Find internet

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    A reader asked how I manage my internet on the go so I thought I’d share it. I run a lot of ZOOM meetings and teach courses so having a really good internet is crucial. Some campsites offer internet, but it’s usually only powerful enough for checking email and it’s unreliable. I can’t rely on Starbucks or McDonalds (although both generally have free internet) as the background noise inside is loud and the signal is too weak to be used for video conferencing when I’m in the parking lot. Cellular was our only reliable choice.

    Our mobile operator

    We had a lot on T-Mobile, but the service was spotty at best the further north and closer to the center of the US. We switched one phone to Verizon and left the other on T-Mobile as we thought two providers would cover a wider range of services. We found that this sounds good in theory, but is not true. There has never been a case where T-Mobile provided coverage that Verizon didn’t. In fact, my T-Mobile phone was a useless rock through much of Montana, Utah, South Dakota, and Idaho.

    We made the decision to switch all services to Verizon. Expensive? Without doubt. We pay a lot more for Verizon, but if I don’t do my job and get fired, I’ll be in trouble so we’ll take care of it.

    Our setup

    We have two private cell phones, a work cell phone and two hotspots. I need two hotspots as I will blow the allotment for each one in about 2 weeks. Occasionally I blow both of them before the month ends and I’ll be making hotspots from the phones. There have been a couple of months where I burned 2 hotspots and 2 cell phones. Those are the months when the ZOOM fatigue is overwhelming.

    We also have a cell phone booster in our trailer. If I only have 1 bar of reception the booster will increase it to 3 bars, sometimes 4. I only need about 2 bars of reception to have a good video call.

    Backup plans

    I had no cell phone reception at a campsite in South Dakota. The booster is useless if you don’t get a single reception bar. Fortunately, I knew the area was a cellular black hole and planned ahead of time. I reserved a room in a library 10 minutes away and worked from there. If that didn’t work, I was ready to book a room at a local hotel with wifi.

    Plan, plan, plan

    I use a website to check cellular coverage for the campsites we live in (campendium.com) and also look at my cellular provider’s coverage area map. Whenever there is an information conflict, I always trust the information provided by the user / customer, not the cellular companies who seem to overdo their cellular strength in certain areas.

    If you have the chance to work remotely this summer, go for it! You can get it to work, but understand that it can be expensive.

    Finding Internet first appeared on Blogging Away Debt.

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