How to Set-Up a Commercial WiFi Network ?

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UK-RV

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Hi Guys

Whilst looking at the CGs back in the UK, Ive come to the conclusion that very few offer a WiFi service (or even a shared pc in office area).

I was wondering about the technicalities of installing wifi services at CGs - what's involved.

There may be an opportunity for us to continue travelling in the UK (and Europe) - installing such systems in exchange for free camping or for a fee.

Im thinking it would be easy to set-up "home style" WiFi networks which would probably be fine for many of our small CGs, but others may want a chargeable system with Login/Payment pages etc.

I appreciate ISPs operate on higher tarifs back home, but I would think the tech side would be identical.

Any ideas please?

Paul
 

AlGriefer

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UK-RV said:
...
I was wondering about the technicalities of installing wifi services at CGs - what's involved.
...

There's lots of differences, mostly due to area, topology of the park, and the RVs themselves.  Many parks in the US advertise WiFi, but few provide it well to all areas of the park.  At my home park, the management went through a number of WISPs until they finally found one that installed the proper equipment.  This included eight high powered commercial-grade WAPs feeding high gain directional antennas that were mounted approx 25 feet high in varios parts of the park.  This park is approx 1/4 mile square and almost completely flat!

Al
 

Bob Buchanan

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UK-RV said:
Im thinking it would be easy to set-up "home style" WiFi networks which would probably be fine for many of our small CGs, but others may want a chargeable system with Login/Payment pages etc.

Parks are going several different ways, according to a number a factors. On one end of the spectrum are those parks that want nothing to do with service, maintenance, and so forth. Those parks like to go with the company's that install and service everything. The RVer dials in and ususally uses a CC for X number of minutes, days, or whatever. If the RVer can't get his laptop to work properly, getting them going is "not" a service of that park. Usually, anyone within a few miles of the park can use the service as well. Some of these vendors split income with the park, whereas others don't. The primary benefit to the park is that they can advertise really good high speed wi-fi.

Another approach is that the park will purchase and have all the equipment installed, will rent wi-fi cards for RVers that need them, plus will assist them in getting up and running. They then receive all the income to amortize the cost of setting up the system.

Another alternative that you may want to explore for "just" a home system is where the wi-fi is only available in the park office -- or certain sites close to the office.

Unless the park has an owner, manager, or consultant that is technically qualified -- most will shy away from the later approaches. It can be a real hassle having RVers complain and ask for assistance constantly. At QZ each Spring, we have a number of "home" type system operational. However, we also have freebee help to get set up gladly available. If Ned charged for his services at his hourly rate, he could easily live on that the rest of the year. :) Bottom line, if you install such a service to an RV park, the subject of who is going to service the system and the RVer will be a primary question and concern.

The equipment needed is basically the same -- just bigger and stronger. A larger dish, or dishes can be involved -- plus repeaters (not sure of the name here) that boost the signal to every nook and cranny of a park.? Equipment vendors will vary. As we are not talking mobile units, the realm of possibility goes beyond Starband and Direcway.

My response has been kinda "broad brush", but I hope it conveys the overall concept and concerns of vendors, park owners, and RVers.
 

bajadudes

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As excellently outlined above there are quite a few ways to go.? In the realm of turnkey systems with captive portals that customers get when they connect and use a credit card to purchase time is a company called Nomad ISP.? I think you can become a dealer for them and they supply you with everything you need to sell and install including designing the initial web page the customer sees when they try to connect.? They share the revenue with the campground and give the dealer a commission also.? I don't really know the details or fine print but I remember attending a seminar they gave a few years back and it seemed impressive.? they have a pretty detailed website that explains it all at www.nomadisp.com

I think another is http://www.wifirv.com/

I am sure there are others out there also.?
 

Tom

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Paul,

You might care to check the regulations in the UK & Europe with respect to allowable frequencies and transmit power. I know that my FCC approved (U.S.) WiFi notebook was able to communicate both ways with the router/access point at a relative's home in the UK, so maybe the allowed frequency bands are either the same or overlap. Some years ago all kinds of transmission equipment was tightly controlled by BT and its predecessor in the UK, e.g. simple 2-way walkie talkies used to be illegal there, but hopefully things have changed since then.

You might contact one or both of the companies that bajadudes referred you to and ask if they have equipment approved for the UK &/or Europe. Also, run a Google on 'WiFi UK' and several sites comes up that might provide some clues &/or contacts.

BTW it sounds like it could be a nice source of income if you could make it work, assuming of course there's a market for it.
 

olley

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Hi Paul if the campsite is in the country, as a lot are, they will not be able to get broadband.

Theirs a test of various domestic routers in one of the PC mags, none of them could go more than 40'. Mine at home will not reach inside our RV which is right outside the bungalow. So I don't think a home system would be any good.

Olley
 

blueblood

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olley said:
Hi Paul if the campsite is in the country, as a lot are, they will not be able to get broadband.

Theirs a test of various domestic routers in one of the PC mags, none of them could go more than 40'. Mine at home will not reach inside our RV which is right outside the bungalow. So I don't think a home system would be any good.

Olley

There is something wrong with a router that won't reach 40' unless the walls are steel. My problem in our neighborhood is having my enabled laptops pickup, when I get home from a trip, the neighbors signal and lock it  before I can get the security on mine released to have them pickup mine and connect.  The distance is a lot more than 40 ft.  Tried to talk neighbors into securing thiers i.e not broadcasting the SSID for their benefit, as well as , mine but I get shrugs.
 

Tom

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Leo,

I don't know if it's significant enough to attenuate the signal, but the walls of Olley's house (and most houses in the UK) are likely to be either double thickness of bricks or one layer of bricks and a second of concrete blocks. Quite different from a stick house.
 

olley

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Hi guys, just dug the mag out and reread it, got it a bit wrong  :-[ :-[ They tested 11 routers some with the new 802.11n standard, (the fastest claimed 300Mb/sec) This was done in a real world environment, ie in an office with other networks, mobile phones and a microwave.

They were tested at 10metres in the same room and at 20metres, with two walls in the way, the fastest only reached 30Mb sec in the short range and 20 in the long range. with 1 failing to connect in the long range and 6 less than 5Mb sec.

They listed bandwidth requirements as follows: MP3 0.2Mb/sec, uncompressed CD audio 1.4Mb/sec, highly compressed DivX files 4Mb/sec and MPEG2 11Mb/sec.

In a typical Camping Club site with 20' between units, you are going to need a lot of repeaters to get decent coverage, and slow performance once a few people go on-line together.

And your right Tom two brick walls and a cavity.

Olley
 

Tom

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Hi Olley,

A campground installation would definitely need different antenna(e), such as the ones shown on NomadISP's site and higher power. Type and location of antenna appear to make the difference between successful and unsuccessful installations we've experienced at different campgrounds. The same is true of antenna used in an RV and our resident experts here recommend one or more antenna that can be oiriented towards the base antenna for best results.

A number of folks here have satellite internet dishes on the roofs of our RVs and open up access to fellow campers at RV Forum rallies and other small gatherings. (Count the dishes on the roofs of RVs in the attached photo I took at one of our rallies earlier this year). Folks without dishes are usually able to get online this way, but the results I've seen vary significantly based on relative locations of access point at one end and the type and location of antenna at the other. Our in-home systems aren't really intended for this purpose and, as has already been mentioned, it sometimes takes some hand holding by one of the resident experts to get folks online.

When we first moved to this house, I was unable to get broadband from either the cable company or the phone company, which was a huge disappointment since I'd previously been on cable almost since its inception in the San Francisco Bay area. Soon after we moved, an enterprising guy put up an antenna atop a 25 foot pole on the roof of his house, brought in T1 lines and offered wireless to the community. It meant that his customers had to buy roof mounted antennae and pole mounted amplifiers, but he made a successful business out of it. Unfortunately for him, when the cable company was sold to Comcast a few years later, the first thing the new owners did was replace all the underground cables with fiber optic and knock on every door with a "special introductory offer".

(For clarification, I'm not one of the resident WiFi experts.)
 

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Gary RV_Wizard

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I've done this in one park and helped plan an upgrade in another.  While setting up a wifi system is pretty simple, getting 100% coverage in an RV park can be a really knotty problem. If you are willing to settle for 75% or so coverage, it stays pretty simple.  High power, commercial grade components are readily available, though the price is 5x-8x that of home system components.

But I suspect the largest problem in many parks is where/how to get high speed internet access and how much it costs. For most users, a wireless network is nothing unless it provides a shared internet connection that operates at relatively high speeds from the perspective of the individual user. That means a good high speed internet connection (broadband of some sort or a T1-grade phone line), which may not be available in a rural area or may be quite expensive.
 

olley

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Hi tom sharing a satellite connection is not really an option in Europe, buying the dish alone will cost upwards of ?6000.00 with ?80-100.00 per month subscription charge, and its not unlimited :eek: so sharing with your mates could work out rather expensive.

Olley
 

Tom

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That's an expensive dish Olley! Would that be for an automatic one? The monthly fee is also outrageous.

Most non-commercial plans here aren't unlimited either; The way that one provider handles it is, in addition to limiting the speed, they measure how much is downloaded in a given period of time and, if you exceed some limit, they throttle your service back to a crawl until sufficient time has passed that they'll increase the rate again. They call it 'Fair access policy' (or FAP). Think of it as a bucket being filled by a tap at a constant rate; As long as the bucket isn't emptied too fast, you're OK. But, if the bucket is emptied in a hurry, the FAP kicks in until the bucket is full again.

Folks who share the connection of their friends here don't take advantage and try to download huge amounts of stuff. But I know that, in the UK, if something is "free" folks make hay while the sun shines  ;D
 

olley

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Hi Tom yes fully automatic datastorm, one of the guys on MHF (sprocket) has just had one fitted, pays a slightly lower monthly rate but only has 125Kb download, you normaly get a montly allowance but go over that and you get hammered.

I believe Sky do a system as well, which uses your existing dish, but you need a phone link for the upload, and they used to restrict the sites you could access, this may have changed.

The dealers over here are waiting for a somebody to bring out a dish for about ?2000 with unlimited connection for about ?40.00 a month, if anyone does they will make a killing.

Until then its 56k on my data card  ;D

Olley
 

Tom

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olley said:
The dealers over here are waiting for a somebody to bring out a dish for about ?2000 with unlimited connection for about ?40.00 a month, if anyone does they will make a killing.

Unless a UK company comes out with the dish, you probably wouldn't see that hardware price for some time. But then they'd be crimped by the relatively small market anyway. When I worked for multi-nationals and used to price products, doing the math of shipping across the Atlantic, VAT, markup for the UK operation, etc, the UK price was often double the U.S. price. Eventually, corporate customers got smart and would find ways to buy direct from the U.S.
 

olley

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Tom said:
Unless a UK company comes out with the dish, you probably wouldn't see that hardware price for some time. But then they'd be crimped by the relatively small market anyway. When I worked for multi-nationals and used to price products, doing the math of shipping across the Atlantic, VAT, markup for the UK operation, etc, the UK price was often double the U.S. price. Eventually, corporate customers got smart and would find ways to buy direct from the U.S.

Saving money thats the excuse us brits use to visit the US, we may moan about you at times, but its a beautiful country with some very friendly people if the guys I met at Ben****ers and woodbridge air bases are anything to go by.

Olley
 

UK-RV

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Thanks for those replies guys.

I've found a few forums which discuss the European aspect of WiFi networks so will do a bit of research.

Thanks

Paul
 

Tom

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Please let us know what you find out Paul, thanks.
 

rhmahoney

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Leo: "My problem in our neighborhood is having my enabled laptops pickup, when I get home from a trip, the neighbors signal and lock it  before I can get the security on mine released to have them pickup mine and connect."

On my Mac, the network setup allows me to select  "Preferred networks" and thus ignore the neighbors.
 
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