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Old 12-01-2003, 04:29 AM   #1
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Just came across something interesting. It looks like Truckstop.net is providing free WiFi base stations to truck stops. They also have 'monthly' rates for end-users instead of the 'per-day' rates from some other vendors. Maybe they might find campgrounds also a possible venue for their equiptment. The free base station is mentioned here

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Old 12-01-2003, 04:29 AM   #2
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Just came across something interesting. It looks like Truckstop.net is providing free WiFi base stations to truck stops. They also have 'monthly' rates for end-users instead of the 'per-day' rates from some other vendors. Maybe they might find campgrounds also a possible venue for their equiptment. The free base station is mentioned here

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Old 12-01-2003, 07:59 AM   #3
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Hi Tony!
We are already doing that for qualified RV parks and mobile home parks. I am a Park Survey Specialist for a proven provider of free WiFi systems at no cost to many parks. We usually contact the owners of RV parks and mobile home parks to survey those interested in a free system in person. Should any park owner want to see if their facility qualifies for a no cost system, all they have to do is email me with a contact name, phone number, and best time to call and I can get their survey completed by phone and email. I don't do sales, just surveys at no cost to the park. RV@rvroadie.com

We already have a number of parks up and running perfectly, have been quietly "lighting up" parks for more than a year, and have installations being scheduled daily. If any park owner wants to wait till we get to them in person that is fine too. One of our survey specialists will get to them within the year. If a park owner wants to be "first in," and have that advantage in their area or travel corridor, they can contact me at any time to see if their park will qualify within two business days of my initial survey. Many parks with over 150 RV sites will qualify, smaller ones may as well. Location, availability of phone lines, size, terrain and season length, all factor into the decision. For those that do not think they may qualify for the free system, they have alternatives too.

They ARE looking to qualify as many parks as they can find for free systems in the next few months. This is not a bait and switch sales ad. It is posted as information to park owners who want to find out, at no expense, if we can NOT sell them anything and just install it, as we already have for other parks.

I thought it was about time too!


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Old 12-01-2003, 11:26 AM   #4
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Derek,

A WiFi system like this is long overdue for the Campground industry. I'm sure it's expensive to wire an entire campground for site phone service.

We've stayed at campgrounds where they own the phone system and the office simply turns on an extension for your site. The monthly cost for the campground we are at now with this system is $21.00.

We've stayed at campgrounds where the sites are wired to the phone company but you have to initiate the service directly with the phone company. Monthly cost usually runs around $20 but there generally is a $50 initiation fee which makes it expensive for a 30 or 60 day stay.

And it's a pain in the neck to use office modem hook ups, particularly if you are doing banking or taxes.

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Old 12-01-2003, 12:03 PM   #5
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What is interesting is that the equipment to create a simple WiFi network in some campground should be only around $250. (An access-point, external antenna, and a firewall.) This assumes there are not a lot of trees and the cg is not too large. But, there are several problems and ongoing costs. If cable modems are available, the monthly cost might not be large, but you would not be able to resell it due to the service contract. But, let's assume a campground already has a cable modem or other full time internet connection. The might recover the initial costs just by selling the PC cards. If they are not reselling the service, they could just leave it 'open' to guests and put it on the dirty side of their firewall. No ongoing security or user tracking issues.

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Old 12-01-2003, 02:09 PM   #6
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Tony,
You are thinking within the box, and I just got your email and Daves and will answer as sson as I can. For parks that qualify, we pay all the ongoing costs ans they still make money, and we are about half the costs of other WiFi solutions. We intend to have a network by the ned of the year that will offer seamless access to RVrs for Internet at high speed. Tony I do not want to be a scan advertiser here, but I will answer your email and you can post back if what we offer is not virtually free for the customer. You see, we are the ISP, too, not just the phone line to your ISP. Saving more than the cost per month for our service as we are cheaper than the top three ISPs monthly charge just for their services, which many other WiFi services tack onto. For RVrs we want seamless one stop connectivity.

But first we need to expand our network, and we have the backing to do that as fast as we find every park we can install for free. That os why I answered but kept the particulars out of it. Not because we have anything to hide, but because we want to have the national network built up infrastructure wise this year first. When RVrs pull into them, the end user is assured. We can do a system for most parks, but are looking right now for those parks we can install for free. Does "build it, and they will come" sound familiar?

Right now we are building on a proven network.

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Old 12-01-2003, 02:42 PM   #7
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RV Roadie:
...if what we offer is not virtually free for the customer...We can do a system for most parks, but are looking right now for those parks we can install for free. Does "build it, and they will come" sound familiar?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
RV:

Perhaps I'm a cynic.

Whenever I hear that something is free, my distrust alarm sounds off.

I'm wise enough to know that nothing is free. And I really get suspect when I hear the phrase "virtually free".

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Old 12-01-2003, 04:30 PM   #8
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Russel,
Cynical is good! Not every park will have the sites, and of those, some will not have available phone lines, and of those, some will not have terrain features that lend themselves to having any wifi. That is reality.

At no charge for the survey, and an answer if they qualify within 48 hours, at no charge throughout the process, and for those that qualify, no further charge as they are "lit up" what do you think we are trying to do?


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[This message was edited by RV Roadie on Mon December 01 2003 at 08:49 PM.]
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Old 12-01-2003, 06:58 PM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RV Roadie:
up" what do you think we are trying to do?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Perhaps you are trying to get your foot in the door by offering "free" stuff now. Later, you begin charging fees to both the campgrounds and their customers.

Example. WinZip was a free program for years. Their product became synonymous with zip files. Then they changed the rules. Unless you sent them money and obtained a password, the software was non-functional after an introductory period.

But your company would never try a trick like that.

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Old 12-02-2003, 05:01 AM   #10
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I don't think we have enough information to judge RV Roadie or the company he is working with. Let's wait and see what comes up.

But, I want to backup a second and talk about WiFi or 'high-speed' internet access at RV parks in general and how campground owners might be able to offer it without involving a national company or user fees.

Let's start with campground OFFICE internet access and how you can leverage it for use by campers. (Not camper's access.) Some of the major options that now exist are:
1) No internet use or access
2) dial up
3) cable modem
4) DSL
5) 'special' data line (56K or T1 or whatever)

Of course, option 1 means that to offer anything, you have to move to one of the other options, which incurs an additional cost. If available, options 3 and 4 require a new monthly outlay of about $50 if you get it installed in your home and not the office. Commercial cost are about $200 month. Option 5 can get real expensive, but can be very reasonable.

Option 2 is usually requires a dedicated line for each computer pulse another line(s) for campers. But, there are options. I have used a 3Com product for several years that lets multiple computers share one dial up line. It autodials when access is requested and hangs up when it has been idle. The box is less than $100 on ebay right now. How can this help you as campground owners? How many phone lines are you paying for between your access and lines for campers? A box like this would allow any camper with an ethernet port on their laptops (all new laptops have them) to just hookup. Maybe you could eliminate a phone line. Maybe you could just eliminate a waiting line for a phone line. Maybe it will allow you to access the internet from multiple office computers at the same time. Any campground that is using dial-up now benefit from such a box. WiFi over such a box is also possible, but I would not recommend it.

Options 3 and 4 are very similar. All you need to let uses have high internet 'wired' access is to add a firewall/router/nat box that runs about $60. To add WiFi, just get one of those same boxes that has WiFi included. Linksys boxes with WiFi can be had for less than $100. But, this only gives you WiFi inside your office or maybe around the building. The little antenna just will not go though a lot of walls. Adding an external antenna would allow campers nearby to also use it but would cost maybe $200. To allow all camp sites to use it, you might have to spend a lot more money with additional access point boxes and antennas. (But is that really needed?)

Option 5 is means you already have some equipment and already can easily offer both high speed and WiFi to your customers with costs about the same or lower than options 3 and 4.

Now, let's look at the costs recovery aspect of the above options. If you are using option 3, then your service contract will usually state that you can not resell the service. I have not looked at the contracts for option 4, but it may say the same thing. If you are paying for option 5 now, then most likely, you can resell the service, but check your contract.

Let's assume you want to recover your costs and your contract allows it. The easiest method is to change the security/encryption code daily and sell the information to each camper. For example here, I will use $5 a day (but knowing campers, they may consider that too much). But, for this $5 a day per site, you also have the headache of the daily administration of the unit(s). Might be worth it, might not. Having an 'open' WiFi access point, although no revenue steam is generated, might be easiest. But, I will tell you that if you include "free WiFi" in your ads, you will attract some additional campers.

Now, my opinion. If available, get a cable modem or DSL line installed in your residence with a lower $50/month fee. Install a firewall/router/nat/WiFi unit with an external antenna for about $250. Make it an 'open' access point. Also run an ethernet cable to a "plug in" location. Advertise "free WiFi (selected sites)" and "free central high speed internet" Maybe these are the current "deluxe" sites which already cost a little more. Maybe these are new "deluxe with WiFi" sites. Just make sure you don't charge for the WiFi, but bury it into the site costs. Purchase some of the WiFi cards for laptops from ebay and have them available to 'rent' or sell to customers. ('Rent' means, sell the card to them, but if they return it before they leave, refund the purchase amount minus a 'restocking fee'. This way if they 'forget' to return the card, you are not out any money.) One thing to remember, even if you have "selected sites", anybody with a laptop can walk over and set it on a picnic table near the antenna and use it without being on one of the "deluxe sites". The closer sites will allow the use within their TT/5er because the signal strength is better near the antenna.

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Old 12-02-2003, 09:42 AM   #11
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RV Roadie:
Hi Tony!
We are already doing that for qualified RV parks and mobile home parks. I am a Park Survey Specialist for a proven provider of free WiFi systems at no cost to many parks. We usually contact the owners of RV parks and mobile home parks to survey those interested in a free system in person. Should any park owner want to see if their facility qualifies for a no cost system, all they have to do is email me with a contact name, phone number, and best time to call and I can get their survey completed by phone and email. I don't do sales, just surveys at no cost to the park. RV@rvroadie.com

We already have a number of parks up and running perfectly, have been quietly "lighting up" parks for more than a year, and have installations being scheduled daily. If any park owner wants to wait till we get to them in person that is fine too. One of our survey specialists will get to them within the year. If a park owner wants to be "first in," and have that advantage in their area or travel corridor, they can contact me at any time to see if their park will qualify within two business days of my initial survey. Many parks with over 150 RV sites will qualify, smaller ones may as well. Location, availability of phone lines, size, terrain and season length, all factor into the decision. For those that do not think they may qualify for the free system, they have alternatives too.

They ARE looking to qualify as many parks as they can find for free systems in the next few months. This is not a bait and switch sales ad. It is posted as information to park owners who want to find out, at no expense, if we can NOT sell them anything and just install it, as we already have for other parks.

I thought it was about time too!


RV<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Please contact me about the free system installation at our campground.

Thank you
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Old 12-02-2003, 11:08 AM   #12
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Russel,
Your skepticism is not at all unusual, and we encounter that a lot at first, until we tell them they do qualify for the parks that meet all the criteria. It is in our interests as we make our money from the end users that use the service, and so does the park. I can categorically state that we aren't using a come on and raising prices later. In fact we are about half the price to the end user as other services.

Unlike a few of them we are also the ISP, so our customers save the cost of the ISP and the phone line!

here are our customer fees:
Guest access fees are:
24 hours - $2.50
7 days - $12.00
1 month - $21.00

The guest has no commitment beyond what they purchase.

Believe it or not, with a large enough park, (150 or more, some as small as 100 in special cases) we can make a profit and cover all the costs, monthly line access bills, and do all the credit card authentication/authorization, and customer/end user support.

We have been doing this for more than a year, and when the survey is complete I provide the Park owner with names and numbers of the other parks already in our network, before they get a call back from the survey. It is at that point that they realize it is not any kind of scam. I truly enjoy their responses.

Tony,
The way we work is simple. As you mentioned the customer can use his own wifi modem or rent one, they connect, and see our logo, if they are new they indicate that and are transferred to a secure site where they sign up, pay, and are on the system. There are no passwords or the need of them per se as needed in public access systems. There is no billing or other labor intensive chores for the Park personnel either. Simple, effective, and really free.

I think what gets everybody is that until we complete the survey we don't know if the return will be worth the investment. In many cases since we use basic criteria it all proves out.

We ARE looking for parks that qualify. Other companies always charge for a share of each system. When we are approached by a smaller park we can and will quote them competitive rates that many have found to be attractive and gone ahead with immediately.

But by screening parks that are 150 and over we can qualify many.

The Park owners aren't babes in the woods. They have called and priced several other providers before they went with us. Especially the ones we can both make a profit on, with no cost to them. They are free to change providers at the end of any contract period too.

It really is that simple.

Park owners have held off because of the costs to do it themselves. Now we can remove that barrier for some of them. I never said all of them.

RV
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Old 12-02-2003, 11:46 AM   #13
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I will say that the end-user price structure you quote is very attractive.

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Old 12-02-2003, 06:47 PM   #14
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RV Roadie

How does your system compare to the following:

First 36 dBm is 4 watts of RF output power. The antenna gain is 12 dBi and
the maximum power level of 36 dBm or 4 watts is what the FCC allows. Since
most RV's are a large metal container, it might be good to get an external
antenna. In fact, the loaner kits we provide have an external 5 dB antenna
for the PC cards, the USB NIC's have an antenna that can be flipped up.
These antennas can be placed in a window to help improve reception. Also,
since it is radio and is subject to Rayleigh fading, moving the antenna or
laptop if there is not external antenna can greatly improve the reception
and performance.


Don't forget this is a 2-way technology so the computer has to talk back to
the Access Point, as much as the AP talks to the computer.


The way the 802.11 protocol works is that when there is enough signal
strength it runs at 11 Mbps, then first falls back to 5.5 Mbps (some
computers will say 6 Mbps), then 2 Mbps and finally 1 Mbps. Since the real
gating factor is not the WiFi speed, but the speed of the Internet Access
line, the over the air data rate usually exceeds the access speed. Even if
a Hot Spot has a full T-1 at 1.54 Mbps, the wireless part will be running
faster.

If your running more than 4 watts of power, your not legal with the FCC. How high are you putting your antenna? Do you run low loss hard line? What about the associated hardware?

Just a few questions inquiringn minds want to know.

Jim
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