Full Timer Tutorial
Technical Issues and Projects
EVDO Internet Service - Amplifiers - Antennas
- Low start-up costs (free equipment with 2 year commitment)
- High speeds in most areas that have coverage
- Very easy to use
- Works in-motion
- Mobile use away from the RV
- Huge areas of the country with no high speed coverage, or no coverage at all
- Monthly download limit (see article for who this will effect)
Even with all these aircard advantages the Datastorm is
still an important backup for us because it covers the whole nation (in fact,
most of North America) and as widespread as EVDO coverage is there are still
gaping holes in coverage hundreds of miles wide.
Something to consider if you're planning to rely on an aircard alone.
Choosing an aircard and service plan
All the major mobile phone carriers also offer internet service by aircard
(Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) So how do you pick which one?
I'll give you some starting points:
Coverage area -- Visit the service provider's website and look at where high
speed (EVDO) coverage is available. Be aware that coverage maps will
include areas that receive basic service. This is the old 1xRTT
service which is advertised at 2x dialup speed but is often slower. In
my opinion this is next to worthless for the modern web.
-- Most providers will give you the aircard free, or nearly so, if you sign a
contract for a 2 year commitment. Monthly rates are $60 and up. One carrier that offers a low price
and no contract is
It's only $60 for the equipment and $45 a month for service. The catch
is, Cricket only has broadband coverage in a limited number of places.
If you want more choices, and service from Verizon or Sprint through a 3rd
party, Millenicom is a popular alternative.
Features -- It's best to choose an aircard that's compatible with external antennas - not all aircards
value added reseller vs. buying directly from a service provider.
I buy most everything from The 3G Store get great prices plus another technical support option.
They also give good advice pre-sale, and have more knowledge of the products than anyone I've found in a
brick and mortar phone store!
Amplifiers and Antennas
To improve reception in fringe areas and while driving we installed an external antenna on the motorhome.
It's a Wilson Trucker brand and does a good job of boosting the signal.
They're around $60 and worth every penny. With the correct adapter this
can be used on many aircards, and also on some cell phones. After the
antenna, our next purchase was a Wilson 3 watt
amplifier. With the amp and antenna we can go from zero useable signal to
a solid connection and high speed internet.
A variety of amplifiers and external antennas are available.
For service and sales together try the
Below are some photos of how I installed our antennas and a
unique way that I routed the wires through the roof. It was a little scary
cutting the hole through the roof but it's worked out good so far! You can
click each photo if you want a larger view. It will open in this window,
so you'll need to hit the "back" arrow to return here. Or, you can right
click the photo and tell it to open in a new tab or window.