Many RVers today depend on mobile technology to enable their traveling lifestyles.
With many campgrounds & RV Parks not able to keep up with increasing demand for bandwidth, many RVers are choosing to bring their own connectivity via cellular data. Travelers want to keep online for communicating with friends & family, utilizing social media, planning their next route, keeping entertained, working remotely or homeschooling the kids. Part of selecting the right carrier(s) for you is knowing where they have the coverage you desire. And once you have them selected and part of your mobile internet arsenal, it’s helpful to know where along your routes you’ll get signal so you can stay connected if you want to be. Here are some handy resources for tracking this sort of information down:
Checking the Carrier’s Online Maps:
The carrier’s coverage maps are in part marketing, but they display where the carrier projects their coverage should be based on where they have installed towers. They don’t always take into account variables like terrain, building, weather or other factors that might impact the actual signal or performance you’ll receive at a location. But they are still worthwhile consulting as part of your planning process.
While we can go to each carrier’s maps online to scout out ahead if our next campground will have coverage for our carriers, we decided to make it even easier. We wrote an app for that! Coverage? (available for iOS and Android) – overlays our versions of the carrier’s maps, so you can create a personalized coverage map for the carriers you travel with – and you can filter by coverage types (LTE, 3G, Roaming, etc.) The maps are stored on devices, so you don’t even need to have coverage right now to find out which direction to head to find coverage when you don’t have any.
Available for both Android and Apple iOS devices.
Crowdsourced Coverage Maps:
Of course, just because a carrier claims they have coverage, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find it. There are some resources out there that aggregate crowdsourced actual signal and speed reports and create a coverage map based on what is really possible in certain locations.
Here are some of our favorite that we utilize:
- Sensorly – and they also have an iOS and Android app of the same name.
- OpenSignal – and they also have an iOS & Android app of the same name.
- RootMetrics – and they also have an iOS and Android app called ‘CoverageMap’
Of course, with crowdsourcing – the maps are only as useful as the data they collect from users of their apps. These resources tend to have good data for urban areas where they have a strong user base. But when you get to smaller cities, the maps can show no coverage at all. Which is why we created Coverage? so that we at least have a best guess at where coverage might be.
Since so many RVers depend on a solid internet connection, you’ll frequently find reports of cellular coverage (and Wi-Fi performance) hidden within campground reviews. And some campground review sites are making an effort to specifically report on this critical amenity.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Campendium.com – Launched in 2015, the compendium.com review site includes specific fields for reporting coverage on each of the major carrier. This site tends to be frequented by bandwidth hungry RVers, and lists commercial, public and free camp spots.
- Freecampsites.net – freecampsites.net is a database of remote camping and boondocking options, and asks reviewers to report their cellular signal for each carrier.
- RVParkReviews.com – This is one of the longest running review sites, and fellow RVers tend to leave coverage reports on rvparkreviews.com.
- RVParky.com – Another popular review site is RVParky.com where you might find coverage mentions.
- AllStays.com – Their app and website also have reviews where past campers might have noted the cellular coverage.
And of course, all of the RVing community benefits if you leave reviews too, including reports on your cellular signal.
May the bandwidth be with you (and don’t forget to at least occasionally put down the smartphone and enjoy the adventure!).