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Transportation Wireless Networking Hardware

(Near) Constant Internet While RV'ing? 438

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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  • What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:03PM (#29444321)

    What exactly is RV'ing?

  • how about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:07PM (#29444393) Homepage
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by loteck ( 533317 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:07PM (#29444399) Homepage

    If you want constant internet access, you must not go where there is no signal.

    If you want to go enjoy remote places with no signal, you cannot have constant internet coverage.

    Pick one.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:07PM (#29444403)

    You say "the intrepid RV'er wants to get remote", but you want to remain in constant internet contact. You claim it's about your business, but you worry about latency's effect on gaming.

    Why exactly are you heading out anywhere? Cuz it sounds to me you're not gonna to see anything that's not reflected in your computer screen...

  • freak (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joejor ( 578266 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:07PM (#29444407)
    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.
  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:09PM (#29444443)

    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.

    You also seem confused by WiFi In Motion and Cradlepoint products. They don't amplify anything, they're just access points that you can plug your phone in to get wifi coverage. A laptop and a router can do the same thing.

    You have two choices:

    1) Pony up the dough for satellite coverage
    2) Get a cellular data plan and live with no connectivity in dead zones

    I don't believe there are any other alternatives.

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) < minus caffeine> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:12PM (#29444471) Homepage

    Product requirements;

    - Decent latency
    - Decent bandwidth
    - Available everywhere
    - Reliable

    Solution; none. There is no product out there that will meet all four requirements.

    It now falls to you to decide what your priority is. Given that you need to stay in contact because of business concerns, I'd guess you'd make the following priorities

    1) Reliable
    2) Low latency for voip purposes
    3) Enough bandwidth for voip/email/image uploads
    4) Available everywhere.

    If that's the case, then the obvious answer is to simply NOT travel anywhere without 3g coverage. No other solution you are going to find will match your requirements otherwise.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:16PM (#29444565) Journal

    intrepid RV'er

    I may have a different definition of "intrepid" than you but to me there's nothing intrepid about any location you reach by road unless you're talking about hostile countries or might-wake-up-without-your-kidney parts of Mexico. Especially if you're on your laptop having a conference call while your TV dinners cook inside the RV.

    Do yourself a favor and get out of the position where your business can't function without you. If you have you have to be a single point of failure I'm sorry you picked that profession in life and it's great that you make twice what I make but I would not trade places. If you want something moderately challenging then leave at home all your electronics and canoe/portage 50 miles into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area [] for an intrepid vacation. Trust me, to see land so pristine was a near religious experience and I definitely went back.

    Go white water rafting or mountain hiking or get dive certified. I'm sorry if your health doesn't permit this but I personally don't find anything intrepid about a recreational vehicle.

  • Re:freak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:19PM (#29444627) Homepage
    People use a piece of technology to get away from all the technology and then wonder why it isn't working...
  • Re:freak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Torontoman ( 829262 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:21PM (#29444661)

    This is a bit harsh. Often RV'ers are gone for long periods of time. I know someone who spends his winters RVing in Mexico. he runs a business and needs to also be in touch with people regularly.

  • Packet radio (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:26PM (#29444727)

    If speed and latency aren't priorities and you can deal with unencrypted transmission, I'd recommend getting an amateur radio license and operating a packet radio [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:27PM (#29444745)

    So, you don't think people should want to live somewhere nice just because sometimes they use a computer or watch TV? I can completely see the appeal of being able to go to a beautiful National Park, do some work in the morning, and have the rest of the day to enjoy my surroundings. You don't have to be doing outward bound every time you're in a remote area. I'd like to take off for a few months myself, and I'd be interested in internet access in remote areas too.

  • by maharb ( 1534501 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:35PM (#29444851)

    Half the comments have some portion dedicated to criticizing the idea of RVing and "being connected'. Why is it so hard to understand that liking the outdoors/road and having internet are not opposites. Everyone that is asking why he even needs internet should ask themselves why they want phone service when not at home. The internet is just as much a tool as a frying pan or a tent these days, and having access to it at all times is very useful. Not to mention that one could spend all day hiking around and doing activities outside only to retreat back to camp and want an hour or two of connectivity. Not totally insane if you ask me. As for how to do it? Well I am not an expert in that area so I will let someone else help out.

  • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:37PM (#29444893)
    The very size of a typical RV is going to limit the roughing it. You won't be driving it cross country, you'll likely be on Interstates and staying in campgrounds. Many campgrounds already offer WiFi, as do most bookstores and restaurants. Map out where you are going on the internet, and identify chain stores that offer WiFi. Stop in their parking lot, walk around and get something to eat and get access. Picking campgrounds that offer WiFi isn't difficult either.
  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:39PM (#29444917) Homepage Journal

    Screw Starbucks, any public library and many other establishments have FRE wifi. Hell, the bar I go to has wifi, and almost all its patrons are construction workers who don't even have computers, let alone laptops. I've never seen anybody in there use the wifi. McDonald's (at least the one on 6th street) has free wifi.

    Do you pay for your air?

  • by aclarke ( 307017 ) <spam@clarke . c a> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:22PM (#29445589) Homepage
    As another self-employed person, I'll ask you what I view as a rhetorical question. If you had to work, would you rather work in your home office in some suburb of some city, or wherever you live, or would you occasionally like to spend a day/week/month working beside a quiet lake in the middle of nowhere, in a crowded foreign beach town, or wherever it is that you would like to head on vacation?

    I go on vacations where I don't take my laptop and don't work, but on the other hand if I want to go somewhere fun and work for a while, what's the problem with that? It's not an either/or situation.
  • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:29PM (#29445701)
    What a dopey comment, why weigh in at all if your only thought is to accept the limitations of the most obvious off-the-shelf solutions, or nothing at all? The question itself already went far beyond your "coverage/no coverage" false dichotomy by identifying various technologies such as 3g range extenders and satellites that offer various tradeoffs. At the least, somebody with experience using these could weigh in on their utility, or lack thereof.
  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fructose ( 948996 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:03PM (#29447057) Homepage

    Starfish aren't fish, either...

    The fish took offense to that name, so we call them "sea stars" [] now. Keep up with the times, you insensitive clod.

  • by ttroutma ( 552162 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:51PM (#29448357) Homepage
    Did this for years. Here are the results. You want an antenna adapter for your EVDO card and a Wilson Trucker Antenna. This will bring a moderate signal to five bars. Next step up, a good amp will bring a weak signal to five bars but it will not take "no signal" and make it into a good signal. Even if you have a portable 40' tower (been there done that) you will not operate outside the timing boundary for the cell tower. Summary, unless you are staying inside the people hive, you will need to have a motosat system and all the complexity, power draw, etc, that this involves. Have fun.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.