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Old 08-31-2015, 07:40 PM   #1
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Question Satellite Internet Providers

I am reluctant to admit how dependent I have become on the internet and I have found RV Park WiFi networks to offer generally dismal service. This has encouraged me to consider the possibility of using a portable satellite dish and a provider such as Exede, Hughes Net, or ??? I was wondering if anyone here has had any experience with satellite internet and what wisdom they might have offer (I don't need to learn everything the hard way).
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Old 08-31-2015, 08:29 PM   #2
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Don't know how your data plan w/ cell phone is but you might consider using it as a hotspot. Might be cheaper than going satellite. Of course that assumes good cell service where you're camped.
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Old 08-31-2015, 08:56 PM   #3
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Hughes Net use to allow you to set up your own satellite dish for net service but would provide no support for it. There was a company which made a portable unit, and they also provided back up support. It was a very costly system. I don't believe that it is sold anymore, and maybe Hughes pulled it's limited support too. I knew two people who had the Hughes systems, both got tired of it and the set up hassles.

Exceed (old Wild Blue) never allowed or sanctioned any portable system, and if you tried to move your dish, they actually could see you were not in the authorized location and cut you off. I use an Exceed satellite net system at home, it is the only way I can have any net connections, but it is not portable.

So, I don't believe there is any portable satellite net service available now. Could be wrong of course, but have not heard of any.

Mostly people use a cell phone tower based net service with a device such as a MiFi to give them their own local hot spot. In fact, I am in rural Montana right now and this message will go out over a Verizon MiFi system to the net. Yes, there are places with no or very limited cell reception (my own home as an example) but it works in most places I camp and go to. Roughly $60 a month for 5 gb of data. No streaming video or you will exceed your data allowance very fast.
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:07 PM   #4
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We run an internet=based graphics production business. And we also travel a lot; previously in a Class A diesel pusher and now in a 30' Serenity.

For us, we've relied on Verizon LTE/4G for our internet connection. Park wi-fi almost always SUCKS. But Verizon can get expensive. There were some months where we spent up to $800 per month for Verizon internet service. Fortunately, it is a business expense and a very small part of our internet-based income. But still, it really irks us to spend that much for internet while we're on the road. It does work well most of the time. We use our iPads (which are 4G capable hotspots, as well) and iPhones (also 4G capable hotspots) as well as a pair of Mi-Fi 4G devices... to provide internet access to our pair of MacBook Pro computers.
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:43 PM   #5
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DHart has it right. Get a good data plan from Verizon and monitor your usage. If it looks like your going to go over call them and add some data, its cheaper than going over. You also may want to get a booster for your interstate for low signal areas. We have had good luck with Wilson Electronics boosters (now WeBoost). This one might suit your needs.

https://store.weboost.com/products/drive-4gx

I am sure you can find a better price if you google it.
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:47 PM   #6
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Don't even consider satellite internet. First, the latency makes it slow. Second, they limit the bandwidth. You can forget about streaming. I made the mistake of using Hughes net for home service once as we cannot get cable. For entertainment, Google "Hughsnet complaints". You will get an idea just how bad this company is to deal with and the poor service they provide.

I now use ATT LTE using a data modem and a Cradlepoint router. And a 40gig plan with rollover. It isn't great compared to the 70mbps I get at work with cable, and I still can't stream very much, but it is better than nothing. On the plus side, I use my iPhone on the same data plan when on the road as a hotspot. It is a rare occasion I don't have service when on a trip.
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:38 PM   #7
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DHart has it right. Get a good data plan from Verizon and monitor your usage. If it looks like your going to go over call them and add some data, its cheaper than going over. You also may want to get a booster for your interstate for low signal areas. We have had good luck with Wilson Electronics boosters (now WeBoost). This one might suit your needs.

https://store.weboost.com/products/drive-4gx

I am sure you can find a better price if you google it.
Good info, Tuco... we found places where we could get 4G just 1 foot outside the Airstream, but only 3G inside. I think using a good antenna outside, with a wi-fi booster inside the Airstream, that could be a God Send for getting 4G INSIDE the coach, as well as outside!

I'm sure some Airstreams couldn't care less about internet connectivity, while others of us care VERY MUCH about our internet connectivity!
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Old 09-01-2015, 06:45 AM   #8
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I'm sure some Airstreams couldn't care less about internet connectivity, while others of us care VERY MUCH about our internet connectivity!
Don't blame Airstream. A metal trailer or motorhome is an excellent example of a Faraday Cage, that naturally blocks radio signals of certain wavelengths— in this case including the wavelengths used for transmitting data over WiFi. If you wanted a trailer that was transparent to WiFi signal, you'd need a fiberglass trailer instead.

Before I bought an external antenna for my Verizon MiFi, I used to tape the MiFi to whichever window faced the nearest cell tower, and that helped a little bit by making sure there was less metal between the MiFi and the tower. But the antenna, which is mounted on the roof, also gets additional range due to a longer line-of-sight to the horizon from its higher vantage point as well as using the Airstream's roof as a ground plane.
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:32 AM   #9
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Don't blame Airstream. A metal trailer or motorhome is an excellent example of a Faraday Cage, that naturally blocks radio signals of certain wavelengths— in this case including the wavelengths used for transmitting data over WiFi. If you wanted a trailer that was transparent to WiFi signal, you'd need a fiberglass trailer instead.

Before I bought an external antenna for my Verizon MiFi, I used to tape the MiFi to whichever window faced the nearest cell tower, and that helped a little bit by making sure there was less metal between the MiFi and the tower. But the antenna, which is mounted on the roof, also gets additional range due to a longer line-of-sight to the horizon from its higher vantage point as well as using the Airstream's roof as a ground plane.
Protagonist... I'm not blaming Airstream at all. We knew when we bought the AS that the shell would hamper reception somewhat. I can get 4G inside the coach in areas where the signal is strong.

I was mentioning above that some Airstreamers may have little interest in high speed internet, while others of us have serious interest in it. We're all different in what we need and want.

We have been planning for an external antenna and an internal booster wi-fi device since before getting the AS. Looking forward to having that!
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Old 09-01-2015, 10:54 AM   #10
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Unhappy

The last place I camped, the RV Park WiFi was slower than a dialup phone line — when it worked at all — 4G service was at least 8 or 10 miles away, and LTE service was another 30 or 40 miles down the mountain. Even a tenuous voice connection required climbing 50 feet or so up from the site to get a signal. It did not make any difference who your provider was as all of them used the same local company and tower to provide service.

Fiber optic has been promised for the area but it is years overdue and the promised coverage area keeps getting smaller and may not cover the RV Park. While I was there, many of my RV park neighbors were happily using satellite TV, which is why I am interested in the possibility of satellite internet. Wish you all had better news because I will be going back to that camp site and even more remote locations.
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Old 09-01-2015, 11:19 AM   #11
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Satellite internet is not like one way satellite television reception. It is two way, that is you must send a signal from your site to the satellite itself to uplink your information. So the dish position must be very very precise so you don't spray other satellites with signal you send. Apparently unregulated uplinks, mis aimed, can cause issues with other satellites. So no one wants to take the risk.

As mentioned in my post above, I have Exceed satellite internet service at my home in Idaho as it is the only way I can get net access at all. There is no cell service available for cell internet. Satellite net works reasonably well, and I have had it for 5 to 7 years but it is a fixed location system only, not portable.

My cell net service works for me (usually) when I travel, but it also does not work everyplace.

It is a tough life here in the new century.
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Old 09-01-2015, 11:24 AM   #12
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Sittin here on the porch of Woody Mtn campground, west end of Flagstaff they use Directway satellite. Way faster than the library in town. Youtube videos run ok, can't say about netflix.
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Old 09-01-2015, 01:40 PM   #13
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Learned something new today. I was told that the upload for satellite internet went over the phone line. Must be a powerful transmitter in the antenna to reach geosynchronous altitude (22,236 mi).
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:03 PM   #14
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Learned something new today. I was told that the upload for satellite internet went over the phone line. Must be a powerful transmitter in the antenna to reach geosynchronous altitude (22,236 mi).
Not really. The Voyager spacecraft (not the one on Star Trek, the real ones) only have 20-watt transmitters, but still send signals back to Earth from over 6 billion miles away. There are a lot of factors besides transmitting power that determine reception distance.
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