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Old 11-30-2020, 09:22 AM   #1
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crestview , MI
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How to find good WiFi Campgrounds?

Hi,
We are just starting out living and working from our Airstream. We've installed a Wifi Ranger and are getting the Aspen router set up this week. I've got Verizon and ATT hotspots so I've covered most of the bases, I think.

However, the work I do requires long periods of continuous data use from my laptop while I'm doing my training classes. I've found that a nice WiFi connection is the cheapest/best option for me. Otherwise I use up my hotspots pretty quickly.

My question is, how do I find campgrounds with good WiFi? I know everyone says they have WiFi but how can I confirm that I'm going to be able to work there using it? Are there any sites or apps that people use to rate it?

I'm also concerned that "good" WiFi has a different meaning for everyone and I'm not even sure how to define it for myself.

I hope this all makes sense. Thank you for your input.

Cate
2001 31' Excella
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Old 11-30-2020, 09:31 AM   #2
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Good reliable campground wi-fi?
That's a mythical beast.
It may be reliable in the office, but your site is 400' away and it's not.
Everyone will be on it and it will be the speed of dial-up.
You'll have the password and it won't accept it.

Most people who rely on internet have unlimited data plans for hotspots or routers with external antennas.

The people in the know are the "Mobile Internet Resource Center", a nice couple who split their time between a boat and an RV.
https://www.rvmobileinternet.com
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Old 11-30-2020, 09:49 AM   #3
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Yep, what he said.

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Old 11-30-2020, 10:24 AM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Good WIFI at campgrounds is like Hens' teeth, few and far between. We have traveled extensively all over the United States and Canada and can count on one hand the number of times that we have had good campground WIFI. We have been told by several campground owners that they are not particularly interested in upgrading their WIFI as "this Internet thing is a flash in the pan and will be gone soon". If you call a campground and ask if they have good WIFI, the answer will always be YES, when it should be NO.

On our epic journeys we put out an email with pictures to friends and family every night. We also run a thread here on AirForums with photos that we post to every night. We need good Internet access to accomplish this. Our solution has been to create our own WIFI hotspot with our Verizon Android smartphones. This has worked very well for us. On our 93 day Alaska trip last year, we were able to post our trip log emails and Forums posts every night.

Brian
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:29 AM   #5
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I joined the Mobile Internet Resource Center and I try to understand what I'm reading - mostly I don't.

So I may be relying more on my hotspots than I had planned.

Oh well, worth a shot.

Thank you!
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:38 AM   #6
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Hi

Define good WiFi:

1) I can actually get a signal.

2) I can log in and read a few emails

3) I can open a browser and get to a web site (eventually)

4) At certain times of day, it works pretty well ( = I can get to multiple web sites)

5) I can stream YouTube with dropouts spaced at least a minute apart

6) I can regularly get > 10 Mb/s running Speedtest.

For most video conferencing, category 6 above is what you are after. Most campground WiFi gets rave reviews from lots of folks if it makes it to category 3 or 4 above.

What's going on?

First up, campgrounds rarely have enough access points. They space them out to far and have to few of them. With modern campers showing up with 5 to 20 "devices" per campsite, they quickly saturate. Anything over 100 devices on an AP is almost guaranteed disaster, regardless of bandwidth. There are a lot of grubby details about why this is true.

Next up, campgrounds rarely have much bandwidth to feed the WiFi system. They are located outside of town and get what the rural providers can supply. Some are far enough out that satellite is the only option. If they have 20 Mb/s service, that puts them in the upper tier of WiFi setups. Sharing 20 Mb between 200 campsites means you each have ....umm ... errr .... 1970s internet.

So how to find the good ones?

You want a campground that is in an urban area. That way they at least *could* have good WiFi.

You want one that charges a lot of money. Sorry about that, but your site fee *does* enable them to spend more money on "frills" like WiFi bandwidth. That business line setup (they are a business ....) with a couple hundred Mb/s may cost them up around thousand dollars (yes that's insane ....).

You want a campground that's empty. If some dude named Bob rolls up and starts downloading a few terabytes of "important stuff" into five devices, you are in trouble. If there are four or five Bob's all doing the same thing, forget about how much bandwidth the campground has, there's none left for you. That may sound unlikely .... consider a group of five folks each streaming a different HD video. It can add up mighty fast.

Does checking all those boxes guarantee good WiFi? Absolutely not. It only moves your chances up to maybe 1 in 60.

=====

What's the answer?

99% ( probably higher than that) of the time, I can get *much* faster / more reliable data service over the cell network than over the campground WiFi. That's just the way it works. If you *must* have a reliable connection, go with cell service. It's not cheap, but it is your best bet. Consider that you now are paying $20 a night instead of $150 a night for the site. That $130 a day times 30 days pays for a lot of cell data ....

What's the alternative:

Camp out in the parking lot at a mall. Surf the store WiFi systems until you find a good one. Lots of fun ...

Bob
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:05 AM   #7
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I've worked from my AS for about 5 years now. I have a WiFi Ranger and also a WeBoost for my cell phone. I have a dedicated device - Verizon MiFi jetpack (about a 4" oval) used only for data (no cell phone coverage) for my laptops. It runs about $68/mo for unlimited data with no contract (however you do have to buy the device which was $100). The jetpack I purchased supports up to 5 users or logons at a time. Verizon claims they don't throttle (slow your response time down) once a certain amount of data is used but I'm dubious about that.



Using a campground's wifi is not secure which is another reason I have my own wifi device. There are apps (some are free) that help determine where the cell tower is located and how strong the signal is (search for WiFi Analyzer Apps). This is important for me as I like to boondock. As MollysDad pointed out, the rvmobileinternet website is a good place to start. But, it can be confusing at first because there are many options available depending how you will use the wifi (conferencing, video (music, presentations, etc), and how much you need to upload/download documents/pictures, logging into technical systems, stream, online gaming and so on.



Keep reading and researching. I bought the Internet Mobile Handbook which is in layman's terms when I first started out. Amazon has it used for $4.99 or new at $9.99. There is now a .pdf version for $7.99. I didn't have time to read the whole book (I was in a I need to know the info now mode) so I perused the table of contents for subjects I thought applied to me.


Your set up doesn't have to be complex. I've come across other full timers that have a great set up but oh so complicated. I'm a technical person but when it comes to wifi access, I like to keep it straight forward as long as it works for my needs.
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:17 AM   #8
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good wifi and campground/RV park dont work in the same sentence .....LOL

Have fun !
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:39 PM   #9
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Rv park wifi

Uncle Bob hit the nail on the head in all respects. We've spent $$$$$ on RV park WIFI equipment upgrades to get Comcast to provide us with a Gigabite of service for a 10 acre park with only 76 spaces in a rural area. During peak season our band width is tapped out with users: RVs with two phones, two tablets, one or two smart monitors and one or two lap tops, all of which are using the park internet. Regrettably, we can't allow full time RVers who work from their homes utilizing the internet for their livelihood. When I stay there, I utilize my Verizon hotspot: it's secure and dependable.

I will throw this thought out there; when we're traveling with our RV, I try very hard to be unplugged from the internet. We spend evenings viewing the stars, walking the trails in the dark, or hanging around the propane fire pit figuring out our next destination. Gosh, I even read a book or magazine until I doze off. I must confess that I never thought I would be an RV person, let alone pull a trailer. As a back packer, I scoffed at the idea of owning an RV. Fortunately, I have a wife who is on occasion able to pound some sense into my thick skulled pea brain. The trailer has given us another option in which to fill our lives with many more enjoyable memories. Be safe! All the best, Don
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catesword View Post
I joined the Mobile Internet Resource Center and I try to understand what I'm reading - mostly I don't.

So I may be relying more on my hotspots than I had planned.

Oh well, worth a shot.

Thank you!
I feel your pain. I read their posts and it demonstrates how there's no easy solution to reliable internet cheap. Can we wait for Starlink? Although it's $100/mo.
I'm in that middle bunch that wants available internet, but don't want to use my phone as a hotspot and don't want to pay $200/mo. for service. I'm willing to buy a jetpack hotspot, but data for a part-timer seems too pricey still.
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Old 12-01-2020, 02:00 PM   #11
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The responses are funny but true! I quickly gave up on WiFi and decided to purchase a We-Boost Drive X RV. Increased my AT&T Plan and Wa-la...Hotspot will be your best friend! Until Elon comes through for us!
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:33 PM   #12
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Uncle Bob is right. Another problem not mentioned trees and aluminum trailer do a great job of blocking WIFI signals greatly reducing the short distances WIFI will travel successfully.

Also some campgrounds use high powered WIFI equipment which makes it so you get a good signal but your much weaker signal can't make it back.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
Good reliable campground wi-fi?
That's a mythical beast.
It may be reliable in the office, but your site is 400' away and it's not.
Everyone will be on it and it will be the speed of dial-up.
You'll have the password and it won't accept it.

Most people who rely on internet have unlimited data plans for hotspots or routers with external antennas.

The people in the know are the "Mobile Internet Resource Center", a nice couple who split their time between a boat and an RV.
https://www.rvmobileinternet.com
Excellent tip. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:06 PM   #14
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Six years ago we took a late season trip to the Gaspe Peninsula. The campgrounds were practically empty. The wifi was screaming fast! Way faster than empty U.S. campgrounds we've stayed at. Everyone was also using chip credit cards- way before the US used them. Now that I think of it even in full campgrounds we've stayed in in Canada the wifi has been pretty good. Go north- if they let you in.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catesword View Post
Hi,
We are just starting out living and working from our Airstream. We've installed a Wifi Ranger and are getting the Aspen router set up this week. I've got Verizon and ATT hotspots so I've covered most of the bases, I think.

However, the work I do requires long periods of continuous data on








use from my laptop while I'm doing my training classes. I've found that a nice WiFi connection is the cheapest/best option for me. Otherwise I use up my hotspots pretty quickly.

My question is, how do I find campgrounds with good WiFi? I know everyone says they have WiFi but how can I confirm that I'm going to be able to work there using it? Are there any sites or apps that people use to rate it?

I'm also concerned that "good" WiFi has a different meaning for everyone and I'm not even sure how to define it for myself.

I hope this all makes sense. Thank you for your input.

Cate
2001 31' Excella
Full time as of 8/30/20

Go to the local library
Good WiFi and best local information source
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:14 PM   #16
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I was wondering this too since I work remotely sometimes. It's a shame there's no availability at campgrounds, but I can kind of see why. It would be another cost of doing business and probably be a pretty pricey endeavor in a lot of areas that are more remote.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:25 PM   #17
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reliable internet , high speed and good camp site are all orthogonal questions.

pick the one you want and ignore the other two
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:14 AM   #18
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Hi

So, how many "devices" might the neighbors have?

4 adults, 8 kids over on that site. (which is not unusual). If they each have a computer, a tablet, and a phone, that's 36 devices.

They also seem to have a couple of cameras watching their "stuff" ... hmmm ... looks like at least 5 ...

They like music ( I could actually figure that out from 500' away ...). There's at least six WiFi speakers.

Go over for a chat, they also like their talking helpers. I'd guess they have six of them. Maybe more out of sight from the main part of the 5th wheel.

They also like TV and have three smart versions, each with a Roku and a fire TV gizmo. That adds 9 devices. The WiFi remotes on two of them also adds to the mix.

So that's another 28 devices on top of the 36 for a total of 64 devices over at that site over there. (yes, I may have lost count along the way )

But ... you say, they *can't be using them all at once !! Well, as long as they are powered up enough to have a signal ( = they can be in standby) the WiFi system has to deal with them. Each time there is a "from the hub" message, all of the devices need to hear it. SSID's are one such message, there may well be more.

How much of an effect does hanging 64 "zombie" devices on a WiFi have? Empirical evidence suggests that it takes a 140 Mb/s setup down to about 2 Mb/s if it's a single WiFi on a single 2.4 GHz channel. It's not moving a lot of data, it's all from the way WiFi does a single transmission. It slows down to the speed of the worst device on the list ....

================

Yes, the stuff above is contrived. It *is* based on visiting with a lot of folks at various campgrounds over the years.

The "device impact" stuff is something I can demonstrate pretty quickly here at home. It's also the reason they now have a thing called WiFi-6 coming out. Maybe in 10 years, that will make a difference .... For now, WiFi serving a lot of devices is a mess.

==========

Indeed, there is a whole other side to this in terms of how the WiFi was installed at the campground. If it went in more than 10 years ago, it probably should be scrapped. If it went in 5 years ago, it probably needs at least a few tweaks.

A lot of what goes in was done as a compromise right from the start. Low to the ground antennas spaced wide apart is *not* the answer. Big tall poles cost money (lots of it) and look ugly. Do you want an ugly campground??

Fun !!!

Bob
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Old 12-03-2020, 10:22 AM   #19
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As I was browsing today, I saw a topic on the RV Life ads below.
It was "Nomad Wi-Fi"
https://rvlife.com/nomad-internet/
They provide a device and unlimited data for either $99 or $129 per month. They deal with all the carriers and supply 4G.

You might also check out "Starlink" which is Elon Musk's plan for 4000 satellites. (Nobody accuses him of thinking small) It's beta testing and it's $99/mo currently. I watched a YouTube video on a guy in Idaho installing it on his cabin. It has a small dish, and after it's installed, it moves to find the satellites. He had pretty good speed as I recall. It will get better as more satellites are launched.
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Old 12-03-2020, 10:51 AM   #20
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From what I have read about it, initial service will only be within a stated distance from a registered address, intended for stationary service, not mobile. No indication of when mobile service is planned.
Larry
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