Internet on the Road Version 2.0

Back in 2009 (has it really been that long?!) we covered how we stay connected on the road.  Technology moves fast so we have to constantly upgrade our equipment if we’re going to stay on the edge of mobile internet.  This is how we currently (as of June 11th 2011) get our internet fix.

HTC evo 4g - Traveling on the outskirts - Full Time RVing

The HTC Evo 4g

When I heard about the HTC Evo 4g I knew it would do exactly what I needed.   I paid $400 for the phone and I pay $124.91 per month but I get everything.  Including a $10.00 mysterious “premium data” fee that is required to operate this phone and the Mobile Hot Spot for $29.99.  Frankly, I feel that if I pay for the Hot Spot I shouldn’t have to pay for the premium data on my phone – I’m getting charged twice for one connection – but that’s just my opinion…what do I know? :D

The main reasons I liked this phone was the 4g (where available) and the sprint hot spot.  Again, I pay an extra $29.99 for the Sprint Hotspot option, but this allows me to connect two devices to my phone wirelessly and share the 4g (where available :) .  Some people use a hack that lets them share the phone’s internet connection with their computer via USB, but I don’t think it’s as reliable as it used to be (I think Sprint figured out what people were doing).

I’m currently using 3g and while not as fast as my old sticks n’ bricks 15Mbps cable connection, it gets the job done at 1.5Mb-2Mb a second (those are upload speeds by the way).  Sprint claims an “unlimited” wireless connection, but I don’t believe them.  According to “the intarnetz” I get full speed access until I reach a 5 gig limit and then they taper off my speed to “dial up” speeds.  I have yet to pass the “5 gig limit” and not suffered speeds so I don’t know how true this really is.

iPhone - Traveling on the outskirts - Full Time RVing - Mobile Internet

Duncan's iPhone 4

We’re all about redundancy so rather than both go with Sprint, Duncan pulled a switcheroo and went with Verizon instead.  He bought an iPhone 4 for $200 and the plan costs him $125 every month.  This plan includes a $30 tethering fee so he can share his internet connection as well.  His plan is limited while tethered, which means he can transfer up to 2 Gigs of data while tethered to his computer.

So that’s how we do everything we need online.  We don’t stream movies (although we could if absolutely needed), we basically just check email, surf the web and look for jobs to keep us on the road.  I’m glad technology has finally come around and is actually affordable.  I should mention that the only reason all this is “affordable” is because we quit smoking a couple months ago!   We gave up one vice and replaced it with another!  :)   We’re also not paying for a home phone or cable TV, so although it seems like a lot per month, we’re actually saving money compared to our old sticks n bricks lifestyle.  How fast is your mobile internet?  Go to SpeedTest.net to check it out!

How do you guys feel about cell phone signal antennas?  The signal to our campground right now is AWESOME but I’m sure once we get on the road we won’t be so lucky.  Do you use an amplifier?  Was it worth the money?

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  • http://www.rms-ontheroad.com/ Chris Gage

    Hello fellow road warriors!  I am on the road full time and working from the rig with not much issue staying connected so far. I have a single user usb connect Sprint 3G/4G card which has primarily been operating on 3G across the western US.  The wifi in the parks has been solid for the most part, so I really on use the Sprint option when in motion. I am definitely looking at a multi-user 4G option now though so that my new Ipad can join the party!

  • http://vagabondians.com Glenn Dixon

    We’ve got a family plan w/ AT&T for our two iPhones, total of about $130/month.  I wish we could pay by the minute for voice, because we almost never use that any more.  I just need the data.  BUT – for all our computing data we use Verizon through our 20GB/month Millenicom plan.  

    We have stayed at locations with WiFi, but it really gets congested at peak usage hours.  Incredible lag, very frustrating.  We have also stayed at locations with no signal in sight – no Verizon, no AT&T, no WiFi.  We are definitely planning on grabbing a cell amplifier.  

  • Liveworkdream

    Since 2007 we’ve used our HughesNet Motosat Dish as our main source for Internet connectivity and in 2009 we began using our Verizon MiFi for additional bandwidth. We’re been happy with both but we’re paying upwards of $200 a month for both connections.

    We have a love hate relationship with our dish. It’s had its issues that were pricey to fix and HughesNet slaps a daily cap on your broadband use. But because we rarely go into parks or cities, we love the dish because it’s the only connectivity we often have. Even in nowheresville West Texas, where cell service is non-existent, we are able to get online.

    Our Verizon connection is great in cities. We’ve considered getting an amplifier but so far just haven’t needed to.

    P.S. This is a great discussion to take over to NuRVers.com, I’m sure everyone there would love to hear more about your Sprint deal.

  • http://www.TravelingOnTheOutskirts.com/ TravelingOnTheOutskirts

    Yeah as soon as we got on the road we realized the “free wifi” at most parks is NOT reliable.  Especially if your next paycheck depends on getting that file sent to the client!

  • http://www.TravelingOnTheOutskirts.com/ TravelingOnTheOutskirts

    I’ve only used 4G once and it was a beautiful thing – I can’t wait till it’s more widely available.

  • http://www.TravelingOnTheOutskirts.com/ TravelingOnTheOutskirts

    We were seriously considering the Motosat Dish but after a lot of research and talking to many fellow nomads, we decided against it – are you stuck in a contract with them?

  • Salukiz

    I use a sprint aircard, which receives 3g or 4g. I’ve yet to use the 4g though…everywhere I’ve been so far has only 3g service available. Like another user, I use the aircard when I can’t get wifi.

  • Lynneschlumpf

    We use a Verizon MIFI for 40.00 a month along with an AT&T mifi for 50.00 a month that both allow 5 devices each. This gives us 10 Gig a month instead of just 5 and also a backup
    Internet connect if we’re not near one of the cell towers but getting a good signal from the other. This also assures us of a signal when the wifi at our current RV park stinks (which is almost all the time unless we’re staying in a military FAM-Camp.
    We also both have IPhones that were grandfathered under the unlimited AT&T option, so we leave them on 3G 99% of the time. This allows us to do the high bandwidth stuff like Netflix streaming or watching YouTube stuff. This setup gives us Internet pretty much 100% of the time, and I can upload my video productions a few times a month without going over our limits.

  • Bilklb

    We are living full time in a camper and traveling all over also.  We started in Florida in March 2010, and are now in Kansas City.  We are having a blast.

    I purchased the Sprint Overdrive PRO for wireless.  The unit was free with a 2 year contract, and I pay 49.99 per month.  I get 3 gigs on the 3g network, and unlimited in a 4g area.  I can change to 5 gigs on the 3g network for an extra 10 dollars per month, just by going to my sprint site and changing my plan.

    When I am in a 4g area, I get unlimited data.  I stream netflix with it and do the normal web surfing, mail checking, blog updating stuff.  I found that I was not getting a great signal where the Sprint map said I should be, so I experimented and ended up taping my unit to the window.  I jumped from 1 bar to 3. 

    The Overdrive Pro has two antenae connections, so I purchased two antenaes that I have on my roof (under 100 dollars).  My reception is much more reliable and I don’t have to tape the unit to the window anymore..  I do not have an amplifier. 

    I have taped tons of movies so I do not really worry when I cannot get a 3g signal.

    My son’s mom has me on her phone plan through her work, so I have AT&T for phone service.  It costs her 3 dollars per month, and I really don’t use much.  I prefer email.

    I like your blog.

    ~Bill

    bilklb at yahoo dot com

  • Tashideleg

    I live in a small trailer, too. I also use my cell phone for internet. And, what you are paying does seem too much. I have verizon, tether to my laptop with PDANet software. My plan includes only my minutes and unlimited data. I can only connect one computer at a time, and I do have to use a usb cable to connect. I do not have any data limit, and I pay half as much. And, yes, it is totally ligitimate. It was a verizon wireless rep that sold my the plan that explained it to me and told me how to set this up. Happy travels. :-)