Get connected

By: Bill Savidan


Want to watch your favourite Netflix show while on the road? Bill Savidan has a few lessons in connectivity

Since it launched about two years ago, Wireless Nation’s NZMCA data package has kept many RV travellers connected to the internet and in touch with their favourite Netflix dramas. Oscar Dickens, general manager of RSE (NZ), authorised supplier and installer of the product, is enthusiastic about its performance and how well RVers have accepted it. 

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"The feedback is that people are delighted with the way it performs," said Oscar. "People are comfortable with it once they know how it works." Wireless Nation’s NZMCA data modems use mobile-phone technology to connect to the internet. Good cellphone cover means excellent modem performance.

But marginal cellphone signal strength, often found where RVers spend their annual holidays - at the beach or in the bush - doesn’t have to mean poor reception. Installing a purpose-built aerial when the modem is installed can amplify cell-tower signals so weak they don’t even register on your phone’s signal-strength meter.

Another issue is the power supply in an RV. Broadband modems demand steady, regulated 12-volt DC supply. Voltage fluctuations cause them problems. Poor battery condition, varying inputs from solar panels and house-chargers, and voltage drop caused by ‘under-strength’ wiring circuits cause these fluctuations.

Noise or spikes from water pumps, fridges, chargers, inverters and unsuppressed solar regulators must also be dealt with. Fitting a DC-to-DC filter to the 12-volt system is the solution as it provides the router with stable operating voltage so it can operate reliably. 

While Wireless Nation’s NZMCA data was developed for NZMCA members, anyone can buy the product. When you are not on the road, it can be used at home, or it can be put on hold until you resume travelling. When asked about the mood of the market, Oscar’s response was positive. "Data-package buyers are also purchasing our smart TVs and 12-volt smart TV boxes.

It gives them a seamless connection - like the one they have at home - to streaming services like Netflix. And with more streaming services now available, such as Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max, more and more people, both at home and on the road, will switch to watching TV over the internet."

RSE carries stock of modems and can complete the sign-up process with buyers in its showroom. Miro Sudzum from Wireless Nation is also enthusiastic about the future of mobile internet. "Unlimited-data mobile-phone plans are becoming more common," he says.

"Although most reduce speed after the first 40GB and some plans don’t allow ‘tethering’ or ‘hot-spotting’, the more significant limitation right now for RVers is their cellphone’s patchy performance in low-signal-strength areas.

Cellphones don’t perform as well as modems do because they need a stronger signal. But this will change as more new 4G cellphone towers are built and as 5G is introduced over the next couple of years." 5G stands for ‘fifth-generation wireless network technology’.

It allows more significant amounts of data to be transmitted more efficiently than 4G, meaning stronger network reliability, faster downloads, and support for more connected devices. 5G networks are built in different ways from multiple bands of wavelength spectrum: low-band, mid-band, and high-band. 

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High-band

Short waves cover a small area and are capable of super-fast data transmission but can’t penetrate buildings.

Mid-band

Mid-length waves bring a balance between speed and range covering a broad area with fast speeds.

Low band

Long waves have better range and aren’t affected by obstacles to bring 5G to more places.

5G won’t replace 4G immediately. The two will coexist and work together. 5G-capable phones are being built to use both 4G and 5G technology. Over time, 5G technology will change the way we live, work, and play. And it will significantly improve internet connectivity for RVers. 

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