Truckers are busy people and need to stay connected. How do they have access to wifi and the internet?
For a long time prior to cell phones being a thing, semi truck drivers communicated with each other via a device called a CB radio. Truckers still use them today out on the open road to chat because not everybody just provides their cell number.
For those that aren’t in the transportation business that may not remember CB radios, you haven’t missed much. Truck drivers (and the rest of us) also had to use a relic called a pay phone and have enough change to feed it, if they wanted to call anyone.
Technology has leaped forward to the era of WiFi, a wireless means of connecting PCs, cell phones, tablets, laptops and game consoles to the internet. If you’re a trucker, this is almost as good as fuel prices going down – almost.
As good as that is;
There isn’t exactly a handy wall socket to plug into when you’re rolling along to plug into or a wifi hotspot to log in to.
Read on to learn all about what WiFi is and what it can do for you and your semi truck.
Do Truck Drivers Have WiFi
Truck drivers use public wfi at truck stops and other establishments or use cellular services to access the internet. Some new semi trucks may have built in cellular connections while older vehicles do not.
What Do Truckers Use for WiFi?
Truckers have numerous options for connecting to WiFi on the move even if they don’t have a hotspot in their vehicle.
WiFi is accessible at WiFi-equipped hotspots. Usually, you have to pay a fee for the WiFi service itself, and you’re assigned your own personal password so that you don’t risk a data breach.
Beware – when your on public wifi don’t put sensitive or personal information over through the network.
Some WiFi hotspots include:
• Coffee shops such as Starbucks
• Hotels and motels
• Big-box stores such as Walmart
Another option is a portable modem, also known as a pocket modem, mobile hotspot, wireless modem or MiFi. It’s palm-sized and lightweight, so it’s easy to carry and store.
Portable modems are battery-operated and serve the same purpose as a stationary home router. They transmit the internet to numerous gadgets, including cell phones, laptops and tablets.
They are enabled by a SIM card (just like your cell phone), a small data-storage smart card that can be used across various devices. Portable modems are fast and provide uninterrupted internet access.
Getting Internet in Your Semi Truck; Mobile Data
The easiest way to provide internet service/wifi to your vehicle is with a mobile data plan. With this method you can either use your phone as a hotspot or designated device like Verizon’s MiFi.
Semi truck internet setup:
- Purchase a plan, there are a lot of affordable options. Keep in mind where you’ll be traveling and how much data you plan on using.
- Have a power source in your truck. If you don’t have any extra electrical outlet or other ports to plug into, you may need to get a power inverter. Check out our article on the best power inverters for semi trucks buying guide to help get you started.
- Connect Your Device to the power source. No brainer here!
- Do you need a booster antenna? Depending on where your run takes you, you may need a cellular booster antenna (amazon link) to get a better signal.
Don’t forget about your phone
You can also use your iPhone or Android to connect other devices to the internet. The phone functions as a mobile hotspot, or to put it another way, a go-between bridging WiFi and your other WiFi-compatible equipment.
In addition, because it’s supplied by your cell phone provider, you’ll have consistent and indefinite connectivity though its chain of cell towers. Conversely, if you’re not using a cell phone as a hot spot, the WiFi range may only be 150 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoors.
Most present-day phones have a built-in WiFi capability. With a 4G LTE phone you can create a wireless connection to the internet for up to 10 devices. Not only is this an effortless way to link to the internet, but it will save you the frustration and wasted time spent waiting for WiFi in a crowded location.
What do truck drivers use WiFi for?
Truck drivers use wifi for the same reasons anyone else would. Truckers who can access WiFi can use that connection professionally, as well as personally.
Here’s just a few benefits:
- Chat with friends and family
- Weather updates
- Business/Contact with company
- Directions/Trip planning
- Load Boards
- Social media
Truck drivers work hard and spend long periods of time away from their families. Being able to find both a good wifi hotspot and cell service helps them to stay in touch.
Link to Friends and Family
Life on the road can be lonely and dull, as you’re on the road for days that stretch into weeks. This is especially difficult when you’re out of touch with loved ones. If your rig is outfitted with WiFi, however, you can regularly stay in touch with the people who you miss, and for long periods of time.
You won’t be at the mercy of high costs and time limitations. This way, you can make the most of a relaxed virtual connection and have fun with your loved ones through video chats, social media or other means.
Real-Time Weather and Road Updates
When you have 80,000 pounds of rubber and metal careening behind you, it’s vital to know what type of weather and safety issues you’ll be headed for. WiFi connectivity provides truckers with real-time information about precipitation, traffic jams, construction work and accident delays so that they can be prepared for the worst.
Handle Personal and Professional Business
WiFi can enable you to have a virtual 18-wheel office. It will help you handle personal business when you’re on the road. This prevents anything time-sensitive from lapsing while you’re away. You can pay your bills, check your account balance and pull up any charges you need to review.
WiFi can also electronically streamline completing and submitting timesheets, proof-of-delivery forms and other urgent materials relevant to your job.
When you’re parked, you can liven up your day or night with streaming shows, movies and documentaries. Of course you’ll be able to access the nearly limitless assortment of audiobooks, podcasts, music and online classes.
One of the best ways drivers use wifi or any other internet access is to plan their trips. Truck drivers have to contend with designated truck routes, traffic, tolls and other issues while making deliveries.
Just like anyone else, drivers like to watch Youtube and interact with friends and family on other social media play forms like facebook, twitter and instagram.
Can I get wireless internet for my semi truck?
Yes, there are a couple different ways that drivers can outfit their semi trucks so that they can get an internet signal.
The most common ways to obtain an internet signal in a semi truck are:
- Cellular/mobile devices
- Truck Stops
WiFi Nerdy Stuff; How it Works
Although you probably use WiFi, you may not know how it works. WiFi is a wireless technology using radio waves to access the internet and relay signals between devices.
Created in Hawaii in 1971, it was dubbed ALOHAnet, and it linked all of the islands. Although it’s not the same as today’s WiFi, it blazed a trail for modern WiFi.
The first true version of WiFi was created by NCR Corporation (National Cash Register) and AT&T. It was dubbed WaveLAN.
WiFi’s frequencies differ, for example, from your car radio’s waves, which pick up Kilohertz and Megahertz (AM and FM). WiFi, instead, operates with Gigahertz. The higher the frequency, the more data its signals can carry.
There’s a misconception that WiFi is the internet. Actually, WiFi accesses the internet. In other words, it’s the signal that wirelessly connects you to the internet. It does this via a router, which as its name suggests, routes outgoing and incoming information.
The Interbrand Corporation invented the name WiFi. Although people try to figure out what it means, it has no deep meaning and isn’t an acronym for Wireless Fidelity. It’s simply a registered trademark of the WiFi Alliance.
Despite this, use of the term Wireless Fidelity has become so commonplace that it’s found its way into all levels of corporations, as well as their reports, press releases and other communications.
Fun fact: WiFi signals are shaped like donuts.
Internet Gaming for Truck Drivers
As any truck driver and transportation company knows, truckers are legally permitted to only drive for 11 hours, and then they must take a mandatory 10-hour break.
This leaves a lot of downtime for eating, showering, cleaning, resting, reading, listening to music, doing laundry and doing other activities of your own choosing, schedule permitting.
For gamers, it’s also time spent missing their favorite obsession. Do truck drivers play video games? They do and the good news is that gamers are no longer tethered to a stationary system. They don’t have to wait until they get home to play.
Now, they can do it right on the road (but not while you’re driving!). Most laptop models that were built in the last 10 years have built-in WiFi cards (wireless transmitters) so you can access the internet and get a multi-player game rolling.
What about older laptops?
If you have an older laptop that doesn’t have a WiFi card, don’t worry. You can easily use a WiFi adaptor. This small gadget simply plugs into one of your computer’s USB ports and will be up and running after a simple software installation.
With this device or a laptop that’s already WiFi-enabled, you can engage in multi-player games. Not only is this a fun way to pass the time, but having the right equipment can connect you with other people and alleviate some of the loneliness of being on the road. You can also engage in a single-player game if you prefer.
The Wrap Up
WiFi has vastly improved big rig truck driving, both on a personal and professional level. It has become instrumental in connecting drivers with each other, their superiors, their customers and their loved ones. Do truck drivers have wifi? Of course, and just like anyone else they have several options available to them.
It’s also become a boredom-buster that connects truckers with leisure pastimes such as playing online games, enjoying podcasts and watching movies. WiFi is extremely convenient and easy for anyone to use via a portable modem, WiFi-enabled smartphone or at businesses that provide the service.
So, is truck driving still one of the world’s loneliest professions? With all of different ways that truckers can connect with their families, it doesn’t have to be. Just ask the guy kicking back in his cab as he laughs at a joke his four-year-old daughter is telling him on a video chat!