One of the first questions we had when planning to live on the road, was “How will we connect to the Internet?”  While we knew we had connectivity on our smart phones, we were very used to having a nice high speed broadband connection at home.  Could we have something close to that while on the road?

Since that time, we’ve been through a few different services and devices.  We started off with the same type of thing most people are aware of, and just got a MiFi device from our services provider, Verizon.  This would provide 5Gigabytes of data for $50 per month.  I used it while traveling for work, and we used it in the RV as we went out on some weekend runs.  What we discovered is that 5Gb doesn’t last that long. If we did nothing but email and non-video websites, it would likely be fine.  But, once you try to update some wifi iPad apps, watch some YouTube or Netflix, and you soon see your usage heading up to full, and then the $10/Gb start adding up as you go over.

The usage we saw prompted me to go look for other providers, to see if I could get a better $/Gb deal.  First, I found Clear.  Theirs went through a few versions, but I was basically able to get unlimited under some conditions, and it was still only $50 per month.  That helped, but the ability to get the unlimited data was not easy, and not really possible while in the RV.

Finally, we found some online communities of other families who were doing the same thing, and traveling around in their RV’s fulltime.  It’s always good to let others do the hard part, and then share info with you.  I wish I’d found them before we dealt with the “hard part”.  What they had found is a company called Millenicom, at  They provide Internet service over the same Verizon/Sprint networks, but you get a better $/Gb and no contract.  We’ve been through a couple of their plans and devices at this point, but have found that having 2 different plans from them works best.  Our monthly cost is substantially higher than when we were in a home, but it allows us to travel, and is worth it to us.

Millenicom has a few different plans, and it can get confusing when you first look at it.  Chatting or emailing with their people will help answer any questions you might have.  In general, they have two types of plans.  One provides a set amount of bandwidth per month, and the other is unlimited.  The unlimited plans (lately the BYOD and 3G/4G plans) are on the Sprint network.  We have found that if we are near the more populated areas, the Sprint plans work fine.  If we’re in a Sprint 4G area, they work exceptionally well.  As a backup or alternative, we also have one of the 20Gb 3G plans from them. These other limited bandwidth plans operate on the Verizon network.  I expect we will update to the 20Gb 3G/4G plan at some point, but we need to iron out some other pieces of gear we use for our network first.

One thing about both of these devices/plans that we have, is that they are USB.  Normally, this would mean that we could only use them in one computer, and would then need to turn that computer into some form of Internet sharing device.  One other item that was found, and will be discussed in more detail in the Networking and Devices page, is a Cradlepoint MBR 1000.  This is an older model of WiFi Router, and allows usage of USB cellular internet devices as the source for Internet, which it shares with the devices connected to it via WiFi.  So, all our laptops, tablets, Blu-Ray player, XBox, etc., can connect to the router directly or via WiFi, and all connect to the Internet via one of the USB devices.

Additionally, when available, we can connect to WiFi.  We spend most of our time in Thousand Trails parks, and they do not typically offer free WiFi that you can get from your RV, but they do usually have it available in a Lodge.  Also, other RV parks where we are paying for each night we stay, there is usually WiFi available, and it is usually free.  Sometimes they are not real secure, or may even be slow, but they are usually not limiting your usage and you can get some overnight downloads done, and that sort of thing.

We also looked at Satellite Internet providers, like HughesNet.  This would give you Internet connectivity where ever you were in the US, provided you could get your satellite dish to see through any trees or other objects.  I know that there are some that have a dish on their RV roof, and that they use this as the primary Internet.  Based on the spec’s I saw, it would have given us 3G speeds at best, and there was a daily bandwidth limit.  Reach the limit, and your speeds would slow to a crawl, or stop.  Also, you needed to purchase the satellite dish equipment.  You could get a manual dish, but I heard stories that they were really difficult to aim.  You could also get automatic dishes, where you just flip a switch and it aligns to the satellites, but those are $1500+ for the dish, plus more if you needed installation.  If we had plans to boondock, or spend long periods of time in National Parks/Forests, then the Satellite option would have made sense and we would have added it to our arsenal.  The majority of the occupants of our RV prefer their full hookups, and a sense that town is “right there”, so we are always in the coverage area of either Sprint or Verizon.

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