Jason travels the country full-time with his wife Abigail, and three children.
by Jason Epperson
As a full-time RVer, one of the most common questions people ask me is “how do you get internet?”
The answer from virtually any RVer is going to be some version of cellular data from one of the big cell companies. Either you have a mobile “hotspot” type device, or you tether to your cell phone. The problem with this is that the commonly available data plans for hotspots or tethering on the best networks nearly all have a data cap that slows you down to an unusable speed after you reach a preset amount. That’s fine for email and banking, but if you want to do any data-gobbling stuff — like watching video — you’re likely to be slowed down very early in your billing cycle.
Alternatively, you can get an unlimited plan through a company that has a network that leaves a lot to be desired, leaving you with no service in rural areas when you need it the most. You can also get third-party grandfathered plans through certain resellers, but they can get expensive, and the carriers could terminate them at any time (though they’ve remained fairly amenable to these types of programs).
We’ve been lucky enough to follow trends closely to get random unlimited data plans as they’ve cropped up through the country’s biggest carriers — Verizon and AT&T — but those have come and gone quickly. Thankfully, now there’s a real unlimited plan built for RVers through AT&T. It’s through a device called the Togo Roadlink.
Togo (rhymes with “logo”) is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, the world’s largest RV manufacturer. Last year, they debuted this AT&T unlimited plan solely for Airstream owners, but now it’s available for anyone when you purchase the Roadlink C2 Router ($399). The data plan is available for only $360 a year. There is absolutely nothing else out there in that price range.
What is the Roadlink?
The Roadlink C2 is a small dome that mounts to the roof of your RV. Packed inside are three WiFi antennas, two cellular antennas, and a GPS receiver. It’s built by leading antenna manufacturer Winegard. It’s a custom-branded version of the highly regarded Winegard ConnecT 2.0, with the addition of the GPS receiver, which is reserved for future features.
What does it do?
The Roadlink is like your home-base for all things internet. After getting it up and running, you connect all of your devices to it just like you would home WiFi. Then, you use a phone app to tell the Roadlink to either connect to a local WiFi network — like your campground’s or the local Walmart’s — or, you can tell it to connect to the AT&T network. It picks up WiFi networks and cell towers from a distance, much further than your computer or tablet can.
When you move from place to place, or even as you are driving (it works in-motion), you don’t need to then change log-ins and passwords on all of your connected devices.
There are really no discounts available for the Togo Roadlink out there, but we’ve talked Togo into giving RV Miles readers a free year of Roadtrippers Plus if you use the code “RVMILES” when you purchase through this link. Roadtrippers is a great web app for planning routes and finding great destinations along the way.
How do you install the Roadlink?
The device is dome-shaped — about 8″ tall — and it mounts on your roof. One 12v DC cable has to be connected to power inside your RV, and there’s a switch that comes in the box to turn it on and off from the inside. The power cable either needs to go through a hole in your roof, or you need to get creative. I ran ours through the fridge vent, and then into the microwave cavity. It’s a medium-difficulty job. I did it in about an hour. If you aren’t comfortable doing it, any RV dealer should be able to install it very affordably.
You could theoretically add a DC plug to the end of the power cord and just plug it in and set it our when you need it instead of permanently installing, but it really wants to be up high to work properly.
How do you set it up?
There’s a sim card from AT&T that goes into a plastic housing on the side of the Roadlink. The cover uses two screws. After you download the app, you can use it to scan a QR code on the manual to link the app to the Roadlink. You’ll also have to set up a Togo ID with your email address. You’ll also have to contact a special number or website at AT&T to purchase the data plan.
Is the data truly unlimited?
Yes. The unlimited plan is subject to “network management,” which means they can temporarily deprioritize you on a busy tower. In practice, that’s hardly noticeable. It is not a data cap, where you are slowed after using a certain amount until the next month’s billing cycle. The catch is that AT&T requires you to pay for the whole year at once. It works out to $30 a month, but that can be a big chunk of change. AT&T will also sell you 5 GB of data for a $25 monthly charge, but that’s very little data. That works out to about 5 hours of Netflix in a month.
How well does it work?
We were previously on the now unavailable Mobley car-connected plan from AT&T. For all intents and purposes, this is the same data plan. We’ve had AT&T signal most everywhere we go. A few times we’ve had to fall back on our Verizon phones, but there have also been places where AT&T is available and Verizon is not. The speeds are generally pretty great. Since we’ve upgraded to the Roadlink, the only difference is that we can pick up a weak signal from further away. We use it for PC and Xbox gaming, uploading YouTube videos and podcasts, and watching streaming video like Netflix and Amazon Prime. We can usually be watching something while the kids watch something else with no problems. Obviously, it doesn’t work well where there is no AT&T signal.
Where do I get the Roadlink?
It’s available from Togo’s website, and the AT&T data plan is only available through a web portal or a special phone number. You can not go into an AT&T store or call AT&T’s main number. They will know nothing about it. If you use the code “RVMILES” when purchasing your Roadlink, they’ll throw in a year of Roadtrippers Plus for free.