Camp WiFi vs. Satellite Internet

Here’s a question for the web-savvy full-timers:

Would you rather rely on spotty campground wireless service for your internet connection, or have your own more reliable yet much more expensive satellite dish service such as MotoSat? This may be irrelevant to the weekend warriors but for those of us on the road full-time, who need to remain connected for either business or pleasure it is a serious consideration. So consider this…

We have a top of the line .98 meter F2 satellite dish from Datastorm with MotoSat internet service and a Linksys 300N wireless router. Yet I have spent most of this morning trying to publish these posts and get pages to load with a very weak connection to this campground’s 802.11b network. Why you ask?

Trees are made up mostly of water. This makes them one of the greatest hindrances to obtaining a decent satellite signal from any dish. Hillsides and mountains certainly don’t help either. And when we attempt to lock on to 91 West – our designated satellite – we are pointed directly through all of the above. So another ting to consider when finding a spot to stay a while is whether or not you have a decent view of the southern sky and/or what’s in the way. At our last stop the dish was pointed directly through a metal building but we had great connectivity, where at the trees and gulch we are in here at Lake Francis keep us from getting a signal lock. I suppose we could, however, entertain ourselves and other campers by watching the dish sweep the sky searching for a signal all weekend.

On the other hand, when looking for campgrounds that offer Free WiFi – almost all do these days – be sure to ask some questions and/or look around before picking your spot if access is a must. Finding out this level of detail from resort staff may be difficult, but you’ll want to know what type of wireless network is available. If it’s only “b” network (IEEE Standard 802.11b) you will want to be very close to the router so find out where it is located. This will most likely be in or near the office. 802.11b routers deliver a maximum data transfer rate of 11Mbps.

Wireless networks designated as “g” are stronger (up to 54Mbps) and will provide better connectivity allowing greater distance from the source, but the newer 300Mbps “n” routers spread the strongest signal the farthest distance – four times greater than 802.11g. If it is a very large campground you may also want to find out if there are multiple wireless access points and where they may be located.

4 thoughts on “Camp WiFi vs. Satellite Internet”

  1. Once you get all of this RV tech stuff ironed out, I insist that you buy matching jumpsuits and feed-caps. No more fussing over your wardrobe every day.

    So, uh, how does the satelite go through metal buildings? Impressive.


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