Internet – when we want it, where we want it

We live in an age where internet is a necessity. We are not in the position to retire, so I need reliable internet to work from any location we happen to be in. From my experience, campground wireless internet is hit and miss. Even if I am connected, it is not fast enough even for basic work.

So what is the answer? There are several different options out there, but the best and most reliable is cellular. I have an iPhone that I can “hotspot” my computer to, and so far it has been working great! The challenge is when cellular signal is not good.

Speaking of cellular signal, I have learned that the “bars” indicator on the phone is not a reliable guide to how well your phone/hotspot will work. The reliable test is to open up a browser like Safari and going to speedtest.net. The numbers there will tell you pretty accurately how good your internet will be. This will vary depending on your location, so if you have a choice of sites, run that speed test at each site to see where it is best. Also, it will vary by how many people are using it at the time, so in the evenings when everyone is in their campers streaming Netflix, your performance will be less.

So what happens if you want to camp somewhere and you cannot get good numbers from speedtest on your phone? Well, you need some way to boost the signal. This opens up a whole can of worms. I will try to make it basic. This by no means comprehensive! Modern cell phones have what is called MIMO – Multiple In, Multiple Out. This means there are actually two to four connections coming from your cell phone to the tower. That is how you can watch youtube, get emails and chat all at the same time with no delay. Most “boosters” you see advertised for RVs and trailers have a single connection to the tower. It will really boost that ONE connection, but no others. This will mean really slow internet speeds most of the time. What you need is some type of device that will boost MIMO all the way to the tower.

I purchased the MoFi 4500, and it seems to work great! It boosts the MIMO as well as giving you a wifi for your RV. I purchased a SIM card from my cell provider and used the data portion of it. I used it as my primary internet connection for a month at my home office, and had no problems or drops.

The future REALLY looks bright for great internet anywhere. Elon Musk’s company Starlink is putting up thousands of low orbit satellites and we will be able to connect to them. They are in beta testing now – more in the northern portion of the US. But, in a year or two, my post will be OLD, and we will laugh at it. I still remember coming home from work – beep, boop, SCREEEEEEECCCCHHHHH, Welcome! You’ve got Mail!!

This just scratches the surface….If you have any questions, feel free to comment, and I will try my best. B-)

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