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Old 09-27-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
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Wifi connection in a campground that doesn't offer Wifi?

My husband and I will be camping soon in a forested campground in our local mountains. Website says they have no cable or Wifi connections. Having no cable is fine, since we have a Direct TV satellite. But we have our laptops, and would like to have internet connection. Is there something called a "Mobile Hotspot" device (from Verizon) that works well? I've read online that depending on which device you choose, you can connect up to 10 devices to it. Will something like that work, even in a park that has no Wifi connection at all, or does it only help if a park has a weak Wifi connection?
I'm clueless about all this
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Old 09-27-2012, 02:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carolanded View Post
My husband and I will be camping soon in a forested campground in our local mountains. Website says they have no cable or Wifi connections. Having no cable is fine, since we have a Direct TV satellite. But we have our laptops, and would like to have internet connection. Is there something called a "Mobile Hotspot" device (from Verizon) that works well? I've read online that depending on which device you choose, you can connect up to 10 devices to it. Will something like that work, even in a park that has no Wifi connection at all, or does it only help if a park has a weak Wifi connection?
I'm clueless about all this
Mobile Hotspots use cellphone service to get to the Internet, not wifi. The iPhone 4 and later has a built in hotspot which will support up to 5 devices (on Verizon anyway). The phone becomes a local wifi hub, and your other devices like laptops connect to it using wifi.
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Old 09-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #3
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You bet. We have never relied on park wifi and instead use a previous generation of the technology you're talking about. We have a Verizon USB modem plugged in to a portable wireless router which gives us our own wireless network in the coach pretty much wherever we are.

We use an external cellular antenna for it too and after being in >40 states have almost never not been able to access the internet... even when we can't even get cell calls to go through.

BTW, if the park is really wooded you might have trouble with the satellite connection too.

Best of luck

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:14 PM   #4
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If the park is heavily wooded, you will need a remote dish to get to an open shot at the satellite. Most roof top mounts will not hack it.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:36 PM   #5
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There are a number of ways to use cell service for your laptops. Most smart phones on any network can be used to provide a WiFi signal. There is usually an additional cost with various use levels - the more you use, the more it cost. The problem with using your phone is if one of you takes the phone away, the other looses their internet connection.

Most cell companies offer "MiFi" devices - they provide a cell based WiFi that is good for 5 - 10 devices.

In most cases unless you want to pay full price for the device, you must do a contract, usually 2 years.

There are some alternative cell data providers that offer internet connections without contracts. For example, do a search for Millenicom. They offer a couple of different plans on Sprint or Verizon with no contract.

One point - many forest service campgrounds are in areas not covered by any cell service provider. If you are camping in one of them you will not be able to make a connection. Most providers have localized maps showing their coverage - if you know where you are going it is worth checking the detailed maps to see which provider (if any) covers the areas you plan to camp..
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:44 PM   #6
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Our cellphone from Telus does not get reception at our house out in the country. Just a bit too far from the main road corridor of cellphone service. However, the Telus Aircard WiFi hotspot that we got for our trailer when travelling pulls in a 4G signal at the house! Not sure why there is a difference, other than the phone is pretty basic and not wi-fi.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:04 PM   #7
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Using a T-Mobile hot spot as I type this,, Like Verizon it's a cellular service, Verizon has, per everyone, better coverage.. I'm not that thrilled with their cuss-some-more service however which is why I'm with T-Mobile.

By the way, very happy with it so far.. (less than a week) works well, I'm currently on "Edge' level though not 4G,, 4G when it works is fantastic.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:03 AM   #8
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I have a Verizion Droid Global & my wife has an AT&T i-Phone 4, both "smart phones" that get the typical 3G signal for internet browsing etc... and they both came with the built in Wifi hotspot capability. Both service providers will charge extra for that even though it uses the same 3G signal. What we found is an "app" called PDA Net. It's free for either device and works around the built in Wifi stuff. When it installed on my Android it's called FoxFi, but on hers it was still PDA Net; not sure since we both downloaded the same named app.
If you search your "app-store" for free wifi hotspot look for PDA Net. We've been using it for the last three months while traveling from FL > MT and have had great results. It helps that she's AT&T & I'm Verizon because one of us will almost always have a signal even in some of the most remote state parks we've been in. You can still use your phone while connected to your computer too!
I am posting this using it and my phone just rang!
Best of luck!
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:33 AM   #9
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I have a hotspot in my Galaxy 10 tablet from Verizon and I find it very handy, however since system uses cell phone tower then if I do not have enough "bars" on cell phone then I most likely will not get good signal for tablet/computer. I mention this because my home is in a low area that often does not have good signal strength, this usually translates to very slow Internet via hotspot. The hotspot may be sold as a 4G product just like your phone but do not expect to get 4G very often and in rural areas you may be lucky to get many bars of 3G. Hotspot packages can also limit ones use (ex. 2G/month) so it is best to be careful in some use, such as downloads, so to not go over alloted amount (good rule is to control downloads using WiFi as often as possible).

I take a trip to mountains of New Mexico usually at least once a year and in that area I can not get cell phone use at all, thus no Internet via hotspot. There even satellite phone is "iffy".
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:27 AM   #10
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I have Sprint as my cell provider and have installed a free app called WiFi tether. With this app I can connect my laptop to my phone and use my ulimited data plan as much as I need to. No cables required and no software installed on my laptop. It looks like just another wifi network. You can also control who can connect to your phone just in case your neigbors discover your phone as well as add encryption to the connection.

Good luck
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:42 AM   #11
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We use our us cellular android phone's hotspot mode when we need to, along with a wilson trucker amp to help pull in the signal in remote areas.
There are still places where there is no signal to be had when your way out in the boonies.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harv12
I have a Verizion Droid Global & my wife has an AT&T i-Phone 4, both "smart phones" that get the typical 3G signal for internet browsing etc... and they both came with the built in Wifi hotspot capability. Both service providers will charge extra for that even though it uses the same 3G signal. What we found is an "app" called PDA Net. It's free for either device and works around the built in Wifi stuff. When it installed on my Android it's called FoxFi, but on hers it was still PDA Net; not sure since we both downloaded the same named app.
If you search your "app-store" for free wifi hotspot look for PDA Net. We've been using it for the last three months while traveling from FL > MT and have had great results. It helps that she's AT&T & I'm Verizon because one of us will almost always have a signal even in some of the most remote state parks we've been in. You can still use your phone while connected to your computer too!
I am posting this using it and my phone just rang!
Best of luck!
I "searched" the Apple store for PDA Net....no luck? Are you sure this is the correct name for this app?
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:02 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone! All replies were very informative. We talked to Verizon, and we're going to use the hotspot that I already have on my phone (Droid Razr), with a small monthly fee each time we go out in the RV, and need to use it..I think its like $20/month. My phone has unlimited data, so it works for us...we could have used their Mobile Hotspot device...but it would have changed our plan and actually have cost us more $$. So we'll call Verizon just before we take off next week, and test it out! As far as our satellite working in a forested area...yes, we've had that problem before...too many trees, no signal. We have a pretty open site this time, and its close to civilization, so hopefully it will work. NOT that we have to be tied to internet and TV while we're gone..but it does make the long evenings a little more enjoyable, and its nice to know we have it if we need it.

Thanks!
Carol
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:38 PM   #14
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My husband and I will be camping soon in a forested campground in our local mountains. Website says they have no cable or Wifi connections. Having no cable is fine, since we have a Direct TV satellite. But we have our laptops, and would like to have internet connection. Is there something called a "Mobile Hotspot" device (from Verizon) that works well? I've read online that depending on which device you choose, you can connect up to 10 devices to it. Will something like that work, even in a park that has no Wifi connection at all, or does it only help if a park has a weak Wifi connection?
I'm clueless about all this
We have the Verizon MiFi portable hot-spot. It works very well but we travel and camp and snow-bird from middle TN east, north and south. I don't know what it would be like out west where there are less towers and towns. We can hook 5 devices to ours and get 5 GBs a month download or are charged more. The CG or park doesn't have anything to do with your personal hot-spot just make sure it's security enabled so moochers don't latch on.
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