How Can I Get WiFi In A Camper Van?

Yes, there are numerous ways that you can get WiFi in a Camper Van. In the next few minutes we’ll have a look at the best, innovative and affordable ways for you to stay connected while you are out on the open road.

The whole world is now more reliant on being online than ever before. Banking, Insurance, Email, Video Conferencing and almost everything else that you can think of are going paperless and moving into the online space. Staying connected when on the road has never been so important.

We thought it was important to share what we found, and our own experiences of trying to connect to the information superhighway whilst on the highway, so read on.

Can You Get WiFi In A Camper Van While Moving?

The short and simple answer to this is yes. You can get WiFi in a Camper Van while moving as the WiFi Signal is all around us, most of the time. Providing you have a device capable of connecting to the signal, then you can get online, whether you are moving or not.

How Does My Device Control If I Can Get WiFi In A Camper Van Or Not?

Simply put, some devices can connect directly to the Internet, because they have their own SIM Card, and some have to connect through other WiFi Receiving Devices, because they don’t have their own SIM Card, such as the Amazon Kindle.

SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module and it’s a small plastic card that slots into your Phone, iPad or Dongle. SIMs are computer chips that hold information and allow you to connect with your network (the Internet or WiFi Signal). This means you can make calls, send SMS messages and connect to mobile internet services like 3G, 4G, and 5G (we’ll discuss them later).

Devices that don’t have a SIM, such at Kindles and Amazon Fire TV Sticks will have to rely on connecting to WiFi through another device such as a Router or a Dongle, as they can’t connect directly themselves.

Can You Get WiFi In A Camper Van By Using A Personal Hotspot?

Yes, you can, and it is a good way to get WiFi when you are on the road. Creating a Personal Hotspot is an easy way of turning your device into an Internet Router so that you and others can connect to the internet through it.

You can use your iPhone, a Dongle or many Android smartphones that have a SIM Card as a WiFi hotspot? By turning on this feature, your phone uses its own cellular data allowance to create a WiFi hotspot. You can then connect a computer or other device that required WiFi to this hotspot to access the internet.

What Are Roaming Charges?

How Can I Get WiFi In A Camper Van - Data Roaming Charges

Roaming Charges are the extra costs that you will have to pay when you use your phone or data package in another country.

Roaming Charges can be extremely expensive. Being British and having just taken part in Brexit (Britain leaving the EU), we are receiving a sharp reminder of just how expensive these charges can be.

While we were in the EU, Roaming charges were not applied if we were travelling to any other EU Country, but since we have left, they have been introduced.

Unfortunately, if you want to use a Mobile Phone abroad, you are going to have to pay Roaming Charges, but there are ways that you can keep them down. Buying a Roaming Package for the period that you are away is one of them, turning off your phone completely is another.

It will probable make more sense to buy a Pay As You Go (PAYG) SIM Card in the country that you are currently in, one that has a data element on it and exchange it with your normal SIM Card so that you can make a Hotspot with it.

What Is A WiFi Dongle?

A WiFi Dongle is a pocket-size device that connects to your smartphone, tablet or laptop and allows you to access the internet while you’re traveling. WiFi Dongles are portable, easy to carry, convenient to use, and very affordable.

Most of the WiFi dongles that I have come across resemble USB drives. You simply use the connection provided by the WiFi Dongle to access the internet, share the internet connection with your friends, download files, share files, and do a lot more.

Should I Use A WiFi Booster?

A WiFi Booster is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It is a device for boosting a weak WiFi Signal up to a higher strength WiFi signal allowing you to get better connectivity.

If you have a weak WiFi Signal it is going to be impossible for you to do tasks such as watch or download movies, make video calls or upload your own videos to the internet.

Using a WiFi Booster could be the solution you are looking for. The WiFi Signal is generally being transmitted all around us, but it is sometimes blocked or interfered with by the valleys, mountains and buildings close by.

A WiFi Booster basically grabs more of that signal and allows us access to it so that we can complete our tasks that require more bandwidth.

What Is WiFi Onboard?

How Can I Get WiFi In A Camper Van - WiFi Onboard

WiFi Onboard is one of the better known and reliable WiFi Boosters used by Motorhome, Camper Van and Boat enthusiasts to receive connectivity while on the move.

A WiFi Onboard kit comes with a WiFi Router, Cabling and an External Aerial that can be easily and quickly fitted by a DIY enthusiast.

The Router will allow you to fit a SIM Card of your choice and the External Aerial will boost even the weakest of signals into something usable.

The 4G Kit costs around £350 and the 5G Kit costs around £550 direct from the manufacturer.

Here’s a video of Kat and David from Wandering-Bird.com fitting and testing the WiFi Onboard Kit. You can also see their complete review post here…

3G, 4G or 5G, What Do They Mean?

How Can I Get WiFi In A Camper Van - WiFi Networks

Let’s start with the 3G Network, as that is the one that covers essentially all of the UK right now. The 3G Network is simply the 3rd Generation of the Cellular Data Network.

There are two important factors to consider when measuring the efficiency of a Network, they are Latency and Speed.

Latency is basically the reaction time of the Network after you have given it a command or request.

Speed is how quickly it can deliver you the packets of data that you have requested, usually measured in Mega Bits per Second Mbp/s.

The current 3G Network Latency is 120 ms and the Download Speed is 8 Mbp/s.

The 4G Network or the 4th Generation Cellular Data Network is a major upgrade on the 3G Network, but it doesn’t currently cover the whole of the UK. It should do soon.

The 4G Network allows you to stream movies on mobile devices without buffering and multiple other data heavy tasks.

The current 4G Network Latency is 60 ms and the Download Speed is 100 Mbp/s.

As you can see, this is a vast improvement on the 3G Network, but it isn’t quite fast enough to control what has been named “The internet of things”.

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet without human interaction. Such as the self driving car.

In order that we could have such devices and make sure that their reaction times are comparable to that of a human, we had to upgrade the Network from 4G to 5G.

The current 5G Network Latency is 1 ms and the Download Speed is between 1 and 10 Gbp/s.

These speeds are phenomenal, but the 5G Network still has a lot of areas of the UK that are not covered by it, which creates a problem if you were to want to take a self driving car through that area and the car needed to emergency brake!

The good news for internet coverage is that mobile devices are being made backwards compatible, meaning that your new iPhone 13 (if you have one) can use the 3G, 4G and 5G Networks and can switch between them when needed. So theoretically, you should be able to get the internet (fast or slow) wherever you go. Providing of course that there is enough signal to be received after boosting it.

However, as we all know, there are some areas where you simply can’t get the internet, no matter what. In these areas, we may have to use the satellite system. That is a whole discussion in itself, and specialist equipment i needed, so I think it’s beyond the scope of this post. It’s enough to know that it is available for use if you have the equipment.

What Is The Most Reliable Way To Get WiFi In A Camper Van?

The most reliable way to get WiFi in a Camper Van is by installing a dedicated Router that can take a data SIM Card attached by cable to an External Aerial. A set up such as the WiFi Onboard Kit that we mentioned above.

This receiver and booster system will give you a reliable 4G signal throughout most of the UK, dropping to a 3G signal in areas of poor coverage.

What Is The Most Affordable Way To Get WiFi In A Camper Van?

The most affordable way to get WiFi in a Camper Van is to make a Personal Hotspot from your mobile phone. This can be a thrifty way to get online when on the road, especially if you have an unlimited data package in your phone contract’s monthly subscription.

The problem with this Personal Hotspot method is reliability, as without an external aerial, you are going to pass through areas where there is a weak signal and you aren’t going to be able to pick it up on your phone alone, losing connectivity intermittently.

So, as you have seen there are numerous ways to get WiFi in a Camper Van, some more affordable than others, some reliable and some not. There really is no reason not to stay connected in this modern age in a Camper Van, unless of course that’s what you are looking for.