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People enjoy going camping to get out of town, take a break from work and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Some of those folks look forward to fully disconnecting from their phones, computers, and the internet. However, many other folks like to still get Wi-Fi in the campground.
With the growth of “van life” and remote work, the necessity for having Wi-Fi in your campground has never been more important. Simply put, more people are enjoying the luxuries of working from the road and from their campsite. If you want to upgrade your business and bring Wi-Fi as an amenity to your campground, keep on reading to find out how.
In the days of yore, Wi-Fi in a campground was once unheard of. Slowly it has become more popular. Nowadays, it’s one of the best ways to set your campground apart from the others in the area.
In fact, in the hotel industry, guests rate Wi-Fi as one of the most important in-room amenities. You can imagine it has importance in the campground market as well.
Facilitating the installation of Wi-Fi yourself can be cumbersome. The internet connection often turns out to be clunky, and the process ends up being more costly than it should be.
To save yourself the headache, consider hiring a pro to bring Wi-Fi to your campground.
But if you consider yourself a proud ‘do-it-yourselfer,’ then keep on reading for our how-to guide to bringing Wi-Fi to your campground or RV park.
Before you consider doing the Wi-Fi upgrades yourself, we recommend gathering the materials you will need and devising a plan. The more you can have everything worked out ahead of time. The more smooth the transition will be.
To upgrade your campground with an internet connection, you will need:
To upgrade to Wi-Fi, you need to already have a pre-existing internet connection via Ethernet cable. This location is where you will need to install your first wireless router.
Without a pre-existing internet connection, you will not be able to bring Wi-Fi to your campground. If you don’t already have internet, for example, in your camp office, then the first item on the to-do list will be to install a basic internet connection. Groove Technology Solutions can provide you with a quote for your internet connection if you are in need to upgrade or to start service for the first time.
Before you can consider bringing Wi-Fi to your campground or RV park, you will save a lot of time if you make sure that you’re working with an up-to-date map of your facility.
If you don’t have a map already made, consider creating one. An easy fix can be to use Google Maps to get a birds-eye view of your property. Be sure to turn on the ‘satellite’ filter to see the most accurate representation of your campground.
With the map, you will be able to understand where all the buildings are located. This will help inform your decision on where you locate your internet access points. It will also help you plan for wireless interference. Interference to your wireless connection can come from:
Create “priority” zones on your map where you want to ensure that the strongest Wi-Fi signal is available, as opposed to areas where Wi-Fi access is not as important.
Priority zones could include:
With an up-to-date map of your campground and a strategic layout of your priority zones, you will be off to a good start for installing Wi-Fi as seamlessly as possible.
Wireless access points (WAP) are the areas in your campground where campers will be able to connect to the internet using their phones, tablets, or laptops. These WAPs should correlate directly with the priority zones you highlighted on your facility map in the beginning stages of planning.
Strategically located WAPs will allow campers to access the internet from their individual campsites or cabins. Or incentivize them to utilize common areas in order to access the internet. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide where the Wi-Fi will get used the most.
WAPs need to be installed in locations that will provide the best signal strength for the area that they will cover. You want to provide maximum coverage. However, you want to avoid coverage overlap.
Coverage overlap means that your internet coverage is not fully optimized. It occurs when your WAPs are located too close to one another. In general, you only need one WAP to cover any given area.
Some coverage overlap is inevitable. However, it should be minimized as much as possible.
After you have chosen and installed a WAP for your campground, we recommend completing some signal strength testing. The reason is that while you can estimate the coverage of your WAPs ahead of time, it will be impossible to account for interference until the WAP is powered up.
After you’ve built a WAP, signal strength testing will determine the actual efficiency and coverage of the WAP. This will determine where you place the rest of your WAPs if you choose to install more.
Even after you have your WAPs up and running, you may need to make changes as time goes on. You could install more WAPs or move them around in order to create the most accessible and efficient wireless network.
With your map laid out with locations with access to electrical power, priority zones, and WAPs, installing the internet hardware you will need is the next logical step. The hardware for bringing Wi-Fi to your campground is a conglomeration of cables, routers, and Wi-Fi extenders.
As we mentioned above, the first router for your Wi-Fi will be located wherever your pre-existing internet connection is located. Wireless routers serve as a gateway to access the internet.
The following wireless routers should be strategically located based on your prioritized WAPs.
Another piece of hardware you need to consider is Wi-Fi extenders, also known as boosters or repeaters. Wi-Fi extenders do exactly what they sound like. They extend your Wi-Fi coverage. They do this by amplifying the signal and transmitting the new boosted signal.
Wi-Fi extenders can be spread out across your campground in order to boost the signal coming from your wireless routers.
The strength of your Wi-Fi connection will depend on the quality of the router you choose. There are some important considerations to think about:
Single-band wireless routers operate over a 2.4 GHz radio band. This is the same band that cell phones and Bluetooth devices operate on, which could increase the signal interference you experience.
For less internet interference, we recommend you choose a dual-band wireless router. These routers are able to operate simultaneously on two bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Dual-band routers perform better and are actually easier to install.
Considering the widespread usage your internet access will provide, accessibility and security are key. We cannot recommend enough that the wireless router that you choose to come with the option for password-protected accessibility.
The password you choose for your guests should be easy to remember but still relatively secure. Consider using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Every so often, update the guest password to ensure that only current guests are accessing the internet.
Things tend to be rougher in the camping world. Because of that, it’s important that your Wi-Fi hardware be durable. Ideally, the hardware will be weatherproof, especially if you plan to use them in semi-outdoor locations, like pavilions or patios.
Not all routers and Wi-Fi extenders are weatherproofed. This means you might need to install additional protections, like a weatherproof box, to increase the longevity of your hardware.
Not all wireless routers are created equal when it comes to ease of installation. And considering you are taking on the project of bringing Wi-Fi to your campground yourself, it’ll be important to choose a router package that is known for being user-friendly.
Also, consider a router brand that is known for its high-quality customer service. You may require some help along the way. That is perfectly fine. Just make sure that the brand you go with has an active and enthusiastic customer service department.
In the event that your Wi-Fi isn’t working, it’s important to have a backup plan in place to avoid any unhappy campers. Here are some ideas that you can keep in your back pocket or even provide to customers if this happens.
It is 2021, after all. And there are lots of solutions to get connected to Wi-Fi internet:
If you are considering installing Wi-Fi at your campground but still like to travel and be a guest elsewhere, then consider some of our tips below.
Our recommendations will help you stay connected with your family and friends while you enjoy the open road. And check on your staff and the day-to-day back at the campground while you’re away.
Nowadays, you can connect a device to the USB port on your computer to access the internet. A Wi-Fi USB provides a basic 3G internet connection. You can subscribe to a plan from anywhere between $30 and $50. Just make sure to check the coverage of your device ahead of time to make sure you’ll have Wi-Fi wherever you end up camping.
Creating a mobile hotspot with your telephone or tethering is a great way to access the internet on the go. Tethering is the process of using a data-driven device, most often a cellphone, to access the internet with devices that don’t have cell phone data plans like laptops or tablets.
Tethering to a cell phone hotspot will require that you upgrade your current cell phone plan and pay additional fees. The plan you choose will depend on just much data you think you will need to use in between being connected to normal Wi-Fi networks.
Much like the extenders that we talked about above, Wi-Fi boosters rely on an already existing Wi-Fi internet connection. They boost the strength of the Wi-Fi so that it is more easily transmittable to your device.
Wi-Fi Boosters are handy if you intentionally seek out campgrounds that already have Wi-Fi. In some cases, the coverage may be spotty or may not reach your campsite. But with a booster, you could enhance the signal and continue working from wherever you choose.
These devices work much like a Wi-Fi USB, except that they provide a more reliable internet connection. Instead of being plugged up and connected to a pre-existing internet connection, portable Wi-Fi routers operate off of battery power and create their own internet signal.
Like the Wi-Fi USB, mobile routers only operate within a given coverage area. You will want to check your coverage ahead of time to make sure it exists for the location you are traveling to.
These tend to be more expensive than USB devices and boosters but less expensive than satellite Wi-Fi.
If you require an extremely reliable and unquestionably strong internet connection while you are at the campground, satellite Wi-Fi may be your best option. Satellite Wi-Fi does not rely on a mobile network and therefore has increased coverage.
Satellite Wi-Fi requires additional hardware and installation. It is by far the most expensive option. However, depending on the nature of your business and your budget, it could be worth the investment to stay connected while on the road.
The most affordable option, but perhaps the least reliable, is to seek out sources of free Wi-Fi as you travel. In some cases, the campgrounds you stay in could offer Wi-Fi. If they do, make sure to get the password upon arrival and ask about where the wireless access points are located. These areas will have the strongest connection.
There are loads of other locations where you can connect to the internet for free. You may have to spend a bit more time in town, but it could be worth it to save money on Wi-Fi plans and extra hardware.
To score free Wi-Fi, check out places like:
Some places, mostly coffee shops and restaurants, will have no problem if you use their Wi-Fi so long as you are a customer, which means you may have to purchase something in order to get the password. This is also a great way to beef up support for other local businesses.
However, other public locations like parks, libraries, museums, or campuses can offer accessible internet without the need for a password. It may just require that you connect to the internet in a strategic location that is within coverage.
The time to bring Wi-Fi to your campground is now. The number of professionals who are working on the road and need access to the internet from their campground is growing. Offering Wi-Fi at your campground as an amenity could separate your business from the rest and increase traffic to your campground.
Installing Wi-Fi in your campground can be done by yourself. However, depending on your knowledge of the topic and the complexity of your individual case, hiring a professional may be worth it.
Groove Technology Solutions can provide reliable, simple, and secure Wi-Fi to improve your campground and the satisfaction of your guests. Better yet, their service network extends to all 50 states.
What sets Groove Technology Solutions apart is its excellent and friendly 24/7 customer service. They are loyal to their customers and will walk you through the worry-free Wi-Fi installation process in order to keep you involved from the get-go.
Contact us to get started. And bring your campground into the future with accessible and powerful Wi-Fi.