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While we wait for Elon Musk’s SatLink to become available, current satellite Internet options provide an alternative or at least an add-on to cellular Internet data service as you travel in your RV.
On our multi-month West Coast journey this year, our portable HughesNet Gen 5 system has supplied Internet service several times when traditional call service was unavailable.
Satellite Coverage Maps (updated 9-17-2019)
Now enter “affordable” automatic satellite Internet service that is both reliable and fast.
Refurbished MotoSat G74
Don has recently made available the most affordable automatic satellite Internet systems. He did it using refurbished MotoSat F1 and G74 equipment. For example, the original F1 and G74 rooftop systems came with 0.74 m dishes. However, both have been fitted with 0.90 m dishes in order to work with HughesNet Gen 5.
While Don offers upgrade parts for current owners of original MotoSat F1 and G74 systems, he also offers complete systems:
- $4,075 for upgraded MotoSat F1 with a D3 satellite controller + HT2000 modem.
- $4,695 for upgraded MotoSat F1 with the newer J1 satellite controller + HT2000 modem.
- $4,850 for upgraded MotoSat G74 with a D3 satellite controller + HT2000 modem.
- $5,495 for upgraded MotoSat G74 with the newer J1 controller + HT2000 modem.
It I were buying, I’d go with the MotoSat G74 with a J1 controller, the most expensive option. Refurbished or not, this is older equipment, some of it exposed to the elements for years on RV rooftops. The MotoSat G74 was first introducted in 2008 while the MotoSat F1 was introduced at least 5 years earlier. In addition, the D3 controller came out in 2005 while the J1 debuted in 2010.
iNetVu System with the big 0.98 m dish
I include ISPSAT for comparison’s sake. For almost $20K more than Don Marr’s, what more are you getting?
– bigger dish (0.98 m vs 0.90 m)
– newer controller (iNetVu 7710 vs a D3 or J1)
– newer automatic dish system (iNetVu Ka-98 vs refurbished MotoSat F1 ot G74)
But here’s a gotcha that’s in both the expensive ISPSAT and the cheap refurbished systems: neither is actually fully automatic. Because HughesNet Gen 5 systems require left and right-hand feedhorn settings, you may occasionally have to climb onto your RV roof and manually adjust the feedhorn. I’ve done it. It’s a simple adjustment, but a PITA nevertheless.
This is definitely an ISPSAT deal breaker. When the ISPSAT customer service rep told me that their $25K system had the same gotcha as a $5.5K one, that was it. The rep went on to say that there was a $32K system that “might” do the Left/Right adjustment automatically, I ended the phone call.
RVDataSat’s 0.84 m and 0.98 m systems
This is a HughesNet Ku-band satellite system, essentially it’s the one your dad used. It’s a modern MotoSat. While the RVDataSat data plans tout no caps “unlimited” download capability, the fastest plan tops out at 4 Mbps — and that’ll cost you $329/month. Also, unless you like streaming video in the wee hours of the morning, then this system probably isn’t for you.
However, the advantage RVDataSat (and your father’s MotoSat) has is that you have the ability to receive satellite signals outside the Lower 48. On the other hand, HughesNet Gen 5 coverage pretty much stops at the Canadian border.
Nevertheless, dish size matters as you travel north. The base RVDataSat 0.84 m dish will probably not get you deep into Canada. RVDataSat does sell a system with a 0.98 m dish, but that will set you back $16K.