Internet on the Raod

#1
Hello, I have been researching the options for maintaining internet connectivity while traveling internationally (USA<Central America<South America) and wanted to ask the community what has proven to work for others. I am in the beginning phases of planning a long transcontinental road trip with my girlfriend who works remotely, online. We would primarily be using the internet for email with occasional browsing and social media. I realize we would only have internet when cell service is available and would most likely need a cell device used as a hot spot.

So far it seams these are my options:
WorldSIM - sounds great, got bad reviews
Cellphone/tablet Hotspot - probably the easiest with SIM cards for each new country
Others?

Thanks in advance!
 
#3
Hello FlyByR,
This isn't as easy, as you would think. Here in the States, we have two common communication "Process" for 4G LTE connection to Cell-towers, for Internet-based Service Providers. And with that said, there are 100's of 1000's acres in regions with "No Service" available.
In Mexico there are 3 major carriers, two with Great Coverage for populated spaces [AT&T, and Telcel] and Movistar has OK coverage in certain areas.
In Central America - the two dominate Carriers are Claro, and TIGO - and Movistar. It's available in certain countries, not not is others - Example: Costa Rice has: 1) Claro, 2) Kolbi ICE and 3) Movistar
but NO TIGO. In Guatemala you have 1) Claro 2) Movistar 3) TIGO.
As you get into South America - it's all over the board, and Limited to Certain Population Centers - as an Example in Peru you have 1) Bitel 2) Claro 3) Entel and 4) Movistar
In Columbia you have 1) Avantel 2) Claro 3) Movistar and 4) TIGO.

I have a LAN-SAT Radio/Cellular, on the Global AT&T network, it has an RJ45 for WAN connection, We carry a Cradlepoint IBR0900-LP6-NA, a 5-in-1 antenna for WiFi as WAN. It gives you 2 Cellular Antennas, 2 MIMO 2.4/5.0 WiFi Antenna's and an Active/Active GPS. The Cradlepoint uses the WAN connection for the LAN-SAT as Fail-over and the CELLULAR are Primary. AT&T and been very solid.
Hope this helps. For Full Disclosure - I work for Cradlepoint, and have had relationships with AT&T for a very long time.
DCG
 
#4
Good info DCGibbs, I admit I have no Idea what you said in that last paragraph aside from "Global AT&T network" and "I work for Cradlepoint" could you brake it down into layman's terms? I understand our method for connecting will be the use of cellular. It would seam that the IBR0900 is the router that connects to the internet via cellular with the use of multiple types of antennas. We would then connect our devises to the IBR0900? In this context what is the difference between the "LAN-SAT" and the "WiFi as WAN"? Is the IBR0900 able to connect to all the carriers you listed? and how does one switch from one carrier to another?

Please excuse my ignorance and thank you for sharing your knowledge!
 
#5
FlyByR,
The LAN-SAT provides you the Secondary Connection "WAN" connection, when 4G-LTE isn't available. "Wifi as WAN" is the setting on the Router and Allows others to gain access (Approved Connectivity)...
 
#6
I see. We are realistic in understanding that internet would not be available at all times on a trip like this. Our itinerary would adjust based on access to cellular. "SAT" means it utilizes satellite where cell service isn't available? Is it with a subscription to something like SPOT or similar?
 
#8
I am going to toss another monkey in here. You want to keep in touch with folks via email. I cannot help with surfing the web (you might be best served with cellular connectivity there.) As for social media posting I might suggest when many folks seem to do. When write lots of blogs and take pictures and video and then store them in an external hard drive for uploading at internet cafe's along the route. You can plan your trip to these cafe's around resupply runs into population centers.

There is something thing I can help with: email and letting people know you are ok.

First you need your ham radio license at a General, but preferably Amateur Extra class level. (The Extra license makes it easier to do reciprocity in some places but the General may do. You need to research on a country by county basis. I can give you some help on this if you go this route.)

Next you need a station capable of Voice and Data communications. I'd offer simplicity and reliability are high on your list here so look at a Kenwood TS-480 radio. A solid multiband antenna like a screwdriver antenna such as a Hi-Q, Tarheel, or Scorpion (a Hustler with separate resonators is a good back-up) is next. Finally I'd suggest an SCS modem the cheapest and simplest one for what I am thinking is this: http://www.p4dragon.com/en/Modems.html#widget4 (with a GPS hockey puck interfaced.)

This set up will give you the following:

1) Voice nets on HF which reach far beyond VHF capabilities. Including reach back to the USA when outside the country.
2) WINLINK email. Mariners and people who do emergency communications use this system. You can learn more here: https://www.winlink.org/
3) HF APRS. This is a position tracking system. When you are not talking on the radio you can beacon your position using one of a few different modes. When heard, your GPS position is posted up on the internet and easily found by folks back home. One version of HF APRS is here: http://wa8lmf.net/APRS_PSK63/index.htm and another approach is here: http://robust-packet.net/ both approaches work.

This will be cheaper in the long run. More flexible in the long run. More fun in the long run perhaps.

Just my 2 cents.
 
#9
1) Voice nets on HF which reach far beyond VHF capabilities. Including reach back to the USA when outside the country.
2) WINLINK email. Mariners and people who do emergency communications use this system. You can learn more here: https://www.winlink.org/
3) HF APRS. This is a position tracking system. When you are not talking on the radio you can beacon your position using one of a few different modes. When heard, your GPS position is posted up on the internet and easily found by folks back home. One version of HF APRS is here: http://wa8lmf.net/APRS_PSK63/index.htm and another approach is here: http://robust-packet.net/ both approaches work.

This will be cheaper in the long run. More flexible in the long run. More fun in the long run perhaps.

Just my 2 cents.
I was considering Winlink or Winmor but was told that it would not work unless I had an internet connection because I would need to be able to download a list of available servers to send traffic to. Never really got a clear answer on this. I know the individual servers are connected via internet but from user end I got all kinds of answers.

There was a recent discussion here about using APRS to send email with detail instructions. You can setup aliases ahead of time to save character space and to protect the identity of the person you are emailing. Like typical APRS messages you are limited to the number of characters. Still good to send health and welfare messages to family.

With any of the modes mentioned you are limited to txt and depending on the mode maybe a small picture. The modes are too slow for sending large files.
 
#10
I was considering Winlink or Winmor but was told that it would not work unless I had an internet connection because I would need to be able to download a list of available servers to send traffic to. Never really got a clear answer on this. I know the individual servers are connected via internet but from user end I got all kinds of answers.

There was a recent discussion here about using APRS to send email with detail instructions. You can setup aliases ahead of time to save character space and to protect the identity of the person you are emailing. Like typical APRS messages you are limited to the number of characters. Still good to send health and welfare messages to family.

With any of the modes mentioned you are limited to txt and depending on the mode maybe a small picture. The modes are too slow for sending large files.
The Winlink data base should be pretty stable. If you need to update you can bring your laptop into the internet cafe. It should work fine. After all, just how are people updating databases in emergencies when there is no internet? I am no expert but I think you might be getting some bad info.

As for APRS for email, on VHF yes, on HF not so sure. The reason is bandwidth. You only have 300 baud connections on HF and they really hate tying up the one frequency with lots of unnecessary traffic. So sending an email is a slow process. That is why WINKLINK is better.
 
#11
With any of the modes mentioned you are limited to txt and depending on the mode maybe a small picture. The modes are too slow for sending large files.
I forgot this part. You are correct. Thus when you are in town you can send stuff from an internet cafe. I think you will find images and video are going to be really hard to transmit due to low bandwidth for many applications. Think dial up or DSL speeds regardless of of what is promised.