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The following are some communications lessons learned during first 6 months on the road full-timing in the summer of 2002. 
 Henry Lahore   hlahore at mindspring.com   updates Oct 2004 and May 2005

Communications while RVing

Verizon www.verizon.com cell-phone: the good, the bad, and the summary

Good: Adjust monthly minutes during the current month (we are currently at 750)

Good: Verizon has plans for roaming and long distance at no additional charge
   essential for full-time RVing.

Good: Verizon roaming exploits cell towers from many vendors. 
    Our Motorola Startac phones use analog as well as two digital bands.

Good: Spouse has an additional phone for just $20 a month which share the minutes  (2006 version is just $10/month)

Bad: Voice messages are often late and sometimes do not arrive for up to 24 hours

Bad: Can not directly retrieve messages while roaming in some areas.
    We use one cell-phone to get the messages for the other.

Summary: We feel that Verizon is the best for RVing in the Western US - see update below

Poor cell-phone coverage at many RV parks

Parks tend to be in low population density areas which are no cost effective to have cell-towers.
    We really doubt the Verizon claim that cell phones can be used in 94% of the US land area.

Telephone calling cards

Telephone calling cards are great when they work with a phone. The rates keep right on falling.  We purchased our MCI card for 3.5 cents per minute and I see some cards are now available for 1.9 cents per minute.  We will be getting a second card soon because some phones do not permit us calling to some 800 numbers. We use a telephone calling card for calling individuals and for connecting to the internet.  Note: You must use commas to insert delays needed in the calling.  Our experiments with MCI found that the following sequence of numbers and commas (commas are used to insert pauses) works: 18003250604,,,,1,,pin number,, 1earthlink phone number
List of many calling cards is at Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22calling+cards%22&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&btnG=Google+Search&hl=en&cat=gwd%2FTop

Satellite internet connection

We had hoped to have two-way satellite connectivity in 2002, but have had to settle for satellite download and cell-phone return.  It was just too difficult to aim the satellite return link with software in May 2002.  We can buy about $500 of test equipment to ease the alignment process, but have heard a rumor that the software has improved, and so will be trying it soon. After tweaking the one-way satellite connection we raised the download rate with a 26K return land line from 80K bits/sec. to about 930K bits/sec. We was with MTU = 6000 and RWIN = 16X.

You should probably access voice mail directly when you are "roaming". 
The Verizon roaming system sometimes delays sending the voice mails for up to 5 days. 
Just call your own telephone number to check the voice mail. 
     If you are charged for roaming with your cellphone you could just call from a payphone.

Net2Phone, Skype, etc. are great low-cost telephone services when you have WiFi.

Cellphone and cancer
A great many studies are available on the internet about Cellphone usage and Cancer. 
My professional conclusion  (Electronics Engineering) frequencies used by Analog and GMS cell phones (800MHz) might cause cancer, especially when the cell phone must be used at full power - rural areas or inside of vehicles. 
Digital cell phone frequencies (1600MHz) do not appear to to cause cancer.
   As of Spring 2005 the FCC has re-opened the cell phone/cancer question.
   I expect that by 2007 the FCC will conclude that analog cell phone cause cancer,
       and that, by-the-way, the FCC has just eliminated the use of analog cell phones - see previous paragraph.
      (Recall how many decades it took for the federal government to conclude that smoking did indeed cause cancer)

SMS should a nice way to keep in touch. We get updates of stock prices, etc. from Google. 
The cost of a SMS message is about 12 cents thru Verizon.  We were unable to get our friends to use it however

Setup laptop to access the Internet in multiple ways
You need to have a separate Internet ICON for each method.
I have currently a separate ICON for
   Local telephone number
   Calling card telephone access number - with the PIN#, etc.  see above for details
   Cell phone (which uses the cell phone driver/software, rather than the normal internal modem)