Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Technology & Camping
FREE HIGH SPEED WIRELESS INTERNET
As Nancy and I have recently gathered around community campfires at a number of RV parks, this is often brought up as a highly desired feature sought after by RV’ers visiting destination RV parks and campgrounds.
In our continually expanding connectivity market Internet service is, in many cases, relatively easy for campground owners to install and offer as yet another amenity.
But the question remaining is; just how much are all of us willing to pay for this free high speed internet?
“What”, you might ask, “is this guy talking about – he just said free high speed Internet?
Yea – it is free, just like a campground swimming pool, clean and modern bath houses, playgrounds, concrete patios, cable TV and on and on…….
Sorry guys – it isn’t really free. ALL of us pay for those swimming pools and ceramic tile bath houses whether we use them or not. We have stayed at more RV parks than I can remember – and NONE has ever offered us a reduced rate for our stay when we told the desk clerk at registration we were not going to use the pool or bath house.
True high speed Internet via Wi-Fi is, unfortunately, an expensive amenity to add to any facility. It isn’t as easy as what we do in most brick and mortar homes where we can purchase a market priced bundle from a high speed fiber or cable provider and hook up a low priced high speed wireless router.
Campgrounds may install a shared system like the one described above, but the number of users and the distance the Wi-Fi radio signal travels is going to be limited. Only campers that are close to the Wi-Fi antenna will be able to get a signal and when the bandwidth demand of the connection rises speed and accessibility drop drastically – often to the point that no one is able to use the service.
Most campgrounds offering wide-area high speed Internet to all campsites will need additional antennas, repeaters, routers, powered “dog houses” to shelter them, multiple data lines and even dedicated servers – all are items that have an appreciable installation cost not to mention the reoccurring data line charges, maintenance and periodic upgrades. For large parks this can (and does) amount to thousands of dollars a month. Smaller parks with less elaborate systems can still be looking at monthly data line bills running several hundred dollars – even more if they are located in remote areas (which many campgrounds are) where high speed fiber and cable has yet to be installed.
Many of the parks we have visited offer only a subscription Internet service managed and billed by a third party. With these systems, you must find the wireless signal which brings you to a web site that requires payment by credit card or Pay-Pal to receive a log-in and password. These subscription services are often offered by the hour, day, or week. Sadly, even these systems are often slow and problematic as more and more campers are using wireless devices and even attempting to download full length movies and TV shows. With a pay-as-you go wireless connection, the park may benefit from a royalty fee for allowing a particular Internet provider to wire their park. This can not only reduce the possibility of a camping rate increase but may offset other rising costs passed along to campers. Unfortunately, If traffic is not high enough to return a significant profit to the installer or provider, it is doubtful that the service will go beyond poor to mediocre connectivity or speed.
While many campers clamor for yet another “free” service, there are others out there that simply do not want something else added that would increase the camping rate. The truth is most campers simply want a clean park with level sites that are easily accessible, have convenient water, sewer and electrical hook-ups and offer safety and security from park intruders. They would prefer that amenities such as swimming pools have a separate admission fee for those that want to use them rather than making every camper pay for something that they don’t use. In light of these feelings, is it right to have free high speed wireless Internet that is paid for by all campers, even if they do not use the service?
FWIW – Many traveling RV’ers now stay connected via their wireless smart phones and even use them as “personal hotspots” for connecting a laptop or tablet computer to the Internet. Unless you are located on the downhill side of Tim-Buck-Two from a cell tower, the connection is usually faster and more secure than anything a RV park offers. Those who want this smart phone feature pay for it individually by selecting a specific data plan from their wireless provider – those that do not want it pay nothing.
What is your feeling on this “free” amenity?
Are you willing to pay higher camping rates to have on-site high speed Internet for everyone – if so, how much?
HAPPY CAMPING TRAILS TO ALL!