Okay, before we get started, let’s pump the brakes for a minute and ask ourselves two important questions:
- Do we want to watch Netflix on the road?
- Do we work from home with a job that requires internet?
If you answered “no” to both of these questions, save yourself the hassle and just go get an unlimited plan for your cell phone. Otherwise, be prepared to jump through a few rather expensive hoops to feed your crack-pipe Netflix habit.
(That’s “Too Long; Didn’t Read” for those of you who skipped the earlier parts of this guide. Also, shame on you.)
There isn’t a silver bullet. This space is continuously evolving and while there are occasional moments of hope, many plans turn out to have a catch or disappear for one reason or another. We’ll talk you through a few of the options that are often mentioned, but highly suggest you check out RVMobileInternet.com as they do a great job of staying on top of the ever-changing options.
What’s Wrong with an Unlimited Cell Plan?
Long story short, there isn’t a truly unlimited cell plan from any of the major carriers because after you use your first X gigabytes of data, they start to significantly throttle you. So, for example, your first 10 gigs of data each month might be blazing fast because they’re pumping it to you through a fire hose, but after that, they’re like “nope, you’re done buddy, time to drink out of a straw”.
The FMCA Unlimited VZW Data Plan
The idea here is to fork over $110 for a 2-year membership to the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), and they’ll get you access to a $50/mo unlimited plan through Verizon. We tested this with a real-time bandwidth monitor and can confidently say that IMMEDIATELY after you cross the 25GB threshold you’re throttled, HARD. See for yourself.
While this isn’t a terrible deal for 25GB/mo, it does lock you in for two years. There are old posts floating around the interwebs indicating this is/was a truly unlimited plan with only a slight chance of de-prioritization in congested areas but, well, see the graph above.
If you do go this route you’ll be provided with a Mifi Jetpack. You will want to promptly pick up an external antenna and cable for it, because the minute you walk into your tin-can RV, the already lacking reception of the Jetpack goes down the pooper quicker than a one-dollar hotdog at Costco.
“Black Market” Plans
Some people had the foresight to cling to their original unlimited data plans when cell carriers first started rolling them out. Those plans were truly unlimited, uncapped, and are not deprioritized. If you know someone that has one of these, consider having another kid or fur-baby, so you can offer them naming rights; they might just let you add a line to their plan. If you don’t know someone such as this, you can sometimes find them on ebay (ha, sketchy), or, more than likely, you can find someone in a Full-time RV Facebook. These folks will charge you a premium above and beyond what they pay.