Why Internet Access Can Be Sketchy for RVers
RV owners had it so much easier before the internet was a thing – at least in terms of connectivity. With no internet access, they didn’t have to worry about things like campground wi-fi and mobile hotspots. They communicated on the road by writing letters and sending postcards. How things have changed.
All that change has brought with it the need to constantly be online. Unfortunately, internet access can be sketchy for RVers, even on the best of days. That’s why it pays to know what the connectivity options are in advance of any road trip. Knowing your options makes it easier for you to plan for connectivity before you leave home.
Free Wi-Fi (when it works)
More than one RV newbie as claimed to not be worried about internet access for the simple fact that campgrounds offer free wi-fi. But campground wi-fi is a lot like hotel wi-fi. It is free, but only when you can get it. Therein lies the problem. Wi-fi signals at campgrounds are not necessarily all that strong. Moreover, heavy traffic bogs things down.
Unlike AirSkirts inflatable RV skirting, you never know what you are going to get with complementary wi-fi at a campground. When you invest in AirSkirts, you always know what you’re looking at when you pull the kit out of storage and install it. But when it comes to campground wi-fi, you cannot be sure of anything. It might work wonderfully today. Tomorrow, you might be lucky to sign on at all.
One of the first forays into connectivity among RV owners was satellite internet. A small number of companies offered satellite service at a fairly reasonable fee. Unfortunately, latency problems, bandwidth restrictions, and limited data plans made satellite internet less-than-feasible for RVers who had to be online all the time.
Satellite internet is still an option in 2022. However, it is not utilized so much thanks to the advent of cellular data plans. It is now more common for people to invest in cellular hotspots and routers.
Internet by Cellular
Cellular technology wasn’t capable of supporting internet access when it was first introduced. Then again, full-time connectivity wasn’t a thing back then, either. Today we have LTE and 5G. We have cellular networks capable of delivering data at speeds that are often times faster than DSL. Some of the most robust networks are more than capable of competing with fiber-optic and cable-based broadband.
The challenge with cellular internet service is getting access when you are in the middle of nowhere. As hard as it may be to believe, there are still remote portions of the country in which it can be nearly impossible to get a strong enough signal to get online. To overcome that, many RV owners invest in boosters. Unfortunately, even the best booster on the market may not work in the most remote locations.
Your Location Matters
It goes without saying that internet access depends a lot on your location. If you are staying at a public campground anywhere close to a major population center, a cellular hotspot virtually guarantees online access 24/7. Your only real consideration is the cost of your data plan. If necessary, you can always drive to a coffeehouse or public library and use the wi-fi there.
The further from civilization you go, the sketchier internet access becomes. For die-hard boondocking and dry camping fans, it is worth investing in a combination of satellite and cellular broadband that guarantees access most of the time. Needless to say, there isn’t just one solution that gets you online all the time.