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gilda
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Texasrvers
I read this review before I read your post and wondered what in the world the reviewer was talking about. They didn't supply enough information to know what really happened--at least their version of it. Maybe they will see this thread and explain things better.
HappiestCamper
And they gave this one a 5:

QUOTE
Our reservation was made by a Nova Scotia information center on our behalf and a specific request was for wi-fi to our site. While the campground was very nice, there are many seasonal sites. There are lots of trees with some privacy between units and clean facilities, wi-fi did not work at our site, or right outside the office building or in the pavilion. The owners solution was for us to sit at the office counter to do our work however this was not acceptable. We chose to leave based on the owners' indifference and unprofessional attitude.


So I wonder why the difference between a 1 and a 5? At least they stayed a week at the 1 rating.

In fairness to the rater, the 1's website does say free Wi-Fi, though we don't know the particulars of why their PC couldn't connect. Every post they made talks about the Wi-Fi (10's if it is good), so obviously it is something they must have. For that reason, they should take Gilda's advice and get an air card.
JVR
Unfortunately, the parks I have visited that advertise WiFi have never delivered a reliable connection to my site, if one at all. I don't expect it to work, but it would be easier for most campers to accept if the advertisement stated "WiFi may be available"

I opted to buy an Ntelos air card $20/month, but it's not much better, the Verizon card is $60/ month and I haven't decided if it's worth it just to have internet on the road, it's actually nice not to have a connection.
gilda
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Lindsay Richards
Once again, a WiFi antenna might have helped. If it was connectivity problems of course it wouldn't. We stayed in a park recently that advertised WiFi,but I couldn't connect. I just went to a free open site fairly close and forgot about it. Another camper told me that they had a 3 ar signal, but nobody could get it to come up. This is going to happen sometimes and needed expert attention on their end. I think it is a good point to bring up in the review an the scoring. Campground should not be advertising something they don't supply.
gilda
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Lindsay Richards
We are rating a park for the time period we were there. Not anything esle. If WiFi was down the entire week, then I think it should definably reflect in the score. A score of 1 certainly wouldnít be my choice, but having the WiFi down for a week is definitely a negative for the park and as somebody who uses WiFi and frequently selects parks for that reason, I certainly would be downgrading the park for that reason. I realize that you canít change advertising for a short stoppage, but I would certainly would have expected the park to mention this important fact in a phone reservation. We almost never make advance reservations and always ask about WiFi when talking on the phone the day of the stay. When they advertise they have it and then take a reservation and didnít say anything about it, the park is deceiving the camper and this is wrong and should be reflected in the reviewers score and mentioned in the text of the review so that future campers can be sure to ask about it before making reservations. I read reviews for exactly this type of feed back. It appears to me that many park owners and camper donít understand that WiFi is an important amenity to some of us and we donít like to be deceived about it.
RetiredFA
But to play devil's advocate, some campground hosts aren't very.... shall we say.... "tech savy" an they have no idea that the WiFi is or isn't working as it should, all they know is that it works in the office and they assume it's working fine elsewhere. Or, they don't know that it doesn't extend past the office, so it doesn't occur to them to say anything.

That is when a review needs to mention it, and I always DO mention it! I also mention whether you "just get it" or if there is a "fol de rol" (have to get a code, etc....have to be near the office...).

JJ
gwbischoff
The point is, if it means that much to you, if your complete satisfaction (difference between a "10" and a "1") rests solely on WiFi,don't rely on others. Go get yourself an AirCard.

Problem solved.

That's like walking into a Starbucks and their Hotspot isn't working that day and then expecting them to give you free coffee.

Then, when they don't, you tell everyone that Starbucks coffee sucks.

Someone mentioned that the CG offered "Free WiFi". Well, you get what you pay for. What exactly should you be compensated for something that's free?

God Bless America.
Texasrvers
I'm gonna jump in here. I agree with most everything that has been said. Wi-Fi is important to a lot of people. If a park advertises that it has it, then it should have it and at a reasonable level of service. The general purpose of Wi-Fi is to be able to use it at your site. Otherwise you may as well just have a modem hook up in the office. I also agree that many times the problem is with the RVer or his equipment. (But try to tell some of them that.) If someone specifically asks about the Wi-Fi service at a park I think the staff should disclose any problems, i.e. not at all sites, not currently working, etc. However, I do realize that a park may have good service 364 days a year and that it can be on the blink the one day we stay there. And it is unreasonable to expect parks to change their advertising each time the Wi-Fi goes down (unless it is down for months at a time. And even then they can't retract some of the yearly ads that are already published.)

I usually never lower a park's rating more than a point for very poor or no Wi-Fi service. If it is completely out while we're there I usually give them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to fix it. If it stayed out for 2-3 days I might lower the rating depending on whether or not I believed they were truly trying to fix it. If they didn't seem to care about restoring the service, the rating would go down.

AND I am still curious about the review quoted in the original post that started all this. On the surface it sounds like someone was mad because they couldn't get Wi-Fi and wanted some kind of refund or compensation for the missing service even though it was "free." We have all given our opinions on the situation, but we still don't know what really happened.
gilda
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Texasrvers
I have never used an aircard, so just out of curiosity do they ever fail or not get reception?
westernrvparkowner
Aircards do require cellular service compatible to the aircard to be available. (not a given in remote areas) Speeds will also vary due to variances among cellular towers, etc. WiFi connectivity is a tricky issue. As Lindsay mentioned, antennas can be a big issue. Topography also comes into play. You can also loose signal if there is a large metallic object between your antenna and the campground's (big airstream or prevost anyone?) . A bandwidth hog may also stop everyone else from connecting. You may also be getting bumped off by a powerful in coach router that broadcasts on the same frequency as the campground..There are only twelve frequencies available for wifi broadcasting and only three are recommended for hotspot usage. Finally, the software you are using must be compatible and configured to allow connection to the wifi system. Our campground has equipment that is less than 2 years old. It connects to Windows and Macs without problem. However a Vista machine MUST have been updated with microsoft service pack one or it will not connect. I don't think this is the campgrounds problem, since it is an issue with Vista that has been corrected by Microsoft. But we have many guests who have not updated their computers even though the fix has been out for over a year and Microsoft considers service pack one a "critical upgrade". I am sure the campground in question does have WiFi service. It is unfortunate it did not work for the reviewer in question. But to give a rating of "1" to a campground that otherwise would rate a "10" I feel is a disservice to everyone who uses this site to get ratings about a park. Yes the park should be marked down if the Wifi didn't work but a "1" is stupid.
gilda
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Lindsay Richards
People who are used to surfing the internet or doing big downloads or uploads are probably not going to be satisfied with an air card due to speed issues. It is great for those wanting to check email. Cost is also a factor. I can almost always find another WiFi source even if I do it the next day in town and this is getting a lots better as more and more spots are out there. If the swimming pool was shut down for repairs, I would expect the park person to inform me and WiFi is no different. I suspect that many times when it isnít working it is something real simple like the computer or modem not turned on. I have made it a point to discuss WiFi with park people many, many time and frequently they donít have a clue and rely on others. This isnít a problem as not every body can be an expert in every field. I usually try to tell them that WiFi was one of the reasons I stayed with them and most now seem to get it that WiFi is important to a growing number of RVíers and it can get them or cost them business. This has changed a whole lot in the last several years and will continue to go in this direction I think. As far a the rating, if the park owner was working on it, I problay wouldnít cut of any points. If it lasted a week and nobody was attempting to fix it, I would take off a lot of points. Communication is the key on the initial phone call. A good business person can change a negative into a neutral or a positive and the good park owners do this every day. The key is for them to relize that WiFI is an important amenity now to lot of campers and they need to have it as advertised.
Jerry S
Threads on WIFI may be the most discussed topic on this forum in the last year or so. I am one of those folks who use the internet at a fairly simplistic level - e-mail, some mindless surfing, research for travel (this site, park websites, weather.com, etc.) while on the road. The research activity is very important during my usual 8-10 week long summer trips. While I am not as foot-loose and fancy-free as some travelers, I do allow enough flexibility in my basic itinerary to allow changes to how long I stay someplace and/or where I go. The ability to research parks, areas, and weather predictions on a regular basis in my RV really makes this possible and convenient.

Well, that was going off on a bit of a tangent. The main reason I wanted to add a post on this WIFI topic was to clarify my understanding of WIFI useage. There have been a number of posts concerning WIFI that have indicated that how you use WIFI effects the park's system. My understanding is that heavy duty usage (downloading/uploading things like pictures, movies, music, games, and other large files) can greatly reduce the availability of the system to other users of the park's system. I would like to hear from those of you that understand this technology a lot better than I do. Others in this thread have taked about antennas, distance, vehicular blockage, etc. Can heavy duty users be one of the things that cause other users to have problems getting on the park's system? I would guess that the size/quality/power of the park's system is a probably a determining factor in whether or not the system can be negatively effected by heavy duty users .

Thanks from one of the WIFI technology challenged.
gilda
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westernrvparkowner
Think of a wifi system as a water pipe. There is only so much water that can flow through the pipe. If there are three or four spigots running wide open, water pressure and the amount of water available downstream is reduced. For campgrounds, a big problem is the size of the pipe initially available. Were I am located, the only wifi available is a "wisp" (wireless internet service provider I am talking about how the campground connects it's wireless system to the internet, not the campgrounds wifi system) Wisps are used when there are no wired ISPs available. They carry less bandwidth than a wired or fiber optic connection. This means a smaller pipe is available to begin with. Management of bandwidth is an important factor in a wifi system with limited bandwidth. We can throttle back speed by going to a lower quality standard (I.E. wireless B instead of G), but this gives poor performance all the time. Leaving the sytem at optimum speed does allow a high volume user (downloading movies, on line video gaming etc) to take all the space leaving others without a connection. A big concern is families with multiple computers for kids where each are online with video to their friends. They system can stall very quickly. We try to prevent this by giving one code to each guest and charging for extra connections. It works, but creates customer dissatisfaction because people believe the free wifi should allow them to do anything they want. I equate it with a guest checking in and then bringing by his fleet of water trucks to fill up at the site. We provide free water to guests, but there is a limit. If my campground was in a major city and not adjacent to a national park, maybe I could get more bandwidth, but that is not an option. My system is as efficent as possible. Guests must watch their bandwidth usage, not expect optimum performance during peak usage times and possibly deal with a slow connection. We explain this to everyone who asks about wifi, but that doesn't always prevent hard feelings. As I have said before, WiFi is a necessary EVIL to campgrounds. It doesn't generate revenue, but it does generate bad feelings. Hopefully in a few years, all computers will connect via a small satellite antenna and I can export my wifi equipment to the dumpster.
gwbischoff
"WiFi is a necessary EVIL to campgrounds. It doesn't generate revenue, but it does generate bad feelings"

Well said.

I can honestly say that when I joined this forum, I never would have guessed that WiFi would have been the major hot topic.

For a technology that was never part of the camping/RV lifestyle and didn't even exist 4-5 years ago, it sure has become a huge burr under a lot of folk's saddle.
FosterImposters
QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Nov 14 2008, 12:19 PM) *

... Hopefully in a few years, all computers will connect via a small satellite antenna and I can export my wifi equipment to the dumpster...

EXACTLY what we recommended to a new park owner we worked with this past summer. Like you, his park lies in an beautifully underdeveloped location...thus doesn't have many options in order to provide WiFi for his guests. Spending a living fortune chasing a rapidly changing technology was not penciling out. We just quizzed folks checking in as to WiFi needs and parked them as close to the office as possible. That worked 90% of the time. We were lucky I guess: no one came unglued. cool.gif
gwbischoff
My guess is that is not too far off.

The technology will change so quickly it will make your head spin.

WiFi as we know it will go the way of the 8-track and dial up.
pianotuna
Hi Western,

You say it doesn't generate revenue. I disagree. All other things being equal I'll stay in a free wifi park over a non wifi park, and even in a "paid" wifi park over a no wifi park.

QUOTE(westernrvparkowner @ Nov 14 2008, 02:19 PM) *

My system is as efficent as possible. Guests must watch their bandwidth usage, not expect optimum performance during peak usage times and possibly deal with a slow connection. We explain this to everyone who asks about wifi, but that doesn't always prevent hard feelings. As I have said before, WiFi is a necessary EVIL to campgrounds. It doesn't generate revenue, but it does generate bad feelings.

Texasrvers
Thanks westernparkowner for a great explanation. I almost understand it now. smile.gif On the other hand I'll show my ignorance with this question. When you are at a place that has Wi-Fi does it hurt anything to stay connected when you're not actually using the computer? I have stayed at parks where their system was a little complicated to get on-line so once I got on I stayed on. Is that a no-no?
RetiredFA
QUOTE(Texasrvers @ Nov 15 2008, 01:07 AM) *

Thanks westernparkowner for a great explanation. I almost understand it now. smile.gif On the other hand I'll show my ignorance with this question. When you are at a place that has Wi-Fi does it hurt anything to stay connected when you're not actually using the computer? I have stayed at parks where their system was a little complicated to get on-line so once I got on I stayed on. Is that a no-no?


Technically..... yeah...... You're preventing someone else from getting on, only so much bandwidth to go around. But I confess that I, too, have done this, because it was a pain in the **** to get back on once you were off......

I stayed at one park where they recommended to just close the lid of your laptop, which would go in "sleep" mode, and then would automatically reconnect when you opened the lid. I try to follow that approach. But it doesn't always work at some parks, and then I resort to doing what you did.....

JJ
Texasrvers
So just having your computer connected to a park's Wi-Fi uses up enough bandwidth that it could keep someone else from connecting. Maybe that is why I couldn't get on sometimes when the park claimed there was nothing wrong with their system. Interesting! Like I said I have only done that a few times when the logon was a pain. I'll keep that info in mind. Thanks. (Notice I didn't say I wouldn't do it again tongue.gif )
Jerry S
I, too, want to thank Western for the imaginative and picturesque explanation. It reinforced my understanding of one of the lesser known potential problems with park WIFI systems. You are still going to sometimes have some of the other issues (distance, blockage, etc.), but ,at least now, some of us will understand that we (the customers) can be part of the problem. That was probably my main goal in asking my original question. My concern was the heavy duty users mentioned in prior posts. I was hoping that they would realize the negative impact their usage can have on others. Believe me, I known what a pain it can often be to re-log every time you want to use the net if the proccess takes more than a few minutes. The only time I leave it on is when I am multi-tasking (how yuppyish does that sound?). For example, I often start up the laptop, go put in a load of laundry, come back for 20 minutes of computing, back to fill the dryer, back to the net, and so on. If I know I am going to be gone for more than 15-20 minutes, I log off and turn off the computer. I don't go off to the pool or for a walk and leave it on or even plugged in. But that's just me, it probably has more to do with memories of my dad asking "who left the lights on in the (name of room)?". I would think that one heavy duty user eats up more bandwidth than 10, 20, 30 folks who are just logged on but not using the system.

End of rant.
RetiredFA
I guess that's why I feel that moderation should be imposed on people who are using free WiFi for downloading movies, songs, etc. I don't do that. If someone emails me a "4 minute video" to watch (and I'm on free Wifi), I don't even watch it, I just delete the email. All I'm concerned about is checking my email, checking my bills, and checking weather and road conditions. That will use up some bandwidth, but not as much as downloading entire movies!

I'm still thinking of getting a Verizon aircard, although it's $55 or so a month if you don't have their cell phone. I think I could keep under the bandwidth limits.

JJ
dancyn
I had to go to a coded system when I found the neighbors were enjoying my wi-fi more than my guests. This has eliminated a lot of the problems. I still have guests who do not shut down when done using their computers, which causes a problem with others getting on. To facilitate ease of use for everyone, I regularly reboot the system, which kicks everyone off. And then those that were having problems getting on are now able to get right on.

What always amazes me is how many other things are connected to the wi-fi! For sure if I start having problems with the wi-fi, the pool heater will quit, or the hot tub pump will burn up, or the ice machine will quit working........it never fails. And it is usually on Friday afternoons!
Lindsay Richards
QUOTE
"WiFi is a necessary EVIL to campgrounds. It doesn't generate revenue, but it does generate bad feelings"


I do think it generates revenue in that having it increases usage of the park. No doubt about it for me and from what we are reading on different forums. I think the hard feeling only happen when it isn't working. Not working is going to happen with anything. I think good communications on the phone when taking day of stay reservations can really help with the hard feelings here.
pianotuna
Hi TX,

It does use bandwidth. However most routers have a "limit" as to how many users can log on. Typically this number is 100 users. Think about a pie. Slicing it into four pieces wastes very little of the pie. Slice it into 100 pieces and a lot of the pie is lost to slicing.

QUOTE(Texasrvers @ Nov 15 2008, 02:28 PM) *

So just having your computer connected to a park's Wi-Fi uses up enough bandwidth that it could keep someone else from connecting. Maybe that is why I couldn't get on sometimes when the park claimed there was nothing wrong with their system. Interesting! Like I said I have only done that a few times when the logon was a pain. I'll keep that info in mind. Thanks. (Notice I didn't say I wouldn't do it again tongue.gif )



Hi TX,

Air card = cellular modem. If there is a cell phone signal and the cell tower company offers "data service" then the modem will work. If there is no signal or not enough signal then it will not work.

Speed is determined by the type of equipment at the cell phone tower and signal strength. It can be slower than dial up--or at it's most bright and shiny about the same as regular DSL wired connection.

QUOTE(Texasrvers @ Nov 13 2008, 07:24 PM) *

I have never used an aircard, so just out of curiosity do they ever fail or not get reception?

pianotuna
Hi Lindsay,

EVDO Rev A has download speeds of 2400 kbps and upload of about 600. This is fast enough for major downloads. What can be poor is ping time. 1Xrtt is about 140 kbps down and 99 up. This is fast enough to do streaming audio at 16 kbps.

Some few companies offer unlimited bandwidth. I happen to be with one of them. Unfortunately in USA the unlimited feature disappears, so I agree cost can be a factor.

QUOTE(Lindsay Richards @ Nov 13 2008, 09:21 PM) *

People who are used to surfing the internet or doing big downloads or uploads are probably not going to be satisfied with an air card due to speed issues. It is great for those wanting to check email. Cost is also a factor.

westernrvparkowner
Hey guys, when I say that wifi is not a revenue generator, it's because I am putting it in the same catagory as water, sewer, electricity, cable tv etc. I consider these items an expense necessary to operate the campground. Technically, they do generate revenue in that they are needed to get customers. That being said, wifi generates 10 times the negative feelings than all the other items combined. If the sewer clogs, people will laugh as I dig in the sewage to correct the problem, they do not get irate. If the power fails almost everybody understands that sometimes the power goes out. A water leak or a shower that doesn't have the same water pressure as a fire hose won't automatically cause a guest to use all of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on TV in every sentence. If the cable doesn't work in someone's coach, they don't accuse me of having a bad system when I troubleshoot it to the tv amplifier in the coach being on, or they connected to satellite-in connection instead of the cable-in. Failure to connect to the wifi system, on the other hand, is ALWAYS the campground's fault. Don't have a wifi card or a wireless modem in the computer?....Campground's fault. Wireless card or modem turned off?..campground's fault. Haven't upgraded the computer with required updates? .. campground's fault. Have security settings installed by your computer savvy grandson that prevents connections to anything but your home dial up?...campground's fault. No cellular service compatible to your aircard?...campground's fault. Battery dead in laptop and you don't have a power cord? campground's fault. The list goes on and on. I hate wifi.
pianotuna
Hi JJ,

I have my cellular modem--and I love it to death. I still use wifi--but it is very comforting to know that if wifi is not available I can just plug in my modem to a usb port and within seconds I'm online.

I will be getting a wifi router to use with the cell modem. So long as I have unlimited bandwidth I will leave the router unprotected so others may piggy back on my internet connection.

I believe the cell modem is still 59.00 per month even if you *do* have a Verizon cell phone. What is possible is having a cell phone and adding a "data" feature to it. After having my local provider try to tether my old cell phone to my laptop for 90 minutes--I'd not go that direction.

I'm sold on the cellular modems! I'll not leave home without it.

QUOTE(DXSMac @ Nov 15 2008, 05:29 PM) *

I guess that's why I feel that moderation should be imposed on people who are using free WiFi for downloading movies, songs, etc. I don't do that. If someone emails me a "4 minute video" to watch (and I'm on free Wifi), I don't even watch it, I just delete the email. All I'm concerned about is checking my email, checking my bills, and checking weather and road conditions. That will use up some bandwidth, but not as much as downloading entire movies!

I'm still thinking of getting a Verizon aircard, although it's $55 or so a month if you don't have their cell phone. I think I could keep under the bandwidth limits.

JJ

RetiredFA
QUOTE(Lindsay Richards @ Nov 15 2008, 04:27 PM) *

I think good communications on the phone when taking day of stay reservations can really help with the hard feelings here.


Not when the person on the reservation line is "tech ignorant." "OH yeah, we have WiFi." "Oh yeah, it works." Then you check in and it doesn't.......

I stayed at a park in Garibaldi, OR, that had four different codes, and all four of them were hard to access! You were lucky to get a signal between 2 and 3 PM in the afternoon!

JJ
Texasrvers
Thanks again, Western, for your insightful explanation. I can relate completely to your frustration since a long time ago my job required me to do some computer system troubleshooting (but at a much lower level than you deal with and it was not Wi-Fi.) Sometimes when I got a call that a computer wasn't working I literally had to plug it in and turn it on for the person, so I really do understand that the fault can be with the user.

Now for my next ignorant question. The answer will probably be so technical I won't understand it, but here goes anyway. Why is it that my computer will connect just fine at one park, and I can't get it to access and/or hold a connection at the next park 12 hours later? This is when "user error" does not fly very well with me. How can the same machine have all the Wi-Fi cards, correct settings, upgrades, etc. that are needed to connect at one park and not another? I'm not saying the user (me included) is never at fault, but when my computer works fine at one place and not another, it makes me think the problem is with the park's system.

I'm not trying to argue about who's at fault, I'm just wondering how this can happen.
dancyn
I agree with westernrvparkowner completely with his latest comments. People get irate about the wi-fi, even if we are in the middle of troubleshooting the problem. Recently we had a modem going out on us. It worked sporadically. Sometimes when doing the diagnostics, it was working and showed 5 or 6 people connected. 5 minutes later no one could get on. While tracking the problem down, which took a couple of hours, people were browbeating the office staff to the point that one of them almost quit.

JJ, not all employees are computer techs, in fact very few workcampers are. I do not expect them to be techs. They are here to check people in and take care of the business at the office/mini-mart. We have a professional tech on the payroll, and he gets called when there are problems. Can he be here within 5 minutes? No. Do we get priority over the rest of his accounts? No. Will he be here as soon as he can? Yes.

If there is a problem with any part of our facility......wi-fi, hot tub, pool, etc., everyone is notified about that at check-in. We also give an approximate time (or date) that it will be fully functional again.
Lindsay Richards
I too have been told many times that it is my computer only to learn that others in the park couldnít connect either and that I could easily connect down at the parking lot in front of Staples or some other free WiFi spot. One thing that I have learned to do is not go in and start changing a bunch of setting on my computer and get it messed up. I will change one thing and then try to long on and then set it back before changing anything else. I am sure that sometimes it might be my computer, but the bulk of the time it is the parkís system. I know everybody canít be an expert in computers, but if nothing else I would think they might even have a second cheapie system in the office that we could go up and use for important stuff.

My Verizon cell phone contract expires in December and I can get a new phone for free and I have been considering getting an internet capable phone for $100 extra so that I can get on line and look at email. I would use this for checking my banking that I need to do when without WiFi. We get some monthly deposits and I need to be aware of them. Does anybody else do this and does it work for you?
RetiredFA
QUOTE(dancyn @ Nov 16 2008, 01:23 AM) *


JJ, not all employees are computer techs, in fact very few workcampers are. I do not expect them to be techs. They are here to check people in and take care of the business at the office/mini-mart. We have a professional tech on the payroll, and he gets called when there are problems. Can he be here within 5 minutes? No. Do we get priority over the rest of his accounts? No. Will he be here as soon as he can? Yes.


True, true, true. I've gotten to the point where I don't expect the "check in" people to be "tech savy."

There is one park I like to stay in that has "instant phone connections." One time I paid for the connection and it didn't work. I really started to think my phone had gone bad, but it turned out that (I forgot which it was), either 1) the check in person "didn't flip the right switch" or 2) the switches were "crossed." One of the park employees spent a bunch of time trying to figure it out, and I appreciated their time! And I got to use the phone connection. At this park, the phone connection is a good "backup" to the WiFi, as long as you are paying for a dial up ISP (which I still do..... rarely use it, but still have it, "just in case....").

JJ
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Something that rarely comes up is the simple fact that WiFi is a radio signal. As such, it is subject to a variety of disturbances. You essentially have multiple transmitters operating all at the same frequency, colliding with one another. You have electrical wiring, reflective metallic surfaces, other signal noise from thing such as microwaves. Throw in a high power router between you and the target wifi antenna. The wifi radio system was not really intended for wide area, outdoor use. Think about microwave towers, they actually transmit point to point, not wide area broadcasting, and wifi is a microwave signal. It has been adapted to it, but it has certain limitations simply inherent to its nature. It is greatly affected by leaves, pine needles, weather etc. as they scatter the signal. Think about your cell phone, sometimes you have to find the just the right spot for it to work. It's no different for wifi. Radio signals of all kinds are also subject to its weakest link. Most wifi systems broadcast at a higher power than your laptop does. The wifi system antenna is exposed. Your laptop antenna is either inside the computer or at best sticking out on one side or the other. Your laptop broadcasts at a much lower power. That is why you can often "see" the wifi system but cannot communicate with it. Your signal can't get to it. Add to the mix the signal being digital, it's all or nothing. Unfortunately, the weakest link is usually at the users end, not the campground. You can't typically increase your transmit power, but getting a better antenna that sits outside, even aimed at the wifi repeater/router/node (cantenna), can eliminate much of the trouble. I don't care how many repeaters, nodes, antennas are out there, simply because it is a radio signal means you can guarantee 100% coverage 100% of the time with 100% signal. Oh by the way, sitting directly under the wifi antenna is a radio signal dead zone, referred to a the cone of silence, or blind cone. It's not the place to be to test your connectivity.

Now, look at the different ways of providing wifi. An open system that allows anyone and everyone connect all of the time without any modifications. Password protected open systems allows users to access an entry page only. WEP, WPA, ssid on or off, wifi channel, and more. Master/Node systems. Signal boosters. repeaters. A,B,G,N systems. Is your computer default set to connect to only one system? Just look at the variety of options in the Windows wifi connection properties screens. Is you computer updated? Does it even have a wifi card? the possibilities are endless as to why there may be a connection problem. The details on this part of wifi are out of my realm of expertise

This is really an oversimplification of wifi, but I hope it gets the idea across. This is why it works perfectly at one spot and not so good at another, or one day but not the next. Anyone else out there with radio background can surely attest to the variety of anomalies that effect radio signals. The variety of settings. The number of variables. It just isn't as cut and dried as we all would like it to be. As an adapted system, we the end users, must also be willing to adapt with it as well, that is if we really want it. Understanding what you're trying to use, what it really is, the equipment involved and all of its limitations, understanding that things sometimes break, remembering our own experiences with a variety of electronic products that do strange things every now and then, can go a long way to preventing undue stress over wifi. It's my computer. It's my responsibility. I have no expectation of the campground to fix my computer to connect to their network. I have been to many campgrounds that provide a simple setting sheet for their wifi to assist in connecting. To me, that's fair. I undertsand most campgrounds don't have an IT department. I do not believe that wifi is a priority over cleaning the bathrooms, and that often resources at a campground are very limited and require prioritization. I have no expectation of a campground to run around at 2 pm knocking on doors to explain the wifi is down for whatever reason. Save that for when the guy 4 sites down backs over the water spigot and into the electric box, knocking out half the campground.

If I absolutely had to have mobile connectivity, knowing what I know, I would not rely solely on wifi anywhere. I would have a backup, or better yet, wifi would be my backup. A hard line still provides the most reliable connection.
westernrvparkowner
QUOTE(popup @ Nov 16 2008, 03:14 PM) *

Something that rarely comes up is the simple fact that WiFi is a radio signal. As such, it is subject to a variety of disturbances. You essentially have multiple transmitters operating all at the same frequency, colliding with one another. You have electrical wiring, reflective metallic surfaces, other signal noise from thing such as microwaves. Throw in a high power router between you and the target wifi antenna. The wifi radio system was not really intended for wide area, outdoor use. Think about microwave towers, they actually transmit point to point, not wide area broadcasting, and wifi is a microwave signal. It has been adapted to it, but it has certain limitations simply inherent to its nature. It is greatly affected by leaves, pine needles, weather etc. as they scatter the signal. Think about your cell phone, sometimes you have to find the just the right spot for it to work. It's no different for wifi. Radio signals of all kinds are also subject to its weakest link. Most wifi systems broadcast at a higher power than your laptop does. The wifi system antenna is exposed. Your laptop antenna is either inside the computer or at best sticking out on one side or the other. Your laptop broadcasts at a much lower power. That is why you can often "see" the wifi system but cannot communicate with it. Your signal can't get to it. Add to the mix the signal being digital, it's all or nothing. Unfortunately, the weakest link is usually at the users end, not the campground. You can't typically increase your transmit power, but getting a better antenna that sits outside, even aimed at the wifi repeater/router/node (cantenna), can eliminate much of the trouble. I don't care how many repeaters, nodes, antennas are out there, simply because it is a radio signal means you can guarantee 100% coverage 100% of the time with 100% signal. Oh by the way, sitting directly under the wifi antenna is a radio signal dead zone, referred to a the cone of silence, or blind cone. It's not the place to be to test your connectivity.

Now, look at the different ways of providing wifi. An open system that allows anyone and everyone connect all of the time without any modifications. Password protected open systems allows users to access an entry page only. WEP, WPA, ssid on or off, wifi channel, and more. Master/Node systems. Signal boosters. repeaters. A,B,G,N systems. Is your computer default set to connect to only one system? Just look at the variety of options in the Windows wifi connection properties screens. Is you computer updated? Does it even have a wifi card? the possibilities are endless as to why there may be a connection problem. The details on this part of wifi are out of my realm of expertise

This is really an oversimplification of wifi, but I hope it gets the idea across. This is why it works perfectly at one spot and not so good at another, or one day but not the next. Anyone else out there with radio background can surely attest to the variety of anomalies that effect radio signals. The variety of settings. The number of variables. It just isn't as cut and dried as we all would like it to be. As an adapted system, we the end users, must also be willing to adapt with it as well, that is if we really want it. Understanding what you're trying to use, what it really is, the equipment involved and all of its limitations, understanding that things sometimes break, remembering our own experiences with a variety of electronic products that do strange things every now and then, can go a long way to preventing undue stress over wifi. It's my computer. It's my responsibility. I have no expectation of the campground to fix my computer to connect to their network. I have been to many campgrounds that provide a simple setting sheet for their wifi to assist in connecting. To me, that's fair. I undertsand most campgrounds don't have an IT department. I do not believe that wifi is a priority over cleaning the bathrooms, and that often resources at a campground are very limited and require prioritization. I have no expectation of a campground to run around at 2 pm knocking on doors to explain the wifi is down for whatever reason. Save that for when the guy 4 sites down backs over the water spigot and into the electric box, knocking out half the campground.

If I absolutely had to have mobile connectivity, knowing what I know, I would not rely solely on wifi anywhere. I would have a backup, or better yet, wifi would be my backup. A hard line still provides the most reliable connection.

Thank you for great information. We often forget WiFi is a two way communication and forget the importance of the Computer to Acess Point leg. Wonderful informative post
RetiredFA
And one of these days, someone is going to find a cancer link among RV'ers directly related to all these "microwave thingies" floating around in the air at the RV parks. We're doomed...... tongue.gif tongue.gif

JJ
Texasrvers
First thanks to everyone, especially popup and westernparkowner, for such great explanations in language that I can actually understand. I appreciate your help.

Interestingly, in reading all these responses I began to see another aspect of Wi-Fi serviceóthe attitude of the parkís staff. How they handle a situation will make a big difference in how the customer reacts.

Now I understand that not all staff members will be tech savvy nor do I expect them to be. I also do not expect someone to come to my RV to troubleshoot problems, but when I report that Iím having trouble I do expect the staff to be patient, polite, and respectful. I realize there may have been 100 idiots before me who have complained that they can't connect when they don't even have a Wi-Fi card in their computer, but the staff should not automatically put me in that category, too. We once stayed at a park that I could not get my computer to connect no matter what I did. When I called the office the owner answered and politely told me that we were parked about 15 feet from a repeater (I'm not sure that is the right name of the equipment, but it was something that was a part of the Wi-Fi system), and I should be getting a very strong signal. He asked me to try several different things, none of which worked. However, at no time did he make me feel stupid or that the fault was with my computer. He just tried to solve the problem. Finally he drove down to our site and discovered that someone had flipped off the switch on the equipment. When he turned it on everything worked fine. I tell this story to show that sometimes it is the park that has the problem not the customer, so the staff should at least consider that possibility and not assume or act like it is the customerís fault.

Also if a staff member is not knowledgeable enough to give me help they can at least be sympathetic and say they are sorry they canít help more. If they know they are having trouble with their system they should admit it, apologize, and let me know they are working on it (if in fact they are). Ideally if a park knows in advance their service will not be available due to upgrades, repairs, etc. then the customer should be informed at the time a reservation is made or at check-in especially if the customer askes about the Wi-Fi service. This would save everyone a lot of grief down the road, but I know some parks will not do this if it means the customer might go somewhere else.

I guess the bottom line is it doesn't matter how good your Wi-Fi system is, there will be problems at some point, and how the parkís owner and staff handle those problems will make a big difference in how their customers react. If the owner/staff express their regret that the customer is having trouble, and if they do what they can to fix it or let customers know they are trying to get it fixed, then I think most customers will be tolerant and probably wonít slam the park with a 1 rating.
JVR
QUOTE(JVR @ Nov 12 2008, 06:16 AM) *

Unfortunately, the parks I have visited that advertise WiFi have never delivered a reliable connection to my site, if one at all. I don't expect it to work, but it would be easier for most campers to accept if the advertisement stated "WiFi may be available"

I opted to buy an Ntelos air card $20/month, but it's not much better, the Verizon card is $60/ month and I haven't decided if it's worth it just to have internet on the road, it's actually nice not to have a connection.


We arrived at a campground near Asheville, NC on Saturday and plan to stay 7 days, the campground advertises WiFi at site, as fate would have it, it has not worked, even after repairmen were on site yesterday.
Again, I only consider it a bonus if it works; apparantly WiFi technology used in outdoor campgrounds is not reliable at this time. It is hard to believe that the campgrounds I've visited bought the system and had it installed and have to constantly deal with the problems and receive poor ratings because WiFi is not reliable.

On another note, the Verizon air card works.
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