I am looking at going back into the trucking industry after apx 13 years of working in an office. I used to drive OTR for apx 5 years but that was long before I had a wife and child.
One of my concerns is being able to stay in touch with them while I am on the road. My wife and I both have a a cell phone but we want to actually be able to see each other; which most cell phones do not avail that opportunity.
I purchased a lap top with the idea of using something like “Skype” to be able to keep in touch. I am trying to figure out the best way to get internet access. I know several folks who use their cell phones as a hot spot (not drivers just folks we know) I just wonder if you have heard from any truckers that do this or something similar to keep in touch with face to face communication this way and if so what you have heard.
Response from Vicki:
Hi, Mark. Thanks for asking. You are to be commended for wanting to keep in touch with your wife and child on the road as a trucker! There are many truckers’ wives (and probably truckers’ kids) who feel the ache of not having a connection with husbands/fathers who are truckers. I’m sure your wife appreciates your desire to stay connected as well.
The “voice” part can easily be done by cell phone as you mentioned. The trickier part is having the video part of the connection.
Disclaimer: Before I delve into this, I should mention that Mike and I have never had a video connection between truck and home — nor have we ever set up a Skype connection. I do, however, have experience in connecting with conference calls and webinars online and accessing the Internet away from home.
If you have Internet access, you can potentially set up a web cam on your respective computers. Different web cams may have different kinds of software requirements and set-ups. Research these to make sure that you have what you need and want without overpaying.
According to Wikipedia, Skype “is a proprietary voice-over-Internet Protocol service and software application” the service of which “allows users to communicate with peers by voice, video, and instant messaging over the Internet.”
Before you go with Skype, make sure that your computers have the system requirements and hardware in place. Be aware of the free versus paid services and their differences.
Recently, we published a page called “Internet on the road” in which we provided a variety of ways that professional truck drivers can access the Internet from their trucks. We have only ever used a contracted mobile broadband service (from Verizon Wireless) for our own personal Internet access on the road — and found it pretty reliable and consistent.
If you plan to use your cell phone for Internet access, make sure you know what your data plan allows. Things may go very well while one stays within the limits set, but become extremely expensive when one goes over the limit. We were told when we upgraded our phones that what throws most people over the data cap is watching videos. We can well imagine that having online video conferencing is similar to that.
Be aware, too, that when one is connecting by data from two different phones, the data is used on both ends. This is important because if the only way that you connect to the Internet on the road is by SmartPhone, your data usage may be higher than your wife’s.
One thing that I have not yet figured out — and perhaps a professional driver who does this can comment below — is how to “tether” a cell phone and computer together.
* Is it done with or without a wire?
* If it is done without a wire, what is required?
When you get out on the road and have ironed out a set-up that works for you, would you please let us know what set-up you’re using and how it works?
We wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.