How To Set Up Internet in Your RV

Dave Schafer
Jun 20, 2023
Icon Time To Read6 min read

RVs are fantastic for getting out into the great outdoors and away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. However, if you’re spending a significant amount of time in your RV, you may find you need a dedicated internet connection to stay in touch.

Setting up internet for your RV isn’t complicated, but there are some things you need to keep in mind. Let’s dig through the nitty gritty details so you can get online on the road.

Selecting the right RV internet options

Your first task is to decide what type of internet you want in your RV. The best RV internet options fall into three categories:

  • Mobile data
  • Public Wi-Fi
  • Satellite internet

All three have their pros and cons—let’s explore.

Mobile data plans for RVs

Your first option for RV internet is getting a mobile hotspot data plan. This provides wireless LTE or 5G internet, similar to your cell phone plan—meaning it’s speedy and fairly widely available.

Unfortunately, since the RV isn’t a fixed address, you can’t obtain a 5G home internet plan like those offered by T-Mobile or Verizon. You need to stick with a mobile hotspot package from one of the major providers. Even so, you’ve got several solid options:

Hotspot Data
VerizonVerizon Prepaid 100GB$80.00/mo.100GB high-speed
AT&TAT&T Prepaid 100GB Data$90.00/mo.100GB high-speed
T-MobileT-Mobile Go5G Plus$90.00/mo.Unlimited, with 50GB of high-speed
Mint MobileMint Mobile Unlimited$30/mo. (for 12 months)10GB high-speed
VisibleVisible+$45/mo.Unlimited at 5Mbps

These plans are a mix of hotspot-only data plans (Verizon and AT&T) and phone plans with generous hotspot allowances. While you can usually always use your phone as a hotspot, many plans have very low data caps, and it’s also one of the fastest ways to drain a battery, so a dedicated hotspot that acts as a modem may not be a bad idea.

Of the mobile internet networks, Verizon has the widest coverage area, particularly in remote spots. AT&T tends to be the best deal in terms of cost per GB of data. T-Mobile may make sense if you spend most of your time near large urban centers where you get better coverage and speeds (or if you don’t need much data and just want something affordable). Mint Mobile and Visible use T-Mobile and Verizon networks, respectively, so performance should be similar.

Wi-Fi boosters and extenders

Your next option for RV internet is to get a Wi-Fi booster and use public Wi-Fi. Campgrounds and parks often provide Wi-Fi—you can bring a Wi-Fi booster to extend its range or potentially increase the performance of the network.

This is the most economical of the three options because you don’t pay for the service itself. However, it’s also the least reliable, for several reasons:

  • You only have internet access if a campground or park offers it—not all of them do.
  • You can’t access the internet on the road.
  • Public Wi-Fi is often unreliable, slow, and limited in the amount of data you can use.
  • Other people using the same Wi-Fi network at the same time can affect internet performance.

Satellite internet for RVs

Your third option is satellite internet from Starlink for your RV, called Starlink Roam. Satellite gives you the most widespread availability, but there are a couple caveats:

  • You can't use the connection when your RV is moving unless you opt for a (much) more expensive dish.
  • You need to set up the standard dish every time you park your RV, while the more expensive in-motion dish must be mounted to your RV.
  • Starlink is expensive. Starlink Roam starts at $150 per month, plus a one-time fee of $599 for the hardware. The on-the-move version, Flat High-Performance, bumps that one-time fee up to a whopping . It’s also available only in select markets at this time.

The upshot is availability. You can get satellite internet service more or less anywhere in the country, regardless of cell towers or other infrastructure. Starlink even offers a global plan. That is a really nice perk—the freedom can be a game changer if you rely on the internet on the road.

What do I need to set up Wi-Fi in my RV? Setting Up Your RV Internet Infrastructure

Once you’ve got the type of internet service you want for your RV, your next task is to set up your internet infrastructure. This can be either really simple or really complex, depending on your other choices.

Installing Wi-Fi routers and modems

No matter which type of network you decide to go with, you need a modem and router (or combination) to broadcast your Wi-Fi network. This equipment usually comes from your service provider.

Since RVs are fairly small, you shouldn’t have to worry about your router placement, Wi-Fi range, or anything like that. Most routers can easily cover the area in and around your RV, especially given it’s all open air.

If you opt for a signal booster, you need to buy your own equipment to set up a Wi-Fi network. There are several reputable brands making modems and routers that serve the purpose—we like TP-Link or NETGEAR.

Antenna placement and signal optimization

If you opt for a satellite connection, you need to consider where you put the antenna. The main factor here is that you need a clear view of the southern sky to pick up signals. You may also need to fiddle with the angle of the antenna to ensure the best signal, but the Starlink app makes that process relatively easy.

Securing your RV network

Security is just as much a consideration on the road as it is at home. Mobile data plans and satellite Wi-Fi should be as private as your home Wi-Fi network, so you just need to make sure it’s password-protected and practice safe browsing habits.

If you’re piggybacking off public Wi-Fi from a campsite, you need to be a little more careful. When connected to public networks, assume that someone is watching your activity. That means steering clear of websites with sensitive personal information (like banking or email), not downloading files, and making sure you have antivirus software installed.

Enhancing RV internet speed and reliability

Internet on the go can be a bit less reliable than your home connection. Here are some tips to help get the most from it.

Tips for improving signal strength

If you find you have a weak signal and aren’t getting adequate performance, try these tips:

  • If using campground or national park Wi-Fi: Use a signal booster with public Wi-Fi (like the networks provided by campgrounds). The farther a signal travels through the air, the weaker it becomes. Adding a booster places a new node in the signal path and shortens the effective distance, potentially increasing speed.
  • If using mobile data: Make sure you haven’t hit your data allowance for the month. Most mobile hotspot plans have limited data and may throttle your speed if you exceed it. Consider increasing your data limit to better match your needs. Many providers also let you purchase additional chunks of data á la carte, so you don’t have to commit to a more expensive monthly plan if you only go over occasionally.
  • If using satellite: Make sure your dish is properly aligned. The Starlink app makes this a snap, but it’s vital you remember to use the tool—a misaligned dish doesn’t pick up the full signal and you can waste potential speed.

Managing data use in an RV

We touched on this above, but it bears repeating: Many mobile internet options have data limits. You need to be more vigilant than normal of exactly what you’re doing online and how much data you’re using.

The single biggest tip we can give here is to avoid streaming video if you have a data cap. Nothing eats through internet data quite like HD video. A good option to get around this is satellite TV for your RV, which doesn’t use data. All you need is a satellite dish and a matching TV plan.

Alternatively, you can connect to campsite Wi-Fi (which may not have a limit) for streaming and use your personal RV connection for activities that require the security of a private network.

Troubleshooting RV Internet Issues

For the most part, you shouldn’t experience too many issues with your RV Wi-Fi. However, there are a handful of potential problems you may run into.

Common problems and solutions

The most common problem you’re likely to encounter with RV internet is a spotty connection. Depending on where you are, there may not be much you can do about it—satellite internet requires a clear view of the sky, and mobile data and campsite Wi-Fi require close proximity to a tower or router, neither of which you may have much control over.

The best move in these situations is to relocate. Find a spot to park that’s closer to a cell tower or clearing so you can get a cleaner signal.

Another major issue is running out of data. You can typically purchase additional mobile data on an as-needed basis, but just make sure you keep an eye on how much you use, and adjust your plan accordingly.

Dealing with connectivity challenges on the road

Perhaps the best thing you can do to avoid connectivity issues is to have two different connection types available. Here are some examples:

  • If you can’t get a clear view of the sky for your satellite dish, you can use your signal booster to connect to campground Wi-Fi.
  • If you don’t have the on-the-go version of Starlink, you can use a mobile data connection to supplement on the road.

Enjoy hassle-free internet on your RV adventures

Whether you’re an RV veteran or brand new to the experience, getting your home away from home online can be a game changer. Find the type of service that best fits your RV and needs, follow some basic best practices, and don’t forget to unplug every now and then to enjoy the scenery. Happy travels!

Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).