SMART PHONES are probably
the SMARTEST ITEMS that all RVers
should have on their RVing trip!

Smart phones are part of our daily lives.

Since most of us probably have integrated PDA (Personal Digital Assistant /cell phones), commonly called smart phones, the addition of data connection support to our service plan may be the most logical option in order to be connected to internet.

Like the Verizon, IPhones, BlackBerry etc..., they have many new improvements every year. There are various accessories available. One example is an auxiliary keyboard to facilitate typing.

The cellphone option has a much smaller display screen than a computer. Both, a cellular plan and internet service provider (ISP) are necessary. Companies like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Bell, Telus, Rogers etc.. offer such services.

Browsing the internet and waiting for pages to download is something of the past. Every provider offers high speed internet, some maybe with faster connections.

All provide different coverage maps for their cell phone service plans. Be aware of the monthly download limit attached to each plan.

Depending where you are RVing, cellular phone internet can not always be your primary solution but the service improves every month filling up the gaps where there was no high speed connection or coverage at all.

Since RVing takes place in the outdoors most of the time, there is always this possibility of signal interference due to trees, mountains etc... affecting the connectivity.

This is why we can not really say that it is a 24/7 internet access connection. In order to help, an amplifier of signal booster is highly recommended.

However, cellphones are the only option working in motion. This means a passenger can browse internet and give you information on weather, conditions of the road, directions etc... while you are driving. You can also use it away from your RV which is a big advantage.

However, other options exist as well.


- cell phone with modem capability built in, connected to a laptop

Following proper instructions to do its configuration, the cellular phones (or smart phones) act as a modem being connected to your computer either through infrared, bluetooth or using the appropriate USB attachment cable.

Note that when the cell is used as a modem, it is losing temporarily its phone functionality.

Another disadvantage of this method is that it builds up quickly the time of usage of your cell on week days at daytime, which may increase your phone bill tremendously, not making a difference between the two functionalities. (phone or modem)

- a wireless networking card or aircard

It acts as a modem for data transfer.

The data card is introduced either directly into the PCMCIA slot of the computer (old computer version) or connected via USB. Note that it is totally different than the 802.11b card for WiFi access normally built in your computer.

A wireless networking card or USB aircard having the look of a memory stick, will permit a direct communication with the cell phone tower. It acts as a cell for that matter in order to obtain the internet access.

The connection speed of this service based on cellular technology depends on the provider and varies from very slow to DSL-like speeds. With the new 4G network nowadays, you can reach in theory 42 MBps for downloading.

Most of the providers (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Bell, Telus, Rogers etc..) offer a monthly plan billed accordingly to the amount of data usage.

The monthly service is about $65 with a download limit of 5 GB. Be aware that downloading software builds up data very quickly and passing the limit becomes very costly.

Buying an aircard, it is also highly suggested to purchase an external antenna and a dual band wireless amplifier or signal booster to improve the signal of the cellular companies.

Any cellular device within range of the wireless transmitter antenna will receive an amplified signal. Make sure that the aircard is compatible with the antenna; not all cards are.

What is very important to keep in mind, mostly if your intent is to use it as your primary internet connection, is that the cellular phone technology is based on a designated coverage map.

Notice that the wireless providers for voice and data may have different coverage maps depending on the smart phones used.

The real connection speed will diminish drastically if you are close to the limits of that coverage, like when you are dry camping in the 'boonies'.

It is then necessary to verify your RVing itinerary to make sure you stay within the coverage limits or you pay more to extend that range.

This technology of wireless internet via cellular and smart phones is improving every day, increasing its map coverage and providing faster connection speeds.

When you visit a service provider's website, verify carefully where high speed coverage is offered.

A combination of using both: a WiFi hotspot and the smart phones wireless internet access may fully satisfy you.

If you really want to be guaranteed of a 24/7 access, another and last option exists, which is the satellite dish antenna.


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