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Old 02-21-2006, 03:20 PM   #1
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I would like to get some opinions on over the road internet service so we would have access to the internet at all times.

Ted & Carol Ulmer
2005 Alpine 34'FDDS
2006 PT Cruiser GT
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:20 PM   #2
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I would like to get some opinions on over the road internet service so we would have access to the internet at all times.

Ted & Carol Ulmer
2005 Alpine 34'FDDS
2006 PT Cruiser GT
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:59 PM   #3
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Ted,you can certainly "survive" with cellular internet service,either by using an aircard in your laptop or a wire "link" from a cell phone to your laptop....If you're traveling anywhere up north,or the extreme south,the cell coverage is sketchy at best....
While I kept the aircard for the wife to surf while underway,we chose to purchase the Motosat automatic dish for our internet.
You can read about satelite internet at the Motosat web site or you can peruse the Datastorm Users forum where a lot of users post their questions,answers and experiences...
I myself "lurked" on the DataStorm forum for several months and recently purchased my own dish system.You can also use this type of dish on a "tripod" mount,but in my opinion,it's "weighty" and requires disassembly and reassembly every time to some degree....Also a tough thing to do when you get to a campground and it's raining!!
When I stop the coach,I will set the jacks,open the slides and push one button to start the search.

I recommend you search these forums and the ones I've offered.....if I can help you,or point you in the right direction with something please feel free to PM me or post it here.
Good luck!
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Old 02-21-2006, 04:41 PM   #4
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Greetings from Conroe, Texas,

I love my DataStorm. While it may be relatively expensive to install & feed evefy month, the convenience is worth it to me as a full timer. Since the first of the year, we have have traveled Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Texas. Every time we stop, I erect the antenna and have full time high speed internet 24/7. A friend with a DataStorm was able to e-mail us from Central America. Incredible!
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Old 02-21-2006, 07:34 PM   #5
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Had the Cellular air card installed on my laptop last fall, since then have traveled I-90 from IN to WA, I-5 WA to CA, I-80 CA to IL, I-65/I-24/I-75 IN to FL, I-10/I-8 from FL to AZ. Have never failed to connect to internet or use e-mail while in transit or wherever I stopped. Upload and download large MS Excel files every day and surf internet for several hours each day. System speed is dependent on signal stregth. Charge is $150 for laptop air card and that was refunded after 3 months in the form of two Visa cards with a $75 limit each card. Used them @ Flying J to fuel the Money Pit. Monthy fee is 40, 60 or 80 dollars depending on MBytes usage, not minutes. $80/month is unlimited MB usage. Verison offers same type of service but have no experience with it. Reportly it has better coverage than Cellular. If operating in more remote areas other than interstate highways system service may not be available, but have not encountered that problem yet including time spent at Quartszite.
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:20 AM   #6
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We have had Verizon wireless card for 2 years and are very pleased. At first the store talked me into the hook up to cell phone (Home Office) that was crap. The card is fast and simple costs $86 a month for unlimited use. If My cell phone gets coverage the card always does too. Sometimes the card works when the cell can't get a signal. Canada and AK were problems for us but I hear there is a way to get service , just didn't buy that. We have travelled 39 States so far as fulltimers and except when mountains get in the way I am very pleased; no parts to breakdown either!
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Old 02-23-2006, 02:09 PM   #7
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Datastorm all the way. I never worry about getting online.
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Old 02-26-2006, 03:52 PM   #8
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Ted and Carol
You have already received a lot of responses to your request. I'll give you mine as well and hope that if provides you with additional information to consider.

Mary and I have full timed since August of 2003. AT&T assured us that the cell phone they sold us would connect our laptop to the internet. That proved not to be the case. We heard about special cards and cables, but didn't run into anyone that actually got it to work. Others we talked to were happy when they could connect at 12Kbs, but didn't appreciate their friends sending them lots of pictures. I understand that now Verizon has a pretty decent system that lots of folks are happy with.....unless they are out in the boonies, then no service, or phone only service.

We looked at the roof mounted systems, but because we are up in the Northwest a lot of the time taking care of Mary's mom, we didn't want to move the coach several times to get a "hole" in the trees where reception could be gained. Actually, it's not only handy in the Northwest now that I think about it, we tend to camp in trees/heavy vegetation quite often across other parts of the country as well.

We looked at both the DirectWay and StarBand systems using a big tripod. The technologies are similar and depending on what program you sign up for the up/down speeds are comparable. We decided on the StarBand system as they were just starting a pilot program to validate with the FCC the concept that laymen (and laywomen) could be trained sufficiently and demonstrate
proficiency in the safe and optimal use of the equipment in a mobile setting. After successfully training and testing, you are "certified" as a StarBand Installer, they will then sell you a system. I was the ninth person in that program. After fielding and monitoring about 65 users for almost a year, the FCC granted a special license that StarBand operates under to continue the mobile program. To my knowledge no other mobile licenses have been applied for or granted. Keep in mind that most roof-based systems are considered "fixed installations" in that a company authorized installer put the system in and commissioned it. Other than for "fixed" installations, StarBand is, to my knowledge, the only company (I'm talking corporate level, NOT dealer level.) that provides continuing direct assistance to you wherever you are. DirectWay mobile users have developed an impressive network of fellow users who help train and troubleshoot problems within various groups and forums.

With our system, we are connected 24/7 with an average upload speed of about 50Kbs and a download speed of about 650Kbs, or in other words, about 12 times a dialup speed of 52Kbs on a "land line". Also, I am never "FAPed". (A term I will let a DirectWay user explain to you as I have no direct user knowledge nor a complete understanding of this periodic service limitation.)
With 150' of cable, I have never failed to find a hole in the trees. We also get our DishTV on the same dish using 2 additional LMBFs and a SW21. I have used my system as far south as Kino Bay, Mexico. Our system costs about $1700 if bought today, and about $50 a month for the Internet part of the service. DishTV service as with everyone is a separate fee to DishTV. I'm kind of old and slow, so it takes me about 15 minutes or so to set up and connect......even in the rain.

Lots to think about. Be cautious in your journey of discovery.

Neal

PS. There is a lot of good-natured rivalry between DirectWay and StarBand users. Wayne and Ivan are both good friends. It's a little bit "geeky" in our world but we all do get along. ;-)
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:59 AM   #9
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Where do you store the setup when moving? How much space does it take up - that is one of my concerns.
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Old 02-27-2006, 04:52 PM   #10
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The tripod legs collapse and it rides in my basement besides my tool box. The boom that holds the three LMBFs comes off with one bolt and rides in the back seat of our tow vehicle. The parabolic reflector (dish) slides off the mount (on the tripod) and also rides in the tow vehicle.

I still remember how imposing a "thing" it looked, but when broken down, it is easy to find places to stow the parts. There are also cables that coil up and are stowed, along with two 5 gal jugs that I use for ballast. The jugs of course travel empty unless I'm heading to a Desert Rat Rally. Inside the coach is a modem/controller that lives on the desk and a LAN cable into the laptop. That's it.

First few times I set it up during the training, I was all thumbs, but with practice the process gets smoother and faster. I'll take the chance of boring you to death with my usual scenario.

We park where assigned. Mary starts the inside chores and I do the outside. (Why is that I wonder?) About the time she is finished, she takes the cat (leash trained) for a walk. I walk around our site and survey where I think the best place is to set up the tripod. I check the azimuth and elevation I will be using, having gotten those numbers off the computer using zip code or Long/Lat. When I'm happy with that site, I get a "doggy screw" out and try to screw it into the soil. If its too hard/soft or just won't work, I get one or both 5 gal jugs, and fill it(them) with water from the hose.
Next I get out the tripod extending the legs about 2 thirds to 3 quarters of their length. I spread the legs over where the jug is sitting on the ground. I put my weight on each legs foot, driving it into the ground and minimizing later settling. I level using the 2-axis level on the mount (The part that joins the tripod to the dish. It stays with the tripod.) , adjusting the length of one or two legs as necessary. I then attach the now 40lb jug to the tripod using an old motorcycle tie down ratcheting strap.
Out of the tow car, I get the reflector, carrying it with one hand to the tripod and slip it onto the mount. I already have my ratcheting closed end wrench with me so with it I thighten up 2 or 3 collar bolts that are part of the reflectors adjusting mechanism. Back to the car I get the boom with the LMBFs, unscrewing the nut off the one bolt as I walk back to the tripod. I slip the bolt where it goes, put on the washer, nut and tighten it with the wrench.
I lay out the one cable for the DishTV part of the system. I use a simple meter to "peak" my signal strength for the two DishTV satellite signals, double checking my azmuth or pointing direction and adjusting the elevation as needed for maximum signal strength. I hook up that cable, go inside and check on the TV that I am getting both 110 and 119. If all is as should be, I go outside, lay out, and hook up the dual cable (one part carries the transmit part and the other the receive side of the satellite internet signals.)
Back inside, or Mary looks at the computer for the StarBand signal quality and tells me the number. At the dish, I make a call to the Network Operations Center (NOC) automated system that executes two additional signal quality checks. I make a couple of minor adjustments if necessary, hang up, put away my meter and wrench, go inside, fix a drink, sit down, check email, and see what happening on this forum. That's it.

I apologize for being so verbose, but I thought I would also answer what I think is the logical follow up question.
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:02 AM   #11
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I ended up getting a Verizon cellular aircard for my computer, and I have been a much happier camper ever since. It can be pretty fast! We also have an antenna if the signal is weak.

I know there are some (small) parts of the country where Verizon 1xRTT is not available, but so far we have had service - even out in the "boonies"! Verizon keeps extending their service.

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Old 03-08-2006, 03:06 PM   #12
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Audrey, would you tell me a bit about your Verizon celluar air card. Are you able to use this while you are travelling or just when you stop somewhere. As little as I know about this I am most interested in what you have. Cost, area covered etc. I would be most apppreciative.
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2006 PT Cruiser GT
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Old 03-08-2006, 05:02 PM   #13
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Oh sure - you can use it traveling down the road just like a cell phone.

There are several aircard options. I picked the "cadillac" Kyocera aircard which does both 1xRTT and broadband. It cost $150. Aircards can be had for as little as $50.

Broadband is like DSL - very high speed >500Kbps but limited to major metropolitan cities.

!xRTT aka NationalAccess is 144Kbps - about 3x a phone line speed, so it's pretty fast (if you have a strong signal) unless you are used to DSL speeds. This service is very widespread. You have to look at the Verizon "Enhanced National Services" map to see the coverage.

The service is unlimited hours, unlimited data, national coverage. $60 a month. 2 year contract and I also have a voice cellphone with them.

Take a look at the "wireless PC cards" available at verizonwireless.com . (These are cellular, not WiFi)

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Old 03-09-2006, 01:08 PM   #14
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I currently use an aircard from T-Mobil. The price is aroud $35.00 a month for unlimited time. It works well going down the raod and have had no major problems with the service. I have had service in areas that Verizon and Sprint did not work. I have also been in a few area that T-Mobile did not work but verizon did work.
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