How to Get Satellite Internet and TV On Your RV

Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
February 16, 2022
9 min read

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Climbing into your RV and making the open road your home seems like a dream come true, at least until you need something to watch on TV or to check your email.

But the good news is, between DISH, DIRECTV, satellite internet, and mobile hotspots, you’ve got a few different options for getting internet and TV service on your RV. Let’s take a quick look at your options, then dive into the details.

What kind of satellite antenna should you get for your RV?

If you want to get satellite TV in your camper, you’ll need to choose between a mounted antenna or a portable antenna.

As for internet, you can also get mounted or portable antennas, but you’ll have a couple extra options as well, like cellular hotspots and Wi-Fi extenders.

The prices and capabilities differ between all these options, but here’s what we generally recommend:

  • If your RV is your permanent home: Choose a mounted antenna and get a backup cellular hotspot for your internet service.
  • If you use your RV for trips, but you mainly live in a stationary home: Grab a portable antenna and, if you mostly travel in populated areas, add on a Wi-Fi extender to connect to public Wi-Fi with.

Can I use my home satellite internet or TV plan on my RV?

But wait, what if you already subscribe to a satellite internet or satellite TV provider like DISH, DIRECTV, or Viasat? Can’t you just use your current satellite plan to get TV and internet on your RV?

“You can’t use your residential satellite plan in your RV, but you may be able to add on a mobile satellite package.”

Sadly, no. The thing is, your home’s satellite internet or TV plan uses a dish that scans the sky for a satellite to connect to. And for your home, that’s a simple setup because your home doesn’t move.

But a portable satellite dish mounted to your motor home needs to scan the sky constantly, and to do that it needs your location coordinates. If you’re in an RV, those coordinates are constantly changing!

However, some satellite service providers offer add-ons to your residential service plan so you can bring your satellite internet and TV with you. You’ll still need to purchase a satellite dish for your RV though.

Pin
Will you be able to use Starlink satellite internet service on your RV or boat?

Currently, SpaceX Starlink is still in beta testing, but a company representative recently dished that mobile Starlink connections might be a thing of the future:

"Mobility options—including moving your Starlink to different service addresses (or places that don't even have addresses!—[are] coming once we are able to increase our coverage by launching more satellites and rolling out new software."

Satellite TV for your RV

DISH is likely the cheaper and easier option than DIRECTV, but you’ll miss out on gems like NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Does rest and relaxation sound like wide open spaces and catching up on Better Call Saul at the same time? We’re right there with you.

As far as satellite TV goes, you’ve got two choices for your RV: DISH or DIRECTV. DISH is cheaper, but it doesn’t compare to DIRECTV if you want sports coverage. The good news is, whichever satellite TV service you choose, you’ve got options for how you get it.

How to get DISH satellite TV on your RV

If you’re a fan of DISH satellite TV, we’re happy to tell you that DISH makes it easy to bring your TV programming with you in your RV.

The satellite TV provider offers DISH Outdoors, which gives you a choice between four different DISH satellite antennas and Wally HD receiver bundles. Then you pick your DISH TV package—or you can add DISH Outdoors to your existing account—and call to activate.

The DISH satellite antenna and Wally receiver bundles start at $379 for all your equipment, but DISH requires you to call to get an exact price. Here’s a look at some of the differences between each bundle.

DISH Outdoors satellite antenna and Wally receiver bundles

Bundle
Number of TVs
Signal acquisition
Mounted or portable
Details
DISH Playmaker and Wally HD Receiver

1

Manual

Portable

DISH Playmaker Dual and Wally HD Receiver

2

Manual

Portable

DISH Tailgater and Wally HD Receiver

1

Automatic

Mounted or portable

DISH Tailgater Pro and Wally HD Receiver

2

Automatic

Mounted or portable

Data effective 02/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

We mentioned earlier that you can’t use your residential satellite TV plan on your RV, but you can add a special RV package to your residential plan. DISH Outdoors gives you the option to add on to your current plan. You can also purchase a DISH Outdoors package if you don’t already have a plan.

We’ll be totally up front with you, though. Your DISH Outdoors package will cost more per month compared to if you just bought a residential DISH package. (You can also add it on to your existing residential service for $5 more per month.) But keep in mind, that extra cost covers your connection to satellites in multiple locations as you take a months-long road trip through the American Southwest.

DISH Outdoors packages

Package
Price
Channels
Details
DISH Outdoors add-on to existing plan

$5.00/mo. extra

Depends on your residential plan

DISH Flex Pack

$52.99/mo.

70+

America’s Top 120

$94.99/mo.

190

America’s Top 120 Plus

$99.99/mo.

190+

America’s Top 200

$109.99/mo.

240+

Data effective 2/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

How to get DIRECTV satellite TV on your RV

Unlike DISH, DIRECTV directs you to third-party suppliers when it comes to finding a compatible satellite antenna and a receiver. This is an extra hassle in our opinion, but if you need your NFL SUNDAY TICKET on DIRECTV fix while RVing across the country, this is a hassle that might just be worth it.

DIRECTV satellite TV packages for RVs

Pricing and satellite dish features will vary depending on which supplier you contact. But to give you an idea of the cost and available DIRECTV packages, we grabbed some details off the Winegard site.

Winegard DIRECTV satellite antennas for RVs

Product
Price
Signal acquisition
Mounted or portable
Details
TR-6018 antenna

$179.00

Manual

Portable

Carryout G3 antenna

$499.00

Automatic

Mounted or portable

Roadtrip T4 antenna

$1,699.00

Automatic

Mounted

Trav’ler Slimline

$1,999.00

Automatic

Mounted

Data effective 2/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Similar to DISH, the price you’ll pay for RV-ready DIRECTV programming is higher than you’d pay for DIRECTV at home. Again, this is likely because you’re paying extra for access to satellites across the country and not just at one location.

Here’s what Winegard offers for DIRECTV packages—order a CHOICE package or above and you’ll get a free season pass for NFL SUNDAY TICKET. Score!

DIRECTV RV programming packages from Winegard

Package
Price*
Channels
Details
ENTERTAINMENT

$64.99/mo.

160+

CHOICE

$69.99/mo.

185+

ULTIMATE

$84.99/mo.

250+

PREMIER

$134.99/mo.

330+

Data effective 2/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months after rebates and a 24-month agreement. All prices include $5.00/mo Auto Bill Pay Discount and are based on a non-DVR single receiver setup. A $7.00/mo fee applies for each receiver and/or device on your account. Must consent to a credit check or be charged a $300 fee at the time of sign up. Must provide a valid credit card.

How to get internet in your RV

We always recommend having a primary internet connection and a backup internet connection in your camper.

One of the first things experienced RVers will tell you about getting internet in your RV is that redundancy is key. A combination of two or more internet services will ensure you can get online to check your bank account—even if a stray tree branch bent your satellite antenna during a storm and you can’t get a signal.

Here are some of the ways other RVers hop online while working or surfing the net from the middle of nowhere.

Satellite internet for RVs

Satellite internet is likely your best option if you’re camping in no man’s land because it uses satellites that can beam down an internet signal almost everywhere.

(Of course, if you’re traveling anywhere near the Earth’s poles, like Alaska, you may find it’s harder to latch onto that satellite signal.)

But satellite dishes that connect you to broadband global area networks (BGANs) work great in most remote places. We will say, though, that some satellite dish-plus-BGAN combos tend to be a lot pricier, so we only recommend throwing down that much cash if you’re a full-time RVer.

That said, here are some of the most popular satellite internet options seasoned RVers use.

Satellite internet antennas and hotspots for RVs

Product
Price
Network
Signal acquisition
Details
Iridium Go! 9560 Satellite Terminal

$789.00*

Inmarsat

Automatic

Hughes 9450TW BGAN

$9,332.00–$10,351.00

Inmarsat

Automatic

RVDataSat 845

$12,000.00

iDirect Internet Access

Automatic

RVDataSat 960

$15,995.00

iDirect Internet Access

Automatic

Data effective 2/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Amazon.com List prices of $789.00  (as of 2/16/2022 8:07 AM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links.

Heads Up
Inmarsat's ISatHub service ends June 1, 2021

We originally included the Inmarsat ISatHub hotspot in this roundup, but Inmarsat is discontinuing service for its hotspot on June 1, 2021. If you were hoping to use an ISatHub on your RV, you won't be able to sign up for service.

But hey, how do you get access to those BGANs? Well, you’ll need a SIM card. Similar to how your phone hops onto a cellular network, a SIM card will tell your satellite antenna which satellite network to connect to.

The cost of a SIM card will vary based on which BGAN you use and how much data you need. To give you an idea of what you can expect, here are some options from Inmarsat, including information on how much data you get with each type of SIM card and how long that data is good for. (Yes, it expires! Womp womp.)

Inmarsat BGAN SIM card prices

BGAN
Price
Internet speeds
Data/days valid
Details

Inmarsat

$390.00*

Up to 492 Kbps (0.492 Mbps)

54 MB/180 days

Inmarsat

$525.00

Up to 492 Kbps (0.492 Mbps)

100 MB/90 days

Inmarsat

$1,660.00

Up to 492 Kbps (0.492 Mbps)

1 GB/mo.

Inmarsat

$4,555.00 for 1 mo.

Up to 492 Kbps (0.492 Mbps)

Unlimited

Data effective 2/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Amazon.com List price of $390.00 (as of 2/16/2022 8:07 AM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links.

Cellular hotspots and Wi-Fi extenders for RVs

We mentioned backing up your main way of connecting to the internet, but the cost of doubling up on a BGAN plan and satellite antenna is probably overwhelming just to think about.

Some more cost effective ways to double up on your internet connection options are cellular hotspots and Wi-Fi extenders. Both work great for both part-time and full-time motor home enthusiasts, so don’t overlook them.

Cellular hotspots and Wi-Fi for RVs

Product
Price
Network
Details
ZTE Velocity

$99.90*

AT&T or T-Mobile

Verizon Wireless Jetpack 8800L

$199.99

Verizon

NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot

$339.99*

Unlocked (best on AT&T or T-Mobile)

Winegard Connect 2.0 4G2 Hotspot and Wi-Fi Extender

$389.00

AT&T or Verizon

Data effective 2/16/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Amazon.com List prices of $99.90 and $389.00 (as of 2/16/2022 8:12 AM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links.

The downside to using a cellular hotspot is that you’re limited to the coverage area of the provider you buy a SIM card from. Right now, the company with the best cell phone coverage is Verizon. So that’s your best bet for getting a signal in the middle of the desert.

You’ll also need a SIM card that’s compatible with your hotspot device, plus a data plan to get your devices online. You might be able to add this onto an existing plan, or you can check out some of the best prepaid cell phone plans and shop around.

And don’t forget that if you use your Wi-Fi extender to lock onto a free public Wi-Fi network, you’ll want to make sure you keep your connection secure.

What to look for when getting satellite for your RV

Some features, like automatic signal acquisition, can make or break your TV and internet experience while RVing.

Not sure where to start when it comes to buying an internet or TV satellite dish for your motor home? We totally feel you.

Along with a pretty hefty cost, satellite terminology can be confusing. We broke each term down to help you figure out which features are must-haves—and which ones you can tell your wallet to forget about.

Mounted or portable

We won’t beat around the bush: roof-mounted satellite dishes are not cheap. We’ve seen them run anywhere from $700 to upwards of $5,000.

But if you call your RV home, the up-front cost of a mounted satellite dish can be a good investment. Many mounted satellite dishes also automatically acquire a satellite signal, which makes it much easier to connect to a satellite every time you move to a new location.

Portable satellite dishes aren’t permanently attached to your RV, so you can move them around to try to get the best satellite signal. They sit on a tripod similar to the one professional photographers use to support their camera.

These tend to be a bit cheaper—the Winegard PL-7000 costs $299. That lower price makes portable satellite dishes a friendlier option to your wallet, especially if you don’t use your motor home that often.

Stationary or in-motion viewing

Want to take a break while someone else drives for a change? If your satellite TV antenna has in-motion viewing, you can catch up on the latest episodes of Outlander while on the way to your next destination.

Sounds awesome, right?

Well, compared to stationary viewing, which lets you watch satellite TV while your RV is parked, in-motion viewing can be expensive. We saw price differences up to $500 just to get the in-motion viewing feature. Yowza.

Automatic or manual satellite signal acquisition

We think automatic satellite signal acquisition is a must-have feature. Otherwise, if you’re stuck with manual acquisition, you might spend hours fiddling with your antenna to try to find a strong signal.

That does not sound like a relaxing getaway to us.

Number of satellites tracked at a time

If you’re big on catching up on the news back home or just want more channel options, an antenna that can track more than one satellite at a time might be up your alley.

This means your antenna can track multiple satellites, allowing you to watch programming available to more than one satellite at a time.

Number of receivers supported

If RVing is a family tradition, you can make your kids or relatives more comfortable with life on the road by grabbing a satellite TV antenna that supports more than one receiver.

This means your teenage daughter can DVR her favorite show in her room while mom and dad watch the news in the living area.

Internet, cellular, and TV providers supported

Make sure you grab a satellite dish that’s compatible with the service provider you’re signing up with.

Most dishes work with multiple providers, like the Winegard Roadtrip T4, which works with both DISH and DIRECTV. But we've seen some in the past that work with only one provider, so it's worth checking.

Similarly, cellular hotspot devices will likely be limited to certain providers. The ZTE Velocity, for example, works with only GSM providers like AT&T or T-Mobile. So no, you can’t get internet access on your Velocity if you have a CDMA provider like Sprint or Verizon.

Now that you know how to get satellite on your RV, check this out next.

Check out the top satellite internet providers for life off the grid.

Or view the best prepaid cell plans for hotspot coverage while you camp.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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