[Author Note… I write this from my experience as a user. It may not be the best solution but it was my solution. Plus, it worked for me and continues to solve my problem today.
I suggest you do your research since the cost of having Internet just about everywhere on the North American continent is not cheap. If you find alternatives, let me know.]
A Bit of Background
It all started with us wanting TV and Internet on our coach. I did not want a dome (didn’t like how they looked on the coach and the reception was limited). Plus, the Internet was not available through the TV dome and Internet questions seemed to confuse everyone if they were discussing the dome. For a while, you could purchase a smaller dome that supposedly was Internet only. I never tried this.
I found (stumbled onto) a system called an F1 that was manufactured by Motosat out of Salt Lake City. One of their dealers was at an RV rally, explained that I could receive both TV and Internet (unlimited and simultaneous service for each one), and I thought the cost was within reason—not inexpensive but within reason. I believe we spent about $2,500.00 for the equipment and installation plus a monthly fee (as I recall, about $69.00 per month for the Internet). Our DirecTV monthly charge was on top of this. We met the guy at a campground, he spent 2-3 hours installing it, and everything worked as promised.
I sold that motorhome and moved the F1 to my new coach and again, it worked great. Then the problem… we were planning to go to Alaska and the “footprint” (area of coverage for Internet reception) for the F1 was slightly smaller than the Lower 48—so no Internet north of the Canadian border—not good news. There was no TV coverage starting some distance (100–200 miles) north of the Canadian border. However, TV coverage was never the issue.
Both my article- and book-writing were increasing. By this time, I was a columnist for Coast to Coast RV magazine, most of the major RV magazines had published my material, Sandy’s book—“Wrinkle-Free RV Laundry’—was done, and I was thinking about writing what ultimately became my Fulltiming book. My need to be in contact regularly and the need to send and receive large photo files (50+ Mb) was ongoing. Now, we were planning to go to Alaska and no Internet—this was an issue. TV, however, was not an issue.
It turned out that we did not go to Alaska in 2005. We had to cancel our plans. So we planned to go in 2006.
We are vendors and work the larger shows and rallies in Florida each January. That year at the Tampa show, I met Bud Burton, owner of Mobilsat, out of Chesapeake, Virginia. Bud explained what I needed was what Motosat called the F2—a larger satellite dish—i.e., more footprint.
The F2 was a 0.98 meter diameter dish whereas the F1 was considered a 0.74 meter dish. The larger diameter meant a larger footprint—i.e., more coverage in North America. The F2 footprint was roughly from Fairbanks, Alaska to Halifax, Nova Scotia to somewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula (in lower Mexico) to Key West, Florida. Hey, this was good enough for me.
Bud had a slightly used F2 so I traded in my F1. The F2, of course, took up more room on the roof but fit just fine on my 2005 Monaco. This was in January 2006. The used F2 cost me about $5,000 and the monthly connection fee was about $110.00. Later that summer (2006), we had a chance to order a new coach (at a good price) and had ours sold, so we did. We had to pick up our new coach (which we still have today) from the factory in December 2006.
The couple that bought our coach moved their F1 from their old coach to their “new” one. We took the F2 off “their” roof and shipped it to Oregon for installation onto our new coach. It worked.
Service and ISP
Throughout 2007 we constantly had problems with the equipment associated with the F2. Modems, controllers, even routers were replaced and motors on the dish itself were traded. It seemed to work for a month or two and then just die. We were all over the Lower 48 starting December 2006 and throughout 2007. We didn’t make it to Alaska (again) but did get to Jasper Park in Canada so we tested the equipment that far north. When it was working, reception was just fine.
During late 2007, out of frustration and being simply tired of messing with this unit, I had a long talk with Bud and the Motosat people. Actually, I was close to making a decision about a lawsuit. I was steadily spending money for totally undependable service.
January 2008, I agreed with Bud’s suggestion that I move from HughesNet and change over to iDirect service. Doing this required that I change out the “radio” (a part of the dish apparatus up on the roof), the modem, and controller. My cost would be about $1,500.00 to do this.
We did do this and everything worked—from day one. Granted, it is slow to lock on (sometimes 10–15 minutes), sometimes it takes 3–4 tries, but it nearly always locks on. Since January 2008, there have only been a very few times I did not get a lock. While a slow connection may be bothersome, it is not a negative. I am usually just setting up the coach for an overnight or longer while it does its search and lock. More importantly, I rarely need to access the Internet in a hurry. If there is a negative, it is knowing that I cannot simply pull off into a rest area and quickly/efficiently access the Internet. That capability would be handy and helpful on occasion.
The summer of 2008 we made the trip to Alaska (finally) and spent three months far north of the US/Canadian border. I had Internet as far north as Fairbanks. Up here, the dish certainly looked strange! That far north, the dish will literally point level, that is, parallel with the roof of the coach! I have seen the dish elevation read 89° which, theoretically, is pointing slightly downhill! Somehow (this is beyond my technical expertise), the signal comes in at an angle and the dish does not have to be pointed
straight at the satellite. Hey, I really don’t care as long at it works.
If You Have to have Internet
My dish works all over. I have been from Fairbanks to San Diego to Key West to Nova Scotia. The signal is just fine. I have no problem with videos.
If you must have Internet, this is a solution. I don’t know if it is the only solution but (after a concerted effort with other equipment) this one works for me.
While I continue to write and need to transfer large files, now most of my pieces are uploaded to my website at aboutrving.com. There, they are made available to the user.