What Is The Best Skoolie Wifi? There is a clear winner!
Having skoolie wifi has become almost as essential as having clean drinking water, oxygen and food.
Some of us can not live without wifi. It’s not that we are addicted to the internet and need our Netflix, Tiktok, or Spotify. We need wifi because we work remotely and have to have the internet to do our jobs.
Besides, the internet has become so commonplace in most of our lives that without it we feel isolated and disconnected from the world around us.
That actually sounds exactly like what we and most of our friends are seeking!
I digress. For those of us still reliant on the internet and skoolie wifi, as a skoolie nomad, what is the best way to get skoolie wifi that is affordable and reliable?
We are going to take an elevated perspective on skoolie wifi and mobile data plans that will keep us connected to the internet. Most of us have a remote or online job, so it’s not just convenient, it is essential.
Can You Get Wifi In A Skoolie?
You can most certainly get mobile data or wifi in your skoolie. If we weren’t able to be connected to the internet on a daily and consistent behavior, we would not be able to live and enjoy this lifestyle.
Even though we are only in our early 50s, we aren’t ready or able to retire and draw passive income from social security, pensions, or retirement funds.
We can travel where we want, live the life we choose, and still live comfortably doing the things that interest and excite us.
We work online, and even though we work for ourselves, we need the internet to keep the income stream flowing.
Getting skoolie wifi while traveling and living in a school bus full time is as easy as getting a cell phone plan.
Cell phone data, which is where wifi comes from is sold through several different carriers including the Big 3 cell data carriers, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile/Sprint.
There are several other independent and subsidiary carriers that will “piggyback” off of the Big 3 towers.
Can You Put Wifi In A Bus?
You can definitely put internet wifi on a bus. As long as you can receive a cell tower’s signal through a sim card, then you can have internet in your skoolie.
We can attest that living in a metal framed and skinned motorhome, the cell or data signal is usually stronger just outside of our bus than it is inside of the bus.
That metal shell can sometimes reduce your signal. Once you have established a link with the nearest tower, then you should be good to go.
When you have established a link with a tower, then you can re-transmit that signal through a wifi extender.
The cellular or data signal comes from the closest or strongest tower into your sim-carded device. It is then transmitted out to a distance usually 15 to 20 feet from your wifi device.
If you connect a wifi extender to that signal, you can boost your signal out another 20 to 50 feet from your wifi extender device.
Understand, however, that the original signal will be slightly weakened from the extender.
Who Offers Skoolie Wifi Data?
All of the major cell phone carriers offer wifi through mobile data devices.
Just as with their cell phone packages, be prepared to pay lots of connection fees, taxes, surcharges, activation fees, payment on the mobile device, and a contract for one to two years.
We have learned, mostly, from our prior experience with AT&T as well as Verizon, that if you want a quality product at a reasonable price with good customer service, never do business with either of these companies.
Below are the three most popular carriers for cell phone data or skoolie wifi.
Of the five, only two of these do not require a contract and bog you down with tons of additional fees, charges, and taxes. Can you guess which two do not?
That’s right, Visible and OTR are two companies that offer unlimited Wifi data packages at a flat rate.
*There is a hook though. It is not truly unlimited data and it is not as fast as you might think it is. Both of these companies will “tier” your service based on the amount of “preferred” customers within a given towers proximity.
- OTR – Over The Road
Tiered Data and Availablity
There is an asterisk when it comes to alternative mobile internet companies for data. Credit is due to Visible and OTR for their unlimited plans with no hidden or additional fees, but there is a catch.
With any company, regardless of what they claim, anyone other than the BIG 3 (AT&T, Sprint/T-Mobile, and Verizon) is using the big 3’s towers for the wifi signal or data signal they are sending to you.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal I know, but the catch is this. The data for your service is a lower-tiered data transmission controlled by the big 3 carriers.
In other words, the big three’s customers always get first dibs on the available data offered through those local towers.
If it gets “filled” up by their primary customers, there is nothing left for the subsidiary or alternate company's customers. Therefore, the data you are receiving is barely enough “juice” to send an email, much less stream a movie or show on Netflix.
Also, the signal speed and strength are always slower than the regular customer's speeds, regardless of how close or far away from the tower, you may be.
There is a better alternative for skoolie wifi than cell tower data. Read on for more information on Starlink data.
How Does Wifi Work In A Skoolie?
Your skoolie wifi works just like it does on your phone or anywhere else you may pick up wifi for internet access. Skoolie wifi comes from a cell tower data signal.
There are different ways to receive skoolie wifi while living and traveling in your tiny house on wheels.
Cell Phone Hot Spot for Skoolie Wifi
If you do not have or chose not to purchase a mobile hotspot, then you may have the option with your cell phone carrier to purchase a hotspot data plan to your current cell phone plan.
Your cell phone then, in essence, becomes a mobile hotspot for data. As long as you have a cell signal strong enough to transmit data signals and you have enough data available, you should be in good shape.
Dedicated Hot Spot for Skoolie Wifi
Having a dedicated hot spot for internet data is the surest way of picking up data signals for wifi. A mobile hotspot works just like a cell phone.
It will either have a virtual sim car or a physical sim card that works just like your cell phone’s sim card. It receives a signal from the closest cell phone tower and transmits that data right to your device.
You then connect to the mobile device just like you would a router in your home.
Someone Else’s Wifi
If you do not have any data left on your cell phone or mobile hotspot, or you just don’t have a subscription to one, then there is always the option of going to where the wifi is located.
We have had to drive into a town before and piggyback off of the wifi from a Starbucks or a Mcdonald's.
If you park close enough to the entrance of a Walmart, you can even receive a strong enough signal there to do some minor tasks while connecting to the internet
If you have friends or family nearby, always ask permission to hop on their wifi if you need to do so in a pinch.
Is It Illegal To Live In A School Bus?
We wanted to add this interruption to skoolie wifi discussion because it always comes up when we are talking to others who are interested in this life.
What is the good of having mobile data plan if you aren’t allowed to live on a school bus in the first place?
Fortunately, that really isn’t an issue.
You can live and travel full time in a school bus that has been registered as a motorhome just as you can a Class A motorhome, fifth-wheel trailer, or pull-behind RV.
If you would like to learn more about whether or not it is Illegal To Live In A School Bus? Just click that link for a post we dedicated to that subject alone.
Which Provider Has The Best Skoolie Wifi or Data Plan?
Before we go into this discussion on who has the best skoolie wifi, we want to make sure everyone who is reading this knows and understands there is a new provider on the block who offers a much better skoolie wifi option than any of the cell phone providers at a similarly priced product.
UPDATE 10 15 2022 Edit to Original Post for Skoolie Wifi
This is an update to when I originally wrote this post about Skoolie Wifi several months ago.
Starlink For Skoolie Wifi is by far superior to any cell phone company or cell phone tower regardless of where it is located.
We have been using our RV version of Starlink for skoolie wifi now for three months and could not be any happier or satisfied with it.
Speeds are more than adequate for both of our work and leisure wifi usage simultaneously.
When we took a screenshot of that speed test, we were running two computers, two phones, and a tablet. Due to where we are currently parked in New Hampshire, We do not have a clear view of the sky, so our service will not be optimized 100%.
We are at the base of a mountain and there are very tall hardwood and pines all around us.
Say, if we were in the desert or a field with no trees around us, we would have 100% visibility of the sky for the dish. Therefore, our download and upload numbers would be significantly higher.
So, needless to say, we do not have access to 360 degree skies for our Starlink dish. We are still able to watch videos, stream movies or shows, video conference Zoom meetings, or anything else we want to do.
All on multiple devices.
Cost of Starlink for Skoolie Wifi
Star Link costs about as much as any of the other cell phone providers data service costs.
We pay $135 per month for the RV version of Starlink. This allows us to “roam” anywhere in North America, including Canada, and have uninterrupted skoolie wifi whenever we want or need it.
While the equipment may seem a little high, it really isn't that much more when considering the cost of a good hotspot or the cost of a new cell phone. Consider the Netgear Night Hawk M6 5G has a price tag of $799. The older and less potent Netgear Nighthawk M1 4g hotspot still has a hefty price of $399.
The T-Mobile Inseego 5G Mifi M2000 will cost you $336 with a data plan. We used this and ended up returning it because we felt it was garbage.
The Starlink dish, the router, all of the hardware needed and 75 foot long cable will cost you $599. Shipping is $50 and tax is $37.50. (the tax will vary depending on where you live) We ordered ours while we were in Maine this past summer.
You total bill to order will be in the neighborhood of $685. It delivers in less than two weeks from your order date.
When it arrives, it is packaged very well. Super simple and easy to set it up. You will be streaming on line within 30 minutes of opening the box to browsing the webbernets.
Compared to other leading hotspots currently on the market, the slightly higher cost of the equipment without have to deal with the major ceel phone companies, contracts and dead spots in remote locations where there are no towers, is well worth the extra pennies!
End Edit to Skoolie Wifi
This is a great question. Depending on your idea of what the best wifi or data plan entails, the answer could vary.
Verizon has 100GB of data for around $50. Visible, which is Verizon’s subsidiary company offers an unlimited plan for $40 a month, but there are limitations to unlimited based on lower-tier tower availability.
Despite what the three major carriers offer and Visible’s unlimited with limitations for only $40 or less a month, we still prefer OTR for the time being.
Who Has The Most Reliable Wifi Service?
We are going to address this question with an answer from our own personal experience. While AT&T and Verizon are constantly in a pissing match over who has the best cell and data coverage across North America, it all depends on where you are.
EDIT To Post 10/19/2022
Starlink has the best service and coverage by far over any of the cell phone companies towers! No question that Starlink is superior in all aspects.
While we were boondocking in the Ocala National Forest in North Central Florida, AT&T sucked so bad, we had to go into the closest town just to get a signal.
Verizon however, had a decent signal.
In the Rocky Mountains, AT&T did fair but was not blazing. Verizon did okay, but the towers were at capacity and coverage was spotty at best.
So far, we have had the best experience with OTR using a virtual sim card. OTR is an independent mobile data provider. The OTR stands for Over The Road.
They cater to RV travelers and nomads in general. The virtual sim car allows the mobile device to ping off of the closest cell phone tower, regardless of who the provider is.
If the closest or strongest tower is T-Mobile/Sprint, then it pulls from that tower. If we go a few miles down the road and the strongest signal is from Verizon, then it will pull data from that tower.
For us, being on the road full-time now since 2019, OTR has been the most reliable mobile internet service provider. In some places, it is much better than in others.
Overall, that is who we currently use, and will continue to do so until something better comes along.
Wrap Up To What Is The Best Skoolie Wifi?
Mobile skoolie wifi is the unicorn of skoolie life. Finding the right carrier to deliver reliable, consistent, and affordable wifi data has not been the easiest for many nomadic adventurers.
Skoolie wifi is available, you just have to be willing to pay a good price for a good reliable service. Also, be open to the idea of having at least two different carriers.
While AT&T and Verizon boast themselves as the widest and most available cellular and data networks, there are places where one or the other, or even both of them are not available.
You can find wifi, you just have to know where to find it and understand, as a nomad, sometimes, skoolie wifi just isn’t an option.
Let us be clear! We have used AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint, and Visible. and OTR.
Overall, they all suck!
They are either very expensive and throttle you down to almost no speed at all once you have capped your data, or they prioritize your service and speeds due to your level of service purchased.
Starlink has been exceptional so far. The lowest speeds we have gotten so far have been 40-50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.
Do yourselves a favor and go with Starlink if you want unlimited speeds, no yearly contracts, and access to internet regardless of how far out in the desert you are or how deep into the woods you go.
Let us know what your experience is with skoolie wifi. Leave us a comment below.