“I’m an RV’er and I travel across Country to remote areas, campgrounds, etc., and I am looking for a solution for Internet access!”
We get asked this question, almost daily, and we have put together this information to help show you some options!
First of all, it depends on what you do online, how you will be using your Internet access! There is a big difference between the Internet services and bandwidth that would be required for 1 or 2 people surfing and e-mailing once in a while, vs. the family of 3 or 4 with laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. and more importantly for those who wish to do streaming video, online day trading, VoIP (voice-over-internet), VPN (virtual private networking) and other bandwidth intense applications! The following solutions are provided in order of preference for MOST of our consumer RV markets and others traveling around camping, etc.!
Most campgrounds, RV Parks, Internet Cafe’s, Hotels, etc. now offer WiFi Internet access that you can use to connect to the Internet during your stay or visit. This usually doesn’t require anything special to connect to other than a wireless laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.! And obviously, you are only going to have access if you are at these locations and who knows what kind of Internet access they are providing and how reliable it will be, so you never really know what to expect for service! Also, many places are limiting each users bandwidth to a daily or hourly limit and many of these facilities charge for Internet access!
Cellular 3G / 4G:
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Straight Talk and other cellular companies now offer wireless Internet access for your smart phones! Many smart phones can be used as a “hot spot” so that other devices, such as tablets, laptops, etc. can connect to the Internet through that “hot spot” connection! Many cellular companies also offer separate devices that create a wireless hot spot, so there is no need to use a smart phone as a hot spot! These services seem to range between $30 – $70 per month with most cellular companies! Of course the downfall to this system is that you will only have Internet access within the digital cellular signal areas! So connectivity will not be possible at many US Forest Service, State or other Campgrounds or National Parks, or alongside the road somewhere in rural or remote areas!
Satellite Internet systems will work anywhere that they have a view to the southern skies within the satellite footprint! Many people, companies, and corporations have found satellite Internet to be an excellent solution for Internet access needs! The oil, gas, mining, logging, construction and other industries rely on Satellite Internet systems because of their portability, mobility and security! RV’ers and others realized some time ago that some of the DirecWay, HughesNet, Starband, iDirect and other Ku Band Satellite Internet Systems such as the HughesNet HN7000s, can be hauled around and setup when and where needed to get Internet access in rural or remote areas, so they have been doing that for many years now! Many of our Montana Snowbirds used their HughesNet Ku Band System here in Montana and took the modem with them to their Winter home in Arizona and used it there during their stay, so it worked out well! Also, we work with many of the Emergency Response Teams such as Wildland and Wilderness Fire Fighting Teams, mapping and support teams, food vendors and others that often work in remote locations, and they love our HughesNet “month-to-month” and our iDirect portable equipment and “on-demand” service options and plans! Many of our customers in the oil, gas, mining, logging and construction industries or those who need more capability than what the HughesNet platform can offer, count on portable and mobile systems powered by iDirect service! iDirect offers more options and capabilities such as supporting more concurrent users and connections, and properly supporting VoIP (voice-over-internet) and VPN (virtual private networking) and so on, and they also offer “unlimited FAP” plans where the HughesNet systems all have daily or monthly limits!
Currently, unless you want to spend $10,000 – $30,000 on a automatic portable or fully automatic mobile system, the only “portable” satellite Internet solutions that are somewhat feasible for the consumer markets are the HughesNet HN7000s Ku Band Systems, the Starband Ku Band Satellite Internet Systems, and the iDirect Ku Band Satellite Internet / VSAT Systems!
Recently, HughesNet has been leaning more towards the newer Ka Band Satellite Internet technology such as the Spaceway HN9000 and Gen 4 Jupiter HT1000 an HT1100 systems and services that rely on “spot-beam” technology, and have mostly discontinued support for the Ku Band systems! Since the Ka Band systems use that “spot beam” technology, they cannot be moved around, self-installed, and / or setup and used in different or multiple locations! You wouldn’t believe how many calls we get, almost every day from people that had a new Ka Band system installed, then took it down, tossed it in their RV and hit the road, only to find out that it can’t be self-installed and will not work in another location UNLESS HughesNet issues a move order and a work order, and has a certified installer come install it at the new location for you! And, even that, they would probably only let you move the system around once or twice a year at the MOST! So, the only alternative to that is investing in a $10,000 – $30,000 mobile satellite Internet system that works with the older Ku Band or the newer Ka Band Satellite Internet technology! However… the good news, and one of the reasons that we (Montana Satellite Services / Montana Satellite Supply) are still very popular in the HughesNet market is simply because most of our customers require portable or mobile satellite Internet systems and services and we still sell and ship new HughesNet HN7000s Ku Band Systems, and we can set up new “18-month term” accounts, and even temporary “month-to-month” accounts for the HN7000s Ku Band Systems!
But before you click the button to purchase a HughesNet HN7000s Ku Band Satellite Internet System from us, and before you decide you are going to become a “satellite system installer” overnight, there are some things you need to know and understand about these systems, services and applications including!
- HughesNet does not allow or support portable or mobile use of any of their satellite Internet systems, and if they find out you are using it for that type of application, they may or may not flag your account and / or cancel or suspend your service! Now although this is not as much of a factor now as it was when we were getting service directly from HughesNet, this is still a biggy! The people that choose to haul this system around and set them up themselves are doing so at their own risk, with their own liabilities and so on! And even if you have experience pointing a satellite television dish, a satellite Internet dish has to transmit and therefore it requires much more patience and precision to get it right! If you do not get it right, you will experience slow and intermittent service! The set up and pointing / commissioning process can be time-consuming and frustrating! Remember, you have chosen to purchase this system over one of our portable automatic pointing systems, or over one of our mobile fully-automatic pointing systems, and we did not make this choice for you! And, although we have a lot of resources online to assist you and we will provide you with tips and tricks along the way, you are pretty much on your own with this system and service if you choose to use it for portable / mobile use!
- HughesNet no longer offers HN7000s Ku Band Equipment or new Accounts for monthly service for the HN7000s Ku Band equipment, (except in Alaska), however we offer the following monthly service plans for the HN7000s modems!
- If you call HughesNet about the HN7000s Ku Band Systems and Services, they will tell you it is no longer an option! However, it is an option with us, and you can order the system here and you can request service here! And while HughesNet may decide to discontinue or no longer support the Ku Band services, we still do and we will continue to do so, hopefully for many years to come!
- HughesNet stopped offering the residential platform accounts in March of 2013 (except to Alaska). So, the only HN7000s monthly service plans that are available now are on a VAR platform which means they are on a network that is managed differently than the residential platform was and it is mainly used by business customers at fixed or mobile locations! This service is more expensive than the residential service, with plans starting at $99 – $109 per month, and these accounts do differ from the standard residential offerings! For instance, these accounts have daily download limits from 350mb – 1250mb per day! And FAP (Fair Access Policy) tokens are no longer available, so if you go over your daily download limit, you will be slowed down for 24 hours! The free download time between 2am and 7am still applies and any use during that time does not count against your daily download limits! Visit our HughesNet VAR Monthly Service Plans listing and our HughesNet VAR Account Request Form for more details! We offer 18-month term accounts and “month-to-month” accounts! Different terms and conditions apply to those accounts, so check out the forms linked above for more information on that prior to ordering!
That being said, we no longer offer the HughesNet HN7000s .74m 1 watt Satellite Internet Systems, but we do offer the HughesNet HN7000s .98m 2 watt Satellite Internet Systems here! We also have flat non-penetrating mounts that sit on any flat surface to hold the satellite dish! They can be quickly assembled and disassembled for storage! (we do not recommend tripods for this .98m dish), and we also offer 100′ rolls of cable and everything else you might need to get started! We also have optional Birdog Satellite Signal meters and identifiers available that can shave 20 minutes off of the setup time, and we have 3rd party software and apps available for download that can help with this process as well! Our downloads section has all of the manuals, user guides and instructions necessary to assemble, install and activate these systems! Contact us for more information!
We also offer Starband Equipment and Services which operate on Ku Band and therefore can also be moved around and self-installed! Course Starband does not technically allow or support that type of use anymore than HughesNet does! However, due to the Starband network being somewhat over-crowded for the last year or so, we are not currently offering or recommending Starband Services to our customers! If this changes, we will update this post accordingly! Starband Ku Band Systems and Services are similar to HughesNet Ku Band systems, however they are a bit more difficult to setup and get online! They offer similar capabilities to the HughesNet systems as well as sharing some of the same limitations!
Contact us for more information on Starband Equipment and Services for portable, mobile applications!
iDirect is another Ku Band system that can be used for portable and mobile applications! iDirect is a larger, more powerful system that offers more options and capabilities that the standard residential HughesNet Ku Band systems, such as supporting many more concurrent users and connections, and properly supporting VoIP (voice-over-internet) and VPN (virtual private networking) and so on, and they also offer “unlimited FAP” plans where the HughesNet systems all have daily or monthly limits! We have several iDirect equipment packages as well as several iDirect service providers and monthly service plans to fit your needs!
The portable manual iDirect systems aren’t as easy to pack around, setup, point and bring online as the HughesNet systems are though! You will need a Birdog or other satellite signal meter / identifier, and every time you move to a new location, you will need to contact the iDirect Network Operations Center and give them your new coordinates and fine tune your dish and verify that it is peaked correctly and passing tests before they will activate your service at the new location! So, if you are not in cellular range or have access to a land line to call in, you may need to use a satellite phone or other means of contacting them before your service will be activated. Of course we offer portable-automatic pointing systems that take care of this issue if you don’t mind the $8,000 – 10,000 investment for that equipment! And, if you are willing to spend $10,000 for a portable system you have to assemble and set up all of the time, you may want to consider a mobile fully-automatic satellite system so you can simply press a button and be done! 🙂
iDirect offers a large variety of service plans and packages for a ton of applications! Most of the iDirect monthly service plans require a 1 year contract for service, however we work with a couple of providers that will let you split up that 1 year over 2 years so you can do 6 months 1 year and 6 months the next year if you wish for more of a seasonal package! We also offer several “on-demand” service options and service plans, which means you basically pay for daily use when you need it! Many of our Wildlands & Wilderness Fire Fighting Crews as well as some Search and Rescue teams use our on-demand services! Many construction companies use our iDirect systems for providing connectivity at their building sites, and needless to say, the oil, gas and mining industry uses the heck out of iDirect systems and services!
iDirect system pricing depends on what your Internet / Intranet needs are, as well as your location and speed plan! We have systems starting at $1500, however our most popular system is around $3000 or so! Monthly Service plans start at around $180, however our most popular plans are between $250 – $750 per month depending on MANY factors! We recommend that you make use of our Free Consulting services and / or submit our Bandwidth Survey Form to find out which iDirect Equipment, Service Provider, and Monthly Service Plan will best fit your needs!
Contact us for more information on iDirect for portable, mobile applications!