Internet on the Road

Bill tries to help others when the subject internet on the road comes up but it is a moving target and once he wrote something, a month later it was already out of date.  But now he can reference other sources of information.

First, we can recommend Technomadia's, The Mobile Internet Handbook, from .  Yes, it costs $10 (ebook), but it is worth it.  You will be spending more than $10 to be online, per month.  Be informed.

Second, if you need more information then go to on the Road and/or to get more information.

If you want to read Bill's out of date guide, it is here

Our current internet access system as of June 2013

We use a Cradlepoint MBR95 router to set up a consistent WiFi network (SSID) for our computers, tablets, our wireless printer/scanner, and other WiFi devices.  The MBR95 lets us use multiple ways to get on the internet, but our computers, etc., only have to know the one WiFi network name and password.  (There are other brands of routers that can do this, WiFiRanger and Pepwave make them for similar pricing.  We have no hands on experience with these others, but many like them.)  The MBR95 orders the sources and will fail through to a lower source if the higher source gets too slow or goes offline.  It will periodically check if the source that failed is back alive and switch back.

Our main internet source is a USB760 USB modem from Millenicom that uses the Verizon network.  Our plan provides 20GB a month of 3G or 1XRTT Verizon data for $59.99.  This is not a current plan, the current Millenicom plan is a Novatel 4620L hotspot device that provides 20GB of 4G, 3G or 1XRTT Verizon data for $69.99 a month.   These devices cost money to buy and there are setup costs, but the service can be suspended for for $20 and canceled anytime since there is no contract.  We plug the USB760 into the Cradlepoint MBR95 and as long as we have Verizon data, we have internet.  The USB760 does have an external antenna jack and we have the cables, an wired amplifier and an external antenna to boost the Verizon signal when needed.  We use the external antenna setup about 1/4 of the time.  20GB/month is a lot of data for many RVers, but too little for those who want to use the internet heavily, especially for video.  An hour of video can be around 1GB in size, so it doesn't take many hours of video per month to go through 20GB.  Many cable and DSL accounts are unlimited or have limits like 250GB per month these days, so new RVers might find 20GB or lower limits a shock.

If the campsite has good WiFi available, we have two ways to use it as a source.  If the WiFi has a good signal the MBR95 can pull it in directly and then repeat it using its own SSID.  If the signal is weak we have a Pepwave Surf Mini WiFi adapter.  This device has an Ethernet connection instead of USB, so it looks more like a cable, DSL or satellite modem to the MBR95.  Since the MBR95 can also monitor usage, if the campground limits our usage we can create a rule to disconnect when the usage has been hit.  An example would be a campground that limits us to 300MB a day, which we have encountered. 

Our new back up internet source is an AT&T Unite hotspot device.  We did have to commit to 2 years of $50 a month for 5GB of AT&T usage, with $10 charges for each GB.  We have this since we frequent some places that have lousy Verizon data speeds but have good AT&T data speeds.  So far we have use the hotspot WiFi as an internet source with the MBR95, but it might work directly using a USB cable.  In areas where AT&T has 4GLTE, like Salem, Oregon, it is very fast.  In areas with 4G (H+), it is still faster than Verizon 3G.  We spend a lot of time in the Ilwaco/Long Beach, WA area where we have AT&T 4GLTE sometimes, otherwise 4G, but Verizon is 1XRTT (slow).  We have to be careful since some months we use 14GB per month, so we have to keep an eye on our AT&T usage if we are staying 2 weeks in Ilwaco.  We have the MBR95 set to watch usage on the Unite and fail if it gets to 5GB.

In a campground with good wifi we configure the WiFi as higher than our Millenicom modem. If the wifi has a limit we set a rule.  That way if we hit the limit, if the wifi goes offline or becomes slow, it will switch to the Millenicom modem. 

We have been places we did not have internet at our campsite.  Then we haul our laptop computers or/and tablets somewhere where we will have internet, like a coffee shop or campground office area.  Or we have to wait a couple days to get online once we move.

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