RV Internet Options – Low, Medium, and High Usage
In this day and age, you would really be considered old-school if your RV doesn’t have internet. In fact, your kids would probably compare you to the stone age if you forced them to drive across the country in a vehicle with no internet access.
Regardless of your usage, internet is a pretty wise investment. You wouldn’t be reading this without it 🙂
If you and your family don’t intend on using the internet services very often on your trip, you shouldn’t pay crazy amounts of money for it. Low usage doesn’t require that you break the bank to get the highest internet speeds. This is also true if you’re roughing it alone. You’re not sharing the internet, so there’s no need to pay extra for it.
High usage situations come into play when you have multiple people, multiple devices, and lots of love for the internet. In the case of high usage, you may have to up your plan and pay a little more for higher quality streaming, as well as unlimited data plans.
It can be tough to find the best options for the kind of internet service you need on the go, but that’s what I’m here for—to help you get exactly what you’re looking for. Check out some of the options and information I have below to learn more.
What Are the Best RV Internet Service Options?
There are a few ways you can gain access to the internet in your RV. We can narrow these options down to four:
- Free WiFi
- DSL or Cable
Each option is better for certain situations.
For example, if you’re looking for constant, reliable, on-the-go internet service for long periods of time, satellite is probably your best bet. While this is one of the more expensive solutions, it’s probably the most reliable.
Cellular devices can act as a hotspot for internet, so you’re basically getting your phone and internet services at once. If you’re traveling a lot, cellular can get you a lot of service, but your bill is going to go way up.
If you really don’t want to spend anything and aren’t super concerned about staying connected, you can always rely on free WiFi. These days, WiFi is everywhere. There’s a pretty good chance that the campground you are staying on will even have WiFi. While it’s awesome for a temporary solution, WiFi is not always guaranteed—especially if you’re taking a road trip.
Finally, if you’re stationed in an RV park, you can always use DSL or cable. You can’t use this option if you’re traveling, but it’s a good solution for stationary vehicles. Stay in one spot, get a lot of work done while you are there and then head out and explore from there.
What’s the Best Choice?
To put it simply, it’s going to depend. It depends on where you’re going, if you’re staying in one place, how long your trip is, etc. The best RV internet services are typically a combination. Unfortunately, RV internet is not a one-time installation. It’s likely that you’ll have to set up some sort of internet connection unique to each trip you take.
If you like easy, a cellular option will probably be your best bet. Verizon is one of the best networks in the United States, but it’s not cheap. You’ll have to pay extra to use your phone as an internet hotspot, and some providers will charge by the amount of data you use, so be careful.
If you’re looking for reliable internet service with a flat rate, you should consider a satellite. Remember that a TV satellite is different from an internet satellite. Some services may work together to provide internet and TV, but chances are you’re going to need to buy a special internet satellite.
While companies like DISH and DirecTV offers bundles that include internet service, these services are not for mobile use like on trailers. They may offer mobile internet, but you’ll still have to purchase a satellite specific to internet use.
There are currently two satellite options that support a mobile lifestyle. They are HughesNet Gen 5 and RVDataSat. The RVDataSat is a roof-mounted satellite while the HughesNet Gen5 is a tripod-based option. Providers that offer satellite internet services include HughesNet, Wildblue, Skyway, VisaSat, and Starband.
How to Get WiFi in an RV
We mentioned earlier two ways of receiving WiFi in an RV.
One of those ways in public access. There are thousands, if not millions, of WiFi connections across the country that you can use. Additionally, many RV parks are starting to provide their visitors with free WiFi access as well. If you’re going to a park, there’s a good chance you’ll already have the service you need. Make sure you check that out before purchasing any plans.
If you’re going to be somewhere that there isn’t free public WiFi, you can get WiFi through your mobile device. Sometimes called “MiFi,” many mobile phone companies offer a variety of plans that let you use your smartphone as an internet provider.
Companies that offer various plans include Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Millenicom. Verizon and AT&T both offer prepaid plans, which is something that I recommend using. With a prepaid plan, you pay for what you get up front. There’s no guessing, and you have a limit.
Having a limit will keep you from constantly using up data as you would on a different plan, but it also gives you and your family another reason to interact with each other, rather than your phones. If you have kids who are obsessed with their smartphone, you may want to seriously consider this option.
Other contract plans are available, but they charge you with a variety of fees like monthly access fees per device along with the data plan itself.
How to Setup WiFi and RV Internet
To setup WiFi or RV internet, you’ll need to first choose your service and your service provider. If you choose to set up satellite internet, the first thing you should do is buy your satellite. Once you do this, you can call the provider to set up your service package.
In the same way, if you choose to get internet through your cellular provider using your mobile device, call your provider and ask about their “MiFi” options and packages. See if they offer prepaid plans as well as contract options and “use it or lose it: plans. This is how to best compare options and prices without getting sucked into a deal that you’re not happy with.
What Are the Average Monthly Costs for RV Internet?
The costs of your internet will certainly depend on the type of services you decide to use. For example, using the campground WiFi: free!
Should you go with a cellular data plan, you could be paying anywhere from $50 to $300 per month. That’s a pretty high rate, though you will be getting excellent security. However, you can get a pretty basic package that shouldn’t cost much more than the minimal $50. These kinds of packages are good for casual internet users. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all have plans that include about 6GB of data for around $60 per month.
If you decide to go with satellite for a higher demand of usage, you’ll be spending a minimum of $1300 for the equipment alone. Depending on the satellite you go with, it could be more. The monthly plans for this kind of equipment start at about $59 and go up from there, depending on your servicer and plan.
Which Plans Are Unlimited?
Most wireless companies you work with will charge you monthly for a certain amount of data. You can get the Xfinity Mobile Hotspot unlimited plan for $45 a month. Metro PCS also has an unlimited plan for $60 a month that includes 10 GB of mobile hotspot.
Verizon also a plan on their prepaid monthly option to get unlimited monthly data for $75 a month. AT&T also has similar offers, including the ability to link devices for a certain amount per month, per device.
In terms of satellite usage, VisaSat has recently launched an unlimited internet package with options of varying speeds that will fluctuate the costs. HughesNet also has an unlimited internet plan that you can use with your HughesNet satellite equipment.