Getting Online and Staying Connected

There are many options, but no single option does it all.


Currently, the van is equipped with:

  1. WeBoost, designed to amplify cellular signals.

  2. WiFiRanger SkyPro, to catch existing WiFi signals and broadcast them throughout the van.

  3. Comcast home internet account, which then grants access to any Xfinity WiFi hotspot in the area and that signal can be connected to and broadcast by the Ranger.

  4. Cell phone tether. We started with two "unlimited" (capped at 20GB, and slows after that) lines through Xfinity mobile, which is on the Verizon towers, so offers the most coverage, but at a better price point (for now). After adding the option below, we dropped the cell plan to be by the gig, and only pay about $20/month now for two lines.

  5. And since all that was still not cutting it, the Verizon Mifi Jetpack 8800 was secured just in time (Verizon has since discontinued the unlimited plan).

Highly recommend following this site and their social accounts to learn more about mobile options and to stay up to date on such changes, which is how we learned about antenna options for the Jetpack, and so have since added this 4G antenna after some deliberation outlined in this video:


Tl;dr...Knowing what I know now (oh hindsight!), I would have skipped the first three options I outlined above, and just gone for the Jetpack and accompanying antenna, which are also the cheapest options, and require the least install and setup...


WHY


Cracked WeBoost

  1. The WeBoost isn't really effective for how much it costs. If there is low to no signal, it can't fix that. It also doesn't do much for the Jetpack, hence getting it it's own antenna. There is also no visibility into what it is actually doing; you cannot monitor if it is increasing the signal and by how much. It also got cracked by a branch hanging low due to snow, and while they did send a replacement antenna, they sent the wrong one, and we were stuck waiting around weeks to receive the correct one.

  2. The WiFi Ranger was nothing but an expensive brick for months after we tried to update the firmware to improve functionality. What we thought was a routine update actually was an unstable beta version (no other option was available to choose and it was not clear we were installing an unstable version). I contacted the company directly and their solution was to have me uninstall and ship the unit to them to investigate. This is not practical when traveling full-time. So, I actually ended up driving to them to have this resolved.

  3. While the Comcast home internet is a nice gift for my mom (where I had it installed), it does not work that great on the go. The hotspot speeds vary, and are only great in really urban areas, and mostly on the west side of the States. We got to the middle and realized Cox was king, and their hotspots guaranteed the same speeds as your home internet option. Still, relying on WiFi hotspots or other open signals is just not a great way to go when operating multiple businesses on the road. It was tiring to constantly be chasing a signal (either on the Xfinity hotspot app, or WiFi maps app), only to have slow speeds and a poor connection.

  4. So we'd often default to tethering on our phones, and were constantly getting a notice about how much data we were using, which means the connection was pretty dang slow.

  5. All that led to the Jetpack, which is not without issue. It is at the whim of a solid signal, which led to it's own antenna (above video).

Phew! As you now know, staying connected on the go is unfortunately difficult. We manage better now, and are continuing to tweak our setup. Hope this helps you to find the best option, with a bit less trial and oh so much error!


Want to learn more about how to work from anywhere? Get this guide I designed just for that!