Stay Connected
to the Internet

While Traveling on the Road 

by Bryce Jackson


WHAT'S NEW in 2004

Things are certainly getting easier these days to connect to the internet. There is cellular, satellite and wi-fi hotspots not to mention the original land based hard wired phone lines. We have been traveling and accessing the internet since 1996 when the only way was to find a phone jack someplace and dial up using painfully slow 14.4kb connections. Today we are ecstatic about the new cellular GPRS wireless technology that allows us to be connected at reasonable speeds usually wherever there is a digital cellular phone signal.


Today it is possible to plug in a NETWORK PCMCIA card to your Type II slot in your laptop and connect to the internet at speeds of 30kb to 115kb (slower than satellite/cable/dsl). This is NEW technology called GPRS and is delivered from exisiting cellular towers at a higher frequency than the voice cellular phones use. Now you can connect to the internet at reasonable speeds wherever you can get a digital cellular phone signal. Two companies that offer these services that I know of at the moment are T-MOBILE and VERIZON. The network cards cost anywhere from $100 to $400 and the monthly ISP charges range from $30-$80 per month depending upon which company and options. Check with your cellular phone provider as I am sure all of them will be in this market ... and soon. The new BLACKBERRY HANDHELD devices (not computers), will also enable you to do web browsing and email at slower speeds.


Today it is now also possible to connect to the internet via a mobile satellite system such as MOTO-SAT, DIRECWAY, or STARBAND. Speeds may be in the range of Broadband Cable/DSL speeds. Prices are in fluctuation as competition is really strong now from the Cellular systems that are providing reasonable internet access. I have seen DirecWay sell for less than $1000 (Earthlink) with $70/month ISP charges. I have also seen STARBAND selling for $4000 with $90/month ISP charges.


This is the latest and fastest growing segment of internet access capabilities for RVers and Truckers. WI-FI is a wireless network that exists in a finite location that your wi-fi enabled laptop can instantly connect to the internet. Your speed will be dependent upon each Wi-Fi network and the number using it.. but expect broadband Cable/DSL speeds. Places such as Flying-J truck stops, Starbucks, Borders Book Stores, RV parks, MacDonalds, Libraries and many more each day. Go to Wi-Fi Free Hotspots for a current list of where you can find FREE Wi-Fi Hotspots. Wi-fi adapters are typically less than $100 for your laptop. Mac users with Airport cards can also connect to most Wi-Fi networks.


This of course is the old fashioned way but still works just fine if you can find the right kind of phone jack. Businesses with fax machines always seem to have a simple phone line dedicated only to the fax machine. We used to find these available in many places such as RV parks, Mailing businesses, Secretarial services, Truck stops, etc. We used to use Earthlink and their 800 dial up access service to stay connected to the internet in the days before the other options existed.

without a computer.

This is getting easier with the new BLACKBERRY HANDHELD device. It is wireless cellular and allows you to get your email wherever there is a cellular signal .... no computer needed. The Blackberry device functions as a cellular phone, email solution and also web browser. POCKET MAIL also does a great job for the traveler except you need a wired land phone line to access your email account.

with a computer.

This of course is the normal way to get your email if you have an internet connection via one of the above technologies. You would utilize an email program such as Outlook Express that comes with the system.

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