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Old 07-12-2016, 09:48 AM   #29
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RVDataSat 840 on an Airstream

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Originally Posted by MacPDX View Post
I've been camping in a remote spot in Alberta (1 hour drive from the nearest cell signal) for a week now and as a "remote" employee of a major company I rely on an internet connection to do my job. Fortunately, my internet needs are basically just email, IM and the occasional file download (i.e. not very demanding), so Satellite internet, despite being slow and relatively expensive, is an attractive solution for me.

I emailed mobilsat and they recommended the RV Datasat 840 as well. The even sent along the attached images of an installation they did on an Airstream. Thought y'all might like to see.

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Old 11-15-2016, 07:52 AM   #30
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Circling back around to this thread, which was last updated about six months ago... does anyone else have anything additionally positive to report about one solution or another?

The tech is evolving quickly. I emailed Tim (@vanlifetravelogue) after reading his jaw-dropping account (that's an Insta page - you may need to have an Insta account to see it) of how he achieved a connectivity solution. He's a young vanlifer who absolutely must remain connected to his employer, so his solution is high-end.

My question at this point is, what if someone needs something better than a dinky air card, but not total bleeding edge? Where is the sweet spot of expenditure vs. coverage and what components does that sweet spot consist of?

Tim's initial thought was that perhaps Cradlepoint offers something more mid-range. I'm going to phone their sales people and see what comes of that.

The issue pushed to the forefront of my awareness again after my recent trip to west Texas. I had moments when I felt like shooting myself because the cell coverage was so pathetic. Forget campground insufficiency - I pulled into the town of Junction Texas and lost all coverage within about a mile of the danged freeway! There I was in the middle of neighborhoods and commercial areas with no data whatsoever! (My carrier is Verizon). Come on! We have to be able to do better than that without spending thousands of dollars. Surely there is a reasonably attainable solution somewhere.
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Old 11-15-2016, 08:11 AM   #31
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Interblog, just looking at the Coverage? app from the folks at Technomadia the I10 corridor from just west of Junction all the way east to About Mountain Home is white space with no signal. Big white space hole in that area of Texas from Brownwood to the NE south through junction and then off to the west. Looks like AT&T and Mobile are better in this 'hole'.
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Old 11-15-2016, 10:38 AM   #32
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I had a LONG conversation with a Cradlepoint rep and one of his collaborators who actually takes Cradlepoint components and integrates them into Pelican cases to create complete mobile solutions. These guys are building systems for remote oil field workers and social media stars and sports people who follow bizarre caravans across the country, livestreaming the entire way, so presumably they understand what their builds are and are not capable of. I'm awaiting two comparative cost quotes from them now.

Junction Texas was one of the lowest moments of my recent life. I stepped off the freeway around dusk, following my map app which I assumed would work at least for a couple of danged miles, but the whole thing immediately evaporated. And then I realized, holy crap, I don't have a paper map as back-up of this particular section of Texas, nor do I have a complete maps database downloaded with my current phone GPS app. Furious and quickly running out of time, I had to phone my husband, get him to pull his own car off the road, and walk me verbally through my travel sequence, turn by turn. I had a strange roaming message from Verizon and just enough bare voice connectivity so that I could do this without it totally breaking up. But no shred of data, not even close.

That's when I said enough is enough. I might have gotten stuck out there after dark with no clue where I was. In addition to re-pursuing an electronic connectivity solution, I also purchased an updated Texas atlas to be placed in our Interstate permanently. The best one in production for Texas is Mapsco's The Roads of Texas. It's the only one that has all tertiary roads named.
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Old 11-15-2016, 11:06 AM   #33
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Cell phone coverage is limited by technology, the laws of physics, terrain, etc. The only way to overcome those limits is by installing more towers. Towers are expensive to build and in the long run even more expensive to maintain, particularly in remote areas where electric power is unavailable and must be provided by diesel generators, windmills, solar panels, and/or batteries. So there is a solution to your problem of coverage, but at a cost. How much are you willing to pay for increased signal coverage?

I often drive a route through west Texas into eastern and central New Mexico on U.S. and state highways (not interstates) where there are stretches of 100 miles or more with no cell phone coverage or phone with no data coverage and that is independent of the carrier I am using. The population and traffic is simply too sparse to justify the cost of the towers. I live near the top of a hill in a hilly area of the 17th largest city in the United States and on a good day I have bar cell coverage from AT&T and my next door neighbor has about the same coverage from Verizon. Half a block away. there are 4 bars. (I solved the problem at my home by purchasing and installing a "microcell" that rides on my internet connection.) Where my son lives in the mountains of Colorado the only way to reliably get cell coverage is to climb 300 to 500 feet up the mountain. Few coverage maps are available in fine enough detail to reveal the voids in their coverage.

If enough residents of Junction, Texas give up their landline phones and go to cellular and enough of them choose Verizon as their carrier that could solve your problem there, at little or no cost to you but it still wouldn't increase the coverage on my route. Even if the carriers added cell towers along the highways hundreds and thousands of square miles of open land that would still be without coverage.
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Old 11-15-2016, 11:45 AM   #34
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Interblog's issue with her phone map app is why I still use a standalone GPS for routing. Even in rural areas here in NC one will often be outside a coverage area, especially in the mountains. And the problem is worse out west.
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Old 11-15-2016, 12:07 PM   #35
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I use offline maps on my phone to get around the cellular connectivity issues on the road.
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Old 11-15-2016, 03:35 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by jerhofer View Post
Interblog's issue with her phone map app is why I still use a standalone GPS for routing. Even in rural areas here in NC one will often be outside a coverage area, especially in the mountains. And the problem is worse out west.
Indeed this is a few times the Kenwood Garmin map has earned its keep for us. We lost all reception in remote forest land and were very happy to have it going.
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Old 11-16-2016, 06:44 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by jerhofer View Post
Interblog's issue with her phone map app is why I still use a standalone GPS for routing. Even in rural areas here in NC one will often be outside a coverage area, especially in the mountains. And the problem is worse out west.
Yes, I'm going to start using standalone GPS as well, obviously. On my most recent trip, if I had planned to be overnighting in "remote" areas, I would have taken more preparation and care. But it was mostly a working trip and I had planned to overnight within about three miles of interstate highways in each case, and it turned out that I had no signal with any of it. Verizon has a very different interpretation of "remote" than I do.

Data for purposes such as mapping is the lesser part of the battle, though. I'm an independent technical consultant, so for me the biggie is being able to communicate in real time with my clients. I discovered last night that Chris and Cherie provide individualized connectivity assessments for a fee. With the mountain of diverse content presented on Technomadia, I had missed that. Right now I'm working my way through their free content on the topic of connectivity, but chances are good that I will book a session with them.

Again, for me as a small business owner, it's a question of where the sweet spot of expenditure vs. improvement is located. From the research I've done to date, I've learned that I can throw money at this problem and it will, indeed, go away. But when I do the arithmetic on what I get for a blind money-throw, the value becomes questionable. If I were a full-timer, that would be a different equation and an easier decision. But at this point in time, I might be looking at a combined total of eight weeks per year on the road, during which I have to maintain at least partial business communications. Have to. So I need the sweet spot, which hopefully does exist.
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Old 11-16-2016, 08:35 AM   #38
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I spend some 25 years doing two-way public safety radios (cell is a radio, a bit similar to trunking two way, but with all the 'hand off' difficulties added).
Then I moved over to IT and worked on some various solutions to get network access to remove Park areas (I worked for the National Park Service- now retired)

We have Huges.net at one location. Customer service is atrocious. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
excede seems to be much better.
Of course sat has its own issues (especially this far north and west) and mobile even more issues.

Cell has worked pretty well. We tried a number of different ones and currently the CloudeGate worked pretty slick.
It has a built in amp and various options for Ethernet etc.

Due to very remote areas with quite little cell coverage, and external high gain antenna has been required. Rough aiming with knowing where the cell tower/antenna is located, then fine tuning watching the unit. They have been pretty reliable and even allow some port forwarding etc.
(We had additional difficulties, since an encrypted 'tunnel' is required to access the government network)

A Yagi antenna works pretty well for high gain and holds up well. To the elements.
Similar to this one

https://www.tessco.com/products/disp...o.do?sku=70647


NOTE- you must match the frequency to the band you will be using.

Setup may take a bit more than some, but options are greater.

Mark
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Old 11-28-2016, 10:12 AM   #39
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I went whole-hog on this issue, joining Chris and Cherie's pay site (www.rvmobileinternet.com) and also purchasing a full individual consult from them. We had our Facetime session for an hour this morning.

I'm not going to share publicly the details of the equipment set-up that they suggested would be the best fit to my connectivity needs. They provide a valuable service and they need to keep getting paid by others for their service.

However, if someone feels that they want a coherent starting point on the connectivity question without going as far as full individual consultation, I highly recommend their book, The RV Mobile Internet Handbook, which is available for ten bucks in PDF or other e-format.

It's 253 pages and there is no fluff built into it!! That ought to give you an idea of just how complex the underlying technical issues really are. Before reading it, I attempted to do my own research and could not get any sense of true traction. I had tentative connectivity solutions identified but nothing really gelled to the point where I had confidence in my decision tree. I kept thinking to myself, "I'm not a dumb or uneducated person, so why can't I figure this out?!"

Answer: Because it really is that complicated. It's 253-pages-complicated. And there's no sense re-inventing that wheel when others have already put years and years of effort into the research. Take whatever forms of assistance you feel are justified for your own situation. Maybe that's just the e-book, or maybe it goes as far as an individual consult.
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Old 11-28-2016, 12:51 PM   #40
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So what is the upshot of of it IB? You found a solution you are happy to deploy?
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:49 AM   #41
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Chris and Cherie helped me to identify a solution that is fully expected to function to the extent achievable given the present-day state of technology, including functioning while I'm at my remote land in Canada. I ordered all the various components last night.

We are already tearing up the Interstate for the lithium conversion and so we might as well do this work all in one fell swoop so that the tearing can be efficient. (1) The lithium, (2) the wireless connectivity solution, (3) a permanently-wired dash cam, and (4) a new security device are all going in simultaneously.
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Old 01-12-2017, 09:24 AM   #42
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Awesome vid from RVgeeks posted yesterday... if this particular equipment happens to be among someone's chosen repertoire of RV connectivity solutions, then this is the vid to watch on how to successfully install it. (Although as I've noted elsewhere, we in the subtropics do not rely exclusively on foam strip adhesives to affix any of our rig components. They just don't seem to stand up well to our environmental conditions.)

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