Mobile Broadband for Motorhomes in New Zealand

Mobile Broadband

In this post, we explore the different options available for static- periodic- and constant traveling motor homers.

 

The Static Motor Homer

If you tend to live in your motorhome somewhere in a park, paddock or campsite for long periods on end – lets say more than a year,  you have various mobile broadband options to choose from.

There is a 2degrees package available which is on prepay. At time of this post, the 15Gig data pack was available for NZ$50 per month. This is ideal for static- periodic- and full-time traveling.

A cheaper option is available from NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association) in conjunction with Wireless Nation Internet Provider. Drawback is that you need to be a member of the NZMCA to be able to get these special rates. There is a contract option for

  • 40GB @ $79 per month
  • 130GB @ $99 per month
  • 220GB @ $159 per month

(what we used to have until last month). They can supply the wireless modem at extra cost.

 

The Periodic Motor Homer

In this case, the periodic motor homer is someone that lives in a motorhome permanently and is static for most of the time but do like to go away for weekends and holidays.  Currently we fall in this bracket. Being parked up for long periods in the same spot due to my job requirements, we decided to go for the Skinny 60GB Wireless Broadband option. The drawback of this option is that you are not allowed to use it anywhere else but the registered address. You can ask for a transfer in case of a more permanent move to another area.

It works out much cheaper than the Wireless Nation option. Skinny had the following options at time of this post:

60GB @ NZ$39/month

120GB @ NZ$49/month 

240GB @ NZ$59/month

These options are all wireless 4G connections depending where you are.

The wireless modem is compulsory at a $99 once off payment because it is specially modified for the Skinny network deal and does not work with other modems.

In conjunction with this option, we also have the 2degrees prepay mobile data pack. It can be used anywhere while traveling and comes in 3 options, carryover data valid for 1 year whilst account is kept alive:

1.25GB @ NZ$19

2.5GB @ NZ$29

10GB @ NZ$49

Even though the price is a bit steep, we only use this on our trips when needed. When we are back at our base camp, we connect the Skinny modem again. The great plus with this deal is that your left-overt data carries over from month to month for a whole year. This works exceptionally well for people in similar circumstances.

 

The Constant Traveler

For constant traveling there are 4 options. The NZMCA option is already detailed above. The other 3 deals are from 2degrees as set out below:

2degrees Prepay Mobile Data plan valid for 1 month:

500MB @ NZ$10

1GB @ NZ$20

15GB @ NZ$50

 

2degrees Prepay Mobile Data Pack with Carryover Data valid for 1 year whilst account is kept alive:

1.25GB @ NZ$19

2.5GB @ NZ$29

10GB @ NZ$49

 

2degrees Monthly Plan:

1.5GB @ NZ$30/month

3GB @ NZ$$40/month

10GB @ NZ$55/month

25GB @ NZ$70/month

There is a “Data Share” option on these plans which means you can share your data with friends or family. More details available on the 2degrees.co.nz website.

 

Additional Important Information for Mobile Data

You can acquire your own modem from places like amazon. Below you can see a few listed.

You need to make sure when you obtain one of these, that it is either unlocked or locked onto the frequency band you want to use. Unlocked is always better in case you change providers in future.

What does unlocked mean?

An unlocked modem can work on the Spark, Vodafone and 2 Degrees Networks. Each network has some unique differences and different frequencies so that the data and mobile phone calls won’t interfere with each other.

2Degrees piggy-back on the Vodafone network as well as having their own towers and frequencies.

Here follows a list of the different frequencies for the 3  providers:

2Degrees

2G – GSM 900MHz.
2G – GSM 1800MHz.

3G – 900MHz 
3G – 2100MHz

4G 1800MHz LTE

 

Vodafone NZ
2G – GSM 900MHz.
2G – GSM 1800MHz.
3G – 900MHz (U900) in rural and marine areas (up to 120 kms offshore)
3G – 2100MHz (U2100) in urban areas.
4G – 700MHz (Band 28)
4G – 1800MHz (Band 3)
4G – 2600MHz (Band 7)

 

Spark

​4G 1800MHz (LTE Band 3)
4G 700MHz (LTE Band 28)
3G 850MHz / 2100MHz

 

What is 2G, 3G and 4G?

The higher the number, the later the technology and speed of the connection. The “G” is for “Generation”, so the current fastest connection speed is the 5G or “Fifth Generation” technology that is being rolled out in Australia and NZ will follow suit shortly with Spark already doing 5G testing.

Most older phones can only use 2G. That is ample for phone calls and texting. 3G is good for less serious Internet surfing and 4G is the current best option for high speed Internet data connection.

These systems are almost all backward compatible. It means that when you are in some rural town or in the boondocks, you may only have 2G coverage even though you have all the equipment on-board to handle 4G.

Closer to the big towns you may find that your modem connects to network on the 4G option. Equipment designed for 2G cannot connect at 3G or 4G because of the technology constraints inside the circuitry of the equipment.

 

External Antennas

Most modems these days have internal antennas with connections for optional external antennas. If you find that the reception is not very good when traveling, you may need to acquire external antennas for your modem. The trick is to get the correct antenna for the frequencies you are accessing. If you have a Mobile Broadband  plan with Spark, you will be accessing the ​1800MHz LTE, 700MHz LTE, 850MHz and 2100MHz frequencies.

The antenna MUST MATCH the frequencies otherwise you may not get better reception with it.

There is an almost endless list of antennas and signal boosters available at affordable prices. Due to the vastly different fit for each modem and frequency, it is impossible to try and explain it. If you wish to acquire antennas for your modem, feel free to contact us through the comment box below this post and we can source it for you.

If this cleared some of the fog regarding mobile broadband and assisted you with your choices, will you be so kind and leave a comment please? It really helps us to give you great tips when we can see your appreciation for getting it free!

 

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