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Big Ben
Got back To Florida after a great summer of ATVing in Utah. We got back to Upriver RV Resort in N. Ft. Myers, where we have spent the last 2 winters. This will be our last. Understandd this is not a inexpensive place to stay even by SW Florida standards, almost a $1,000 amonth plus utilities.
This year they changed wifi companies from Peristar to Omni WiFi. A 30% increase in rates.
Omni Wifi charges $34.95 amonth, or $10 aday. That is the highest rate I have seen around the country.
We stayed at about 20 different parks this past summer. Most had pretty good wifi and we only paid at no more than 5 of them.
Any of you experince a higher rate than $34.95 a month??????
Lindsay Richards
I am a native of Fort Myers and hate to see things get that expensive there. I used to camp in that area as a boy scout. It was extremely wild in those days. My brother has a 5th wheel at Cool Waters in Punta Gorda not too far from there and WiFi is $30 per month. Rest assured that the owner of the park is going to be making a “cut” on fees charged by the 3rd party provider. How much I don’t know, but I suspect that others on the board here can give you a good idea. Seems like a very bad business practice to make your customer mad for just a share of 3% of the costs. There is a lot of speculation now in Florida about snowbirds not returning in normal numbers due to fuel and economy issues. Your only choice is to pay the monthly and state your objections to management. I suspect that SW Florida is now overbuilt in the RV park area. Have a few sites empty will cost more than the whole WiFi system will net. From what I see, the definite trend is toward park owned WiFi and no additional fee charged (cost is wrapped into normal site fees). This requires an investment on the park’s owner. You can I am sure find free WiFi in the area if you need limited usage. It is very nice to have it in the coach though.
Parkview
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I'm sorry, but 34.95 a month is not $10 a day; but just over $1 dollar per day, hardly expensive.
Lindsay Richards
QUOTE
I'm sorry, but 34.95 a month is not $10 a day; but just over $1 dollar per day, hardly expensive.



I believe he said it was $10 per day or $34.95/month, which is similar to how some other parks do it. Reduces the rate for the long term people and sticks it to the overnighters. My brothers Condo park does $3.50 day or $30 pr month. They say that the $30/month civers the acuall costs of the service which is a third party provider with the park owning the hardware. The owners are the site owners and they are a pretty thrifty bunch and I kind of belive their figures. They spilt the fees somehow with the 3 rd party provider.
Parkview
wink.gif

Upon rereading the original post, I think you are right Lindsay. My apologies to you Big Ben.

Lindsay, at our park we also use a third party provider with a rate structure similar to the one you described. The longer the plan one signs up for the cheaper the rate. They have a 1 day rate, 3 day, 1 week, 1 month, and 6 month plans. The advantage to me as a park owner in using such a third party provider is that I am not knowledgeable in all of the technical aspects of designing, maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing the hardware and software involved in operating such systems. The 3rd party provides 24 hour technical support to us and our customers, and are able to diagnose and repair problems with our system remotely or tell us what to do such as rebooting a router, repeater, etc.

We recently switched our system from a satellite based system to a DSL signal provided by our local phone cooperative, and the system is finally working great after 7 years of tinkering and dealing with at least 5 different companies. The DSL signal was not available here in the past. I am very pleased at last with the quality of our wifi system, and our customers seem to agree. For me to try to provide a "free" wifi system, I would have to take over all of the diagnostics, maintenance and 24 hour troubleshooting functions now provided by the 3rd party. If I did this, I know the quality and consistency of our service would suffer, and everyone knows it really still would not be "free".

Thanks - Doug

Lindsay Richards
I am sure that many readers here would like the answers to several personal questions here and I would probably not answer them if I was in your place, but I will ask anyway. What is the cost of the 3rd party system to you and what percentage do you get of the revenue? You might want to answer as not your own system, but as you understand a typical park to be. I’d also be interested to know what kind of discount fee the credit card company is charging for all of these low dollar average ticket sales. With the 3rd party, do you have to increase or reduce the cost of a site.
Parkview
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Hello Lindsay,

I do not mind at all discussing these issues or answering questions as they pertain to my business. I have discussed some of these things on previous posts and have read a lot of opinion about these issues on other posts.

We built our park from scratch and opened March 1, 2001. At that time wifi in RV Parks did not exist. Within 2 years, the burgeoning wifi business came on the scene, and through our State Association, we received a number of presentations from different companies giving pitches for their wifi solutions. We chose one that seemed to us to offer the best solution for our location in the boondocks where we had no cable TV and the rural phone cooperative did not yet offer DSL. This left us no choice other than satellite for a “high speed” internet connection. Until then we were on dial-up. That original contract (other such 3rd party providers offer similar arrangements) gave us two basic options: (1) They supply all equipment, installation, site survey work, and system maintenance at no cost to us and they keep 100% of all revenue generated; or (2) We purchase or lease from them all equipment, pay for site survey work and maintenance and we get 30% of the revenue generated. Under either plan, we would also have to pay for the satellite signal, which initially cost $120/mo. There is no difference in billings to the customer under either option.

We chose option 2, and after 2 years of tinkering, cussing and discussing, we had a wifi system that worked good sometimes, fair to bad about half of the time, and not at all sometimes. This initial company finally gave up after two years saying that they did not have satisfactory solutions for our problems, which they attributed to incompatibility between the satellite system and modems and the available wifi broadcast systems for RV parks. That first company gave up and sold all of their RV park wifi contracts to another company and now concentrates on their original business of installing wifi systems in buildings where satellite signals and broadcast distance, topography, and varying numbers of users are not issues.

The next company came in promising that they could solve all of our problems, and all we would have to do is purchase a different satellite dish and router and install a repeater to cover the far reaches of the park. We also purchased additional bandwidth from Hughes satellite, which raised our ongoing monthly satellite cost to $200/mo. This proved to work better, but still not satisfactory to us or our customers. We still had issues with inconsistent signal strength, signal availability and speed, especially when the park was crowded. It seems that wifi, being a radio signal, does not pass through large RVs very well. Between these first two companies and period of 4 years we spent about $8,000 in equipment and labor plus the monthly bandwidth charges for the satellite signal.

About 2 years ago, company number 2 sold their business to company number 3 who told us that they could solve our problems, and they seem to have finally done it. It cost me an additional $4,200 in site survey work, an additional antenna and three more repeaters. We have since been connected to DSL by our phone company, and everything seems to be working great. This company provides us tip sheets to hand out to our customers and provides us and our customers a 24 hour help line and remote diagnostics for our system if we have system problems. Our customers tell us that the help line people are professional, knowledgeable and courteous. We receive a lot more positive comments about how well the system works than we do complaints about paying for it.

The addition of wifi has had no impact on our rates. Our rates are set according to seasonal supply, demand, and local competition. No one has the ability to charge more than the market will pay. If enough customers are not willing to pay the rate that we need to justify our costs and labor, then our only option is to get out of the business. To stay in business we must supply products and/or services that our customers want and are willing to pay for and do so with a friendly helpful attitude.

As far as credit card charges, they generally run about 1 to 3 percent of the charge plus a small transaction fee in the 25 to 50 cent range.

Again, thanks for letting me give my 2 cents worth. Doug

Lindsay Richards
I had thought the credit card discount fee would be higher than that with a small average ticket. Sounds like you have been through the mill and spend a whole bundle of money and it sounds like you have gotten no return except in increased business. I have heard you say in other threads that you had a high repeat business and that may be partially due to the WiFi service, but I am sure that other factors also place a huge role. I have been hearing for years about the new technology called WiMax that has a 30 mile radius and might be on every Wal-Mart. About 90% of the US population lives within 30 miles of a Wal-Mart I have read. I was at a fairly remote park in the northern CA redwood forest and they had several microwave dishes staged around in the mountains getting their signal about 25 miles to the campground. They were setting it up when we were there and he let me try it out as a trial. They were going to charge $7/day, but after taking to the installer, it seemed cheap. Do you say WiFi available on your ads and on your website? That seems to be the standard for pay WiFI from what I have seen. Glad you shared your info, it was very interesting and will change my outlook on WiFI.

Parkview
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Thanks again Lindsay,

For everyone out there, I am in the RV Park business, not the wifi business. My aim is not to make money off of WIFI, but to make money from the RV Park. We also have a very complete convenience store with a large stock of RV supplies and propane. Our margins for all of these extras are less than most people expect when they arrrive. I have heard more than once that our charges for RV supplies are no more than Walmart's. My reply to them and our own employees is that we should try never to forget what our core business is, AN RV PARK. Everything else is a tangential product or service designed to bring in more RVers or to satisfy the RVers that are already here, not to make substantial additional revenue on those items.

As for the credit card fees, the fees assesssed by credit card processing companies have 2 components: (1) a set percentage of the sale which varies according to how much information is supplied (i.e. zip code, address, security code from back of card, etc.) - this percentage does not vary according to the amount of the sale; and (2) a set transaction fee generally between 25 and 50 cents per transaction. It is the transaction fee which protects the CC processors in small sales. For a $2.00 sale, a 50 cent transaction fee amounts to 25% of the sale, much higher than the 1 to 3 % percentage charge would be. Likewise on higher dollar sales, the percentage charge surpasses the fixed transaction fee amount to the point that the transactiopn fee becomes negligible on higher sales.

Yes, our ads and website all state the availability of high speed wireless internet, as well as our convenience store, and propane. But nowhere is it implied that any of these items are free.

I do not mind discussing these issues from my point of view, but I still try not to blatantly advertise in these posts, which at least one person has accused me of doing. I am simply trying to shed some light and notice recently that some other park owners doing the same. I enjoy these discussions and think they are good for all of us. We need to know what our customers think, and our customers need to hear that we are not all greedy crooks and ripoff artists.

Thanks again for letting me opine! Doug

westernrvparkowner
I have a question I hope someone can answer. Why are so many people upset that some campgrounds do make money on WiFi or Firewood, or their giftshop etc. Where is it written they should only make profit on the RV site rental and then give everything else away for free or at cost? Surely you don't expect the local bowling alley to only make money off lane rental and not the snack bar or shoe rental or ball sales etc. A restaurant is not expected to give the drinks at the bar away for free. Gas stations have convenience shops attached and both the fuel and the items in the store have profit built into the prices. Why should an RV park be any different? I find it very interesting that many posters find it criminal that a campground would get a cut of any WiFi revenue or that maybe they have worked a deal with a local company to wash rigs for a fee where the company has paid a fee to the RV park for those rights. It happens in most every other industry and no one seems to object.
DXSMac
This is just my observation. A long time ago, I worked for a department store. I got told that..... since the department store was not a "shipping" company, they technically weren't supposed to "make money" on "shipping fees." However, if it was renamed to "shipping AND HANDLING..." then it wasn't "unethical." (I'm not sure about the validity of the statement, it was the 70's, I was young and niaive....)

My thinking goes along those lines..... However, I don't have an issue with RV parks making money on firewood or their gift shop. I just don't like to pay outrageous prices for WiFi. I will pay up to $2 a day and only if it's from the park and not a "third party." I will not pay $7.95 a day or even $4.95 a day! And if it's from a "third party" and not directly from the park, no freaking way! ("third party" to me equals "fly by night.")

JJ

QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Nov 18 2008, 10:06 PM) *

I have a question I hope someone can answer. Why are so many people upset that some campgrounds do make money on WiFi or Firewood, or their giftshop etc. Where is it written they should only make profit on the RV site rental and then give everything else away for free or at cost? Surely you don't expect the local bowling alley to only make money off lane rental and not the snack bar or shoe rental or ball sales etc. A restaurant is not expected to give the drinks at the bar away for free. Gas stations have convenience shops attached and both the fuel and the items in the store have profit built into the prices. Why should an RV park be any different? I find it very interesting that many posters find it criminal that a campground would get a cut of any WiFi revenue or that maybe they have worked a deal with a local company to wash rigs for a fee where the company has paid a fee to the RV park for those rights. It happens in most every other industry and no one seems to object.

weighit
Seems to me that a lot of folks have no clue what it takes to make a profit in a small business. Or for that matter, what it costs to own a small business. There are so many unseen expenses in a campground that anything that makes a few dollars helps the bottom line. As far as I can tell, campgrounds as a whole, are not making the owners rich.
pianotuna
Hi Westernrvparkowner,

In regards to wifi, I think the upset comes from folks who have a wifi router at home. For them the router is a "one time cost". They don't factor in any bandwidth or maintenance charges. If the router dies--they wander over to Walmart and buy a new one for under $100.00.

At the same time, some third party wifi providers charge very high fees for seemingly very brief use of their bandwidth. I refuse to pay for such systems.

We as RV owners have no clear idea of the costs of running a campground. If an RV park fails to charge enough for providing services then soon it will no longer exist.

I did create a post where I invited campground owners to compare the price of electricity and other amenities to their costs for providing wifi. That post was glaring to me in that not one person offered a response.

I still believe that the costs of providing wifi are towards the low end rather than the high end for park owners--compared to such things as water and water purification, or gravel for roads, or even maintenance for bathing and toilet facilities.

As to other items--folks don't want to buy "at the company store" where prices are perceived to be inflated. They will drive for miles to save a dime. These same folks will be the first to whine when the camp store happens to run out of bacon, eggs or milk--all perishable items that I'm sure are hard for low volume stores to offer.

That being said--I'm an RV person who prefers minimalist campgrounds. I prefer municipal or community campgrounds that run on the honor system.

In six years of part time RVing covering 80,000 miles I've used pools at campgrounds twice, though many of the commercial campgrounds I've stayed at provided one for their guests free of any charge. I didn't loose a moment's sleep over the fact that I was paying a hidden fee for those pool facilities--nor for the fact that the pools are sometimes closed for the fall--with no reduction in campground fees.

In short folks don't want to be "nickle and dimed" to death. I prefer to pay a flat rate fee with no "extras". The one exception to that is showers in areas where water is scarce. Then I believe it is appropriate to have timed showers which are paid for buy the user.

QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Nov 19 2008, 12:06 AM) *

I have a question I hope someone can answer. Why are so many people upset that some campgrounds do make money on WiFi or Firewood, or their giftshop etc. Where is it written they should only make profit on the RV site rental and then give everything else away for free or at cost? Surely you don't expect the local bowling alley to only make money off lane rental and not the snack bar or shoe rental or ball sales etc. A restaurant is not expected to give the drinks at the bar away for free. Gas stations have convenience shops attached and both the fuel and the items in the store have profit built into the prices. Why should an RV park be any different? I find it very interesting that many posters find it criminal that a campground would get a cut of any WiFi revenue or that maybe they have worked a deal with a local company to wash rigs for a fee where the company has paid a fee to the RV park for those rights. It happens in most every other industry and no one seems to object.

westernrvparkowner
QUOTE(pianotuna @ Nov 19 2008, 02:54 AM) *

Hi Westernrvparkowner,

In regards to wifi, I think the upset comes from folks who have a wifi router at home. For them the router is a "one time cost". They don't factor in any bandwidth or maintenance charges. If the router dies--they wander over to Walmart and buy a new one for under $100.00.

At the same time, some third party wifi providers charge very high fees for seemingly very brief use of their bandwidth. I refuse to pay for such systems.

We as RV owners have no clear idea of the costs of running a campground. If an RV park fails to charge enough for providing services then soon it will no longer exist.

I did create a post where I invited campground owners to compare the price of electricity and other amenities to their costs for providing wifi. That post was glaring to me in that not one person offered a response.

I still believe that the costs of providing wifi are towards the low end rather than the high end for park owners--compared to such things as water and water purification, or gravel for roads, or even maintenance for bathing and toilet facilities.

As to other items--folks don't want to buy "at the company store" where prices are perceived to be inflated. They will drive for miles to save a dime. These same folks will be the first to whine when the camp store happens to run out of bacon, eggs or milk--all perishable items that I'm sure are hard for low volume stores to offer.

That being said--I'm an RV person who prefers minimalist campgrounds. I prefer municipal or community campgrounds that run on the honor system.

In six years of part time RVing covering 80,000 miles I've used pools at campgrounds twice, though many of the commercial campgrounds I've stayed at provided one for their guests free of any charge. I didn't loose a moment's sleep over the fact that I was paying a hidden fee for those pool facilities--nor for the fact that the pools are sometimes closed for the fall--with no reduction in campground fees.

In short folks don't want to be "nickle and dimed" to death. I prefer to pay a flat rate fee with no "extras". The one exception to that is showers in areas where water is scarce. Then I believe it is appropriate to have timed showers which are paid for buy the user.

Truth be told, Wifi costs me more than my water, my sewage, my waste disposal, cable TV etc. Only electricity costs more. The reasons? Wifi equipment has a very short life expectancy and the monthly charges for access, passwords and tech support. I installed a new system 5 years ago and have had to upgrade the router, the access point antenna and pay several thousand dollars in consulting fees to make it all work. My monthly Wifi charges are over $250.00 per month and runs 12 months even though I am only open 6. That $3000.00 is more than dust control for the entire campground (mag chloride applied twice a year) My water bills last year were $5800.00 and I spent $1700.00 on new Wifi equipment and installation and $1400.00 on professional tech support, thats $6100.00 for wifi. My wifi costs would allow me to regravel all my roads (if I needed to, because gravel has a several year life span) My sewage bill is 40% of water so it is less than Wifi. The only things more expensive than Wifi are property taxes, interest, payroll, office expenses ( including software, accounting and Credit card fees), landscaping (I spend a lot on trees, flowers and sod, but much of that is a personal choice, not necessary to operate the campground.) electricity, loan amortization repairs and maintenance, and depreciation. And all this doesn't include my biggest expense with Wifi which is the hundreds of hours we spend on customer technical assistance. I am not complaining about what it costs to run a campground, but to think that Wifi is a small item is just plain incorrect. By the way, I include Wifi in my site price, there is no extra charge and I do not use a "3rd party provider" other than to provide my with individual passwords to keep the system as secure and clean as possible.
Lindsay Richards
Actually Western Park Owner, I think you have done your cause a lot of good, by informing us of the costs. I was very surprised and I think your case may be more due to your location. I have talked to so many park people about WiFi and have gotten so many different answers, I think it varies. I posted once about the park in NE where we got 4 bars and I was complimenting the owner on it an why we had stayed at his park rather than the other PA in the area and he showed me his system of hanging a router in the window and saying his entire cost was $29.95/ month. Worked for him, and he didn’t have enough usage to alert his provider about the bandwidth we were using. Like I have said before, I suspect this whole WiFi thing to be a thing of the past soon and the next technology (whatever that is going to be) will replace it. Getting a powered antenna will be the smartest thing an RV’er who likes internet service can do.
HappiestCamper
The point of westernowner is this - he has to support the wifi because each laptop is "unique". His support for water, electricity, etc. is minimal, because the "connections" to these services is standard (imagine if a park had to contend with different water hose threads, some of which the customer had "tweaked" or not maintained). The owner who hung the router in the window may not provide good support for "unique" "connections", and you were fortunate enough to have (and support) your "unique" (and obviously superior) "connection". If everybody had your setup (and knowledge), most parks could get away with the router in the window.

I think if I owned a park I would run Cat 5 to each site. "Laptop not working? Bring it to the office and we'll troubleshoot it here. If we can get it working at this jack, it will work back at your site. No RJ-45 jack on your laptop? You can rent a USB one from us."
westernrvparkowner
Lindsay, thanks for your imput. The guy with the 29.95 monthly service and the router hanging out of his office window probably is not supporting nearly 100 sites (and users) spread over several acres with trees and 40 foot changes in elevation. He may also have options for broadband that are not available to me. Different locations have different cost hurdles to overcome. I used to live in North Texas. I remember clearly spending $5000.00 to purchase boulders to landscape my home's pool area. Now, I spend $1000s of dollars to remove granite boulders every time I need to trench or relocate a site. It seems I am always on the wrong side of the rock and a hard place.

Happiestcamper, the running of cat 5 cables is really not an option. First, the transmission length of a non-amplied signal over cat 5 is limited to 500 feet. I couldn't cover the campground without mulitiple hard access points which would require extensive modifications. Secondly, as I briefly touched on earlier, trenching in my area is an EXTREMELY costly undertaking. You cannot use a ditch witch or a shovel, excavators are required and they make a mess of everything. All sites would need to be releveled, regraveled, resodded etc after any trenching job. I would estimate the entire undertaking would cost in excess of $20,000 and take my campground down for at least a month. Couldn't deliver it overhead and code requires all wiring to be at least 18 inches deep. Pretty stiff requirements when you live on a granite mountain. Then how long would that be a usable standard? Try finding a floppy disk drive in a computer now. Since technology changes so fast, a major infastructure investment I believe would be a foolish undertaking.
Lindsay Richards
Well, I did it today. i bought a new cell phone at a greatly reduced price as my 2 years was up. It has internet capability and I can get in and check my email as well as doing banking and that sort of thing. Has a program for $15 a month that allows unlimited web time (I am on a 30 day free trial), but the screen is really small and it is hard to do. It has a keyboard. with this, I will be able to do my email checking and check for deposits and stiff and this will make the need for WiFi not nearly as important.
westernrvparkowner
QUOTE(Lindsay Richards @ Dec 18 2008, 10:00 PM) *

Well, I did it today. i bought a new cell phone at a greatly reduced price as my 2 years was up. It has internet capability and I can get in and check my email as well as doing banking and that sort of thing. Has a program for $15 a month that allows unlimited web time (I am on a 30 day free trial), but the screen is really small and it is hard to do. It has a keyboard. with this, I will be able to do my email checking and check for deposits and stiff and this will make the need for WiFi not nearly as important.

If your eyes aren't bad and your thumbs not nimble, they will be soon. Good Luck
DXSMac
QUOTE(Lindsay Richards @ Dec 18 2008, 07:00 PM) *

I will be able to do my email checking and check for deposits and stiff and this will make the need for WiFi not nearly as important.



QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Dec 18 2008, 09:08 PM) *

If your eyes aren't bad and your thumbs not nimble, they will be soon. Good Luck


Looks like it's already started. Lindsay usually posts with correct spelling and good grammar, but on the recent post, I was wondering what "deposits and STIFF" was..... I'm wondering how one would check for STIFF online...... ohmy.gif laugh.gif ohmy.gif laugh.gif

JJ


Lindsay Richards
Strange you should mention that. I usually run my post through my Microsoft Works program for spell checking. My spelling is OK, but my typing is horrible. We the other day as I was fooling around on my program, I accidentally removed all my icons and can’t gt them back. I can not tell my word processor to check the spelling. I need to reinstall my program, but can’t. I now found out a long way to do it by each word, but it is cumbersome. You will note that the I in stiff and the U in stuff are right next to each other on the keyboard. Anyway, this phone is really slick and I can actually surf the web. Screen is real small, and I will still be using WiFI for most everything, but deposits and stUff.
Pinegrove1
Hello, I am a campground owner as of May 2005. We purchased a real fixer-upper. We renovated, landscaped, built and cleaned up. Last year was a year where we can really see repeat business and we always have positive comments. My husband and I work our behinds off, and to know our efforts are appreciated makes it all worth it. Are we rich? No! As a matter of fact we have sunk our savings into this place. Are we happy? Yes! Are we overworked? Yes, most of the time!!
Owning a campground for us is a lifestyle. We are not huge, only 40 sites. We could squeeze in 40 more if we wanted to, but that would take away from the beauty of this place. Large treed sites and privacy. I would also like to mention that yes, campgrounds have alot of costs, especially when you want to keep improving. We provide WIFI for free, but yes we charge for our firewood. There is alot of work involved in retrieving the wood, cutting and splitting it. we are rural, so we are also responsible for our own water and sewer. Our taxes more then doubled last year, because of the jump in the market. To attract guests, you also need to advertise, next to landscaping, our second highest cost is advertising. Not just magazines, but you have to pay for your signs on the Hwy. Then comes insurance. For alot of these expenses, we pay the same price a 240 site campground would pay. We are also always available from 6:30 am until 11:00 pm, Monday-Monday that is if now one kicks us out of bed because of late arrivals. Hey-thats part of the job I guess. We do our best to make our guests stay worthwhile and make them feel welcome. What the heck! They are on holiday! People are happy when they are on holiday! We enjoy what we do (yet) rolleyes.gif but it is true, you never know for sure until you have walked in someone else's shoes. We are Park owners that truly enjoy and appreciate our guests, 99% of our guests also appreciate us-and we thank them all. We couldn't do this without them!
May 2009 bring joy and happiness to everyone. Seize the moment, enjoy today!
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