We have said it before and we will continue saying it: “There is no good mobile internet solution for full-timers living on the road.” Whether you are a weekend rv’er or a nomadic digital warrior, the ability to simply watch Netflix, upload a YouTube video or listen to your Pandora channels at will, remains unimaginably difficult. The dream of an affordable out-of-the box solution for your internet WiFi woes will continue. That is, unless you happen to be rich enough to spend thousands of dollars every month just to watch Netflix everyday.
But the next best thing to a solution (though not an actual solution) does exist in the form of the WiFiRanger lineup of product packages. Starting at $359.99 with the Sky2 Pack, the WiFiRanger allows you to extend the radius of your WiFi availability far beyond the standard range of most routers or PC antennas. The Sky2 Pack, in ideal conditions can range up to half-a-mile and the EliteAC Pack FM (at $749.99) brings that up to two miles. This means that as long as you are within those ranges of an open WiFi connection or one that you know the access password for, you will usually be able to connect. Some of the more famous digital nomads and road-life full-timers (see Technomadia and Gone with the Wynns) swear by the usefulness and reliability of the equipment.
Keep in mind, that line-of-sight is usually necessary to get access to those WiFi connections, and that you will need to remain stationary to ensure that the connection remains available. This is the next-best thing because given the availability of McDonald’s and Starbucks across the country, there is a good chance you might park within two miles of either one of those establishments, or at least you can plan your travels around such ubiquitous open WiFi providers. But, if you venture too far (too far = greater than 2 miles) from the highway or shopping centers, you will likely get very little use out of the WiFiRanger selection of products.
Having said all that we wish we had one from day one. Over the past year of full-time road living we have only intermittently found ourselves so far removed from civilization that the WiFiRanger would have proven useless. Instead more often than not, we have been just beyond the reach of our present antenna (the ASUS USB-AC56 Dual Band Wireless-AC1300) which lists a range of only 60 feet, even though on a clear day and with line-of-sight we have managed distances of up to 150 feet. Even at the low -end of the WiFiRanger product line, the half-mile radius would have provided us access more often at perhaps over 95% of all instances where we otherwise found no available signal.
Since the WiFi Ranger is not a service, rather its an equipment package, the cost is a one-time burden. When I think of all the times we ran up our bills on our cell phone data packages or the constant refills on the Verizon Jetpack, I regret not having spent the money from day one on any of the WiFiRanger products. In fact, the WiFiRanger would have cost exactly what it cost us to use our Verizon Jetpack over the course of three months of refills in 2016.
It is still not the solution digital nomads like ourselves need to maintain our online incomes, nor is it the solution that lets us go “where ever, when ever,” nor does it replace having the Verizon Jetpack and good cell phone data coverage, but it is the next best thing and it should be considered as a primary investment for any one trying to make it online.
For people like Katy and I, who live in a school bus made of metal that interferes with cell phone and WiFi receptions, the WifiRanger provides a neat rooftop solution. If you are currently planning your road life ahead, you would do well to include getting the Sky2 Pack.