Below you'll find our collected knowledge about internet access during your camping trip.
Mobile Internet via your phone/portable WiFi hotspot
Mobile internet is usually your first choice at this point. Various countries offer decent network coverage as well as cheap packages. In combination with local WiFis, this could be a suitable solution.
In Spain, for example, you can get 4G with country-wide coverage from 89% to 96% at a cost level of starting around 20 Euro/Month for 100 GB. Compare the offers and ensure it has coverage at the places you plan to visit. If in doubt, pick the market leader to get best network coverage.
Internet via satellite is the premium option with much larger coverage. Usually, most or the whole country is covered. Pricing also reflects this. The standard packages include only local usage (residential usage). For mobile usage (portability) you will need to dive into the plan details. Starlink handles it this way.
SpaceX' Starlink for your camper?
Starlink is the most common solution you are likely to consider first. The well-known satellite internet service from SpaceX covers many remote corners worldwide with fast and low-latency Internet. This invites rubber tramps of all kinds.
In May 2022, Elon Musk confirmed the availability of Starlink for RVs, campers and co. via a tweet. Starlink has a dedicated page for RV'lers and campers. You can also check the availability in your desired areas on this page.
Starlink now available for RVs, campers & other large vehicle users (note, antenna too big for cars) https://t.co/uwKwduNioj— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2022
Price: How much does Starlink cost a camper?
The prices vary by location. For the US, the regular residential version of Starlink is 110 USD per month plus a one-off hardware kit (satellite dish). On top of the 110 USD comes a portability fee of 25 USD/Month. This brings the costs at 135 USD per month and 599 USD for the hardware kit.
The portability fee can also be added flexibility to the regular Starlink accounts allowing for travel periods with your Starlink dish.
Prices for other locations vary. You should enter your location on the Starlinks website to see the applicable prices. If you are on the road already, try some address near you.
Where is Starlink for RVs available?
As the satellite constellation is work in progress, coverage isn't global. As of May 2022, the best coverage is North America and central and southern Europe. The image below shows the current state as shown on the Starlink availability map for North America and Europe:
While the general coverage gives good indications about usability, local requirements need to be taken into consideration. Currently, RV satellite internet is available in:
- North America: Canada in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador,
- Latin America: Selected areas in Brazil and Chile are available.
- Europe: Most of Europe lying south of Sweden is covered. In detail, the following areas are covered with Starlink:
- Northern Europe: Northern Europe has the weakest coverage at this point. Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland have little to no coverage. Coverage should increase in Q1/2023.
- Southern Europe & Balkan: Starlink will connect you from Portugal over Spain and Italy to Romania & Bulgaria. Greece marks the southern end of the supported area. Notable: Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are not supported at this point.
- Central Europe is completely covered. Starlink is available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark and the BENELUX countries. The southern parts of the UK are also covered. Scotland has patchy coverage at this point.
- Eastern Europe: Starlink covers also Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Hungary, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. Ukraine is preliminary covered.
- Australia and New Zealand: You find coverage and support in South Australia, New South Wales, and Tasmania. NZ is almost completely covered. Just a few spots in and around Auckland remain uncovered.
- Asia awaits coverage. Starlink in India and South East Asia, including Thailand and Indonesia awaits legal approval and finishing of the needed satellite launches. The Philippines have approved Starlink in the island nation end of May 2022.
Availability of Starlink changes with each new rocket launch. Regularly checking the website can be beneficial.
How fast & reliable is Starlink?
Internet speeds vary by nature. Most users report around 50-200 MBit/sec. download speed and 10+ MBit upload. The speed is likely to be heavily influenced by the number of Starlink users in your area. Peak hours might see significantly lower speed and high latency.
The cooperation between Starlink (SpaceX) and T-Mobile will further expand the coverage. Starting in 2023 Starlink will provide network coverage for T-Mobile users. Especially interesting should be that no new hardware such as a satellite dish will be needed. Any regular smartphone will be able to connect directly to the Starlink satellites. Costs are open at this point.
Bringing it together: Satellite Internet or mobile Internet?
Both options have pros and cons. Starlink is undoubtedly the digital nomad' dream: Fast internet wherever life takes you. But it comes at a price, both monthly as well as one time for hardware. Mobile internet is widely available comes at a monthly fee far below Starlink's offerings. But it's volume limited and in some deep valleys you like to run into connection issues.