Monday, January 13, 2014

Keeping connected on the road

Keeping connected is costly.
Communication is always important and more so when you are traveling. You need to keep in touch with family and friends back home as well as what is happening in the rest of the world.

Modern technology obviously makes this easier for us than the pioneers who crossed the continent in the 19th century.

Today, we have cell phones and wireless internet service, but all technology is not considered equal.

We have already established we need a cell phone service that works out in the boonies, though what we have works great in larger towns.

Internet service also is a must for today’s travelers. I’d looked into mobile hotspot before we left home, but couldn’t decide on a provider. Some of the RV parks we’ve stayed at have provided free internet service. Yea!

Then we hit Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The park here has an arrangement with an ISP which charges significantly for time, though the price does drop to an attractive rate if you sign up for a year. I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the week we would be here. A disaster. I spent an hour of cell phone time (not insignificant since we pay by the minute) with their techies trying to get signed up. The rate they wanted to charge was higher than posted and as quoted by one technician. During this process, their website noted my account had expired two hours before I signed up and they wanted another payment to reactivate it. Then it said my credit card was rejected – I called the bank and was told the charge had never been submitted; I told the bank to deny the charge if it should come through. It took another two phone calls the next day to get the account closed.

We then headed to the local Verizon store to get their jetpack, since this seemed to be the hotspot carrier of choice with other RVers. If this is the best, then I shudder to think about the worst. We have our own network, which is not always accessible. Pages are slow to load, especially if the battery is low, and makes dial-up look like a speed demon. When the battery is freshly charged, it works well, but one bar down and you can forget about internet service. The battery is supposed to stay charged for two days, but goes down in minutes.

We are looking at this as back-up service when parks don’t offer internet, but it seems like a high price to stay. We are supposed to get internet service whenever a cell phone signal is available. I have found the reception depends on where in the trailer the device is located. Service seems to be better when it sits to the left of my laptop; nada if it is on the right. Go figure.

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