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  • FIRST POST
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 9th Feb 18, 2:34 PM
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    seven-day-weekend
    Help for internet in static caravan
    • #1
    • 9th Feb 18, 2:34 PM
    Help for internet in static caravan 9th Feb 18 at 2:34 PM
    Hi there, hope people can help (words of one syllable please as I know nothing!).

    We have a static caravan and I used to pay an amount from a local provider to get broadband internet.

    The price has now risen to extortionate levels so I am looking for something else.

    I just want to access things like this forum and social media and receive e-mail, I don't want to download movies or play games.

    I have got a quote for mobile broadband from Virgin Media, which looks reasonable, but how do i know it is going to work?

    Someone has suggested a dongle, how do these work and would it be better?

    Or is there anything else that might work but is not too costly?

    Thanks, and I hope I've asked the right questions, may need to ask more when I have a few answers!
    Last edited by seven-day-weekend; 09-02-2018 at 2:57 PM.
Page 1
    • Neil Jones
    • By Neil Jones 9th Feb 18, 5:51 PM
    • 1,140 Posts
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    Neil Jones
    • #2
    • 9th Feb 18, 5:51 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Feb 18, 5:51 PM
    Dongles simply plug into a laptop and get on the internet through the mobile phone network. That's all it basically is. The only real requirement is a decent mobile signal and the easiest way to check this if you have an unlocked phone is get free sims from the networks and get a basic idea of signal quality from the phone's status bar.

    There are only four mobile phone networks - EE, o2, Vodafone and Three. Everybody else (Asda, Tesco, Virgin, GiffGaff, etc) piggybacks on one of these four. Virgin piggybacks onto EE so if you can get a good EE signal Virgin will, all other things being equal, work as well. There's a useful chart here:
    https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/piggybacking
    • AndyPK
    • By AndyPK 9th Feb 18, 7:10 PM
    • 2,623 Posts
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    AndyPK
    • #3
    • 9th Feb 18, 7:10 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Feb 18, 7:10 PM
    Do you have a mobile ?
    What network is it on?
    Is the signal good at home?
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 9th Feb 18, 7:50 PM
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    seven-day-weekend
    • #4
    • 9th Feb 18, 7:50 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Feb 18, 7:50 PM
    Dongles simply plug into a laptop and get on the internet through the mobile phone network. That's all it basically is. The only real requirement is a decent mobile signal and the easiest way to check this if you have an unlocked phone is get free sims from the networks and get a basic idea of signal quality from the phone's status bar.

    There are only four mobile phone networks - EE, o2, Vodafone and Three. Everybody else (Asda, Tesco, Virgin, GiffGaff, etc) piggybacks on one of these four. Virgin piggybacks onto EE so if you can get a good EE signal Virgin will, all other things being equal, work as well. There's a useful chart here:
    https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/piggybacking
    Originally posted by Neil Jones
    I have an EE phone, the signal isn't that great I have to stick it out of the window to send a text (although it appears to have no trouble receiving them).

    Thanks for your reply and Andy too
    • AndyPK
    • By AndyPK 9th Feb 18, 8:18 PM
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    AndyPK
    • #5
    • 9th Feb 18, 8:18 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Feb 18, 8:18 PM
    better order some free sims from o2 and vodafone and 3 and see if they are better.

    If your phone is struggling on EE, going to virgin is not a good idea as its the same network
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 9th Feb 18, 8:37 PM
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    seven-day-weekend
    • #6
    • 9th Feb 18, 8:37 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Feb 18, 8:37 PM
    I know o2 is no better as a friend who stays sometimes can't get a signal at all on hers, it's worse than EE!

    I will try the others. I might have a vodaphone sim somewhere.

    Thanks again.
    • Neil Jones
    • By Neil Jones 9th Feb 18, 10:57 PM
    • 1,140 Posts
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    Neil Jones
    • #7
    • 9th Feb 18, 10:57 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Feb 18, 10:57 PM
    I don't know if its still true (it was years ago) that Vodafone and what is now o2 (previously Cellnet) were the two "key" networks with the widest coverage and the other two (which was then Orange and T-Mobile) had slightly less coverage. It probably makes no difference these days mind.
    • tacpot12
    • By tacpot12 10th Feb 18, 4:54 AM
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    tacpot12
    • #8
    • 10th Feb 18, 4:54 AM
    • #8
    • 10th Feb 18, 4:54 AM
    You need to research which network has the closest mast to the caravan and whether the mast has 3G or 4G coverage. Some routers allow you to connect an external aerial to improve the quality of the signal.

    The difficulty is in proving that a router with sim and external aerial will work well without buying the equipment first. I don't have a solution to that problem.
    • glennevis
    • By glennevis 10th Feb 18, 5:41 AM
    • 142 Posts
    • 97 Thanks
    glennevis
    • #9
    • 10th Feb 18, 5:41 AM
    • #9
    • 10th Feb 18, 5:41 AM
    You don't need 4G for what the OP wants to do. Internet browsing, reading emails etc. only needs 3G.
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 10th Feb 18, 6:16 AM
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    seven-day-weekend
    Thanks all, some very useful advice, which I will research. Thanks again.
    • AndyPK
    • By AndyPK 10th Feb 18, 11:29 AM
    • 2,623 Posts
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    AndyPK
    It's silly not trying to get 4G these days. For what you pay, may as well have 4G.

    If your computer is next to a window and the usb connector has a good line of site then usb dongle maybe a simple option.

    If however it's not, and you want WiFi through out the caravan and to connect to a few devices you want a MiFi device or router with sim and you can also move this about to get the best signal.

    No good to you, but I notice EE have just launched a SIM router tariff.
    £35 for 50Gb

    https://shop.ee.co.uk/dongles/pay-monthly-mobile-broadband/4gee-router/details

    also £60 deal for 200Gb
    Last edited by AndyPK; 10-02-2018 at 11:33 AM.
    • mags21
    • By mags21 11th Feb 18, 8:36 AM
    • 560 Posts
    • 3,538 Thanks
    mags21
    Or is there anything else that might work but is not too costly?

    Maybe this, depends on the definition of too costly, bearing in mind no phone line required.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42995210
    Last edited by mags21; 11-02-2018 at 8:38 AM.
    • BooJewels
    • By BooJewels 11th Feb 18, 8:54 AM
    • 62 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    BooJewels
    We regularly stay in a caravan in a remote area and for many years have used mobile broadband. We used to use 3 and when I needed new equipment looked around and found Vodafone had a much stronger signal in that location, so swapped and it has been much better.

    These networks have coverage maps on their web sites, so put your location in and see what coverage looks like with each of them. In all cases, we found that there was signal showing at one end of the caravan, but not the other - it is that detailed. We've found this to be very accurate.

    I got one of the powered wifi hubs rather than a dongle (they vary in how many devices they can support), as this seems to pick up signal better and you can then use several devices at one time - phone for data, tablets, laptop etc. This also allows you, as others have said, to find the best spot to receive and then leave it plugged in and working - then you can pick up signal wherever you are in the van. It costs me £22.50 per month for 30Gb of data and that is enough to watch the occasional item on iplayer etc.

    In the early days of mobile broadband when signal was less reliable, we found that once the item was plugged in and had found signal, we left it there and running, as powering down it wouldn't necessarily log onto a signal next time - making a hub much better than a single dongle.

    We've found one corner of the van where signal is best and luckily next to a socket, so I actually have my pebble stuck on the glass with blutak and once it has optimal signal, it works reliably with several devices simultaneously and has never dropped signal.
    • BooJewels
    • By BooJewels 11th Feb 18, 10:24 AM
    • 62 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    BooJewels
    Just thought of a couple more ideas - there are web sites that show where the various network masts are located, so search for your location and see what looks to have best coverage - used in conjunction with the coverage maps for the phone companies. You'll be able to see if you have line of sight to masts etc. if you know the topography of the area.

    Ask what network locals use for mobile coverage - that was how I happened upon Vodafone, as it was the only signal in the area for phones and for years we'd used a PAYG to forward our O2 calls to (not now needed as there's a brand new mast just gone up nearby). 3 was initially the only one with any mobile broadband - but that never improved signal strength.
    • Mister G
    • By Mister G 11th Feb 18, 10:52 AM
    • 498 Posts
    • 288 Thanks
    Mister G
    Or is there anything else that might work but is not too costly?

    Maybe this, depends on the definition of too costly, bearing in mind no phone line required.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42995210
    Originally posted by mags21
    It's an interesting solution but the OP has already stated that his EE coverage is poor. However, the external antenna may improve that sufficiently.
    • Owain Moneysaver
    • By Owain Moneysaver 11th Feb 18, 12:45 PM
    • 7,768 Posts
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    Owain Moneysaver
    Especially if the static caravan is metal, an external antenna on a ~ 1 metre pole above any metalwork may make a huge difference.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
    • Gloomendoom
    • By Gloomendoom 11th Feb 18, 1:18 PM
    • 13,550 Posts
    • 17,785 Thanks
    Gloomendoom
    We have a similar problem. A neighbour offered to let us use their Wi-fi signal but then changed their mind after I installed the hardware to enable it. No mean feat considering there is no direct line of sight between the caravan and their house and the signal had to be bent around a copse.

    I am now looking at a possible 4G solutions. I must admit I like a challenge.
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” - Mark Twain
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 11th Feb 18, 1:22 PM
    • 30,142 Posts
    • 56,640 Thanks
    seven-day-weekend
    It's an interesting solution but the OP has already stated that his EE coverage is poor. However, the external antenna may improve that sufficiently.
    Originally posted by Mister G
    her.........
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 11th Feb 18, 1:25 PM
    • 30,142 Posts
    • 56,640 Thanks
    seven-day-weekend
    Especially if the static caravan is metal, an external antenna on a ~ 1 metre pole above any metalwork may make a huge difference.
    Originally posted by Owain Moneysaver
    We are not allowed to have high aerials as we are in Snowdonia National Park - our TV works on Freesat. The satellite is only one meter above the ground.

    I think it may help if I say that the caravan is sited in a forest under a large oak tree. and surrounded by other trees.
    Last edited by seven-day-weekend; 11-02-2018 at 1:27 PM.
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 11th Feb 18, 1:27 PM
    • 30,142 Posts
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    seven-day-weekend
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions.
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