The most difficult thing about living in an RV when you work in technology is internet access.
Last time I did this was in 2001 and the best I could do was satellite internet at slow speeds at extreme cost.
Luckily in the intervening 19 years mobile “cellular” broadband is a thing in most places but the industry still isn’t providing affordable bandwidth.
The RV park in Dallas we’re at offers wifi, but even with their $30 a month “premium” service it’s very slow (< 1 Mbit/sec) with frequent times where it just stops working.
I can tether with my AT&T iPhone, but I blew though my 10GB bandwidth cap the first week. We have an “unlimited” data plan but they throttle that at 22GB and for tethering it’s cut down to 2G speeds at 10GB. I talked with AT&T and they couldn’t offer a solution with enough data for any cost.
T-mobile had a special where you could test drive a hot-spot for free with 30GB of data and they got me another three weeks before it hit that cap and became non-functional. I could reactivate it and get 20GB a month for >$100 a month. Not enough data and too expensive.
After a bit of searching I came across this new product.
Our fifth-wheel is a Heartland brand. They’re owned by the RV conglomerate Thor Industries that includes Airstream. They also own an internet service called Togo and run the Roadtrippers site. And they just launched an internet access service that was available with Airstream last year and now available for anyone. It’s called the Togo RoadLink C2 and it’s essentially a cellular “booster” you install on the roof of your RV and it provides a wifi hotspot inside. The cool trick is the service plan; they partnered with AT&T and are offering a “true” unlimited LTE data plan if you prepay for a year of service at $360. That’s $30 a month.
I ordered one and hooked it up to a regulated DC power supply in the house to get it configured and tested.
So far it’s working as advertised. We don’t have an especially strong AT&T signal in the house but it’s still getting 17 Mbit/sec down and 16 up.
It’s fast enough to do the video conferencing and remote desktop stuff I need to do for work.
For now I’ll probably just stick the external antenna in an underfloor storage compartment and splice into the wiring for the lights to power it. We have a strong signal at the RV park. If that works out I’ll pay an RV service place to install it on the roof; not sure I’m up to drilling holes in our roof and dealing with all the weatherproofing.
Two Month update
After a few months of use in the RV it’s a complete success. Even with a lot of Disney+, HBO, and Netflix viewing that drove our usage >100GB there’s no sign of throttling and we’re still getting around 14 Mbps in the RV. During commute times it does slow down a bit since we’re near several major freeways in the middle of DFW, but even then it’s still very functional.
December 21st update
A few days ago Togo sent out an email saying AT&T is “retiring” the unlimited data plan and putting in place data plans with absurdly low caps at excessive cost (the highest is 100GB for $300 a month). So, while I’m very happy with the Togo product the cost of the new data plans makes it unusable for most folks. No longer recommended.