I began my online business in 1996 as a web page designer. Then we were using dialup modems and if I was lucky I got 28.8 KBS connections to the Internet. But even then I could see where the Internet was going. You could get a dialup account with one of the national ISP's (Internet Service Providers such as AOL) and be able to travel around. You had to use different dialup numbers depending on where you were or use their toll free access numbers, for which you paid extra. But then you were limited to visiting friends or family or staying in a hotel or motel. It was available but it was not convenient. At this time I cannot speak to RV Parks because I had never stayed at one before.
For the next few years I would occasionally make a trip by airplane to Arizona to visit my best friend Wally or to California to visit relatives. And a couple of times I went to Washington, D.C. to visit friends of mine from the Navy who were still on active duty. This limited mobility and a cell phone allowed me to do some limited travel and still run my business.
Then in 2000 I got a cell phone modem which allowed me to be anywhere in the Sprint network to connect to the Internet. Connection speeds were very slow. Somewhere between 19.6 and 28.8 KBS. Satisfactory then, but not by todays standards. In 2001 I also went overseas to a Navy Reunion I attended in Dunoon, Scotland. During that two week stay, first week in Dunoon and the second week in London, I managed to connect to the Internet via local computer shops and Cyber Cafe's. Fortunately, I was not busy or it would have been a bit two hard.
By 2002 the cell phone companies were coming up with PC Cards for laptops that used their digital networks for Internet access. The connection speeds I was getting through the Verizon 1X network was abut 100 KBS plus or minus 10 or 20 KBS. Now these were speeds I could live with. I could surf the Internet at reasonable speeds and connect via FTP for file uploads and downloads. During the next year or so I did my traveling by plane, like I did before, but with the higher connection speeds I was able to not have to deter programming projects because at these speeds I could function satisfactorily.
Another benefit of that first Aircard with Verizon was I was able to go to the local Barnes and Noble or Borders Book Store or the local Coffee Shop, Carolyn's Wild West Bakery and Espresso in Meridian, Idaho, in my case and sit down and have coffee and work. This is a nice side benefit because as those of you know who have home based businesses you need to get out of the house occasionally because of cabin fever. This allowed me to get out and about and still get some work done.
All this time I had rolling around in the back of my mind of becoming an RVer. My parents were snow birds for years and I envied them their life style. By 2003 I realized that the time had come. With the Verizon Aircard and a cell phone I could work anywhere there is access to the Verizon digital network. So I made my move by purchasing a 5th Wheel RV and setting the date of 1 November 2003 as my launch date. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since 2003 the internet and the types of access to it have continued to evolve. One example is in 2004 I purchased a DirecWay (now HughesNet) satellite dish and modem. I purchased one with a surveyors tripod so I could set it up and take it down every time I relocated. I gave that a 2 year trial and in the summer of 2006 I discontinued the service. Besides being a pain to setup and break down I found the connection speeds were not as they advertised. I found my bandwidth was being throttled by them. I even upgraded to their business plan and they still throttled the connection. Plus they were expensive. Today I have to PC Card connections accounts for almost the price I was paying for the satellite service. Overall I found it to be an unsatisfactory answer to a mobile internet connection so I discontinued the service.
Verizon has continued to grow their network and for the past couple of years have been adding city after city to their EVDO broadband network. I new in the fall of 2006 that I was going to make my longest journey since I had begun and I wanted to make sure I had the freedom to go where I wanted and not worry too much over access to the internet. So I purchased a second PC Card, this one from Sprint, with the idea that if I am in an area where I have a slow or weak connection with Verizon that hopefully Sprint would have a stronger signal or even a high speed connection.
Unfortunately, this has not worked out. Since leaving Idaho and going south to Arizona via Utah and Las Vegas, then heading east to New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and now Mississippi, I have relied entirely on Verizon. My Sprint PC Card has never provided me the access Verizon has. I have been in places where I had high speed from both services such as Phoenix and San Antonio and the connection speed was better for Verizon. I have had high speed connections solid since I left New Mexico, with Verizon, all the way to where I am now in Jackson, Mississippi. And, as I mentioned above, with the exception of San Antonio I have not had any high speed connections with Sprint. These statements are based on where I stopped and stayed and not while I was on the road in transit. My connection speeds varied while actually traveling as I passed from cell tower to cell tower.
So if you are reading this and considering getting a PC Card internet connection service from either Sprint or Verizon, I can easily recommend you get the service from Verizon. This recommendation is for those of you who are traveling similar to me. If you are stuck in one location then you should evaluate the service specifically for that area.
One other thought. This trend to more and more access at higher speeds will contiue at an ever increasing pace, thanks to the consumers desire to be able to download movies and all sorts of new and bigger content through their cell phones. This is driving the cell phone companies to add more bandwidth capability to their networks. Which is helping people like me to maintain access wherever I go.