Alphavan preps gorgeous multi-room smart campers for Starlink internet
SpaceX announced last week the immediate launch of Starlink for RVs, a version of the satellite internet service optimized for RV and mobile use. Award-winning German camper van manufacturer Alphavan was quick to jump on the news, and declare itself the first camper company in the world to offer Starlink-ready vans. It will prep its eponymous vans, already among the nicest four-wheeled smart homes available the world over, for simple, plug-and-play compatibility with Musk's off-grid internet service. The new vans promise to be ideal for digital nomads, particularly families who can take full advantage of Alphavan's flexible dual-bedroom + living area floor plan.
Ever since its first satellites found their way into space, Starlink has sounded like a godsend for RVers, particularly those who regularly travel through countries or wilderness areas without mobile coverage and those who rely on mobile internet to work remotely while on the road. But the service hasn't started nearly as RV-friendly as it sounds on paper, requiring users to log in with a specific location, a problem by definition for RVers and others on the move.
Earlier this month, SpaceX made the first step toward smoothening things out for mobile users when it activated mobile roaming with a new "portability" feature. The US$25 add-on allows users to temporarily move their service to new areas and gain access without being tied to a single address.
Last week, SpaceX took the next step toward better RV service when it launched Starlink for RVs, a version of the service that offers a more flexible, RV/travel-friendly structure that can be paused and un-paused. The RV service provides access to high-speed, low-latency internet at any destination that's part of Starlink's active coverage area.
"Starlink for RVs can be used anywhere Starlink provides service and is ideal for camping and other activities in rural or remote locations where internet access has been unreliable or completely unavailable," SpaceX announced on social media.
The RV service does come with a disclaimer: "Network resources are always de-prioritized for Starlink for RVs users compared to other Starlink services, resulting in degraded service and slower speeds in congested areas and during peak hours. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of the service are not guaranteed. Service degradation will be most extreme in 'Waitlist' areas on the Starlink Availability Map during peak hours."
Also, Starlink is not currently designed for use while in motion, so it will still require stopping the van for access. The company says it's working on in-motion capability, but attempting to use it while driving now will void the warranty on the equipment.
Starlink still isn't quite the seamless, universal, globe-blanketing internet for which RVers hunger, but it's another step in that direction. And we suppose the types of remote places that make Starlink especially attractive for RVers shouldn't suffer much congestion from other Starlink users.
Alphavan was quick to capitalize on the Starlink news, announcing a couple days later that it will be offering vans "Ready for Starlink," adding an optional Starlink package with mounting hardware for the dish and prewiring. Equipped camper vans will roll out of its factory ready to plug and play, and the smart TV already on offer will play nicely with the Starlink connection.
Among the most high-tech camper vans out there, Alphavan's campers are a natural fit for the latest in satellite-driven internet connectivity. Along with the aforementioned smart TV and an optional Jehnert premium sound system, the vans include an MBAC-powered smart home control system that can be accessed from the living area touchscreen, the MBUX driver cab infotainment screen or a mobile device with accompanying app.
The Alphaven is also one of the more spacious and well-organized camper vans out there, making a comfortable four-room living space out of a 290-in (736-cm) full-stretch Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The floor plan includes a semi-private upper rear master bedroom area, a wet bathroom, a spacious living area, and a FlexPort that serves as both a garage and a cozy child's bedroom. You can read more about the Alphavan's impressive layout, weight optimizing construction and feature set in our original article on it, but it's notable that months after its introduction, the van took home prestigious 2021 Red Dot Best of the Best and IF Design awards.
The Alphavan starts at €167,000 (approx. US$179,250) before taxes, and can be specced as either a rear-wheel drive or a 4x4 with Mercedes 4Matic system. Alphavan hasn't announced how much the Starlink package will cost.
Alphavan owners will still have to activate service from Starlink itself. The service costs $135 per month plus a one-time $599 hardware fee and offers users the ability to pause and un-pause service as needed, providing flexibility that should prove very valuable for the unpredictable conditions of living and traveling on the road. Users are always charged for a full month, however, and charges are not prorated for shorter increments. More information about Starlink for RVs can be found at starlink.com/rv.