Reasonable Internet service if you are not using Starlink?

Sid Post

Observer
Starlink is too spendy for the usage I need. Basically, a few weeks at a time, I go to remote show locations where the local cell tower system gets massively overloaded and drops calls and lacks any meaningful data.

Starlink hardware costs are an issue as are the recurring monthly fees. Turning it off and on also isn't practical.

Are there other mobile 'satellite' options that are viable financially? I know data on a Sat phone is very expensive but, I'm currently thinking that might be my only option.

I don't think any cellular system will work if the local towers are overloaded but, who knows, there might be a "priority" plan at extra expense

I am not in a 'remote work' situation so, cost is a big factor for relatively basic needs. I need email access, limited web access, and reliable voice service.

TIA,
Sid
 

DaveInDenver

Middle Income Semi-Redneck
Cell providers do prioritize bandwidth, but it's not an easy solution. Suffice to say that if you're using cell data it's best to be a regular subscriber on the company's network, e.g. be a Verizon post-paid unlimited user on a Verizon tower.

The carriers also will move users up and down in priority based on you level of subscription and how much data you've used in the billing period. If you're using pre-paid or an MVNO (e.g. Cricket, Consumer Cellular, etc) your priority may go from just slightly to severely de-prioritized depending on the network.

Providers do have work-arounds using the Wireless Priority System (WPS). But you'd have to be a pre-approved critical private user, government user or first responder. If you pull the SIM card out of your phone it'll also prioritize the call but that will only get you 911.

These systems don't necessarily guarantee high speed data either, just gives you priority to channels.

But at some point it won't matter, there's only so much bandwidth. Even WPS users might get hiccups when a cell is badly overloaded just from the RF noise and processing of the channel queue. Maximum capacity is a hard limit.

When you're looking to get around the overloaded cell system and public WiFi for Internet are you expecting decently high speed or not?

I assume that you'd want more then Iridium GO at about 2.4 kbps. You can rent those for about $60/week usually. But it would be reliable at least for SMS or emails without graphics. Having one of these devices will be like carrying a cell hotspot, about the same as a second phone.

The step up from that might be SkyLink, which is 88 kbps downlink, 22 kbps uplink. It's still going to be painful to use the web but email attachments might not be too awful slow. The hardware is less portable, a device about the size of a book. And it's not that cheap, about $225/week.

The next step up might be to rent a Hughes (Inmarsat) BGAN. That should get you around 464 kbps so it's reasonable for email with attachments and web surfing. You wouldn't want to download large files. That's going to be about $200/week or sometimes billed per MB, perhaps $5/MB. But now you have to set up a bigger antenna and terminal, would fit in a backpack at least.

Which brings up the next point. You could just rent a Starlink terminal. The ones I've seen are also about $200/week. But here again you'll be setting up an sizeable antenna and terminal for high speeds.
 
Last edited:

Hegear

Active member
I now your asking about alternatives but I really think starlink is the way to go. Once you have app installed it’s very easy to switch service on and off. I messed around for years with boosters and they do work, but still service is unreliable. If you know where your going has a week signal they will work but if there is no signal it’s hard to get a connection if at all.

I honestly couldn’t be more impressed with starlink, it’s worked everywhere I have taken it.
 

Sid Post

Observer
Cell providers do prioritize bandwidth, but it's not an easy solution. Suffice to say that if you're using cell data it's best to be a regular subscriber on the company's network, e.g. be a Verizon post-paid unlimited user on a Verizon tower.

The carriers also will move users up and down in priority based on you level of subscription and how much data you've used in the billing period. If you're using pre-paid or an MVNO (e.g. Cricket, Consumer Cellular, etc) your priority may go from just slightly to severely de-prioritized depending on the network.

Providers do have work-arounds using the Wireless Priority System (WPS). But you'd have to be a pre-approved critical private user, government user or first responder. If you pull the SIM card out of your phone it'll also prioritize the call but that will only get you 911.

These systems don't necessarily guarantee high speed data either, just gives you priority to channels.

But at some point it won't matter, there's only so much bandwidth. Even WPS users might get hiccups when a cell is badly overloaded just from the RF noise and processing of the channel queue. Maximum capacity is a hard limit.

When you're looking to get around the overloaded cell system and public WiFi for Internet are you expecting decently high speed or not?

I assume that you'd want more then Iridium GO at about 2.4 kbps. You can rent those for about $60/week usually. But it would be reliable at least for SMS or emails without graphics. Having one of these devices will be like carrying a cell hotspot, about the same as a second phone.

The step up from that might be SkyLink, which is 88 kbps downlink, 22 kbps uplink. It's still going to be painful to use the web but email attachments might not be too awful slow. The hardware is less portable, a device about the size of a book. And it's not that cheap, about $225/week.

The next step up might be to rent a Hughes (Inmarsat) BGAN. That should get you around 464 kbps so it's reasonable for email with attachments and web surfing. You wouldn't want to download large files. That's going to be about $200/week or sometimes billed per MB, perhaps $5/MB. But now you have to set up a bigger antenna and terminal, would fit in a backpack at least.

Which brings up the next point. You could just rent a Starlink terminal. The ones I've seen are also about $200/week. But here again you'll be setting up an sizeable antenna and terminal for high speeds.

Super helpful!!!

Yea, going back to 2400 baud modem data rate would be pretty bad but, I'm not streaming Netflix/Hulu/etc.

However, 2400 baud is lot better than ZERO baud! :)

Edited after some phone calls:
Turns out the Hughes upfront hardware costs are very high and are pretty bulky.

Looking at data plan costs (rates/coverage charges/etc.) Starlink has a real advantage.
 
Last edited:

Ozarker

Pontoon Admiral
I know nothing about this stuff, but, my GF tells me she is getting a new phone that has 2 years (or so) of service which includes satellite coverage like a satphone, does that work?
 

smbisig

Adventurer
I know nothing about this stuff, but, my GF tells me she is getting a new phone that has 2 years (or so) of service which includes satellite coverage like a satphone, does that work?

That's probably the new iPhone which will use satellite for emergency and AAA road coverage only at this time.
 

CMARJEEP

Observer
Do you or your spouse work in healthcare, first responder or government? AT&T FirstNet is a priority network for people that work in those fields. My work phone is on FirstNet and I’ve been places where the towers are very overloaded and my personal phone has useless data but my work phone works completely fine. You can get it personally but they will verify your job to make sure you have a need for it.

 

burleyman

Active member
Old man, not quite a rant. I do somewhat miss it, but it seems starlink/access anywhere is going to interfere with no frills available campsites I've used for years with no coverage that others avoid.
 

JaSAn

Grumpy Old Man
I haven't tried this. I have an acquaintance that uses a cell booster and directional antenna up high to find cell towers that are less busy or out of normal cell phone range.
He also has phones for all three major carriers to choose from.
 

Sid Post

Observer
I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone here in this thread. Lots of good thoughts.

I'm rethinking things like Garmin InReach and Starlink at the moment. The directional and boosted cellphone thoughts are very good too but, in areas with lots of trees or mountains, probably not a good option, especially if I break a leg or something drastic like that.
 

Macfly

Active member
I'm on the verge of doing Starlink too, love to hear if anyone is using it on a truck camper in deep remote spots with success. Also can you do internet calling over it?
 

Hegear

Active member
I'm on the verge of doing Starlink too, love to hear if anyone is using it on a truck camper in deep remote spots with success. Also can you do internet calling over it?
Yes you can do internet calling.

The starlink works so long as it can see the sky. It has worked everywhere for me. I get to some really remote spots in the west, I’ve also taken it to Alaska, Mexico and the Bahamas. No issues. It just works and is easy to setup. Last summer at lake Powell I shared the password with another boat camped close. Ended having of 40 users logged on to the WiFi. No problem, could still stream movies and make calls etc.
 

Shawn686

Observer
I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone here in this thread. Lots of good thoughts.

I'm rethinking things like Garmin InReach and Starlink at the moment. The directional and boosted cellphone thoughts are very good too but, in areas with lots of trees or mountains, probably not a good option, especially if I break a leg or something drastic like that.
Just FYI Garmin inreach will not do any of the things you want

I need email access, limited web access, and reliable voice service.

Inreach is text only and emergency rescue request

Shawn
 

Sid Post

Observer
Just FYI Garmin inreach will not do any of the things you want



Inreach is text only and emergency rescue request

Shawn

Yep, its really just one of the emergency and SOS solutions on the cheap. Seems like the other one with similar features is SPOT and I forget the name of the other one that seems to get some traction in the marketplace.

Great for a "heartbeat" so your Mom doesn't worry but, pretty worthless for normal things you would use a cellphone for.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
186,185
Messages
2,883,036
Members
226,050
Latest member
Breezy78
Top