When we were in New York during our Shakedown Cruise (see Mission #1), we found that wireless internet at the various campsites did not always live up to their hype. Connections were spotty and many times nonexistent. Since we spent a good amount of time online researching, reading the local and world news, and surfing we needed something more reliable.
I ended up purchasing a MiFi from Verizon. It is basically a mobile phone that serves as a router and you can connect up to five devices to it. There is no keypad or screen to the device. It is just a tiny black box that can fit easily into your shirt pocket. You hook it up to your master computer to set up the network and then you can disconnect it and place it anywhere you wish on the RV so that all your computers can connect easily. Though it was originally designed for car pools where each rider needed to access the internet, it is nearly perfect for the RV.
Set up was not that easy, but after consulting with my personal tech support, my brother Alex, I discovered that the problems had to do with me and not the device. Because of Alex’s help, I got the network set up and viola! We were on the net!
My iPhone is through AT&T and so is Gypsy’s and the MiFi is through Verizon. You know those ads that have been running lately on TV with each company claiming to have better coverage? Well I can tell you from experience who does. Sorry AT&T, the trophy for best coverage goes to Verizon. I have yet to drive or camp anywhere where our MiFi can’t get a connection, but have had many occasions where AT&T has dropped calls or lost signal altogether.
MiFi can operate on battery alone, which lasts about 4 hours of steady use, or can be plugged in to an outlet or into your computer using a USB slot. That makes it nice when we are on the road and Gypsy can work on the internet while I drive.
I do have one large bone to pick with Verizon though. They only give you a monthly 5 gigabyte limit at a cost of $60 per month. Though that sounds like a lot, it truly isn’t. I had gone over that limit slightly (within 100 megs) twice now and each time my bill would nearly double. Verizon pretty much rapes you on overages. I would suggest to the company that they have one flat rate for unlimited usage such as landline and cable based internet providers do. It would make them far more competitive and may encourage folks to drop their at home internet providers for the MiFi just like people have dropped their home based phones and have gone totally cellular.
Overall, we have been quite happy with Verizon with the exception of the 5 gig limit and overage charges. The coverage is excellent and widespread and the download speeds are fast enough to make surfing the web enjoyable. I would recommend this device to any RV’er seeking a more reliable internet service provider.