Mobile Satellite Internet Options for RVs


There is something magical and futuristic about being connected in the absolute middle of nowhere. Where only a satellite in space can keep you online. 

As fun as it is to fantasize about connectivity everywhere, today’s satellite options come with many tradeoffs to consider.

Compared to cellular service, satellite internet is often slower, higher latency, and more expensive. The gear to get connected can be bulky and requires setup at each stop.

If you plan to focus your travels on being way out in the boonies, the challenges of satellite internet might be worthwhile.

If you are hoping for a simple go-anywhere solution, satellite will likely frustrate you - at least for now.

Satellite is a great option for some situations.
Mostly those situations where it is the ONLY option.

Table of Contents

Related Articles:

Enjoy This Free Preview
of Our Guides

We are honored to be able to present the basic sections of this guide as a free preview to you - without 3rd party advertising, sponsorships or relying on selling you gear or plans.

In thanks for funding this resource center, MIAs (Mobile Internet Aficionados - our premium members) also get access to all of the in-depth content in this guide.

If you're a member, please log in above for full access to this guide and ability to comment.


Learn More About Membership



Satellite Internet: Realities

Even with current generation satellite systems – they will for most people still be at best complimentary systems to terrestrial cellular service, not a full replacement.

Get a free PDF copy of our ebook when you join our e-mail newsletter!

In an urban or suburban area, the truth is that current satellite will likely never be able to compete with fully built out LTE on the ground.

After all - how can a billion dollar satellite that needs to last in service for a decade compete with ground based cell towers that cost a tiny fraction of that to build, and which can be upgraded to the latest technology every year?

But on the other hand – in many remote areas it will never make sense to fully build a network of cell towers, and no matter how much cellular companies expand, there will ALWAYS be gaps in coverage.

The ideal connectivity future involves a mix of satellite and cellular, with service roaming seamlessly to the best connection possible wherever you happen to be.


Getting Internet From Space Basics

Satellite internet can be confusing. It is important to make sure that you understand the basics.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions answered and most confusing topics explained:

Satellite TV and Internet Are Not the Same!

DISH_Logo_4C_RedReceiving a signal from space isn't particularly hard.

Transmitting a signal back to a satellite on the other hand is where it gets tricky.

Satellite TV dishes are receive-only devices, and have no capability to transmit. Internet usage however requires two-way communication – and thus much larger and more complicated gear on the ground.

Some people get confused because they see satellite TV providers Dish Network and DirectTV (now owned by AT&T) advertising bundled packages that include internet service – but this is typically not satellite-provided internet.

These bundled plans are intended for stationary satellite TV consumers to combine their TV, internet, and phone bills into one. The satellite TV provider contracts out to local DSL or partner cable companies to provide the actual internet service – usually relying on a hard-wired internet connection.

Even when they do offer actual satellite data plans (like Dish’s dishNET – which is actually provided by either Exede or HughesNet behind the scenes), these are provided primarily to offer service to rural customers outside the range of cable and DSL, and they are strictly for fixed-location installs only.

In other words – not mobile friendly at all.

NOTE: Though the dishes look similar, most satellite internet systems are strictly for internet service, and are NOT compatible with any satellite TV services. If you also want satellite TV to go along with satellite internet, you'll actually need a second dish!

Residential Satellite Generally Isn't Mobile

There are a lot of residentially satellite services out there - Exede, WildBlue, HughesNet. These generally require that an installer come out to your location to setup the dish and provision it for service. In order to move locations, a certified installer must install at your next location.

While these may be portable solutions for those who  move infrequently - we don't consider these mobile. In other words, you as a consumer can not just move locations and setup the service yourself.

There are mobile satellite internet solutions out there suitable for mobile RVers - however they do require specifically seeking them out.


Additional Member Only Content

If you're a MIA member, please log in to see the rest of this guide - which contains additional information on:

  • Video Overview
  • Satellite Concepts
  • Present Satellite Options for RVers: A New Dawn
  • Satellite Communicators and Low Bandwidth Options
  • Satellite Future: Revolution Coming?
  • Satellite Past: Glory Days Fading

Satellite Internet Options Product Guide

Here are all the satellite options we are tracking in the product center - ranging from full-on mobile solutions to very basic on-the-go options.

RV Note: For most RVers, the roof-mounted RVDataSat system and the tripod-based HughesNet Gen5 Spot Beam options will be the most interesting.

Marine Note: Satellite internet is currently a LOT trickier for boats since unless you can mount the dish to a fixed dock, locking onto a satellite in geosynchronous orbit is prohibitively difficult. This tends to leave only the systems that do not require precise aiming as options.

Click on each option in the grid for more details:

Satellite Hotspot still in the Kickstarter stage.
2018-05-30 16:31:57
Satellite powered Wi-Fi personal hotspot supporting voice & data.
2018-04-19 16:15:43
$499 - 999
Handheld satellite communicator for remote tracking & communication.
2018-04-10 18:47:57
$170 - 250
Handheld satellite communicator for remote tracking & two-way text communication.
2018-02-07 15:50:00
HughesNet is now allowing select resellers to "mobilize" the new generation spot beam satellite service.
2017-04-01 11:11:14
HughesNet is now allowing select resellers to "mobilize" the spot beam satellite service.
2015-08-11 15:11:52
Roof mounted satellite internet system with unlimited usage plans.
2015-07-21 12:41:25
Handheld satellite powered calling, text and data capabilities.
2014-06-10 16:35:06
Handheld satellite communicator for remote tracking & two-way text communication.
2014-04-15 18:30:24
Broadband Global Area Network with laptop sized equipment, slow speeds and pricey worldwide data.
2012-03-10 15:39:27
Older HughesNet HN7000S satellite modems with legacy service, that are now nearly impossible to activate.
2000-01-01 12:26:47

Keep Learning - Go to School

This guide is part of our Mobile Internet University classroom, an included benefit for our premium Mobile Internet Aficionados members.

Our course is designed to be self paced, walking you through our content on selecting cellular data plans, equipment, signal enhancing, Wi-Fi, satellite, routers and more.

Continue to the next recommended guide in this series at:

Want full access to the rest of this guide?

Ready for More?

We offer a ton more content here at the Mobile Internet Resource Center.  Here's some places to check out next:

Have questions?

Join our free Internet for RVers & Cruisers Facebook Group.  We cross post news articles and information there, and our staff can field basic questions during 'business hours'. It is with gratitude to our premium members that we're able to offer this free service - and for that, they also have access our private Q&A areas for more in-depth guidance.

Stay in the Know :

We're constantly tracking the industry and analyzing new developments for mobile travelers. Check out our News Center for the latest things we're tracking.

If you'd like to receive updates, we offer several ways:

Members, Please Log In to Comment on this Article.