Mobile Internet Service Access

I’d like input on the best means of obtaining laptop internet access while on an expedition trip. We tried the AT&T broadband internet card last time along the Gulf Coast, and found it horrible. Coverage was poor along the coasts, the contract was restrictive, the costs exorbitant, and while they advertised 4G service, customer service was zero-G. I looked at Net Zero, and their coverage area is minimal. So, when paddling along the coast or down a river, any other suggestions on what is the best way to maintain communications capability by laptop?

tried verizon?
They seem to have the best rural/coastal coverage here in the PNW. I imagine $/MB is going to pretty similar across the carriers though. What are you using the laptop for?

It’s a big country
And there is a lot of it where there is poor or no cellular service.

I have never looked into satellite service. However, I recall that the people who run Chesuncook House, well off the grid in northern Maine-not even weather radio comes in-told me they get most of their bookings via email, which they access via satellite.


Is not bad

Your options -

  • plug in modem, functionality is very limited. Battery life limited by laptop
  • mobile hot spot, provides WiFi. Battery life limited by the charge and supply
  • a mobile android/iOs phone with hot spot functionality. Battery life limited by charge ( typically worse than mobile hotspot) and supply.

    Of course, you can always spring for the satellite internet

Use of laptop
Email, internet research, maintaining blog

Satellite Internet
is common in Northern Maine and Northern Ontario, Labrador and Newfoundland.

Areas that do not have cell phone coverage at all.

Even in some more populated areas cell coverage is spotty at best and can cut right off. I have seldom seen any bars on my phone near home.

As an AT&T subscriber on the Gulf Coast
I am shocked, simply shocked to hear you say service is terrible! It only took me three times to get this page loaded on my iPhone, and it has only told me that it couldn’t connect with the internet network 6 times today! Some people are so demanding!

If My Smartphone is Any Indicator…
Verizon is the thing to have. The NC coast (where I’ve gone anyway) is covered. My buddy’s mountain house is ONLY serviced by Verizon.

Can you hear me now?

Coastal Cell Coverage
If you are planning a real expedition on a sparsely populated coastline cell coverage is going to be poor no matter which carrier you use. The systems are not designed to support on water calling and service to outlying areas. If you are serious you probably need to look into satellite.

That being said I would suggest unplugging for a while. A few years ago I did a trip around New Zealand where my cell phone absolutely did not work, and internet access in small towns was terrible. It was quite a refreshing vacation- dare to unplug.

I travel for a living
I started with Alltel, when Verizon bought them the service and coverage got even better. I have an Android smartphone that allows up to 4 users to have a wifi hotspot with pretty good speed as long as 2 people are not streaming movies. Coverage is exellent in USA and western Mexico. Great coverage in Canada within 300 miles of Great Lakes, otherwise if you are not near a major highway not great. Unlimited data package runs around 200 a month.

I have Verizon. Its only good for travel. I live in a dedicated dead zone.

I really don’t understand smart phones as the only ones that work in my area are attached to a wire.

Living on the gulfcoast
Look into C-spire. They are focused on MS, AL and the FL panhandle. Frequently they work fine where nothing else even has one bar. I don’t know about TX, LA or south FL


The gulf coast
represents the poorest states in the country. It only stands to reason business has not followed there.

I borrowed friends phones for a day here in the Mid-Hudson area. Only one carrier worked from my parents house, so I went with that. Since then the Reformed Church has a new steeple, hidden inside are cell phone repeaters.