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> Third Party Wi-fi Providers
Texasrvers
post Sep 27 2009, 11:59 AM
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In other threads on this forum I have said that I did not like to use third party or outside vendors to receive Wi-Fi at RV parks. I have always felt they were difficult to use (couldn't get signed up or logged on), were unreliable (weak signal, frequent drops, slow), did not provide good technical service if (when) something went wrong, and were excessively expensive. I much preferred the park to have their own "free" system. (I know they still get their service from an outside provider, but I would not be dealing directly with that provider to set up my service.)

Recently, though, we stayed at a park with an outside wireless provider called thewirelessweb.com which provided excellent service. (And I am in no way affiliated with them.) It was very easy to get started and to buy more time when needed. You could purchase 24 hours at a time, and I think they had a discount for a weekly service, but I'm not sure. The signal was strong and fast, and since we had no problems whatsoever I did not get to experience their technical service--but that's a good thing. They were still a bit on the expensive side, but not outrageous, and we think the the good service was worth the cost. I don't know if the park or the provider sets the fees so it is possible they are either more or less expensive other places.

I know there are still a lot of variables that may have luckily come together to provide our good service this time, but if all third party Wi-Fi providers were this good all the time it would solve a lot of the service problems that we RVers have.
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pianotuna
post Sep 27 2009, 02:27 PM
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Hi Texasrvers,

The rates are listed here.

The Wireless Web

Coverage is quite limited unfortunately.

Coverage



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Don
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RV Camper
post Sep 28 2009, 05:37 PM
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There is a lot involved in good wireless communication. Wifi can be blocked by things like trees, very large RVs, weather and a lot of other issues. To give really good coverage in an RV park that has large trees requires a lot of well located equipment. A park that has young trees may have excellent coverage until the trees grow, then it could go south.

It really is a difficult issue for a park or a service. And it can be expensive to supply coverage which is good everywhere in the park, in all seasons. And it may be that you had great service, while some parts of the park did not.


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URL: www.adventure.1tree.net
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Texasrvers
post Sep 28 2009, 08:17 PM
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QUOTE(Kirk @ Sep 28 2009, 06:37 PM) *

it may be that you had great service, while some parts of the park did not.


That is one of the variables that I had in mind--we were parked in the right place. Other things that could have contributed to our good service are: We were in a rather treeless area, and there were no large high profile RV's around us. The park was almost empty so that probably made it easier to get on-line. The Wi-Fi gods were just smiling for a change.
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Florida Native
post Sep 29 2009, 04:08 PM
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As I have said many times, a good WiFi antenna is really a good investment if you camp a lot and use the web alot.


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Lindsay Richards
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Jerry S
post Sep 29 2009, 11:08 PM
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Hi TX,

I'm guessing you are refering to the service at Paragon. I have used that service every time I have stayed there. I figured out last year that I have stayed there at least 200 days in the past 13-14 years on my bi-annual May and October trips south. In all that time, I've had only a handful of problems with that service. To be honest, a couple of those were my fault. I have been there when the park was full and the service was still good. Since I usually stay in the first few rows, I can't say whether or not the coverage is good in the back of the park.
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Texasrvers
post Sep 30 2009, 09:51 AM
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Hi Jerry,

Haven't heard from you in a while. Actually we almost always stay in the back of the park and that's where we got good service this time. I hate the high fee, but I do enjoy the good service. As you know this is not our first time there, but it has been over a year and a half since our last stay. I don't recall them having the outside vendor in the past. Maybe we just didn't sign up because, as I said, we generally do no like them, but I was impressed this time. Wish everywhere we stayed was that good.

TX
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Parkview
post Oct 14 2009, 02:19 PM
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smile.gif

Hi Tex, et al,

I have not weighed in on the wifi issues lately because this subject has been so cussed and discussed over the last few years that there is little to be said or refuted that hasn’t already been said a number of times. However, the issue of third party providers keeps popping up along with the question of which of them are “good” or “bad”. As a park which has been involved in trying to establish quality wifi service since we opened our park in 2001, we have dealt with three different companies in an attempt to “perfect” the service.

We were disappointed with the results from the first two companies, but I would still not refer to them as bad companies; they spent many hours on site surveys and experimentation on different types of equipment (satellite dishes, radio antennas, repeaters, routers, etc.). The issues were many, topography of the park, bandwidth overuse with the satellite companies, trees, and the occupancy level of the park itself. Both of the companies worked very hard and diligently, but finally gave up. The second company was getting close to the quality of service that we and our customers desired, but ran short of capital and sold out to our current provider.

We finally have a system in place that I am very pleased with as are our customers. Two things happened in addition to the change of ownership of the provider; first, the new company provided us with new site surveys and recommended additional equipment, which I purchased upon their advice; and second, our rural telephone coop finally brought DSL service into our park enabling us to abandon the disappointing satellite service. We currently have three separate directional radio antennas and two omnidirectional repeaters at strategic locations within the park. I have spent over $14,000 dollars in equipment and installation alone over the years to finally get to a system we are proud of.

In addition to the three companies I have dealt with directly, I spoken and negotiated with a number of others over the years, and many of them provide very similar services with slight variations in business models. This finally leads to my main point – any wifi service provided through a third party is only as good as the signal coming into the park and the equipment that the park us willing to purchase in order to feed that signal out to all areas of the park. Incoming satellite service will never equal the speed of incoming DSL service and will be even more disappointing unless the park is willing to purchase upgraded bandwidth packages from the satellite companies, and the additional bandwidth packages are not cheap. Even with DSL, there are different bandwidth and speed packages available for different prices. In other words, you may receive excellent service from Provider A at one park and mediocre to poor service from that same provider at another park. This explains why some comments on this forum will praise certain third party providers while others express disappointment with the same companies.

For us, the advantages of the third party provider are numerous. They provide our customers with real 24/7 tech support and help them with logon problems at any time of the day or night – these logon problems are very often simply a matter of incorrect settings on the customer’s computer, not a problem with our wifi system. Also, they remotely and continuously monitor our system and e-mail us immediately if there is a problem with an antenna, a repeater, or a router at our site. We can usually correct these problems with a reboot, but it is great to receive the timely notification of the problem and the steps we need to take to correct the problem.

We have a rustic campground bordering us on one side, another RV park bordering us on the other side and the Garner State Park, the busiest in Texas, directly across the river from us. A recent review for Garner State Park on this site rated the State Park highly in part because “they even had wifi”. The State Park does not have a wifi system but our system does now reach into some areas of the State park as well as the camps bordering us.

In summary, I believe very strongly in the value and service provided by some third party wifi providers. They are much more to us than a simple billing mechanism. I know that our system would not be what it is without them. I am sorry that this post got so lengthy, but I hope it sheds a little light on third party providers from a park owner.

Doug
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Texasrvers
post Oct 14 2009, 02:30 PM
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Parkview, As usual you have provided a good insight into what it takes to provide a good Wi-Fi system. Thanks for the input.
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Florida Native
post Oct 14 2009, 02:37 PM
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Nice post Parkview. One question. When the folks at the state park are using your service, they have to pay directly to the third party online which I assume you get a cut, but doesn't this slow the service on your park' customers? It seems like that might be a problem for your customers.


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Parkview
post Oct 14 2009, 05:14 PM
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Hi Lindsay,

You would be correct, except that I have purchased the upgraded additional bandwidth package from our local telephone coop. In fact, I have purchased two of those packages on different phone lines, one for our 6-computer inter office local network and one for the wifi system. This keeps our office work from slowing down our wifi users and vice versa. We have had no problems, but if we run into slowdown problems in the park we will just purchase another package on another phone line to run through the park.

You are also correct that we receive a cut from users in the State Park and the neighboring camps. That is because we chose to purchase all of the equipment, installation and maintence outright. Our provider has 2 plans - one whereby they pay for all equipment, installation and maintenance and they keep 100% of the revenue; and the other whereby we pay for all equipment, installation and maintenance in exchange for 30% of the revenue generated. In both cases, we must pay for the incoming bandwidth, whether by satellite or DSL. After 9 years, for the last 3 quarters we have finally reached the point where our revenue share has exceeded what we pay for the DSL - a positive cash flow at last.

I will not live long enough to recover what I have spent on equipment, installation and maintenace over the last nine years, but that is not our goal. The goal is to furnish our customers a wifi system that they are happy with. It is not free, but there is no such thing as free wifi in spite of what some may claim.

Thanks again,
Doug
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John Blue
post Oct 14 2009, 08:48 PM
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Doug,

Great information on the on going Wi-Fi problems. It is good to know park owners take pride in keeping everything working as best that they can. I wish more park owners would read this and take note. By the time all the problems are worked out we will be on the next generate of equipment and everyone can start over.


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John
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Florida Native
post Oct 15 2009, 11:42 AM
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QUOTE
The goal is to furnish our customers a wifi system that they are happy with. It is not free, but there is no such thing as free wifi in spite of what some may claim.


I have to believe that it has increased your business and has made you money in that respect as well as being a stong factor in your rate decisions. Unfortunately, some of these positive things could carry over to your competator, the state park, which could have the affect of hurting your business. (I assume they are much cheaper than you.) When we had our lodging facaulity, we had some folks at a deli "poaching" our signal and I put in a password. The owner actully came and asked me for the password. In our camping lifestyle, I have "poach signals when I can and feel that people always have the options of using a password and don't feel bad about it. If I were you, would direct your signal where the state park couldn't get your signal.


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RV Camper
post Oct 15 2009, 03:07 PM
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Doug,

As a retired tech who worked with data signals, I am really glad to see your post. I got ripped big time on this forum some time back for supporting RV park owners who charge guests for use of their Wifi. I have long held that no RV park can give free wifi, but rather those who claim to do so actually build that into their operating costs/prices. After all, very few businesses are intended to be charities!

As one who used a portable satellite dish for internet for five years, I can also confirm much of what you said about the satellite services, but it is still the only choice for really remote areas. They are subject to weather conditions both in your area and also in the location of the up-link from the provider. They are also subject to volume of traffic effects and if not limited in allowed volume they become quite expensive. The only true advantage to their service is their availability anywhere.

I have now dropped my dish service and gone to cellular which is getting to where the coverage is nearing universal, if the owner has the right equipment. I read that such services are starting to provide service to commercial wifi installations, but have yet to see one.

I have always had my internet through a wireless router, which is a low power wifi station but I also keep and encrypted signal to control who is using it, partly for my protection and partly to avoid competing with a park's provider where I may stay. As one who was once in business, I will not provide free a service that my host depends upon for his livelihood. And I still prefer to stay in parks such as yours, where the users of the wifi also pay for it. I used to pay, rather than put up my dish when in a park for only one night, and have never objected to doing so.

It sounds as though you not only have a good provider, but also the provider has some well qualified, skilled techs to do the work. Great post!


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Good travelin !..............Kirk
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URL: www.adventure.1tree.net
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summerland
post Oct 15 2009, 03:35 PM
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QUOTE
I have long held that no RV park can give free wifi, but rather those who claim to do so actually build that into their operating costs/prices.
No sir. The park I am at has not changed their rates since installing free wifi throuhout the park. If you don't charge, they don't come back complaining if it's a bad connection on a given day. ( well, actually they DO camplain; but no one listens) wink.gif
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