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Old 05-17-2013, 10:11 PM   #21
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We have tried cheap wifi repeaters before getting our Ranger and found them much more lacking in capability. The Wifi Ranger is much more than an expensive repeater. First, it amplifies a weak signal to make it useful. While different campgrounds have different bandwidths, a bigger problem at many campgrounds is the location of the wifi broadcast towers. If you're not located in the right place, capturing a signal is problematical.

Second, the Wifi Ranger has many more capabilities than available on "cheap" repeaters. It automatically locks in the the strongest available wifi signal, amplifies it, and rebroadcasts it on its own pass protected signal that can be picked up on your wifi devices. If it picks up a password protected signal from any source and you have the password, it remembers the password just like your computer or smart phone does and reopens the signal if the signal drops out for any reason or your return to the stored location. My wife and I have two computers, two tablets, and two smart phones and all of these devices can pick up our pass protected signal at the same time. If it locks on an open non-password protected signal, no further action is required. An example, we left our Wifi ranger turned on while we were driving from one campground to another and noticed that our smartphones were signaling receiving wifi emails while we were traveling-- it was locking on to new open wifi signals as we were moving in our TV.

The other comment on this I will make is that Airstreams are notorious for reducing wifi signals because of their construction. We have had no problems receiving available wifi signals within our AS since we installed our WiFi Ranger.

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Originally Posted by kscherzi View Post
The WiFi ranger looks like a really expensive repeater. You can fined repeaters on Newegg.com for under $50. A repeater simply takes a radio signal and rebroadcasts it on a slightly different frequency.

If the source signal is weak, then the repeater just extends the chain. It cannot compensate for an upstream weak signal. A lot of free WiFi at rv parks are overloaded anyway.

A mobile hotspot like offered freedompop.com or just using a cell phone is more flexible.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:20 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Anna girl View Post
Thanks for your response. But..if I wanted to stream a movie using my laptop via Netflix, it would become cost prohibitive using cell phone service...right?
Receiving Netflix on wifi is primarily a function of the wifi bandwidth. We have been in campgrounds that we get a very strong signal with our Wifi Ranger but they don't have enough bandwidth to stream video. Our primary reason for getting the Ranger was getting a strong signal without worrying about where you are parked in a campground and penetrating the shell of our Airstream with a strong signal. If bandwidth is inadequate for video streaming but plenty strong for all other wifi requirements, we are very pleased.
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:11 AM   #23
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Thanks so much for your posts. What I was really hoping is that I could use my Roku to stream movies, documentaries but it looks like it's dependent of the strength of the campground's signal. Wolverine...it sounds like even with the Wifi ranger...it not really possible. We talked with people at AT&T and Verizon and although we can get service from them, streaming videos can be very expensive. And of course the problem is getting a strong signal from those cell towers to stream.
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:53 AM   #24
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Anna, if you have an old iPhone with AT&T unlimited data you can upgrade to an iPhone 5 with LTE and steam ROKU or Netflix at no additional cost. Just can't use FaceTime under the legacy unlimited plan.
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Old 05-18-2013, 03:09 PM   #25
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Thanks Mark...no, he doesn't have an unlimited plan on his iPhone. He does, however, have a grandfathered unlimited plan on his air card (data) that he plugs into his laptop. It has 3G service though...so I'm thinking that we would run into speed problems. There is no easy, affordable solution.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:12 PM   #26
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Signal strength and bandwidth are two very different things.

One can plug in any wifi router or access point, fire up a laptop, have full bars and no Internet.

The wifi ranger and/or sky products are not simple repeaters.

A wifi repeater is just that. Is hears the rv park's access point and repeats the data on the same wifi frequency. While this works, this repeater method actually cuts the overall data throughput in half, because the data is resent on the same frequency it oringinated on.

Devices like the ranger and sky actually have two wifi radios and connect to the park's wifi as if they are the laptop. They then offer connections to devices like laptops and tablets via the second radio. This is better than a simple repeater, because the two radios can communicate to the respective connected devices at the same time. Not one at a time, like a simple repeater.

However, either device is still speed limited by the total amount of Internet available to the park. If the park has a mediocre Internet connection, full bars on your wifi connection does not mean enough Internet to stream a movie. Especially if 20 other trailers are doing the same thing.

Think of it as one pizza when everyone is hungry and wants a slice, or two.

Having your own pizza (cellular air card or mifi) may be a better plan, but even this has limits. Air cards have limited amounts of data for the price.

We have both the ranger and sky. We use the sky as mentioned above, to access park or other wifi with weak signal strength, and the ranger to allow more than one connection to our pay-as-you-go USB stick. We do not steam movies on the cellular, and rarely on the park wifi. It is just not what these connections are meant for.

A thought: cellular towers are limited in the same manor as the rv park wifi, there is only so much Internet available to the tower. That is why cellular Internet may be slow, even if you have "full bars."

Regards,

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Old 05-18-2013, 06:37 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
Signal strength and bandwidth are two very different things.

One can plug in any wifi router or access point, fire up a laptop, have full bars and no Internet.

The wifi ranger and/or sky products are not simple repeaters.

A wifi repeater is just that. Is hears the rv park's access point and repeats the data on the same wifi frequency. While this works, this repeater method actually cuts the overall data throughput in half, because the data is resent on the same frequency it oringinated on.

Devices like the ranger and sky actually have two wifi radios and connect to the park's wifi as if they are the laptop. They then offer connections to devices like laptops and tablets via the second radio. This is better than a simple repeater, because the two radios can communicate to the respective connected devices at the same time. Not one at a time, like a simple repeater.

However, either device is still speed limited by the total amount of Internet available to the park. If the park has a mediocre Internet connection, full bars on your wifi connection does not mean enough Internet to stream a movie. Especially if 20 other trailers are doing the same thing.

Think of it as one pizza when everyone is hungry and wants a slice, or two.

Having your own pizza (cellular air card or mifi) may be a better plan, but even this has limits. Air cards have limited amounts of data for the price.

We have both the ranger and sky. We use the sky as mentioned above, to access park or other wifi with weak signal strength, and the ranger to allow more than one connection to our pay-as-you-go USB stick. We do not steam movies on the cellular, and rarely on the park wifi. It is just not what these connections are meant for.

A thought: cellular towers are limited in the same manor as the rv park wifi, there is only so much Internet available to the tower. That is why cellular Internet may be slow, even if you have "full bars."

Regards,

JD
Excellent explanation of the capabilities of the Wifi Ranger. We have never counted on our Ranger to stream video, although we can occasionally pick up a short video stream. If we really need to watch video, we either bring a DVD with us or we rely on Redbox. We've had excellent results with acquiring wifi in campgrounds and other wifi sources while traveling to or from campgrounds for our non-streaming internet requirements.
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Old 05-18-2013, 09:00 PM   #28
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This has all been a tremendous help. Thanks so much for helping me understand this.
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Old 05-18-2013, 09:31 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna girl View Post
Thanks so much for your posts. What I was really hoping is that I could use my Roku to stream movies, documentaries but it looks like it's dependent of the strength of the campground's signal. Wolverine...it sounds like even with the Wifi ranger...it not really possible. We talked with people at AT&T and Verizon and although we can get service from them, streaming videos can be very expensive. And of course the problem is getting a strong signal from those cell towers to stream.

An option to watch shows and movies you have dvds for is a media player. Basically it gives you a netflix/roku presentation of dvds you have ripped onto an external harddrive. It stinks because you have to want to only watch what you have on the harddrive but it at least eliminates the need to pack the scrap. You can fit hundreds of movies on a large drive. Just an idea
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:10 PM   #30
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Check on that card plan, I bet you can move it to a different device like a phone. My understanding is that the cards are attached to a line, which is essentially a phone number in their system.

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Old 05-19-2013, 07:26 AM   #31
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Crazycuda...excellent idea. We were just talking about downloading movies but worried about filling up our hard drives. My husband suggested using iTunes..we need to check it out to see if they rent movies that can be downloaded.

Lynn...I will check this out but from what I understand, if you make ANY changes to the plan, you lose the grandfathered unlimited data. But maybe moving it to a phone might work.

Well, I am organizing all the STUFF for our maiden voyage. It's like planning for a 1 bedroom apt. I have scoured this site and put together a list of what to get. I plan to come up with a list to share for all the newbies.

Any words of advice for this first trip...one thing you wish you knew about that you found out on your first adventure? 11 more days until we pick our AS up and take off!

Thanks to all for your help.
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Old 05-19-2013, 07:44 AM   #32
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Anna what you could also do is check out movies from your local library. Sounds crazy to most people but they do have lots of new movies you can check out for free. The wife of a coworkers of mine works at a library and they never buy.movies because the library have so many
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:07 AM   #33
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Crazyduda...another great idea. I didn't think of that because we use Netflix. Honestly, we don't watch that many movies but we do use internet TV. There are lots of historical youtubes, etc. In fact, we're thinking of dropping our regular cable because there are so few shows that we watch. Just thought it might be nice to have that option to watch a movie.

Back to packing!
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:02 AM   #34
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Has anyone tried to amplify their cell phone "hot spot" ( e.g. 3G or 4G ) to receive WiFi instead of trying to capture available WiFi signals which are increasingly more "unavailable" unless in a CG...the equipment for amplification of the Hot Spot seems less costly and easier to install / utilize....( as noted this morning on the RV Travel.com..."Great RV http://www.rvtravel.com/---q=great-r...letter-issue20 Newsletter")

(We have had some difficulty with cell phone reception inside the AS in areas with a low signal...thus problems with the computer connection using the hot spot)

Thanks to all for your comments....Zigi
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:55 AM   #35
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If you have an android or BB , you can get pdaNet or FoxFi and use the phones unlimited data plan (Sprint has this) for your internt use either as tethered or as wi-fi. You get try the app for free and if it works on your phone, buy it for a one-time fee of $15.
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:02 AM   #36
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Zigidats, I use the Wilson signal amp along with my Android phone and the Fox-Fi. I set the antenae on my trucks roof and the phone inside on the dash. It is pretty good in most places. The phones wi-fi signal is pretty strong.
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:41 PM   #37
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Zigidats, I use the Wilson signal amp along with my Android phone and the Fox-Fi. I set the antenae on my trucks roof and the phone inside on the dash. It is pretty good in most places. The phones wi-fi signal is pretty strong.
How applicable is this setup inside the AS? I am trying to avoid cabling into the unit from the roof, etc, yet be able to access a strong enough WiFi signal via the iPhone hot spot to run the computer.....
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:11 PM   #38
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Devices that "boost" cellular reception are "bi-directional amplifiers".

There are multiple radio frequencies involved when a phone is exchanging voice or data with a tower.

The uplink or signal headed from the phone to tower and downlink, the steam headed for the tower to the phone.

An area of poor cell tower coverage, inside an Airsteam for example, can be improved by BDA.

This device catches the radio waves outside the trailer with an outdoor antenna, boosts them, and sends them to an inside antenna. The inside antenna catches the signal sent from the phone or air card, and does the same on the way out.

I installed one in our trailer via the refrigerator vent. It helps with both voice calls on our phones and data on our USB stick.

Here is a link.

Dual-Band (800/1900 MHz) Mobile Wireless | Store | Wilson Electronics


This has helped us several times.

Sprint would be great, if they had more coverage. They are quite lacking in my area. I guess that is why they are less expensive and have unlimited plans.

Regards,

JD
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Old 05-19-2013, 07:29 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
Devices that "boost" cellular reception are "bi-directional amplifiers".

There are multiple radio frequencies involved when a phone is exchanging voice or data with a tower.

The uplink or signal headed from the phone to tower and downlink, the steam headed for the tower to the phone.

An area of poor cell tower coverage, inside an Airsteam for example, can be improved by BDA.

This device catches the radio waves outside the trailer with an outdoor antenna, boosts them, and sends them to an inside antenna. The inside antenna catches the signal sent from the phone or air card, and does the same on the way out.

I installed one in our trailer via the refrigerator vent. It helps with both voice calls on our phones and data on our USB stick.

Here is a link.

Dual-Band (800/1900 MHz) Mobile Wireless | Store | Wilson Electronics


This has helped us several times.

Sprint would be great, if they had more coverage. They are quite lacking in my area. I guess that is why they are less expensive and have unlimited plans.

Regards,

JD
Thank you...great info...but why did you choose a BDA for the cell phone hot spot instead of a WiFi amp....? What are the differences in frequencies, lambda, modulation, and signal strengths if one can compare the two....forgive my ignorance. I have a strong science background, but I still require help in comprehension... .....thank you...
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:30 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zigidachs View Post
Has anyone tried to amplify their cell phone "hot spot" ( e.g. 3G or 4G ) to receive WiFi instead of trying to capture available WiFi signals which are increasingly more "unavailable" unless in a CG...the equipment for amplification of the Hot Spot seems less costly and easier to install / utilize....( as noted this morning on the RV Travel.com..."Great RV http://www.rvtravel.com/---q=great-r...letter-issue20 Newsletter")

(We have had some difficulty with cell phone reception inside the AS in areas with a low signal...thus problems with the computer connection using the hot spot)

Thanks to all for your comments....Zigi

My post about BDAs was in response to this post.

The wifi-ranger sky is what I use to boost weak park supplied wifi inside the trailer.

The BDA boosts coverage for the phones and cellular data stick. Remember, the phone or mifi uses cellular freqs to get data from the tower, not wifi.


In other words, a smart phone with tethering sends and receives data from the tower on cellular (which is boosted by the BDA) and shares this connection with a laptop or tablet via the wifi radio in the phone.


Regards,


JD
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