I know how spotty cell phone coverage can be in that region, even
along major highways, since I recently traveled through that part of
the country during a trip to Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately
for those who want Internet access, the infrastructure simply isn't
there to provide inexpensive service without being physically
connected to a phone line.
However, Internet access is available, although it is expensive.
Internet access requires use of a satellite network, so as long as
there is line of sight to the southern sky access is possible.
If you're looking primarily for the ability to send and receive data,
the solution is a satellite phone. At charges of around $1 per minute
or more, it's a bit expensive for net surfing, but for e-mail and that
sort of thing it would be doable. Here's one product:
Inmarsat Satellite Phones
"Inmarsat satellite services provide coverage to 98% of the planet
with access to international dial-up telephone, fax, and data
networks. It is an ideal communications tool for geologists,
journalists, field workers, and anyone else operating in isolated or
underdeveloped areas beyond the reach of cellular or fixed
Or it is possible to use a satellite phone that is interfaced with the
laptop. (The Iridium satellite phone is described on the page linked
to above.) The procedure is described as follows:
Using Iridium Services: Direct Internet
"To use Direct Internet Data Service, you must connect a PC to a
data-capable Iridium phone, use a SIM card that is provisioned for
data, and install the appropriate software on your computer....
"The Iridium phone appears as an external modem to your PC. By
initiating a connection through the Direct Internet software, the
phone will dial and initiate a connection with the Iridium gateway
through the Iridium satellite constellation. Click here for an
illustration. This connection setup is similar to how a voice call is
established, except a data connection is requested and the switch will
route the call to the Direct Internet server. Once connected to the
Direct Internet server and a session has been established, you will be
seamlessly connected to the Internet, as if you were on a LAN."
A picture of the equipment needed to hook up the Iridium satellite
phone to the Internet is shown on his page:
The Internet access obtained this way isn't particularly fast, about
10 Kbps, or about a fourth the speed of a typical dial-up connection.
But it certainly would be adequate for e-mail and data use.
Qualcomm also offers satellite phones that allow Internet access:
What I would suggest doing is getting a tri-mode phone that would
allow a connection to a less expensive cellular network when one is
available, or to a satellite when there is no cell tower close by.
Here is one such phone:
Globalstar GSP-1600 Portable Tri-Mode Satellite Phone
Costs for satellite phones start around $500, more if purchased
without a service plan. Cost of telephone use is from 80 cents to a
few dollars per minute, depending on the type of phone plan.
Things are a bit more complicated if you're looking for high-speed
Internet access. Basically what you need then is a portable satellite
station. Several models are available that can be mounted on an RV.
Then the laptop could be used a few hundred feet away from the RV with
a wireless network. Here are two examples of products available for
receiving satellite broadband service in an RV:
For such a system, you're looking at a few thousand dollars for the
initial system plus another $100 a month or so for the Internet
I hope this fully answers you question.
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