Internet - Nevada - iNetVu in Action on HWY 15:
RV Satellite Internet
Successful Internet Business From an RV; Satellite Internet
With a satellite connection, an Internet business can be mobile.
Within 10 minutes of stopping somewhere for the night, the week, or
just to download email, broadband Internet connection can be
This is two-way, mobile Internet satellite hookup. No cell phone,
land line, or other transmission assistance is required. RV
batteries can provide all the electrical power that's needed.
Cell phone modem limits the geographical areas where we can take
our business. Unless we stay within the provider's service area,
roaming charges accumulate. Also, our cell phone modem is slow, 14
k baud maximum. One's mental balance could slip a tiny bit
waiting for pages to load!
Last winter, we stayed at an RV resort for five months (except
for weekend excursions). During that time we had a land line and
dial-up Internet access.
Come Spring, however, our wanderlust dictated we see towns and
landscapes we haven't seen before.
Mari and I soon realized we simply could not put off getting the
satellite dish any longer. With the technology available to do
otherwise, why restrict our geographical area and put up with
crawlingly slow Internet connections?
We had previously done much research and had a good idea of the
cost and equipment requirements.
As far as we know, iNetVu system is the only
two-way, mobile Internet satellite system approved by the FCC. We
found several one-way systems by other companies, where a cell phone
or other method must be used to upload data packets to an ISP in
conjunction with satellite downloads.
For about a tenth of the price, we could have purchased an
Internet satellite system available for non-mobile homes and
businesses, and received training to manually point the dish to the
correct satellite and do signal peaking adjustments. It would not
meet FCC approval, however, to use the dish at new locations as we
Once we decided not to delay getting the system, we surfed the
net and emailed queries with the primary purpose of finding out as
much as we could as fast as we could. We wanted to know what our
equipment options were and which installers were competent. We were
ready to buy.
Only one installer answered our query adequately. This was Arlyn
Dale from Combined Resource Group, LLC, of Albuquerque, New
It's a bit of a gamble, selecting an installer. With a stationary
home or business, the installation company might be just across
town. If they don't provide the service you expect, you go knock on
their door. With us, we'll be hundreds or even thousands of miles
away, essentially all of the time. We need to feel confident service
will not degrade once we leave the neighborhood.
We found Arlyn and his staff to be friendly, competent and
professional. They know what they're doing and they're willing to
answer questions. And they're busy, which is almost always an
indication that the company is respected.
Our system needed to service both a Windows and a Macintosh
computer. One of the choices we had to make was whether to network
wireless or Ethernet.
We frequently access customer's servers to debug or install
software. Which means we have access to server passwords. With
wireless there is a slight chance transmission might be intercepted
by someone using a wireless-ready computer nearby. So we chose
In the future, we may switch to wireless -- after I've had time
to study up on firewalls and other methods to protect customer data.
After the two-day installation process, we went to a State Park
an hour or so west of Albuquerque to give the new system a try.
It worked like a pleasant dream. We found a camping spot, started
the laptop containing the satellite system software, clicked a
button, and some minutes later we were surfing.
We answered email, surfed, updated some web pages, helped
customers -- activities required when running a successful Internet
It put a smile on my face. It was broadband in the back country.
A week later, we decided to move to a park northwest of our
current location. We got there and clicked the button. And the
software was unable to establish a connection with the satellite.
We had been told there may be infrequent and short outages due to
the leading edge of thunder storms at our or the ISP's location, or
due to software upgrades at the ISP or Hughes Satellite System
(Hughes owns the satellite). It was evening, so we decided to let it
lay until morning when things should be cleared up.
They weren't cleared up.
We had a business to run. We needed the Internet. So we drove to
where we had cell phone reception and called the tech support line.
When I described that the software displayed a certain message
and just sat there doing nothing, tech support suggested turning
everything off, letting it be for five minutes, and then
reconnecting with the satellite.
We did that. It didn't work. Tech support said the software
message should clear within a minute, two at the most, and
The message had been displayed for several hours, not a minute or
two. I felt that tech support wasn't going to provide a solution
very soon, so decided to call Arlyn. Although not really his problem
(tech support for the system is centralized and not the
responsibility of the installation company), I knew he could help.
When I called his office, he was out on a service call.
As we were less than two hours away, we decided to drive to his
office so he could see for himself what was going on and, hopefully,
show us how to fix it if it should happen again in the future.
It wasn't that simple.
Turns out the persistence of the software message was something
Arlyn never encountered before. It really should have disappeared
within a minute or two; actually, it usually requires only several
seconds. (The software message was "The system is waiting for a
ranging request to be processed by the Network Operations
After several hours of telephone work with the support center,
with the ISP (Direcway), and with Hughes, Arlyn found out that
Hughes had uploaded new software to the satellite and they were
unaware a few mobile systems could not connect. It took Arlyn and
tech support the rest of the day and part of the next to coax Hughes
programmers to fix their problem.
It's been working ever since.
The system is easy to use. Everything is software driven. Just
click on a button and the software unfolds the dish, then points and
peaks it. It uses very little power. When ready to move to different
location, a click on another button stows the dish. Stowed, it's
somewhat streamlined to reduce drag and it's only 12 inches high --
lower than our roof air conditioner, in fact.
Our current GPS latitude is 36.6119N, longitude 106.741W, and
altitude 6804.41 feet. We're way beyond the range of cell phone
towers. Even AM and FM radio signals are too weak for good
listening. But Internet radio works real good. And we're running a
successful Internet business from an RV.
One of the absolutely priceless perks of having this satellite
dish is the ability to wander in the back country.
There's another lake near here, Lake Heron. Maybe we'll go there
There are many people wanting an "on the road" internet
access product... We're getting closer, but the current generation
bi-directional products are not intended for mobile use. Neither we,
nor the manufacturers support such a use. The systems are designed
and intended for fixed location use....
Theoretically, you could carry a bi-directional system on the road,
and set it up after each move. However, we would consider it to be
impractical for the average user.
- Physical aiming of the dish parameters change based upon
location (Elevation, Azimuth, and Skew angle). So depending upon how
far you're moving from location to location, you would have to
re-determine those angles, and adjust accordingly.
- Some software adjustments would need to be made to compensate
for the change in location. The delay time from location to the
satellite, again depending upon how far you're moving from location
- Final aiming of the dish requires phone access to an "on
line spectrum analyzer" that tells the person aiming the dish,
how your transmit signal looks from the satellite. Essential,
to be certain that you're not causing interference to other
satellites, other transponders, and to other users. And among the
reasons why the manufacturers require that installation be done by
It could certainly be done successfully as none of these items
are terribly complex or difficult, but we believe that they add up
to be more than the average person would want to deal with....
However, we all know how electronics items evolve fairly rapidly.
And we believe that there are folks working on auto-antenna aiming
systems for these data systems.
Satellite Internet - California:
In Touch On The Road
Many of us are addicted to our E-mail when we are
at home or at the office. But when we go on the road in our Rvs, we
lose contact with business associates, grandchildren, and friends.
Many Rvers want to be able to check their stock quotes, bank
balances, or shop online. Having an internet connection from the RV
in the campground is not always easy. Some campgrounds have
telephone connections at a few sites, for an extra cost, or a place
in the office where you can plug in your laptop computer to collect
your messages with an 800-number.
Our writers who are on the road have to be able to
access the internet to send stories back to the office. Some go into
the nearest library and book time on the internet, often for the
next day. So it is necessary for them to stay in an area for more
than one day to be able to send out their stories. Sometimes it is
even necessary for them to send their stories and photos back to the
office by overnight courier.
In the past, we have used Bell's Data-To-Go
program if we were in a digital cellular area. But this doesn't work
at all in an analogue transmission area. And to make matters more
confusing, some areas do not use the same system for digital
transmission. Ontario uses one system, while Vancouver uses a much
higher frequency to transmit digital information. Data-To-Go
connects your computer through your digital cell phone to a modem in
the telephone companies' offices to allow you to send and receive
Digital cellphones with e-mail capabilities allow
users to send short text only messages (up to 160 characters) from
one phone to another. Later this year some cellphone companies will
be upgrading their networks in certain metropolitan areas of the
country to accept the newer GPRS 2.5G phones. This could speed up
the transfer of data, but any new development comes with a high cost
for early adopters. This service will mostly be used by companies
until the price comes down, and service areas become more universal.
Some of our readers stay in e-mail contact with
family and friends when on the road using a toll-free number
(1-800-320-6727 in USA or Canada) from any telephone with a system
called PocketMail. The service is available for $14.95 per month or
$149 per year in US dollars. You can send faxes to destinations in
USA or Canada for 25 cents per fax. The system allows you to store
the equivalent of 20,000 - 500 character messages on the PocketMail
You compose your message using the integrated
keyboard on the Composer, which is a full-featured 512Kb organizer
with personal digital assistant features; such as, scheduler and
alarm, to-do list, calculator, address book, and Memo pad. You dial
into the PocketMail service with the 800-number, when it answers
"Welcome to PocketMail", hold your Composer to the
telephone receiver and press the PocketMail button. In moments you
will have sent and received your e-mail. After activation, your
PocketMail composer will include one e-mail account, and you can
also store alternative Reply-To addresses to help you access mail
from your other AOL, POP3, or IMAP4 e-mail accounts, receive
forwarded mail and reply as if from those accounts.
Until digital cellular coverage is available in
all parts of the country, the only way to communicate while
travelling between cities and in rural areas is with analog mode.
This fall I have been experimenting with the Ositech system of
connecting to the internet while on the road. 'The King of Clubs'
CellFlex card allows you to connect to the Internet whether you are
in a digital or an analogue cellular area. This card is inserted
into a PCMCIA slot in the side of the laptop computer and connected
to your cellular telephone with a short cord. To make a cellular
data connection, the King of Clubs PC Card uses your cell phone's
internal modem and your computer's power supply. Our ISP (Internet
Service Provider) provides us with a list of local phone numbers to
use in each area so that we don't have to use long distance each
time we want to call in. This list of phone numbers is available
over the internet, but I keep our list of contact numbers for the
ISP on a word processing file so that I don't have to be connected
to the Internet to locate the local number when I am away from home.
With Ositech, it has been simple to make the e-mail connection- as
the screen comes up to signify that I am calling our Internet
Provider, I click on the modem that I want to use for the call,
either the standard modem that came with the computer for land-line
calls, or the Ositech King of Clubs card for cellular calls. Then I
key in the local number for the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and
hit Connect. In a few seconds I am into the service providers
network and can collect my e-mail messages and send off any replies
or messages to readers, the office, or the grandchildren. So far the
speed has been very good (14,400 kBps) when receiving and sending
e-mails across the country, from either Canada or the USA. CellFlex
products are also compatible with the popular Personal Digital
Assistants (PDA), like iPAQ, Jornada, and Cassiopiea, as well as
others with PCMCIA Card slots. If you are calling from the USA, you
have to remember that local cellular areas will charge a roaming fee
plus any long distance charges, unless you have subscribed to the
North America One Rate Plan. For those of you who are travelling in
the South for one to three months or more, you can subscribe for
only those months ($69/mth). If you are only travelling in Canada,
the Real Time Canada Plan is for you. For $39/mth, you have 200
minutes of connect time with no long distance or roaming charges.
Benefits for business
Regional BGAN is the ideal solution
travellers who need to keep in touch with their clients or
Whether travelling outside the developed world or simply outside an
urban area, Regional BGAN does not rely on traditional telephone or
communications, but allows you to connect independently and securely
to both the Internet and corporate computer networks.
Based around a lightweight satellite
IP modem the size of a PC notebook, the service is fully portable
and easy to use. The modem can be used with a PC or connected to a
local area network (LAN) through which it can be accessed by
multiple devices. What's more, connections can be made using USB,
Ethernet or Bluetooth technology.
Regional BGAN offers users satellite
coverage in up to 99 countries, making it suitable for those who are
working in areas where GPRS cellular roaming is patchy or
Other major benefits for the business
traveller are speed and cost. Regional BGAN offers connectivity at
more than twice the speed of current terrestrial GPRS networks. Also
connection to the Internet or a private network can be kept 'always
on', yet you only pay for the amount of data you send or receive,
rather than the time connected - making it an extremely effective
RVing means different things to different people. To some,
it means an occasional weekend camping trip with the family
in a pop up trailer. To others it means full time or
"most-time" living -- staying in one place for awhile and
then moving on to another.
RVing has always been both of these to me. I love to
get away to a Washington State Park for a weekend with
my family. But I also love to use my RV
for extended trips,
in my case
business trips where my RV
serves as both my
home and office. My "work" for the past 20 years has been
writing and publishing, and my RV
has served as a rolling
newsroom. My first trip in my first motorhome was an
experiment to see if I could make it as a freelance writer.
I spent several months on the road and managed to pay
my expenses with income from my writing. Back in those
days it helped to furnish photos with your stories and so
I carried along a bare bones darkroom for printing black and
white photos. What fun it was to set it up in a dark campground.
I loved being able to find a story, snap a few photos, write the
story that night, print the photos and then drop the package in
the mail. It was way too much fun. And even though I was only
modestly successful as a freelance writer, I did well enough to
conclude that a "portable life" was possible. The Internet
made that especially true.
Today, a writer's work is digital. We send our stories by email,
not postal mail, and include color photos taken with digital
cameras. I haven't bought a roll of film in five years. What an
incredible change from when I set off in my first little
motorhome with my mini darkroom and a manual typewriter.
As you may have gathered by now, I love the RV
life. And in
my case it's
because I can combine my love of travel with
my work. And that's a very wonderful thing -- that is if
you love your work (as I do).