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Old 12-12-2018, 11:50 PM   #1
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2019 25' International
Lebanon , Connecticut
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Gearing up for a big trip, satellite phones anyone?

Hi everyone,

We just picked up our 2019 25' Queen Front Bed and are planning our 1st cross country trip!

I am concerned we will reach spotty cell coverage or no coverage on AT&T during the trip and that could mean no GPS or ability to call 911 or hear about urgent matters back home. Well, I bought my husband a map for Christmas and started looking into a back up plan when the cell service is out.

On some forums, I have read of people not having coverage for days! I can't imagine we would be that far away from a Walmart for that long (free wifi and all), but getting caught on a long stretch away from civilization still concerns me.

I was looking at satellite phones and wonder if anyone uses it and what service plan you go with.

We did not get the satellite antenna setup package on the AS, although, it is wired for it, I understand, since we have the Signature model. It seems to have a mobile antenna on the roof, not sure yet what that does, but we did not buy any technology add ons. I dont really want to do something like HughesNet anyway, we already have a big enough cell phone bill. Maybe there is something else we can hook into the partial system already there though? We dont want TV service, btw.

So...maybe a backup satellite phone is the way to go? Just to use for texting and emergency calls only. Does anyone have any thoughts you could share about satellite phones and if you have been able to utilize the mobile antenna or satellite wiring for anything that might be useful. I would really appreciate it! Thank you!
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:13 AM   #2
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Wasilla , Alaska
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Sometimes the whole point is to be out of touch. It can take time to acclimate - so short duration to begin with helps. The best part about our remote cabin is that it is several hundred miles away from just about anywhere - in a National Park, now, and there is no communication, except with the occasional plane flying over or the neighbor 6 miles down the lake coming by to say hey.

That said, I carry a sat phone, in an otter case, with a spare good battery. It is for calls out in the case of serious badness. At the lake I use it for aviation weather from flight service, or to call and have the air taxi come and retrieve us.

For RVing, it is in the bug-out pack that goes from the garage to the tow vehicle and back to the ready shelf in the garage. Haven't had occasion to use it while RVing. If I didn't already have one for aviation-related stuff, I am not sure I would go to the trouble to buy and subscribe to a Sat phone/service. Hard to say.
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiddleFlyer View Post
Hi everyone,

We just picked up our 2019 25' Queen Front Bed and are planning our 1st cross country trip!

I am concerned we will reach spotty cell coverage or no coverage on AT&T during the trip and that could mean no GPS or ability to call 911 or hear about urgent matters back home. Well, I bought my husband a map for Christmas and started looking into a back up plan when the cell service is out.

On some forums, I have read of people not having coverage for days! I can't imagine we would be that far away from a Walmart for that long (free wifi and all), but getting caught on a long stretch away from civilization still concerns me.

I was looking at satellite phones and wonder if anyone uses it and what service plan you go with.

We did not get the satellite antenna setup package on the AS, although, it is wired for it, I understand, since we have the Signature model. It seems to have a mobile antenna on the roof, not sure yet what that does, but we did not buy any technology add ons. I dont really want to do something like HughesNet anyway, we already have a big enough cell phone bill. Maybe there is something else we can hook into the partial system already there though? We dont want TV service, btw.

So...maybe a backup satellite phone is the way to go? Just to use for texting and emergency calls only. Does anyone have any thoughts you could share about satellite phones and if you have been able to utilize the mobile antenna or satellite wiring for anything that might be useful. I would really appreciate it! Thank you!
Hey 1st timers. Satellite phones are expensive. I always watch my phone to see when service goes in and out so I know how far away that service is. Good trip.
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:40 AM   #4
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So far we’ve only been a few places where we couldn’t get either Verizon or AT&T, especially with a cell booster. We have a plan on one and a burner prepaid phone (or hotspot) on the other.

In Rainer national park there is absolutely no cell service, for example, but there is wifi at the visitor centers so you can make wifi calls at those places. If you absolutely have to always be in touch at all times then a sat phone might be for you.

Something halfway between a Sat phone and nothing is a Spot. They use sat technology to send short emergency messages or text messages,
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:41 AM   #5
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We've found coverage in most areas of the country with Verizon.

We installed a WeBoost 4GX cell booster in our 2017 25FB. That coupled with our Verizon cell phones and dedicated Verizon wifi hot spot assures cell and wifi in most of the U.S. and much of Canada and Alaska.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:20 AM   #6
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Spot - LINK
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:25 AM   #7
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My wife has Verizon and I have ATT. One of us has service perhaps 95 percent of the time. Of course, that's on two trips to the East Coast and Midwest. Out west, we have experienced less coverage between towns. Major highways will have service. Does it bother us not having cell service? No, we use a Garmin to navigate. Cell phones are secondary. And it's nice being out of touch like the good old days. We have seen several state park maps indicating cell service areas.

Save the sat phones for offshore activity.

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Old 12-13-2018, 07:31 AM   #8
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SPOT vs InReach Satellite Communicators vs Sat Phone

I have used both the SPOT and inReach satellite communicators for when out of cell reception. This was always the case when sailing off shore, however less so on land, although cell phone service is not available in lots of places you may want to go. I have used communicators and sat phones in the east and the west.

They all require subscriptions.

The SPOT Gen3 is less expensive and provides a couple of programmed (by you) messages that will let friends and family that everything is OK as well as the SOS function to get help in an emergency. Good for piece of mind. It is on sale right now for around $75.

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SPOT also has a 2-way communicator for around $250, but I have never used this as it is fairly new. This unit does not have the GPSr with topo maps like the inReach.

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The inReach Explorer, while being more expensive has a couple of features that, IMO, make it a better choice. 1. Two way text message communication. (Can be paired with your mobile phone for ease of use.) This is great for keeping in touch rather than just an "I'm OK" message. 2. GPSr with maps. 3. If needing rescue you can communicate with the rescue team. I have always been able to communicate with the inReach. It is expensive - around $450 and a bit clunky to use without pairing it with my iPhone.

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I also have a Iridium Extreme satellite phone. It is expensive, around $1200 and not always reliable, even with a clear view of the sky.

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Another alternative is the SPOT Trace. This is a one-way only tracking device. I use this all the time when parked as a way to help the police find my trailer if it is ever stolen. Your friends and family can also see your location from the Trace position reports, but you can't let them know your status. It is on sale right now for around $100.


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If I was buying again I would likely purchase the SPOT X communicator and the SPOT Trace.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:15 AM   #9
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Another vote for InReach Explorer. You can at least text whenever you have a view of the sky.

We recently returned from a six month cross US trip. Most of the time, we did have ATT or Verizon. In some cases, we did have to look around for Wifi, like at the national park lodges.

The Garmin was good backup when we went on hikes - it tells you where you are, and in a pinch allows for emergency communications. I am also told they work pretty well in rescue situations to give your location.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:28 AM   #10
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If you stick your travel on the major interstates and only stay overnight in RV parks you should have uninterrupted connectivity. Avoid national parks as many are located in places away from cell towers. In an emergency, the more remote parks and places still have older communication devices available for use here and there, called pay phones.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:39 AM   #11
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One thing about sat phones. They don't work everywhere as most think. Mountains, building, trees, etc will block the signal. And there are two sat systems. One has stationary satellites with decreased coverage the farther north you go. The second system has moving satellites which is less prone to signal blockage.

Sjohn
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:49 AM   #12
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People have traveled for years without instant communication and survived. It amazes me how dependent everyone has gotten on instant gratification they get from cell phones. Other than my wife or I having a medical emergency I cannot think of anything that will cause great changes in my life if I am not informed of it immediately.
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Old 12-14-2018, 12:46 PM   #13
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People have traveled for years without instant communication and survived. It amazes me how dependent everyone has gotten on instant gratification they get from cell phones. Other than my wife or I having a medical emergency I cannot think of anything that will cause great changes in my life if I am not informed of it immediately.
For my wife it’s an anexity reduction thing. Logical or not she is much more at ease knowing that we are still connected to the outside world. Everyone is different in how unplugged they feel comfortable being.
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Old 12-14-2018, 03:00 PM   #14
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We generally have cell coverage - Verizon plan you see.

It was a pain when we were having a family reunion in Mesa Verde as that park has areas with no coverage. Had to drive up to an overlook to hit the cell service in Cortez and no person to person service with family in different areas of park.

We also have to go outside the trailer to improve the signal reception on occasion. Otherwise we get good connectivity without WiFi.

Note that low signal areas may well let you text. We do not but in emergency conditions it can be an effective option.

If this is a make or break deal, get a Sat phone. Expensive but effective. Do your research on type, as they are not all same.

Good Luck on your trip. Pat
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