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We have one urgent need with regard to RVing that we would like to resolve soon. We are looking for the best way to get internet access when on the road. Or, more accurately, when parked while travelling.

Since we plan to spend part of the year in Mexico it seems that a satellite connection will be the only viable option for us. We will be travelling mostly on the west side of the continent between southern British Columbia and Mexico City, so we will likely to need to access a mexican satellite at least some of the time.

It appears there are two basic types of systems:

1. A dish attached to the roof which automatically finds the satellite, with an equipment/installation cost of around $5000, or:

2. A dish which has to be assembled on a tripod and aligned manually, for about $1500.

We are looking at systems of the latter - tripod - type, and are hoping to get input from members who are already using such equipment.

Any information about systems that have been found to work well or, alternatively, cautions about mistakes to avoid will be very much appreciated.

Rodney and Shirley

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Guest Wayne77590

Rodney & Shirley,

I have a tripod system. I use DISH Network and have a heck of a time acquiring a signal. I hear that DirectTV is an easier set up. As for cost, i picked up the DISH 1000 Pro (Tripple LNB - that's probably why I have a problem setting it up) for about $100 and a tripod for $89 or $99. So I don't know where your $1500 cost comes from. Some of the electronic "automatic" systems start at around $1000 and go up, but when I had a 5th wheel and a King Dome I had problems acquiring signals then also. I guess I just don't hold my mouth right.

The last CG I was in I wanted to set up the DISH Pro, so I toured around the CG to see what the general direction was for pointing. I found at least a dozen antennas that all said DirectTV - not one DISH antenna. Go figure, but that tells me something. I'm seriously thinking of switching to DirectTV although DISH does have its advantages.

Good luck.

Edited: Oh! Most people who have an automatic system mounted on their roof also carry a portable for those times that they get in the trees. I just figure, once you get used to seting up, that it is cheaper and more efficient to go with the portable system. But, don't forget about the weather. Setting up in the rain is not as fun as when the sun is shinning.

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Hi Rodney,

I do not know how secure the CGs you will stay at in Mexico are, but the ability of people to steal the shirt off your back, in 3rd world countries is truly unbelievable. I spent quite a bit of time in Mexico and other 3rd world countries. If it was me, I would go for the roof mounted dish. The dish mounted on a tripod and sitting on the ground may not be around for very long.

This post is not to be viewed as biased against the people of Mexico or any other 3rd world country. It is meant to provide incite gained from over 14 years of experience working in these countries. It is nothing to see people climbing power poles to steal electricity. At night people will dig up underground cables and sell the cable. The culture is very different in these countries than the USA.

Consider looking at this purchase as long term and amortize the cost over the period of use. An example might be you figure to keep the coach another 10 years. A $5K purchase over 10 years is $500/year. One can also have the installer ensure you can take the dish with you, if you trade coaches. Let them know this and make it part of the sales agreement.

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Rodney and Shirley,

I hope you saw the reply on the FMCA Geek page. I will put a copy of it here.

Wayne,

They are asking about Internet access, not TV, a much more expensive thing altogether.

We have one urgent need with regard to RVing that we would like to resolve soon. We are looking for the best way to get internet access when on the road. Or, more accurately, when parked while travelling.

Rodney and Shirley

Hello, Rodney.

Congratulations on your plans to travel to Canada, United States and Mexico. Sounds wonderful.

I agree that if you need Internet wherever you go in those places, satellite is the best option. We have been using the Datastorm automatic roof mount since 2003 and love it. We also know plenty of people who use the manual, tripod mount.

Satellite Internet is getting less popular due to the proliferation of good cellular Internet connections, but satellite is still the best option for Canada and Mexico. Even if you can get a cell signal in those countries, you will probably be assessed hefty roaming charges.

I am biased toward the automatic roof mount. It’s just so much easier to push a button inside your coach and be online within minutes, as opposed to pulling the tripod and dish out of a storage compartment and spending 30 minutes setting it up. It all depends on how you travel. If you like to make tracks daily, or even weekly, you will get quite tired of the manual setup. On the other hand, if you go to a destination and stay for a month or two – the manual setup is not a problem.

With the extreme north-south range you mention, you may need to change satellites to get a good signal. This can be an important difference with the automatic roof mount vs. the tripod mount.

Your actual Internet service most likely will come from Hughes. With an automatic roof mount like the Datastorm, you will be supported by Motosat. Motosat will handle switching your service from one satellite covering northern latitudes to another satellite covering the southern latitudes. If you have the manual, tripod mount, your service contract is directly with Hughes. And Hughes does not like switching satellites for you! They think satellite dishes should be stationery on residential property, and although it’s not illegal to put them on a tripod and move them (like some people used to think), it is not well-supported.

Hope that helps.

We have a Satellite Internet FAQ page on our website at http://geeksontour.com/satellite.cfm. For more users' input, go to www.datastormusers.com

— Jim and Chris

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Guest Wayne77590

Oops! That's what I get for "Assuming." It made one out of me.

Thanks for the clarification.

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