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Old 09-02-2014, 11:36 AM   #1
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Campground WIFI Internet

On our current Aistream adventure, we have been on the road for over 40 days now. Lucy has camped at 15 or 20 different campgrounds from Alabama to Washington. Almost all of these campgrounds had WIFI as an advertised amenity.

It has been our experience that there is usually a strong signal from the campground's router, but the Internet service from their modem is most often poor or non-existent. We have had to use our Verizon cellphones with FoxFI to establish our own hotspot at all but three of these campgrounds.

On several occasions, I have brought this to the attention of the campground desk personnel. The response is usually as if I had just recited the Lord's Prayer to them in Mandarin Chinese. Most of these campgrounds don't have a clue that WIFI alone does not provide Internet access.

I realize that in some instances, heavy Internet traffic in the campground can slow the system. These campgrounds need to realize that if they want to advertise having WIFI Internet access, they need to provide the band width necessary to serve the number of campsites that they have.

Brian
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:45 AM   #2
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Most aren't in locations where they can actually provide that level of bandwidth. And most don't even invest in a proper antenna.

Generally the best would be providing an actual fiber connection at the park, the appropriate router and antennas and repeaters.

Most aren't even aware that the routers you buy for your home handle one request at a time. In your home, it's hard to see this between your computer and someone else's and maybe a tablet.

But try adding 30 devices all trying to access the same router and boom, slow down.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:48 AM   #3
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The problem is easily accessible streaming video. The bandwidth required to allow 25 campers to all stream Netflix at once is way out of their budget and in probably a lot fo cases would take infrastructure upgrades just to get that kind of pipe out to the campground.

Their option is to pay a reasonable amount for Comcast Business line (or something similar) and call it good. And it will be good.. until you have 5 people streaming a video and then it is worthless for the rest.

Putting up signs asking people not to stream video won't work. Their best bet if they are to stick with their current connection size is to have their router limit peoples connections. And as you mention, no one at the campground has the knowledge to do that, so it is more $$ to get someone knowledgable in. There is no easy solution to this for a campground that doesn't have extra cash to spare.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:50 AM   #4
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I would think there is very little incentive for most campgrounds to provide more than cursory internet access. This past weekend, we actually had decent service that would support streaming music/radio broadcast. Still, it would drop out periodically.

This is not really an issue for us because I am not trying to do any significant work from the road.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:51 AM   #5
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Our wifi experience at campgrounds has been the same except in Canada where it always worked better than in the US, even in remote areas with only satellite internet. We end up using our Verizon jet pack when the campground wifi is bad—usually in the early morning and mid-evening. Since RVers go to sleep early, after 9 pm, campground wifi works a lot better. Or wake up in the middle of the night to send photos. Worst wifi is anywhere that uses Tango as their provider.

Campground people in the office have no idea what is going on with wifi and is it useless to ask them. Some get annoyed when you do. I'm sure they get lots of complaints and feel attacked about something beyond their understanding.

Most campgrounds are located outside of town where they may be no good internet service to the campground. Then they don't have good equipment. Some have told me they can't find anyone who can fix the system, even near big cities. So part of the problem is there aren't enough people who know how to install a good wifi system at campgrounds. And a good system may not work when you are surrounded by MH's blocking reception.

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Old 09-02-2014, 11:58 AM   #6
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We had suspected all of these issues. Now we don't even bother asking a campground if they have WIFI Internet. We ask instead if they is a cell phone signal at their campground. Our Internet business requires on-line access at least every couple of days. We now depend on our own cellphone hotspot.

Brian
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
We had suspected all of these issues. Now we don't even bother asking a campground if they have WIFI Internet. We ask instead if they is a cell phone signal at their campground. Our Internet business requires on-line access at least every couple of days. We now depend on our own cellphone hotspot.

Brian
And even cell phone hotspots have issues with capacity. When a lot of voice service is demanded from the tower, the net service is slowed down or delayed considerably. I have found that usually my Verizon MiFi works well, but sometimes from about 7 to 10 pm it is slow or even effectively drops out of service.

We recently had a wild fire in our area. The fire camp was moved to town, where cell service was available. 650 people were in the camp, town size is also about 650. I went to town and tried to use my cell phone (no service at all where I actually live) and found I could not even get a phone call out, the poor tower was so overloaded. I understand that cell towers are generally set to provide service to 5 to10% of local users at any one time, when a lot of additional use is demanded, they are overwhelmed too.

Just more information for our connected world.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:07 PM   #8
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A traveling opportunity

I would think that some enterprising tech person who likes to travel could clean up on solving this issue. Makes me wish I had paid attention in science class.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:10 PM   #9
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Living on the periphery of a rural village, we have learned to appreciate slow internet, meaning faster than dial-up, but not by THAT much of a margin. And living on the periphery of a rural village that attracts a lot of tourists, especially on weekends like the last one, we've learned to appreciate almost any internet access at all.

And folks are right: Distributing a wifi signal to campers is one thing: Spend some money in the right way, and there you go. But distributing a signal that connects them to the internet is quite another. In many cases, no reasonable amount of money will do the trick.


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Old 09-02-2014, 01:12 PM   #10
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I suppose we are not alone in this predicament. I recently read an article about the drop in attendance by the student body at college football games, especially at the major schools. It seems that the available bandwidth is such that phone and internet service is almost nonexistent. While the students may like their football team, they like their smart phones even more. They stay home and watch on television and can still use their phones.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:42 PM   #11
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We've stayed at Lynn's campground and he has better wifi than just about anywhere we have been. If he has problems, it is not the campground, but the pipes in the area that are overloaded. At our house, there is no way to get internet except satellite (which is traditionally slow) and Verizon's jet pack, a/k/a, mifi. The service is pretty fast, but we pay a lot to get it and always go over our monthly allotment of 5 GB and we don't stream anything. Outside of cities, it is hard to get decent service. Netflix would be impossible for us if we wanted it. The US is way behind in internet bandwidth.

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Old 09-02-2014, 01:46 PM   #12
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Verizon mifi is your answer.

Your own, secure, internet connection. Almost anywhere.



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Old 09-02-2014, 06:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
On our current Aistream adventure, we have been on the road for over 40 days now. Lucy has camped at 15 or 20 different campgrounds from Alabama to Washington. Almost all of these campgrounds had WIFI as an advertised amenity.



It has been our experience that there is usually a strong signal from the campground's router, but the Internet service from their modem is most often poor or non-existent. We have had to use our Verizon cellphones with FoxFI to establish our own hotspot at all but three of these campgrounds.



On several occasions, I have brought this to the attention of the campground desk personnel. The response is usually as if I had just recited the Lord's Prayer to them in Mandarin Chinese. Most of these campgrounds don't have a clue that WIFI alone does not provide Internet access.



I realize that in some instances, heavy Internet traffic in the campground can slow the system. These campgrounds need to realize that if they want to advertise having WIFI Internet access, they need to provide the band width necessary to serve the number of campsites that they have.



Brian




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Old 09-02-2014, 07:19 PM   #14
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If I may ask - Does anyone know if Verison has any type of prepaid or no contract type plans one can access. My issue is I travel in the USA only about 3-4 months a year and would like to have some type of system to access the net while in the south. Our problem is we don't want a monthly fee type arrangement as there is to many months that we would not use it at all as we are back in Canada... So some type of "use as you go" type thing would be great for us.

Also, what type of MIFI is the best to get as Verison sees to sell more than one.

Thanks

Doug
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