It’s not often that RV living and space technology intersect but SpaceX is quietly working on a project, called Starlink, that will be a game changer for RV full timers and off-grid living in general.
Historically, one of the big problems for RV living has been internet access. We covered one solution that will work as long as you can get a cell signal but, as anyone who’s been out west can tell you, there are many places you can’t get decent signal.
Old School Satellite Internet
If you had a lot of money for a special antenna and expensive as hell internet service, you could get a self-pointing dish and service from a satellite 22,800 miles from earth. If you’re putting diesel in a large Class A, what’s $300-$400 a month for really slow internet service, right? Needless to say, satellite has never really caught on with the RV crowd. But that’s about to change.
Starlink Will Change Everything
Imagine instead of an expensive self-aligning mount you had an antenna, about the size of a pizza box, on the roof of your RV. It doesn’t have to be pointed in any particular direction to work right. It even works while you’re rolling down the highway. And this isn’t any cell phone internet connection, this is a big, fat high speed internet pipe that rivals your wired home connection for speed and throughput. It will also work anywhere. From the seashore to the tops of the highest mountain, in the middle of town or the middle of absolute nowhere.
The reason Starlink will be a game changer is because the satellites orbit close to earth, roughly 300 miles up in low earth orbit, not the 22,800 miles to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. That means two-way communication with the ground will be nearly as fast as your home connection.
And the price will be about what you’re paying now, around $80 a month.
Living off grid used to mean cellular internet, if you were lucky, and a trip in town or to a neighbor if you needed a faster connection. Within the next year those problems will be history.
Confluence of Forces
The pandemic moved a lot of jobs out of an office and online. I don’t think a lot of those jobs will migrate back to the office. That’s going to open up many possibilities for people to work remotely. High speed internet from space, the declining price of solar, constantly improving composting toilets and other advances in technology are going to make working from the middle of nowhere a breeze. You won’t need wires or pipes to carry anything to your homestead. People are doing it now, with some rough spots here and there, but this will be a huge step forward in communication technology.
The pandemic is also making doctor’s visits, consulting with a lawyer, meeting with clients, and other professional services accessible by video conference. Once Starlink is operational, you’ll be able to video conference with healthcare providers and obtain a variety of services from absolutely anywhere.
That is going to make cheap land in remote places even more attractive to the tech nomads of the near future. They might not stay out there year round, they might not stay in one place at all. When Starlink lights up the dark places of the world with cable-quality internet anywhere, the sky will literally be the limit.