will see you on a different IP and you'll have to re-authenticate. (Oh, did I mention that pfSense is awesome? :)
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @10:33PM (#29449615)

    You don't want to use satellite and you say cellular coverage isn't good enough. What exactly are you expecting? If there's no connectivity, there's no connectivity. No amount of homebrew can fix that.

    It's only impossible until someone does it. Take almost everything you take for granted now back 200 years and you may find yourself accused of witchcraft. Radio wasn't thought possible until Tesla came along, or TV with Philo Farnsworth [wikipedia.org].

    Falcon

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