One of the most popular amenities that any business in the service industry can offer its customers is Internet access. It’s accessible on trains and planes, the café on the corner, or pretty much wherever you go, RV parks included. Perhaps one of the first questions that’s often asked to a campground manager by an RVer these days is: “Do you have free WiFi?”
As many can attest to, having free WiFi and a strong and usable WiFi signal at the campground are two different matters. For instance, what can determine the strength of a signal is the distance from the connection point.
The further away you are from the connection point (usually at park office), the weaker the WiFi connection will be. Another factor is the bandwidth that is available at any given park. If there isn’t sufficient bandwidth compared to the number of RVers that using the WiFi, the signal strength may be strong but the connection to the internet can be slow.
“One of the challenges with WiFi in some RV parks is the signal only covers a small portion of the park,” explained Evan Sorenson, Brand Developer for WiFiRanger based in Meridian, ID. “But the signal can be boosted and also offer a secure connection for your laptop, as well as all of your personal devices.”
Sorenson explained that the WiFiRanger, which was introduced in 2010 and is now in its fourth generation, is a wireless Internet router that works in conjunction with a high-gain roof-top antenna to receive stronger signals from an RV park’s connection point or other surrounding signals in the area.
The router is also designed to add a layer of security with a firewall and WPA encryption. In fact, one of the unique functions in the system, according to Sorenson, is the Safe Surf feature. This allows RVers to toggle on and off an even stronger layer of security, which encrypts all of the data in a secure tunnel. What this means is it encapsulates all of it so if hackers are lingering, the ability to un-encrypt that data is greatly reduced.
When RV Life spoke to WiFi Ranger representatives, the company was considerate in providing a 5% discount code for RV Life readers when purchasing the WiFiRanger from its website. The discount code is RVLIFE5.
“The WiFiRanger gets rid of the issue of not getting a connection,” explained Joel Weiss, a full-time RVer and ambassador for the WiFiRanger who has been using the system since its inception five years ago. “For my personal uses, I can always connect to the access point in an RV park and receive a connection as good as it can be.”
Add strength to your WiFi
A testament to this is when Weiss was in a remote region of Death Valley National Park Nevada where no cellular service was available. The only service related to WiFi was a satellite link, which he was told was only accessible in the campground office. Determined, Weiss returned to his RV and sure enough–after putting the system to the test–he received a signal.
When WiFi is not available, the WiFiRanger can also conveniently tether a cellular connection from iPhones, Androids, USB air cards, as well as MiFi devices via the featured USB port.
“At certain times, RVers can’t rely on WiFi alone,” said Sorenson. “They also need a cellular plan to supplement a connection when one isn’t available. The unit also searches first for free WiFi (and prioritizes the WiFiRanger connection), then uses the cellular connection as back up.”
Three models of the WiFiRanger are available. There’s the WiFiRanger Mini Pack, WiFiRanger Elite Pack and the WiFiRanger Elite Pack FM (Flat Mount). While the Mini Pack has a 2500-foot range, the Elite Pack and the Elite Pack FM have a maximum range of two miles (in the most ideal conditions).
All three models share many similar features including:
- The ability to boost WiFi
- Monitor and control bandwidth utilization and history
- Combine the Internet source and device into one system
- Create a secure network for all of your devices.
- Offer support for cellular tethering through a USB port.
- The ability to tracks data usage and restriction rules.
When it comes to mounting and installing the indoor WiFiRanger Go2, the plug and play system measures no more than 5 x 4 x 1 inches can be stored practically anywhere in an RV. While the roof-mounted component on the Mini Pack measures eight inches tall, the exterior component with the FM Elite models is 13 inches. Those with newer RVs that have higher rooflines (that measure 13.5 inches or taller) should consider the available Pole Mount model Elite Pack that can be mounted in various locations outside of the RV.
All details and parts of the system, too, have been thought through as well to provide reliability for the rugged outdoor environment. For example, the Ethernet cables and grommets are all rated for outdoor use, while the connectors are IP67-rated, which means they can withstand wet, inclement weather.
As Weiss explained, it has been his experience that some RV park owners have considered WiFi as an afterthought in recent years but that scenario is currently changing in the RV park community.
“There seems to be a lot of change over now at RV parks and younger owners often have a different perspective on technology,” added Weiss. “The good news is that more and more RV parks are realizing that their customers want improved access to WiFi signals.”
In the interim, WiFi does remain available and even if RVers experience weak signals in some areas, the WiFiRanger is able to reach the RV park’s signal or signals from nearby businesses.
“It depends on what the customer is looking for,” said Sorenson. “The three models have similar features and functionalities to boost WiFi, create secure networks, and provide support for cellular tethering. The big difference with the models comes down to mounting options, range, warranty, and cost for what they require when it comes to getting WiFi access on the road.”
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Looking for a place to stay in SW Missouri? Come on by. Blue Skys RV Park has both short term and long term parking. We are a no frills, affordable, family friendly place to stay. Free Wifi and a laundromat. Whether you are looking for overnight, weekly, or long term, Blue Skys RV Park is the place to be. The owners will go above and beyond to make your stay a pleasant one. Check us out: http://blueskysrvpark.com