Dear Computer Geeks:
Hi. This is Rodney Nicholson, a very new member of FMCA.
I have one urgent need with regard to RVing that I would like to resolve as quickly as I can. We are looking for the best way to get Internet access when on the road (or, more accurately, when parked while traveling.)
Since we plan to spend part of the year in Mexico it seems that a satellite connection is the only viable option, and there appear to be two basic types of systems:
1. A dish attached to the roof which automatically finds the satellite, with an equipment/installation cost of about $5,000; or
2. A dish assembled on a tripod which has to be aligned manually, for about $1,500.
We are looking at the second – tripod type, and are hoping to find information from members about systems they have used and, from experience, they know work satisfactorily.
We will be travelling mostly on the west side of the continent between southern British Columbia and Mexico City.
This will be a great help. Many thanks for any assistance you can provide with this.
Rodney and Shirley
Congratulations on your plans to travel to Canada, United States and Mexico. Sounds wonderful.
I agree that if you need Internet wherever you go in those places, satellite is the best option. We have been using the Datastorm automatic roof mount since 2003 and love it. We also know plenty of people who use the manual, tripod mount.
Satellite Internet is getting less popular due to the proliferation of good cellular Internet connections, but satellite is still the best option for Canada and Mexico. Even if you can get a cell signal in those countries, you will probably be assessed hefty roaming charges.
I am biased toward the automatic roof mount. It’s just so much easier to push a button inside your coach and be online within minutes, as opposed to pulling the tripod and dish out of a storage compartment and spending 30 minutes setting it up. It all depends on how you travel. If you like to make tracks daily, or even weekly, you will get quite tired of the manual setup. On the other hand, if you go to a destination and stay for a month or two – the manual setup is not a problem.
With the extreme north-south range you mention, you may need to change satellites to get a good signal. This can be an important difference with the automatic roof mount vs. the tripod mount.
Your actual Internet service most likely will come from Hughes. With an automatic roof mount like the Datastorm, you will be supported by Motosat. Motosat will handle switching your service from one satellite covering northern latitudes to another satellite covering the southern latitudes. If you have the manual, tripod mount, your service contract is directly with Hughes. And Hughes does not like switching satellites for you! They think satellite dishes should be stationery on residential property, and although it’s not illegal to put them on a tripod and move them (like some people used to think), it is not well-supported.
Hope that helps.
We have a Satellite Internet FAQ page on our website at http://geeksontour.com/satellite.cfm. For more users' input, go to www.datastormusers.com
— Jim and Chris