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By Kevin Hulit
Summertime and the open road — one of the best pairings ever made. The American summer is full of people hitting the highway to seek adventure, something new, or peace and quiet.
For those lucky enough to travel in an RV, getting there is half the fun. All the fun comes when the reality sets in that all the fun to be had can be experienced in the “home away from home” — the RV.
The RV lifestyle is all about being home on the road, and the amenities that can be towed or hauled these days do not fall short. True, like any other home, they have their trouble from time to time, but by and large, living in an RV can be just like living at home. It is whatever you make of it.
Having the right tools for living well on the road is no different than having the right tools to enjoy a stick and brick home. Needs don’t change on the road, only the opportunities do. Whether a full-timer or a family out on a long awaited summer getaway, preparing for the road and for the destination means thinking about the day to day needs of stationary life, and then making sure the solution to those needs fits in the RV.
Over time, the industry has covered so much of the needs people have, updating the RV experience over the years with innovations like slideouts, and simpler things like wall-mounted flat screen TVs. Often it’s the technology of the day that lags behind, and not the pieces of American culture that have become embedded in daily life for many, many decades.
The internet, though a few decades old, seems to fit into this trouble spot.
The internet is nothing new, but the way people connect, and what they do with it is ever changing. Constant connectivity for heavy social media users or business operations, along with having enough available bandwidth to stream Netflix are relatively new conundrums in the outdoor and RV recreation worlds.
People adapt. It’s a knack inherent in humans, and there are a number of ways that people have dealt with their connectivity issues. For some, relying on campground Wi-Fi does the trick.
For checking emails and casual use of the internet it can be great. At night, however, when everyone is trying to post their day to Facebook and Twitter, or binge watch last season’s AMC breakthrough series, campground Wi-Fi gets bogged down and often comes to a halt altogether.
It probably isn’t the campground’s fault. It’s probably a bandwidth issue. If data is like cars, and bandwidth is the highway, well then, when rush hour hits, it’s traffic time, slow speeds, and getting nowhere fast.
Using smartphones can help get out of the traffic jam. Setting up a hotspot on a smartphone that other travelers in the RV can connect to through Wi-Fi can provide a clear lane that can get data moving, but it has its costs.
Usually, it’s something that gets setup, and then hangs around all year, even when it’s no longer needed. And, the average data plans from cellular carriers aren’t built for a spike in usage from a week’s worth of internet access that would typically be managed at home with an in-home internet carrier connection and Wi-Fi network.
So, in preparing tools for the road, internet connectivity should be a consideration.
If the need or expectation is to have internet and Wi-Fi that mirrors the ‘in-home’ experience, then selecting tools similar to the ones used in a stick and brick home might make a lot of sense. In fact, it does make a lot of sense, and some RV makers, and several aftermarket companies, are tuning into that fact.
There are many ways to create a Wi-Fi network and access the internet in an RV. Building a robust and reliable connection is worth the effort and expense. The internet is a daily tool after all, and Wi-Fi is like the new electricity.
Routers like the Pepwave, available through companies like WiFi In Motion and Data2Go Wireless, are mobile Wi-Fi solutions that can be installed in RVs. They create a Wi-Fi network robust enough to support the connectivity needs of full-timers working on the go as well as families looking to plug in to the internet at the end of a great day of vacationing.
Using LTE service from cellular carriers, the connection is nearly always there, and can fall back on 3G in areas of lesser coverage. The option to have two separate data carriers converge on one device assures connectivity virtually anywhere.
Bandwidth, as an issue, is removed from the equation since all the connections are controlled in the RV instead of shared across a campground or RV park.
Other features, like the ability to connect to local, free Wi-Fi, and suspend service during portions of the year when the device is not in use, make it more economical than establishing a hotspot on an expensive iPhone that will be billed 12 months out of the year.
Wayne Hulit, CEO of Cedar Mountain RVI, a Wi-Fi and RV aftermarket company that sells and installs the router, knows the value of the device and experiences the advantages of RV Wi-Fi firsthand.
“Being on the road as often as I am, working remotely along the way, constant connectivity isn’t an option, it is a must. I find myself running the company from the mobile office in my RV more and more,” he said.
“Being able to connect to clients and business partners, and oversee daily operations of the business requires me to have a private internet connection with Wi-Fi wherever I go,” he added. “Relying on a campground network doesn’t always offer desirable connections, and searching for Wi-Fi in restaurants or coffee shops is always a detour, even if a minor one.”
Connecting to the internet is a daily activity. Most people run their lives through it, and businesses can’t function without it anymore. Installing a mobile Wi-Fi solution, RV Wi-Fi, is a smart way to stay connected, and say in touch with the digital side of life, wherever you may roam.