Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

Discussion in 'Full Timing' started by Woody, Mar 4, 2006.

  1. Woody

    Woody New Member

    Hi, pleased to meet you all! The wife and I are planning on full time RVing in Canada and the USA where we have many friends using a Dodge 2500 Cummings turbo deisel towing a 38 ft toy hauler 5th wheel. We are looking at commmunication options and availability while on the road. Wondering what is everyone using. We would like to have tv/internet/phone capabilities. We are not sure what is out there, just started looking. Any information or help would be appreciated.
  2. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    For phone, cellular is the best option. You want a company which offers nationwide coverage without extra fees. Verizon is what I have, and it works pretty well. There are a few places in the country where you have to pay outrageous roaming charges, but I'd say I've had 'free' coverage about 95% of the places I've been.

    I prefer 'tri-mode' service, since analog seems to be available in places that digital can't reach, but then I understand that analog cellular is being discontinued in 2008, so that may not be necessary any more.

    A good batwing antenna with booster can provide adequate TV reception in many areas. The other TV option is satellite. Your service options are Dish or Direct TV (or possibly a receiver which receives 'free' programming). Your dish options are a manual one on the ground or a dish on the roof (or both). Most of the roof dishes are for when you are stationary, but there are some which claim they work in motion (probably not of much value in a trailer :).

    Internet is a bit less clearcut. You can do by dialing up over your cell phone, or use a specified internet service from many of the cell companies. Or use WiFi, dial up or campground facilities (only if you don't need it regularly or for long periods), or use satellite.

    Satellite can be expensive, although if you use a manual, ground mounted dish it can be not too unreasonable. At least one of the services allow you to hook a TV LNB to the dish, so you can get both with one dish (still have to deal with 2 companies though).

    If you do have internet, you may be able to use one of those internet phone services
  3. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    Let me add a little to what John said.

    Cell phones have become the answer for phone service. They are reasonably priced and can be used in most locations. The two leading providers are Cingular and Verison. Which is best depends to some degree on where you go, but is mostly just opinion.

    On TV, a great deal depends upon just how much you want to watch and how important is it? We tend to spend a lot of time in remote areas and my wife does like her TV so we finally broke down and got a dish. The cost is exactly the same as for a house and you can get the dish mounted on a tripod that you can carry with you. Have the installer show you how to point it and with very little practice you will find it pretty easy to use. If you stay near the cities you won't need it, but in remote areas it is the only way to have quality TV. There is also a special waiver for RVers that will allow you to get the network programing from one of the major city TV markets too.

    For the internet, the best choice again depends to a great deal upon where you plan to spend your time. As a fulltimer you will probably quickly find that a telephone ISP is just not a good choice. WiFi is the least expensive, generally but it is also the least available. RV parks are putting it in very rapidly, but there are still no more than 1/4 of the parks that have it and less in the more outlying areas. Very often you will have to take the computer in the car to go and find a place where it is available. When it is available in an RV park, it is quite common for it to cost from $3 to$10 per day for service. Many truck stops do now have it available and you can get an annual subscription for service, but there are several providers so the cost can run up quickly. But it is great when you have it in an RV park.

    The next choice is the "air card" that is available from both Cingular and Verison. With one of these you can get unlimited service for a monthly fee, usually about $60. They do provide a high speed connection and can be used anywhere if the signal is available. The coverage is improving, but is still far from everywhere so check the coverage maps.

    The most available internet choice is the dish. While it is effected by weather, it can be use virtually anywhere and is a high speed connection. The most convenient dish system is an automatic one and those will cost about $5000 for equipment and about $100 per month. But they are easy to use, quick and reliable. Next choice is the manual, tripod mounted dish. Those are much less expensive ranging from about $800 to near $2000, depending upon the quality of equipment, the level of dealer support and the training the owner receives. There are two companies that provide dish internet and if you are interested, I suggest that you do a lot of research before you choose. There are some pretty important differences between the two companies in service as well as a very wide range of support from the dealers. Some sell real quality equipment and service, and there are also some real junk dealers out there. But most dish users consider their system to be the best choice, no matter which company they get service from, as long as they get good equipment.

    It does take a seperate dish that is larger than the TV dish to get internet, but there are kits available to mount the TV equipment to the dish you use for internet from both service companies.
  4. Woody

    Woody New Member

    Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    Thanks guys, appreciate your input!
  5. onthecoach

    onthecoach Senior Member

    Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    Hello Woody!

    Welcome to this wonderful Life!!

    I agree with what has been stated, but let me add a few bits of wisdom from my experience:

    1. Yes, cell phones are the best...just make sure you can get service in the areas where you will be traveling. You don't want to find that you have roaming charges.

    2. TV: Your batwing antenna will usually get the major networks.

    We have a roof mounted satellite dish, and this year, have not been able to get any signal because there are too many trees where we are. It's a bummer, but that's how it is. The beauty of satellite is that if you cannot get a signal, you can just call DirecTV or Dish and ask them to suspend your service until such time as you move and can get signal. That way, you are not charged for something you cannot use.

    Many campgrounds have cable tv, if you don't have to pay for it, it's great...if you have cable availability in your coach.

    More often than not, to use cable you need to call the local cable company and sign up. That's a pain, unless you are going to be somewhere for several months at a long as you are not locked into some kind of time requirement to the cable co.

    3. Internet: Many (not most) campgrounds now have WIFI for available for campers. However, you MUST check and be sure it is available at ALL CAMPSITES! Sometimes it is only available near the office...and that's a pain!

    Cable is another option, but you have the same obstacles as listed above.

    Satellite internet would be a good alternative, but having researched this I found the following:
    a. Initial cost set up is about $5,000!!!!
    b. Monthly costs are about $100/month
    c. You need an ADDITIONAL dish...can't use the roof mounted dish
    d. Most people have complained bitterly that once you are on the plan for a few months, the satellite plans slow down and become as bad as dial up. DirecTV and Dish seem to woo you into their net and initially keep you on a relatively lightly used band...then, after a few months, move you to a more heavily used area that is already clogged with prior subscribers.

    I heard and read NOTHING that said people were happy and satisfied with Satellite Internet.

    Since we are fairly permanently situated, we are using Charter Cable for high-speed internet, only. Works great! $19.99 a month!

    Hope this info proves helpful!
  6. SnowbirdInFlight

    SnowbirdInFlight Senior Member

    Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    Or if you have a laptop you can sign up for the Cingular PC card and get the internet while driving down the road. Start up cost $200 and then it's $60 a month for unlimited service. Faster than dial up but slower than DSL. The card also doubles as a wireless card. I like mine because I can get on-line while DH is driving down the road. You can go to for more info.
  7. tmarrs

    tmarrs New Member

    Re: Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    I use the Sprint Broadband anywhere card from Sprint/Nextel. I get high speed data in major metro areas and outskirts (state parks around Houston and Dallas, TX) - and I get lower speed (19.9bps) when out further. It works great, and it works anywhere you can get cellular service. I have had no connection at one private RV park in a heavy wooded valley, however driving to the enterance of the park brought the connection to life. I pay $60 a month for unlimited service, and got the aircard for free through a special promotion they did about a year ago.

  8. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Re: Satelitte dish tv/internet/phone

    I tried the Cingular card, because they claimed I would get broadband speed in Tucson starting 6/1. 6/22 came along and it still did not get broadband speed. They would not give me any guarantee when it would work, and they would not extend my 30 day trial period. $60 a month for speeds from 26K (worse than dial up) to 90K did not sound like a good deal and so I cancelled it before the 2 year contract became in force.

    Didn't want to sign a 2 year contract with Verizon, because they won't say when broadband will be available here, and their trial period is only 15 days. Also, their (the good one; they have a cheaper one available) card is more expensive than Cingular's. However, I did recently get a new phone from them which supports internet usage. I have to pay $60 extra a month for unlimited internet, but there is no contract (can turn it on and off whenever I like). Also needed a cable and software (about $40). It works pretty good - usually get about 300K speeds (I'm using it now in the cornfields of Illinois). The only downside is that while using it for internet, the cell phone does not work as a phone.

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