Modern RV owners usually need some form of internet connection to work, stay in contact with loved ones, make parking reservations, or simply enjoy online entertainment. This leads many RV owners to wonder what the term WiFi prep means in the context of an RV. Does this mean that an RV comes with WiFi?
WiFi prep on an RV means that the vehicle is equipped with wiring and antennas that allow for easy installation of a WiFi system. This feature is becoming increasingly popular among RV owners, with a survey by the RV Industry Association finding that 90% of RVers consider internet access to be important while traveling.
There are multiple possible meanings for the term ‘ WiFi prep,’ depending on the RV, the RV retailer you buy the vehicle from, and the service provider that installed the equipment into the RV. Let’s explore this term in deeper detail to determine what it means and whether or not it is useful for your RV.
Definition of ‘WiFi Prep’
The term ‘ WiFi prep’ can be confusing in the context of an RV, as most RV owners and internet service providers have a different meaning for it. However, the answer is relatively straightforward.
WiFi prep on an RV means preparing the RV for a WiFi connection, a cellular internet connection used in conjunction with a WiFi router, or both. WiFi prep usually means running the appropriate cables for an external WiFi or cellular antenna and an internal WiFi router.
Not all RVs are equipped or prepped for WiFi. Establishing this type of connectivity requires preparing the vehicle for an internet connection and using specific hardware to establish this connection.
RVs can receive an internet connection via two means: from public WiFi at RV parks or from a cellular internet connection.
Prepping an RV for WiFi can mean preparing the vehicle for either or both of these connections, depending on the owner’s preferences and requirements.
Properly preparing an RV for WiFi and cellular connections involves running coaxial connection cables through the bodywork of the RV, connecting an internal wall panel access point to an external antenna used to connect to a WiFi or cellular network.
The internal access point is connected to an internal WiFi router that receives an internet connection from the external antenna, allowing the occupants of the RV to connect to the internet wirelessly.
This is the best way to get an internet connection for an RV, rather than using a mobile hotspot or a portable mobile router. The connection is far more stable and reliable when the correct prep is done.
What Does Pre-Wired For WiFi Mean On An RV?
Another term commonly found in the context of RV WiFi is ‘pre-wired for WiFi.’ Does this term mean the same as WiFi prep for an RV?
An RV that is pre-wired for WiFi comes with a wired connection between an external and internal access point for mounting external antennae and internal routers.
In some instances, this simply means that a channel has been made for a coaxial cable to be run between two access points, and in other instances, it means that the cable for these access points has already been run.
Pre-wired for WiFi does not mean that the RV is WiFi ready; it only means that the infrastructure for setting up a WiFi or cellular internet connection is in place and ready to receive the necessary hardware for making the connection to a public WiFi or the cellular internet network.
An RV pre-wired for WiFi has the internal cables or channels run for connecting the external and internal hardware for an internet connection pre-installed. This means you can simply buy the external antenna and internal router of your choice and connect them to the pre-wired access points.
This makes prepping an RV for WiFi or cellular far easier and means that you do not need to drill any holes or run any cables yourself.
There are companies that can perform the wiring installation for you to connect internet receivers and transmitters, but if an RV is pre-wired for WiFi, the process is far easier and does not usually require any specialized techniques or work to connect the necessary connection hardware.
Does WiFi Prep Provide WiFi For An RV?
WiFi prep is essential for most modern RVs but does prepping an RV for WiFi provide WiFi to the vehicle?
WiFi prep does not provide an internet connection or internal WiFi for the RV. WiFi prep simply prepares an RV to connect to a WiFi network to receive an internet connection. It does not provide an internet connection unless the RV is equipped with a cellular network connection to use in conjunction with the internal WiFi router.
Preparing an RV for WiFi installs the infrastructure for connecting the vehicle to an external WiFi network, but additional gear is required to connect the RV to the internet.
What Gear Do You Need For An Internet Connection In An RV?
To connect an RV that is prepped for WiFi to the internet, some additional gear is required. There are multiple ways to connect an RV to the internet, but simply prepping the RV for WiFi does not establish this connection.
To establish an internet connection for an RV, you will need to prep the vehicle for WiFi or cellular internet by installing a WiFi or cellular antenna, or a combination of the two, on the roof of the RV. This antenna must be connected to the inside of the RV via a coaxial signal cable.
The external antenna acts as a booster for an internal router. You will need an internal WiFi router to connect to the coaxial cable that is connected to the external antenna.
To connect the internal WiFi router to the internet to provide an internet connection for devices, you will need a cellular sim card for the router, allowing it to connect to the cellular internet network.
With the sim card, you will need a cellular internet plan from a network provider, or you must buy data for the sim card to connect it to the internet.
When the sim card is active and placed in the router, it should connect to the internet and have the signal boosted by the external antenna on the outside of the RV.
This type of internet connection depends on the coverage of the cellular network you choose. If the network has no coverage in certain areas, the internet connection will not work, even if your devices are connected to the router.
For this reason, it is critical to choose a cellular network that has the best possible coverage for your country and the specific areas you intend to travel in.
This is the best way to get an internet connection for an RV, regardless of where you are in the world.
My Closing Thoughts
WiFi prep on an RV means preparing the RV for an internet connection via the cellular internet network or from a public WiFi network at RV parks. This involves using external WiFi or cellular antennae, a wire run within the RV to an access point where an internal WiFi router is connected.
Prepping an RV for WiFi and cellular enables an internet connection for the occupants of the RV for working, online entertainment, or simply staying connected with friends and loved ones while on the road. It is essential for modern RVs.
David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.