Off-grid internet access is a growing demand. Many people enjoy living or vacationing off the grid. This means they do not have access to conventional electricity, plumbing, or telecommunications. There are more and more people living digital nomad lifestyles though, so how do they get off-grid internet access? Depending on how far off the grid a person is, there are different internet options available.
Common Off-Grid Internet Questions
Off-grid living has many challenges, but there are also many solutions. Living off the grid allows you to enjoy nature, live economically, and travel, but you sacrifice many conveniences. Getting off-grid internet access can be easy or near impossible depending on your location and budget. Here are some of the questions people ask about staying connected with off-grid living.
Can you get WiFi Off-Grid?
Yes, it is possible to get off-grid WiFi in many places. The tricky part is finding a way to connect to the internet without a fixed cable or phone line.
How Can I Pick Up Internet for Free?
To pick up free internet you need to go to a place that offers free public WiFi. This could be a library, coffee shop, or restaurant.
Is It Possible to Connect to the Internet Without an ISP?
It is possible to connect to the internet without an ISP. However, it is not something that most people can accomplish easily. DIY internet solutions are possible, but they require a person to be very tech-savvy and also be able to do some electrical work. It is also possible to get very rudimentary internet access via ham radio.
Fixed Wireless for Off-Grid Internet Service
If you are not too far off the grid, you may be within range of communications towers that host fixed wireless internet access. Fixed wireless internet providers like Webformix are local small businesses that can provide internet access to rural areas. The internet they provide is fast and reliable, but it is not portable. It is a great option if you have an off-grid cabin or home in a place like Three Rivers Recreation Area at Lake Billy Chinook. It can also supply internet to RV’s that are parked at RV parks (within range of towers). Fixed wireless internet is affordable, reliable, and fast which makes it the best option for off-grid internet.
Getting Internet Access for RVs
If you keep your RV at an RV park in Central Oregon or Southern Oregon, you can get Webformix internet! We need a place to mount the radio antenna (dish). This can be a tripod, a non-penetrating roof mount, or a pole that is secured to the ground. It is important to have the mounting spot is secured using sandbags or cinder blocks to ensure it cannot be blown over. You’ll also need to have a way to run an ethernet cable from the radio antenna into the RV where it connects to a router.
The best part about getting Webformix internet for your RV is that we offer a vacation mode where you can pay only $10 per month when you are not using your RV. That way you don’t have to pay an installation fee every year. You install once, then just put your plan on vacation mode (in 30-day minimum increments) when not in use for the off-season.
Mobile Wireless for Off-Grid Internet Service
Mobile wireless internet is a great option for portable off-grid living. To get mobile wireless internet you need to purchase a hotspot device. Some phones can act as hotspots, but using your phone for the internet can get very expensive and the connection speed isn’t always good. A mobile hotspot device like the Verizon JetPack will allow you more data, better speed, and a more reliable connection. However, you still need to be within range of communications towers for them to work. New LTE home internet devices are becoming available, and are becoming a top choice over satellite internet when fixed wireless is not available. These devices do (mostly) have data caps, and some have contracts as well.
Does Anyone Offer Unlimited Hotspots?
Yes, you can get unlimited mobile hotspots from Verizon and US Cellular. Other hotspot plans with data caps are available from AT&T, T-Mobile, and smaller companies like NetZero, Cricket, Net10, and Straight Talk Wireless.
How Much is an Unlimited Hotspot?
Unlimited hotspot offers through major cell phone carriers usually charge about $20-$30 as an add-on to your phone plan. Some smaller cellular companies have unlimited hotspots for around $90 per month. Overall, you can expect to pay over $70 to get a large data plan for a mobile hotspot when unlimited plans are not an option. You can get a cheaper plan if you use less data. The cost of the mobile hotspot device can be somewhat expensive as well.
Cellular LTE Data for Off-Grid Internet Service
Your cell phone’s data package comes with limitations. After you use a certain amount of data, you either need to pay extra and/or your speeds will be slowed. Even “unlimited” data plans have restrictions to prevent people from getting too good of a deal. Most unlimited data packages will not allow you to use your phone as a hotspot without paying extra. That is to prevent you from using it as your primary internet source. However, there are some workarounds you can find. If you are a very light internet user, cellular LTE data may be sufficient for off-grid internet service. For working and streaming, a mobile wireless hotspot is a better option.
Can 4G LTE Replace Home Internet?
The 4G LTE internet on your phone can be a partial replacement for home internet if you are living off-grid or on a tight budget. However, data caps and speed throttling will prevent you from doing a lot of streaming or gaming. You also need to be within range of a cell tower for it to work. If you only need to use the internet for occasional web browsing and email, 4G LTE data plans may be enough. If you need to use the internet to work or for entertainment, your phone’s data plan is not likely to be sufficient. A mobile wireless hotspot with its own 4G LTE data plan can be used instead of your phone as a more reliable solution.
Satellite Internet for Off-Grid Internet Service
Most satellite internet dishes are not portable, so if you are living a nomadic off-grid lifestyle you need to do deep research before committing to a system. Certain satellite providers have different areas they serve. Satellite internet is expensive and it can be unreliable so it is usually the last option for off-grid internet service. If you live way off the grid, it might be the best or only option though. For the off-grid nomads, there are satellite internet hotspots that can travel. However, the device itself and the monthly cost is very expensive! Portable satellite internet dishes can cost thousands of dollars, with monthly plans costing $200 to $500 per month.
If you are looking to get off-grid internet access, make a local fixed wireless internet provider your first call. They will likely be the cheapest, fastest, and most reliable off-grid internet option. If you need a mobile solution or cannot get fixed wireless, a mobile wireless internet hotspot is your best option. Off-grid internet access tends to be more expensive, so be sure to consider that in your budget. You will also want to call companies and make sure that their service will work exactly where you need it. Online information is not always accurate and often claims are over-stated in advertising. Realistically, off-grid internet is likely to be slower as well as more expensive than cable internet or DSL. You might need to change some lifestyle habits like watching DVDs instead of streaming. However, it is possible to get off-grid internet. It just requires more shopping around than usual.