Wifi In Motion – Make Your RV An Internet Hot Spot!
As a devout online blogger, an Internet connection is as important to RVing as fresh water, diesel, and smores. More than once we’ve made overnight camping decisions based upon the answer to one crucial question: “Do they have wifi?”
Thankfully, we no longer have to ask that question. Now we have our own wifi. We’ve installed a kit from Wifi in Motion (wifiinmotion.com) in our RV, and so far have enjoyed great results. Here’s how it works…
The Wifi in Motion kit has three major components: an antenna, an amplifier, and a router. You also need a subscription with a national cellular provider like AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. Those companies will provide either a compatible cellphone or an Internet data card. We opted for the card.
Basically, the Wifi in Motion antenna grabs a cellular signal, and the amplifier strengthens and sends that signal into your Internet data card. Then the router uses it to create your own wifi network in your RV. It may sound complicated, but in practice it’s quite simple. Once you have the kit installed, you don’t really need to do anything. You just plug your card into the router, turn everything on, and you’re good to go.
When we’re on the road, we carry two laptops, two iPhones, and an Xbox 360 video games console — all of which demand a wifi connection for best results. Plus, I’m usually uploading video and posting to our blog. So for us, this kit has been a Godsend.
The Wifi in Motion kit offers several advantages to the RV traveler. Here are a few.
First and foremost, you are no longer reliant on third parties like campgrounds to provide your wifi network. After over a year of traveling on The Long, Long Honeymoon, we’ve had mixed experience with campground wifi. Sometimes (in a highly annoying practice that ranks up there with early checkout times) campgrounds charge extra fees for an Internet connection. Usually, wifi is included in your campground fee, but the signal is often so laughably weak that you can’t receive it inside your RV.
Weak signals have been an ongoing problem for us. The aluminum exterior of our Airstream acts as a shield that hinders wifi signals from penetrating our rig. More than once I’ve found myself sitting outside, in the dark, hunched over a laptop — simply because that’s the only place I could receive a decent Internet signal. With our Wifi in Motion kit, so long as we can get a cellular signal, we always have a strong Internet connection inside our RV. And thanks to the antenna and amplifier, we can receive a signal just about anywhere, from national parks to Wal-Mart parking lots. I’m told that the antenna and booster provides an extra 40-50 miles of range. So that means we can dry camp in most places with wifi.
A second advantage is that the kit creates a private, secure wifi network. This provides a little extra peace of mind when conducting banking and other sensitive transactions online. In this age of identity theft, sending private data over public Internet connections makes us all a little wary. So it’s nice to have your own password-protected network.
A third advantage is that the kit is highly portable. You can not only use it traveling along the highway, but you can also use it when you’re not camping. After our recent cross-country journey, we actually removed the router from our RV and placed it in our house. We’ve been receiving quite respectable connection speeds (about 1400 Kbps downstream, 400 Kbps upstream) using the router at home. In theory, you can use the Wifi in Motion kit as your sole Internet connection — at home and away. When we finish an RV trip, we just remove the router from our rig and we are set. You don’t really need to take the antenna and amplifier home with you, since they mainly assist when your RV is literally “in motion.”
Installation is a breeze (the trickiest part is drilling a single hole through which to feed the antenna wire into your RV). If you are a “handy” type of person, you won’t have any problems. If you choose a professional installation, the entire process should take no more than 90 minutes. We opted to mount our amplifier and router inside our RV with velcro. Not only does this approach maintain a stock appearance to our Airstream interior, it also facilitates portability. Removing the router from our Airstream now takes RRRRRRRRRRIP! about 3 seconds.
A final consideration (and for most of us, it’s also the first consideration) is cost. The complete Wifi in Motion RV kit costs $895. Your monthly Internet subscription costs about $60 per month.
How does this compare? The main alternative to this kit would be a satellite Internet kit. (For more info on this option, check out Chris Guld’s article: I Love My Satellite Internet.) The key benefit to a satellite system is range, because it receives a signal anywhere it can get an unblocked view of the southern sky. So a satellite will probably work in those remote places (like Yellowstone National Park) where there are no cellular signals. But there’s one major downside to satellite. It looks like a comparable satellite Internet kit would cost about $4500 for the hardware alone, plus $1000 for installation, plus a data plan of $80 per month. Maybe I’m a cheapskate, but I can’t imagine shelling out this kind of cash for an Internet connection. By comparison, the Wifi in Motion kit seems a bargain. And unlike some clunky satellite dish, everything is low profile, lightweight, and portable.
So, there are some of the upsides of the Wifi In Motion kit. What about the downsides?
The primary downside is that your speed of Internet access is dependent on your cellular company. If you are camping in a high speed 3G area, you’ll get excellent connection speeds. I’ve uploaded massive video files with surprising speed. But if you are in a low bandwidth area, the connection speed is unremarkable. If you’ve ever used the AT&T Edge network on an iPhone, you know what to expect. It’ll deliver the basics (email, browsing, etc.) but heavy users will be yearning for a faster connection. I would have no luck uploading a fat HD video file, for example.
Another potential downside is that most of these cellular companies are instituting monthly bandwidth caps on usage. These caps are typically around 5GB per month, which is more than enough for most folks. But for a video-loving bandwidth hog like myself, it could pose a problem. We’ll see.
So the moral of this story is to choose your Internet provider carefully. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon each offer different amounts of high speed coverage, and different policies with regard to usage caps. Do a little research before you choose a card. If you watch our video, you probably know what we chose. (One company sprinted to the fore.) But I do think that nationwide high bandwidth coverage is inevitable, as all three companies scramble to improve their Internet delivery everywhere.
Overall, I feel the Wifi in Motion kit is a superior solution to satellite kits, for the reasons stated. The cost is reasonable, and I love the fact that we always have a wifi connection, even when we’re boondocking. This company has done its homework and bundled together everything you need in one box. Our router even arrived pre-configured with the necessary security and password information already programmed for us. Installation was painless, and the ownership experience has been fantastic. If you want to learn more about this product, check out the company website at wifiinmotion.com.
For more RV travel videos and articles check out our blog at TheLongLongHoneymoon.com.
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