Is It Ok To Charge For Wifi

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by drmcleod, Jul 18, 2008.

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Campground WiFi should:

  1. be Free to entice more campers to the c/g

    7 vote(s)
    58.3%
  2. be Free in the more "deluxe" sites

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. be charged for on a per usage basis (recieve an access code at check in if paid for)

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  4. be Charged for by an outside agency when loggin on

    2 vote(s)
    16.7%
  5. not be a part of the camping experience (leave your technology at home)

    2 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. docj

    docj
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    If the low-speed free service didn't work out then the answer to that would be to eliminate it.

    As for whether or not the high speed service would be attractive, I think the only way to find out would be to try it. If you are a park owner who has already made the investment in a WiFi system and is getting beaten up over its poor performance then this "pay to play" approach could be something to try before you eliminate it totally.

    I do know of parks that have re-allocated their spending and have taken the money they used to spend on cable TV and have switched it to paying for their internet service. So many things can be streamed now and so many people are becoming knowledgeable on how to do it, that eliminating TV hasn't been such a big deal.

    One advantage to the customer is that instead of having to put up with basic cable which is all that most parks offer, customers can, for example, access HBO Go or Showtime on Demand if they happen to pay for these channels at home. They are no longer dependent on the park for their video content.
     
  2. hypogi

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    All of these posts are really on point. I feel like we are all having the same conversation just in a different language. I try not to take a "blame the customer" approach to anything but sometimes it is the customers fault. It's also not fair to take a "blame the merchant" approach to everything either.

    I feel your frustration as a camper when a place offers wifi and fails to provide it. I've been to more parks that have this issue than ones that provide really excellent wifi. For many owners putting up a single Netgear box in the office is enough for them to justify the claim that they have wifi. It's misleading and unfortunate because it make the other campgrounds that really try to provide full coverage look bad as well.

    Furthermore, comparing it to McDonalds wifi is completely unfair for a lot of reasons. McD's only has to provide wifi to a single building, a couple hundred square feet at most. A campground has to try and cover acres and acres of space across hilly and wooded terrain. It's a completely different set of challenges.

    What I think most people fail to recognize is that wifi is a two way signal. I could have the biggest amplifier allowed by law but if the receiving computer can't transmit back to the access point it wont make a bit of difference.

    We do view the wifi as a profit generating amenity. We just choose not to bill for it individually. It's wrapped up in the cost of the night stay, same as cable, electric, water, et cetera. We tried charging for wifi before and it just seemed to cause more problems than it solved. Campers are happier with free wifi. I really like the idea of being able to provide tiered service where the basic wifi is free but higher speed internet can be purchased. I'm just not sure of the logistics of doing something like that. I don't think you can guarantee a faster connection, and if you are charging for it you had better be able to provide it. If you get one joker out in your park playing video poker or a couple people streaming netflix they can bring your whole system to a crawl. I suppose if you had somebody to monitor usage full time you could do it but it just doesn't seem practical to me. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I'm only speculating.
     
  3. dalsgal

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    QUOTE(hypogi @ May 2 2014, 11:18 AM) [snapback]36436[/snapback]



    Furthermore, comparing it to McDonalds wifi is completely unfair for a lot of reasons. McD's only has to provide wifi to a single building, a couple hundred square feet at most. A campground has to try and cover acres and acres of space across hilly and wooded terrain. It's a completely different set of challenges.



    We do view the wifi as a profit generating amenity. We just choose not to bill for it individually. It's wrapped up in the cost of the night stay, same as cable, electric, water, et cetera. We tried charging for wifi before and it just seemed to cause more problems than it solved. Campers are happier with free wifi. I really like the idea of being able to provide tiered service where the basic wifi is free but higher speed internet can be purchased. I'm just not sure of the logistics of doing something like that. I don't think you can guarantee a faster connection, and if you are charging for it you had better be able to provide it. If you get one joker out in your park playing video poker or a couple people streaming netflix they can bring your whole system to a crawl. I suppose if you had somebody to monitor usage full time you could do it but it just doesn't seem practical to me. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I'm only speculating.



    Another thing that causes a problem with WiFi many times is the RV itself. Recently we had a man living her that got great WiFi reception for months. Then he bought a new RV and could barely connect at all and was in the exact same spot. We also have families come in with several kids and they all have their computers/tablets and each one wants to download a different movie or game at the same time. There are so many variables that can affect service. Generally we have no problem with anyone getting online and having a great, and fast, connection. We do have a good many people that work in the area so they live in their RV's and some of them must connect with their jobs by the internet. For most of those relying on their cell phone for internet does not work. We provide, at no cost to anyone, the internet service. There is no cost added to the fees because the campground itself gets it free in exchange for a company putting their tower in the corner of our property.
     
  4. TheLearningBanks

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    QUOTE(docj @ Apr 30 2014, 12:32 PM) [snapback]36403[/snapback]

    Personally, I think that most RV park owners approach the WiFi issue with a small business mindset and always think of it as a "cost" rather than as a potential "profit center". I think park owners fail to realize that people would pay good money to be guaranteed a decent internet connection. Even though most smart phones can be used as wifi hotspots the typical cellular customer doesn't pay for a data plan to support any significant amount of steaming. Paying to use an RV parks's internet may be less expensive than paying for overages on a data plan.


    I think you're absolutely right. I also think it might be prudent to educate park owners about how much additional business they might earn by procuring (and offering) better internet access. For my wife and I, who depend on good internet access to be able to work, the combination of decent (or better) WiFi and good (or better) 4G signal availability is a bit of a necessity if we want to stay for more than just a day or two.

    For us, we'll gladly pick a lesser park with better wifi, even if it means paying for access, though we specifically seek out parks with good free intenet whenever possible.

    QUOTE
    There's no reason why a park can't setup free, bandwidth-restricted internet service for its customers while at the same time providing a limited number of high speed internet connections that are not subject to restriction (or with a limit high enough to provide high quality streaming). The high speed connections would have their own passwords and the park would sell time on them to customers who wanted to stream movies, etc. Time could be sold by the day or by the hour.


    Agreed.

    I'm working on putting together a free resource for park owners that addresses many of these concerns and provides hard data to help them understand the risks and benefits. Ultimately, as with hotels, I think RV park owners will arrive at the conclusion that providing good internet access will earn them significantly more business, with minimal additional overhead.

    It's also reasonably easy for park owners to throttle certain types of traffic (streaming audio and video), and cache other types of traffic, resulting in excellent performance for general use while simultaneously preventing rampant abuse by visitors who don't understand how or when to limit their own usage.
     
  5. Kawhiacamp

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    QUOTE(taylorbanks @ May 6 2014, 12:19 PM) [snapback]36453[/snapback]

    It's also reasonably easy for park owners to throttle certain types of traffic (streaming audio and video), and cache other types of traffic, resulting in excellent performance for general use while simultaneously preventing rampant abuse by visitors who don't understand how or when to limit their own usage.


    I brought a camping ground 8 months ago and have been playing around trying to find the best balance between customer service and business profitability with wifi. I didn't want to charge for wifi unless I absolutely had to so when I first arrived I simply opened up the wifi with no restrictions. This was great for the guests but here in New Zealand we have to purchase data plans for a set amount per month (60GB in my case), if we go over we get charged a considerable amount per GB. After a few kids over the holiday period were averaging a usage of 4GB per day I was forced to place restrictions.

    My solutions was to use a free / low cost service www.hotspotsystem.com which enabled me to offer free wifi to guests that is restricted to a certain amount of data per period. If they want more then they have the capability of purchasing more online. I don't restrict speed since being rural speed here is dismal anyway. The cost to the camp is nil unless they choose to purchase wherein I get 70% of the amount. I found that 100MB per 24hrs in the holiday period and 200MB in the off season has worked well as this allows for general email and browsing including up to an hour of video Skype calls. 3rd party systems like HotSpot (there are others out there) allow the control of wifi to be easily set up, flexible to the camps needs (ability to offer free wifi etc), have simple international payment options and keep good records and analysis of individual and total usage.
     
  6. docj

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    Thanks for sharing that link. I realize it's of no use in the US, but it appears to be exactly the sort of systems approach that I had been advocating. I like the idea of cost-sharing the profits as a way of keeping basic installation and operating costs low. Now all we need is for someone in the US to be creative enough to implement something similar.

    QUOTE
    I really like the idea of being able to provide tiered service where the basic wifi is free but higher speed internet can be purchased. I'm just not sure of the logistics of doing something like that. I don't think you can guarantee a faster connection, and if you are charging for it you had better be able to provide it. If you get one joker out in your park playing video poker or a couple people streaming netflix they can bring your whole system to a crawl. I suppose if you had somebody to monitor usage full time you could do it but it just doesn't seem practical to me. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I'm only speculating.


    Using a "total solution" like this should go a long way to meeting the concerns expressed above. The software will control each customer's usage so one individual can't ruin it for everyone. In addition if the park implements its internet through a guaranteed connection such as a T3 line then there would be far less risk that the internet connection won't deliver the promised speed.
     
  7. NYDutch

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    A dedicated T-3 line is only 50Mb, and can cost $4,000 to as much as $16,000 per month. I recently worked on an OC-3 fiber installation (155Mb) for a business that's paying $38,000 per month for a Tier 1 connection.
     
  8. Kawhiacamp

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    QUOTE(docj @ May 7 2014, 01:57 AM) [snapback]36460[/snapback]

    Thanks for sharing that link. I realize it's of no use in the US, but it appears to be exactly the sort of systems approach that I had been advocating. I like the idea of cost-sharing the profits as a way of keeping basic installation and operating costs low. Now all we need is for someone in the US to be creative enough to implement something similar.


    HotSpot Systems can be used internationally. In fact 1665 enterprises including camping grounds in America already do. The company itself is based in Hungary. There are others around as well that I had a quick look at but they all either had a cost attached that I was unwilling to pay or were not as flexible (i.e. the use of vouchers only for free wifi).

    The solutions are out there but I think a lot of CG's think that if they can make money from charging for wifi they will without taking into the account the marketing aspect of free wifi (it is a large draw card for my camp). Also if they get a third party to set up the hardware then the installer would most likely use their own system or the software company they have an agreement with and these are likely to be restricted to charged wifi only.
     
  9. hypogi

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    QUOTE(docj @ May 6 2014, 09:57 AM) [snapback]36460[/snapback]

    Thanks for sharing that link. I realize it's of no use in the US, but it appears to be exactly the sort of systems approach that I had been advocating. I like the idea of cost-sharing the profits as a way of keeping basic installation and operating costs low. Now all we need is for someone in the US to be creative enough to implement something similar.
    Using a "total solution" like this should go a long way to meeting the concerns expressed above. The software will control each customer's usage so one individual can't ruin it for everyone. In addition if the park implements its internet through a guaranteed connection such as a T3 line then there would be far less risk that the internet connection won't deliver the promised speed.



    One thing that you might be overlooking here is the location of many campgrounds. A lot of us are out in rural areas. Our only internet option for a long time was Hughes.net. Which if you have never used, let me tell you, it's terrible. We were better off with NO internet than we were with Hughesnet. so the idea of getting a T3 line at our location is pretty unrealistic. Heck, we can't even get cable TV delivered out here let alone a T3 line.
     
  10. TheLearningBanks

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    QUOTE(Kawhiacamp @ May 6 2014, 03:05 PM) [snapback]36462[/snapback]

    HotSpot Systems can be used internationally. In fact 1665 enterprises including camping grounds in America already do. The company itself is based in Hungary. There are others around as well that I had a quick look at but they all either had a cost attached that I was unwilling to pay or were not as flexible (i.e. the use of vouchers only for free wifi).


    A few other great free or low-cost options for CG's that want to DIY (or hire a consultant to implement on low-cost hardware):

    http://www.hotspotpa.com/
    http://dev.wifidog.org/wiki/Features
    http://www.packetfence.org/
    http://www.facebookwifi.me.uk/

    QUOTE
    The solutions are out there but I think a lot of CG's think that if they can make money from charging for wifi they will without taking into the account the marketing aspect of free wifi (it is a large draw card for my camp).


    I absolutely agree. I think many CG owners take for granted just how much more business they might see if they have good free wifi (and get campers talking about it on review sites and forums like this one). I think one of the best things CG owners can do is to ask happy campers to spread the word!

    For example, explicitly telling campers the following would probably go a long way:

    "We worked hard and spent a lot of money to ensure the best internet connectivity at our park, and it will really help us out if you can spread the word! If you have just a moment, please post about our great wifi on Facebook and sites like campgroundreviews.com! Thanks!"

    Also, in most urban or suburban areas, broadband and DSL connections will provide as much (or more) bandwidth as a dedicated line (like a T3 or DS3) at a fraction of the price.

    Of course, for CG owners in rural areas, the cost of connectivity may truly be prohibitive. However, for those who are willing to invest in connectivity, hopefully one or more of the above resources may help justify the upfront costs.
     
  11. docj

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    QUOTE(taylorbanks @ May 7 2014, 11:36 AM) [snapback]36471[/snapback]



    Also, in most urban or suburban areas, broadband and DSL connections will provide as much (or more) bandwidth as a dedicated line (like a T3 or DS3) at a fraction of the price.




    I know that DSL bandwidth is not guaranteed and I assume the same is true for a D3. If you are going to sell customers assured bandwidth I think it is necessary that your park be served by a guaranteed bandwidth connection. Otherwise you are constantly going to get annoyed customers. T3's are guaranteed and are synchronous, that is the bandwidth is the same in both directions.
     
  12. BoomerNY

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    (New to the forum, late to the discussion, but...)

    My vote is pay at check-in for those who wish to use. I've never chosen a CG based on free wi-fi or cable hookups. As a consumer, when I see "free wi-fi" I presume that the daily rate for my site has already worked in a specific amount to help pay for that amenity, which is somewhat of a put-off. It wouldn't deter me from staying at that campground, but a mild annoyance nonetheless.

    For us, when we hit the rv trail (2 kiddos, 6 and 4), we've never decided on a campground based on the availability of techno-amenities (wifi, cable, etc). The kids will have an iPad or Kindle to play games in the truck during the drive to keep them from getting antsy, but those things stay in the truck and don't get turned back on until we road trip home. So, for me, I don't like paying for things I don't use, hence the pay-for-usage gets my vote.
     
  13. cmesker

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    We specifically seek out campgrounds with WIFI. Would we love to be able to "disconnect" for an entire week? YES! Can we? Unfortunately, no. My husband and I own our own IT business and we are the only employees. We technically don't "get" vacations, however if we can find campgrounds with solid WIFI, we can vacation and still deal with emergency type work issues as needed. It sure beats zero vacationing at all! I don't even mind to be charged for it, as long as it's reliable and actually works...which has been our biggest issue with places stating that they have WIFI.
     
  14. sammytoo1950

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    QUOTE(docj @ May 7 2014, 12:49 PM) [snapback]36476[/snapback]

    I know that DSL bandwidth is not guaranteed and I assume the same is true for a D3. If you are going to sell customers assured bandwidth I think it is necessary that your park be served by a guaranteed bandwidth connection. Otherwise you are constantly going to get annoyed customers. T3's are guaranteed and are synchronous, that is the bandwidth is the same in both directions.


    I just saw an ad in Los Angeles for t3. Only $6000 per month!!! Couple that with the cost of routers and access points and I think that makes it prohibitive for most smaller campgrounds. They would never get enough paying subscribers to cover their costs.
     
  15. kcmoedoe

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    QUOTE(sammytoo1950 @ May 23 2014, 09:24 AM) [snapback]36700[/snapback]

    I just saw an ad in Los Angeles for t3. Only $6000 per month!!! Couple that with the cost of routers and access points and I think that makes it prohibitive for most smaller campgrounds. They would never get enough paying subscribers to cover their costs.


    It becomes even more cost prohibitive when you actually make the business case decision on it. Those costs would only be offset by the ADDITIONAL business the park would make. Only the additional business generated by customers who needed that kind of speed and reliability, were willing to pay for it and KNEW that that park offered it can reasonably be attributed to that $72,000 yearly expenditure. The revenues from customers who already stay at that park and are OK with is already offered can't be considered when determining if that expenditure is justified. To get any additional customers you would need to advertise the service, another cost. I agree with you, never going to happen.
     
  16. TranQuilguy

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    QUOTE(cmesker @ May 22 2014, 12:00 PM) [snapback]36693[/snapback]

    We specifically seek out campgrounds with WIFI. Would we love to be able to "disconnect" for an entire week? YES! Can we? Unfortunately, no. My husband and I own our own IT business and we are the only employees. We technically don't "get" vacations, however if we can find campgrounds with solid WIFI, we can vacation and still deal with emergency type work issues as needed. It sure beats zero vacationing at all! I don't even mind to be charged for it, as long as it's reliable and actually works...which has been our biggest issue with places stating that they have WIFI.



    I think the connection you require is your responsibility,not an RV Park that ,like you,are just trying to make a living.You said you own your IT business so may I respectfully request you you MIFI your company? :)
     
  17. Camping Mer

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    I would obviously prefer free above paying for WiFi, but I would also prefer high speed and be allowed to stream our movies, play games, and get online work completed quickly. If the internet is crawling slow, I would rather the CG charge me for high speed so I can do what I choose with the connection. With today's technology most of us need to access the internet and slow internet is starting become unacceptable and no excuse for it. Get free high speed or charge for it, don't settle for the slow or bad connections in the CG.
     
  18. kcmoedoe

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    QUOTE(Camping Mer @ Jul 21 2014, 09:13 AM) [snapback]37392[/snapback]

    I would obviously prefer free above paying for WiFi, but I would also prefer high speed and be allowed to stream our movies, play games, and get online work completed quickly. If the internet is crawling slow, I would rather the CG charge me for high speed so I can do what I choose with the connection. With today's technology most of us need to access the internet and slow internet is starting become unacceptable and no excuse for it. Get free high speed or charge for it, don't settle for the slow or bad connections in the CG.


    Actually, there are many, many reasons for slow internet and bad connections. Some are within the control of the park, however many are not. You say, "with today's technology" we all need access to the internet. I would add "with today's technology" if you need reliable, high speed internet you can easily buy it from any number of wireless carriers. I have posted several times before, and I will repeat it here, public wifi will soon join the telephone booth as a relic of times past. Everyone will be providing (and paying for) their own internet access via some kind of data plan in the very near future.
     
  19. docj

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    QUOTE(kcmoedoe @ Jul 21 2014, 11:03 AM) [snapback]37396[/snapback]

    I have posted several times before, and I will repeat it here, public wifi will soon join the telephone booth as a relic of times past. Everyone will be providing (and paying for) their own internet access via some kind of data plan in the very near future.



    Alternatively, widespread availability of fiber may make it possible for businesses to give away high quality internet for free as a way of attracting customers. We've been in Canada for the past month and we have encountered a lot of totally free, high speed connections. Virtually all restaurants and many stores seem to offer an open wifi.

    It's too soon to tell how this will work out; don't forget that the US lags well behind many other countries in availability of broadband access; so don't base your assumptions just on what you see around you today.
     
  20. LMandTinView

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    Wow! I can't believe this thread has been active for 6 years. That's an eon in technology. So many changes have occurred in wifi technology that this thread is, for all practical purposes, irrelevant. For example, even though we're "OF" retirees, we access the Internet on an almost daily basis to find everything from our next CG to cheap diesel to restaurant reviews to best routes and local attractions. We also update our blog, keep up with our finances, check e-mail accounts (multiple) and read the news.

    These days, if a CG offers good, free wifi, we'll use it for basic web surfing such as news, RVPR, free overnight parking, GasBuddy, GoogleMaps, etc. However, having spent too much time in high tech, my wife and I are paranoid about security. When we conduct financial or other transactions that require security, we have our own Verizon MiFi. Additionally, both our smartphones have ~2GB of data for a total of ~10GB/month including the MiFi. There are others with greater data needs who use services like Millenicomm to access 20GB/month.

    If you NEED wifi and depend on CGs, you might want to rethink your strategy. Also, as the two previous posters said, wifi will probably be obsolete in the not-too-distant future.

    Lee
     

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