The following are some communications lessons learned
during first 6 months on the road full-timing in the summer of 2002.
Lahore hlahore at mindspring.com
updates Oct 2004
and May 2005
Communications while RVing
www.verizon.com cell-phone: the
good, the bad, and the summary
Good: Adjust monthly minutes during the current month (we are
currently at 750)
Good: Verizon has plans for roaming and long distance at no
– essential for full-time RVing.
Good: Verizon roaming exploits cell towers from many vendors.
Our Motorola Startac phones use analog as well as two digital bands.
Good: Spouse has an additional phone for just $20 a month which
share the minutes (2006 version is just $10/month)
Bad: Voice messages are often late and sometimes do not arrive for
up to 24 hours
Bad: Can not directly retrieve messages while roaming in some
We use one cell-phone to get the messages for the other.
Summary: We feel that Verizon is the best for RVing in the Western
US - see update below
Poor cell-phone coverage at many RV parks
Parks tend to be in low population density areas which are no cost
effective to have cell-towers.
We really doubt the Verizon claim that cell phones can
be used in 94% of the US land area.
Telephone calling cards
Telephone calling cards are great when they work with a phone. The rates
keep right on falling. We purchased our MCI card for 3.5 cents per minute and
I see some cards are now available for 1.9 cents per minute. We will be
getting a second card soon because some phones do not permit us calling to
some 800 numbers. We use a telephone calling card for calling individuals and
for connecting to the internet. Note: You must use commas to insert delays
needed in the calling. Our experiments with MCI found that the following
sequence of numbers and commas (commas are used to insert pauses) works:
18003250604,,,,1,,pin number,, 1earthlink phone number
List of many calling cards is at Google:
Satellite internet connection
We had hoped to have two-way satellite connectivity in 2002, but have had
to settle for satellite download and cell-phone return. It was just too
difficult to aim the satellite return link with software in May 2002. We can
buy about $500 of test equipment to ease the alignment process, but have heard
a rumor that the software has improved, and so will be trying it soon. After
tweaking the one-way satellite connection we raised the download rate with a
26K return land line from 80K bits/sec. to about 930K bits/sec. We was with
MTU = 6000 and RWIN = 16X.
should probably access voice mail directly when you are "roaming".
The Verizon roaming
system sometimes delays sending the voice mails for up to 5 days.
call your own telephone number to check the voice mail.
If you are
charged for roaming with your cellphone you could just call from a payphone.
Net2Phone, Skype, etc. are great low-cost telephone services when you have WiFi.
Cellphone and cancer
A great many studies are available on the internet about Cellphone usage
My professional conclusion (Electronics Engineering) frequencies used by
Analog and GMS cell phones (800MHz) might cause cancer, especially when the
cell phone must be used at full power - rural areas or inside of vehicles.
Digital cell phone frequencies (1600MHz) do not appear to to cause cancer.
As of Spring 2005 the FCC has re-opened the cell phone/cancer
I expect that by 2007 the FCC will conclude that analog cell phone cause cancer,
and that, by-the-way, the FCC has just
eliminated the use of analog cell phones - see previous paragraph.
(Recall how many decades it took for the federal
government to conclude that smoking did indeed cause cancer)
a nice way to keep in touch. We get updates of stock prices, etc. from Google.
The cost of a SMS message is about 12 cents thru Verizon. We were unable
to get our friends to use it however
Setup laptop to access the Internet in
You need to have a separate Internet
ICON for each method.
I have currently a separate ICON for
Local telephone number
Calling card telephone access number - with the PIN#, etc.
see above for details
Cell phone (which uses the cell phone driver/software, rather than
the normal internal modem)