If you are willing to get a little creative or experimental, there are a few other less obvious alternatives too.
If you are willing to get a little flexible with what “mobile” and “internet” means, you may have more options than you ever imagined to stay connected to the things you need to.
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Guides to the Primary Mobile Internet Options:
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Cable/ DSL / WISP Installation
Being mobile doesn’t necessarily mean having to use only mobile internet!
If you’re planning to be in one spot for a while, sometimes hooking directly up to fixed, wired cable or DSL is a possibility.
RV parks and even mobile home parks with RV spaces that cater to long-term residents and permanent dwellers sometimes already have cable pulled to each site, and all it takes is contacting the local cable or DSL provider to get service switched on and have them bring you the necessary modem.
The park may not advertise this as an amenity, so you probably need to ask. Start by looking for parks that offer cable TV or seasonal rates. Depending on the provider, the costs to get started can be very reasonable. Since there are often not any long-term contracts required to get service, you can cancel after just a few weeks or month or two without penalties. And you can usually rent the equipment for a few dollars a month, instead of buying it. But if you find yourself signing up for cable internet often, many providers utilize the same modem standard – so it may be worthwhile buying a cable modem and keeping it onboard for quicker activation.
The advantage of going with cable or DSL is gaining access to fast and essentially unlimited internet. After rationing out bandwidth on the road for months on end, spending a few weeks drinking from the firehose can feel incredibly decadent and absolutely awesome! Temporarily embracing a wired lifestyle can sometimes be very worth it for us bandwidth junkies – perfect for hyper-focusing on a work project before heading back out on the road!
Caution: When you rip yourself away from unlimited fast bandwidth again, you may whimper.
WISP Access (Wireless Internet Service Providers)
Particularly in the mountainous West, a WISP may be an option for temporary fixed-location service, even in places beyond where cable and DSL providers reach.
A WISP is a wireless internet service provider – and these companies have sprung up in many communities to fill the demand for faster-than-dial-up home internet service.
The WISP providers set up transmitters on local high points and then install compatible broadband receivers on the roofs of local customers. Since the WISP doesn’t need to run new wires, if you have a view to the right mountain or hillside, you might be able to get a local WISP to offer you fast unlimited service – even if you are in a remote boondocking spot miles from the nearest cable run or phone line. It all depends on line of sight.
To find out if WISP might be an option in your area, check local advertising periodicals, signs in grocery stores or laundromats, the Yellow Pages, Google, or talk to local computer repair professionals for leads.
Because a professional installation is usually required, WISP service is not usually appropriate for short-term stays.
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