RV Internet: Choosing Cellular or Satellite

Split image with an RV on the left and a mobile satellite antenna on the right

If you are interested in RV internet, you came to the right place. MobilSat has been installing RV internet systems for over 25 years, with a footprint covering all of North America. Whether you’re thinking cellular or satellite, we have you covered with the best equipment and support in the industry. Let’s go through some questions and find out which internet system is best for you.

Where are you traveling?

When traveling around cities, both satellite and cellular internet will be available. When traveling to a city, depending on where you are, you may be out of the cellular network. If you frequently travel remotely, you’ll likely often be out of cellular range. Each cellular carrier offers a detailed service map. If you travel regularly, we recommend consulting your network’s cellular map. For satellite internet, a map will not be necessary- as long as you are traveling within the United States and have a view of the southern sky, you will have a reliable internet connection.

How much roof space do you have?

Though cellular routers take up hardly any space, satellite equipment is often large and heavy. The RVDataSat 840, MobilSat’s smallest RV satellite internet antenna, weighs about 100 pounds. That is a large addition to a roof, and could take up a large chunk of real estate.

The DataSat 840 mounted onto the roof of a motorhome.

Before deciding on satellite, think about the construction of your roof. Though some converted buses and work vehicles are large enough to have a satellite antenna installed, many do not have a roof reinforced enough to deal with the weight of a satellite antenna. Before weighing cellular and satellite, first make sure your vehicle can handle a satellite system.

How important is connectivity?

Do you have to always be connected, or do you want to always be connected? With satellite internet, you will be in the network from almost any location in the US. With cellular internet, you will only be online when in the cellular network range. Even then, your data speeds will change depending on your distance from the nearest tower as well as a whole bunch of different factors. You may even experience lower speeds if the nearest tower is congested. Review your travel habits to see how often you are within the cellular range, how often you are outside of cellular range, and how often you are traveling towards the fringes of the network. This is less important for those that travel along major highways in populated areas, and much more important for those that travel to parks and rural areas.

The T-Mobile coverage map. Though it covers most of the US, there are still some gaps.

How important is internet speed?

Satellite internet is, in almost all cases, slower than cellular internet. Cellular provides good speeds from most of the network, allowing users to stream, game, and surf. While there are variables that affect cellular speeds, we have resources on how to manage them. Satellite internet will be much more expensive for generally slower speeds.

Streaming is very limited for satellite internet connections. While using streaming services is possible with satellite internet, MobilSat only provides it on specific entertainment plans. Latency is also a major concern, with an average of 550ms for each request on a satellite internet connection. Comparatively, latency for cellular internet is only 100ms.

Of course, slow internet is better than no internet at all. When outside of the cellular network, cellular internet will be nonexistent and satellite internet will be the only way to stay connected.

Are both connectivity and data speed important?

For our customers that want the reliability of satellite internet and the speeds and low latency of cellular, we offer a hybrid package that we have written about previously. This package includes our cellular router and external antenna, cellular data plan, satellite internet antenna and modem, and satellite service. Though it is the most expensive option, it is by far the most comprehensive and will provide the best from the cellular and satellite network.

The MobilSat hybrid internet package. A Datasat 840 and ACU on the left, and a Peplink Balance 20X and Mobile Mark external antenna on the right.

In a nutshell, our hybrid system uses cellular when it’s available and satellite when it’s not. In this way the best possible speeds are maintained, whether it is on the cellular or satellite network, allowing you to travel anywhere in the country with the utmost assurance that your connectivity is maximized.

Interested in a satellite antenna or a cellular router?

We have been helping RV owners choose the best internet system for their needs for decades. If you haven’t already, explore our RV internet options or our hybrid satellite and cellular system. If you’re ready to learn more about a specific product or if you have any questions, give our sales department a call or an email so we can discuss your needs and find the right system for you. 

Ready to learn more? Let's begin.

Talk to an Expert

Leave your info below and we’ll be in touch promptly to learn more about your situation and recommend a solution.

Have a question?
We're here to help.

Fill out the form below and one of our expert satellite professionals will be in touch promptly to discuss your options or take your order.

Interested In Our RV Internet: Choosing Cellular or Satellite?
Let's Talk.

Fill out the form below and one of our experts will be in touch promptly.