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Old 08-05-2020, 01:36 PM   #1
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Remote working and schooling in an RV

I'm very fortunate that I'm able to work remotely for my job right now for the foreseeable future. My 2 kids will also be doing online learning only for at least the next 3 months. This has us wondering if we can pull off a multi-month trip in the 5th wheel around the US ( National Parks, etc ). The thing that is preventing me from pulling the trigger on this once in a lifetime opportunity is fear over not being able to muster the internet connectivity that I need for my job, and the kids need for their online schooling.

The basic requirements are:

* I need to be online between 9 and 5, and I'll be on Zoom meetings most of the day. Aside from that I'm not doing any crazy file transfers or high bandwidth activities.

* My 2 kids will also simultaneously need to be on Zoom meetings all day for school at the same time as me.

From what I've read, the way to ( maybe? ) achieve this is to get a hotspot with unlimited data? Maybe even 2 hotspots on 2 different carriers so we always have a back up - being offline is not an option for me, or the kids - I can't miss work, they can't miss "school". It seems that campsite wifi is best ignored as a possible option for what we need.

Does anyone have any experience with the type of scenario I'm looking at? I'm unclear as to exactly what I need ( equipment / data plans and usage for the situation I oulined / etc ) to make this something that is a realistic possibility.

I'd love to take everyone on this once in a lifetime adventure opportunity, but the internet connectivity piece is holding me back.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old 08-05-2020, 01:44 PM   #2
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I carry three phones, one for each of the majors. Works for us fairly well, as long as I scout ahead to make sure at least one, and hopefully two will work where we are going to be. I also use a cell booster as needed.

I am hoping starlink will be a good option in the future. For now, there are sat setups available, they are a bit pricy for my needs, but may be worth it for you.

In a couple of places, I was able to get excellent wifi, by asking the host for access to their login (not the regular campers) and giving a good tip.
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:21 PM   #3
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Data plans

This is REALLY helpful, thank you! In terms of plans...how are you managing that? I've read that a Zoom call uses about 1GB of data per hour...with all 3 of us on it for 6 hours a day that equates to 18GB per day. It looks like Verizon's 18GB data only plan is $100 a month, and that we'd potentially blow that in one day...am I missing something here? I feel like I must be. LOL!

Thank you again!
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:36 PM   #4
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What you want to do is going to be challenging to say the least. National parks tend to be in remote areas with little or no cell coverage. The best option would be to stay at a RV park in a somewhat close town that would have a cell tower close by. Also three ZOOM operations going simultaneously is going to consume a LOT of band width, and cell wifi is not noted for high band width download capability. A minimum bandwidth of 5 to 8 mbs would be needed for what you want to do and that is often not constantly available in rural settings. Allowing for these limitations, you will need a truly unlimited, high priority, cell data plan from both AT&T and Verizon on sim cards so they can be installed in a load balancing multi provider router such as the MOFI4500. This setup is not going to be cheap, as the cell services alone are going to run $250 to $300 a month, and the router is another $600 to purchase. The trick is going to be finding the cell plans. You might try here for a start https://unlimitedville.com/?utm_sour...BoCn2cQAvD_BwE
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:51 PM   #5
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This is all such a PITA. We have exactly the same problem. Our solution is two hotspots a Verizon with 25 Gig of data and and AT&T with 40 GB of rollover data on an old grandfathered plan. As already pointed out, the greatest plans in the world are useless if there's no service. I would have thought that in the year 2020, there would be internet access anywhere. There are no flying cars or time travel either. Those were promised to us too, weren't they?
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Old 08-05-2020, 04:37 PM   #6
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Consider joining the Mobile Internet Resource Center. Everything you need to know and consider. Cost is about $100 per year.

https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/mia-checkout/
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:58 PM   #7
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I worked for nearly 3 years with an AT&T Mobley (unlimited plan subject to network capacity after 22GB) in the RV from the road. I do tech work and was always on WebEx conferencing. Generally it was me sharing my machine and in some instances my co-worker was controlling my machine. Sometimes we would be as low as 5mbps and it would still work. I have an AT&T Personal Cell phone and when work was sending me a phone I specifically picked a Verizon phone. You should look into Visible and what people are doing with that. It might be good to get at least one phone on their network and a wifi repeater that could share that signal. It uses Verizon so you will probably be good for coverage most anywhere.
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:11 PM   #8
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Be careful with Visible from Verizon. It only operates off Verizon owned towers. It does not operate off Verizon leased space towers which is usually the case in rural areas. This fact is not disclosed in any of Verizon literature for Visible and is only disclosed if you call them and pin them down.
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:24 PM   #9
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My opinions only:

National Park internet - hit or miss, mostly miss
Unlimited data plans - perfect.... I have several plans and plenty of data.
Verizon and AT&T for the best coverage. I like T-Mobile too.
Cell booster - wasted my $$$ on a $500 one - sent it back thankfully.
Visible - I like my account but would not rely on it everywhere I went.
Campground wifi - will often leave you crying like a baby.
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Old 08-08-2020, 07:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OffWiGo View Post
This is REALLY helpful, thank you! In terms of plans...how are you managing that? I've read that a Zoom call uses about 1GB of data per hour...with all 3 of us on it for 6 hours a day that equates to 18GB per day. It looks like Verizon's 18GB data only plan is $100 a month, and that we'd potentially blow that in one day...am I missing something here? I feel like I must be.
What you want can be accomplished if you are willing to subscribe to a couple of "low cost" unlimited service providers and access them using a Load Balancing or Connection Bonding router.

Currently, I have three low-cost cellular connections: a Visible by Verizon phone used as a hotspot, an AT&T SIM provided by OTR Mobile used in a Netgear Nighthawk and an unlimited prepaid Verizon SIM used in a 7730L Jetpack. The first two of those are still available, the last one is a grandfathered plan.

All three of these connections are fed into a load balancing router. Load balancing allows the connections to "share" the data load which means that the "ups and downs" that each of them experiences usually balance out each other. We exclusively stream our video and rarely experiencing more than a few seconds of rebuffering delay.

If you want to achieve a higher level of performance you can use a router capable of connection bonding which essentially adds the connections together to increase speed and reliability.

If you aren't familiar with these concepts, this article explains how they work and the kinds of hardware you need to implement them: https://www.rvmobileinternet.com/guides/bonding/

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Old 08-09-2020, 10:33 AM   #11
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You can buy all you want for Hotspot but that is a hefty bandwidth. Zoom and file transfers will start to eat in to what little service there is in the boondocks. I would worry about time sensitive deadlines.

We have a Verizon 15gb and Mobley ATT. It works okay but I could not see trying to send large files or zoom all day. In the hinterlands of Utah we are barely able to get service let alone stream a movie above SD.

I have no great advice except maybe pick up a cell booster to help a little bit with connectivity. Our booster will help with text and calls when only getting 1x but no data. The other option is to to the local library or Starbucks, their wifi always sends to be fast.
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Old 08-09-2020, 12:07 PM   #12
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You can buy all you want for Hotspot but that is a hefty bandwidth. Zoom and file transfers will start to eat in to what little service there is in the boondocks.
Actually, the bandwidth requirements for Zoom aren't all that high. You’ll need a minimum of 600 Kbps (a mere 0.6 Mbps) download speeds to make one-on-one video calls on Zoom. The company’s website recommends a minimum 1 Mbps download speed for group calls. Doing group video calls in 1080p resolution requires at least 2.5 Mbps upload and download speeds.

I recognize that there are areas of the country where those speeds aren't attainable, but I sure don't care if my Zoom conference is in 1080p!

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Old 08-09-2020, 12:30 PM   #13
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OP good for you! This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to have this amount of time to make such an epic trip and treasured memories with your family. I'd be doing all I could to make it the trip of a lifetime. One thing is guaranteed you'll never get these precious years back with your children, so make them count if you can.

With regards to needing internet. Assuming schooling and work are done during the week, can you not be located nearby a larger centre with stronger internet access more readily available midweek and at weekends go to the more desirable fringe type areas (ie; Nat'l Parks, State Parks, less coverage areas so the speak).

There are numerous websites/apps like www.Campendium.com that users review their stay and what cellular service was like. Maybe decide roughly on what you'd like to do on this epic journey and then select some CG's/Boondocking locations based on the reviews. Just a thought.

But opportunities like this amount of time together, during conventional working and school years don't often occur for most folks. Just saying.

Maybe scan through some of these in the meantime to get a feel what others have reviewed on connectivity: iOverlander | Find your next destination www.Allstays.com www.rvparky.com www.freecampsites.net www.campgroundreviews.com. I'm sure others will add a lot more below.

Happy Travels.
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Old 08-11-2020, 08:37 PM   #14
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I use Zoom regularly in my position as a lead engineer for a software company. I also use a Peplink Max BR1 Mk2 with either an AT&T unlimited plan or a Verizon 85 gig data plan. The Verizon signal is better and thus I get higher speeds. I watch my router very closely for what speeds look like and how much data we use monthly. There are 3 people in the household and I will say that if either of the other parties are streaming YouTube or any other high bandwidth my zoom sessions are impacted. I do not turn on my video to reduce requirements and often have problems with sharing my screen. Last month we burned thru my Verizon plan and went over to about 5 gig or so. I have not gotten the next billing for that yet. You don't really want to know what I pay for that plan monthly. I don't think you will be able to support 3-4 people using zoom all day, every day and have enough bandwidth to make any of you happy.

Just my opinion.
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