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Old 10-03-2012, 11:06 AM   #15
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We just completed a 12 day trip from Denver area to the San Diego area and back. We used my Vernon Droid 4's mobile hot spot feature for Internet access. Most of the campgrounds we stopped at or stayed at had 4G coverage but some were 3G. When we had 4G the connection was 99% of the time more reliable and faster than the campground's WIFI. When we had 3G only, the speed was pretty much of a toss up, but reliability was usually better. I have found the Campground WIFI to often be very variable in speed from minute to minute. I am sure this is due to campers sharing the campground's Internet connection. I used no external amplifier or antenna. I did make sure that the phone was next to a window. I have an App which will show me the location of the tower I am using. So I use that sometimes to pick which window. When traveling. I place the phone near the font of the dash if one of us is using the Internet. Cell phone data access can be a bit frustrating when in motion in spotty coverage areas, but other wise it suits our needs (which are really wants).

Ken
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:28 AM   #16
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w7ts,

Its good to hear of your experience. It makes me think that connectivity issues are getting better with upgraded networks and equipment (no antenna or amplifier).

Future travel looks and sounds good.

Happy Trails.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:48 AM   #17
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My wife and I upgraded our Verizon 3G phones to 4G (Droid Razr Max). We had unlimited data with the old plan and were told we could still keep it, but we would have to pay full price for the phones. Wound up going with a shared 4 gig plan, which was less than the previous plan. The phones have a wifi hotspot app. that is included free. At the time of purchase I also purchased a Wilson cell phone amp. with external antenna. I have to say the system works better than expected. When camping in an area with a weak cell signal I can consistently expect 2 to 3 bars improvement with the amp. I haven't tested the wifi range yet but had a solid signal 100' from the camper.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #18
Don't forget your cat nap
 
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Originally Posted by 310astream View Post
My wife and I upgraded our Verizon 3G phones to 4G (Droid Razr Max). We had unlimited data with the old plan and were told we could still keep it, but we would have to pay full price for the phones. Wound up going with a shared 4 gig plan, which was less than the previous plan. The phones have a wifi hotspot app. that is included free. At the time of purchase I also purchased a Wilson cell phone amp. with external antenna. I have to say the system works better than expected. When camping in an area with a weak cell signal I can consistently expect 2 to 3 bars improvement with the amp. I haven't tested the wifi range yet but had a solid signal 100' from the camper.
We changed our two separate plans (one unlimited data and one not) to a new share everything plan. We saved quite a bit and the unlimited voice is a big improvement for us. We find the 2GB is fine for use when we are home, since we have comcast internet at home. When we travel, we will change the plan to 4GB, if we think we will need it. If our last 12 day trip had been a month, we may have needed the 4GB. However as it was, although it all fell in one billing cycle, the 2GB was more than enough.

The other think I like about the new plans is the free hot spot and tethering. For all practical purposes, as long as I have my phone with me, it turns my wireless only tablet into a 4G tablet for free.

Ken
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:33 AM   #19
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Awesome info and advice. With every post things are becoming much more clear. Phoenix, I will follow through with Gordon, plus it is much cheaper. Also, I am interested in seeing what's new with the next generation of WiFi-In Motion.

By the way, I am expecting our 2013 30" Classic, special order, delivery around the end of this month. We have Verizon wireless cell phones and want to stay with them. We plan to RV full-time starting in April 2013. We want our own internet secure system all the time and everywhere possible across the US and Canada. We have no equipment, we are starting from scratch. This is the reason I was interested in a complete system.

Thanks again all for your concern and input.
Probably too late, but if you're having one built, you should have them run the wires to run an external Wifi and cellular antenna.
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:55 AM   #20
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We have not decided on a system yet. Still trying to educate myself so that we will get the equipment that fit our needs and buy right the first time. Thanks for you advice.
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:20 AM   #21
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Great info here. I agree with the last few posters though. With today's smart phones and data plans/speeds 3g/4g you don't need to add equipment to get connectivity on the road.

For instance I can use my Verizon iPhone 4 to make it a mobile hot spot for any laptops that need connectivity... Hotel/campground Wi-Fi coverage and spped can be spotty to non-existent.

Unless you need to boost signal in remote locations, I wouldn't get crazy on buying expensive add-on's that will be obsolete in just a few years.

Security note! Lock down your wireless network connections. You never know who could be sniffing you!
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Old 10-05-2012, 06:33 PM   #22
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We have not decided on a system yet. Still trying to educate myself so that we will get the equipment that fit our needs and buy right the first time. Thanks for you advice.
Yeah. The issue is that it's basically impossible to fish wires through the skin. Ideally you'd get them to run a piece of conduit or something so it'd be easy to fish wires through. That's probably not really feasible, either. But if it were me, I'd run some cat 5 or 6 cable and one of the wires that cellular antennas use, and have them run the ends to somewhere convenient in the camper, like near the radio. Cat 6 can carry data + power (low power, but enough to run an antenna; this is how campgrounds do it).
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:06 PM   #23
Don't forget your cat nap
 
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Yeah. The issue is that it's basically impossible to fish wires through the skin. Ideally you'd get them to run a piece of conduit or something so it'd be easy to fish wires through. That's probably not really feasible, either. But if it were me, I'd run some cat 5 or 6 cable and one of the wires that cellular antennas use, and have them run the ends to somewhere convenient in the camper, like near the radio. Cat 6 can carry data + power (low power, but enough to run an antenna; this is how campgrounds do it).
I would first try to route any wires I needed though places where other things already go in or out of the skin. M first attempt would be to try to get a cable snake or perhaps some other thin strong wire to route alongside the umbilical cord. Our trailer has three small compartments with doors in the rear of the side belly wrap. The city water and TV cable are already in those compartments, so I would look there also for places to get access to the inside. Our battery compartments have drain openings under the doors. Those could provide access to the inside. Another option is to use the top refer vent to feed wires to the refer compartment and then through the walls to inside. I am sure if I was trying to do this, I would discover other access as well. I know right know I could get a wire into the bottom of our closet by drilling a small hole in the pan that covers the bottom of the holding and fresh water tanks. Just some ideas.

Ken
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:12 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by w7ts

I would first try to route any wires I needed though places where other things already go in or out of the skin. M first attempt would be to try to get a cable snake or perhaps some other thin strong wire to route alongside the umbilical cord. Our trailer has three small compartments with doors in the rear of the side belly wrap. The city water and TV cable are already in those compartments, so I would look there also for places to get access to the inside. Our battery compartments have drain openings under the doors. Those could provide access to the inside. Another option is to use the top refer vent to feed wires to the refer compartment and then through the walls to inside. I am sure if I was trying to do this, I would discover other access as well. I know right know I could get a wire into the bottom of our closet by drilling a small hole in the pan that covers the bottom of the holding and fresh water tanks. Just some ideas.

Ken
I know. But he's having a new Airstream built. Much better to do it then. :-)
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:19 AM   #25
Don't forget your cat nap
 
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I know. But he's having a new Airstream built. Much better to do it then. :-)
It may be easier to do then perhaps. Better is open to debate, because it will be very expensive to do it then. On a new Airstream order, any customizations not listed as an available option are priced at $500 each plus parts and labor. If it were me, I would wait until I got it.

Ken
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:09 PM   #26
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A few comments:

Internet via Smartphone:
The monthly data limits with smartphone accounts are generally low.
Verizon is, I believe, no longer offering any plans with unlimited data and has instituted a surcharge ($20/month) for existing users if multiple devices are connected through their smartphone and existing users who upgrade their phones lose their unlimited data.
I am not familiar with other carriers.
Verizon is still offering "mobile hotspot" devices - a newer model than the 4510L is available.
Signal Strength:
We found Verizon WiFi connections in 3 Florida state parks of the 10 we stayed in last winter to be poor (slow) or non-existent - this was corrected with a Wide Band Directional Antenna (304411/304475) ($70 at Radio Shack) WITHOUT an amplifier even though at that time our newly acquired antenna was INSIDE our AS. Wilson (Antennas | Store | Wilson Electronics) also sells a small amplified indoor antenna that could be used with a mobile WiFi access point - I have no experience with these.
Verizon is reputed to have the best coverage (in Florida) and is installing more access points (towers) all the time but we found that even high population areas reception could be poor without the antenna perhaps in part due to the metal shell of our AS.
Installation:
The Wilson antenna is compact (longest dimension is 11.5") and can be mounted almost anywhere on the roof thus avoiding the need to snake cables any distance - we snaked our co-ax 2' to pop out beside an inner wall (stay away from those rivet lines!). If you don't mind a small co-ax cable running along the ceiling installation can be done with no snaking.This antenna is easily retrofitted to the Winegard mast.
Do not use RJ45 cable in place of co-ax with an antenna as this would degrade the signal - we required a 50 ohm antenna (and co-ax) for our MiFi.
A rotating mast is needed with this directional antenna.
Once inside the RV cable can be routed alongside the water supply lines quite easily but as our MiFi connects wirelessly to laptops and tablets this was not necessary.
Hope this is useful information.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:19 PM   #27
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Correction -- No one probably noticed, but I left out the MiFi 4510L in my previous post:

Verizon Cell Tower => External Cellular Antenna => Cyfre Cell Amplifier => MiFi 4510L => PepWave SOTG => Laptop/Kindle Fire/Other WiFi-connected devices (e.g., iPhone, iPad, etc.)
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:58 PM   #28
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Internet access is a priority item with me inasmuch as I have a small commercial web server and I need to monitor it. At home it's not an issue, as I have cable extreme, but when I travel south for the winter, I need wide coverage and access. What works for me is Verizon's 5Gb plan using a small USB dongle or air-card - Verizon's coverage is, as far as I can tell, wider than any of the others I've used (I had been with AT&T - poor coverage in the western states, and Virgin - cheap, but congested in Arizona). However, the dongle or air-card by itself doesn't cut it in fringe areas, so I had a cellular antenna mounted on the roof, and I have the Wilson amplifier with the inside pickup antenna. I also use a Cradlepoint router. The Cradlepoint is a very small wireless router into which the air-card is plugged (it has a USB port for this purpose). The Cradlepoint does all the negotiating for ISP connectivity. Thus the inside of the trailer is a wireless network. My printer (a Brother laser printer with a wireless nic), my laptop, my iPod are all connected wirelessly together and to the internet via the Cradlepoint. Since most of the places I visit are in the boonies, 4th generation cell service is not a consideration; hence my older Cradlepoint serves my needs just fine. As far as costs are concerned, the Verizon plan is $59/month and the Cradlepoint router was purchased on eBay for $25.
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