Is It Ok To Charge For Wifi

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

?

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. Florida Native

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    Getting a good WiFi antenna is a must.
     
  2. pianotuna

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    Hi Lindsay,

    Any results with range testing on your wifi outfit?
     
  3. Florida Native

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    QUOTE
    Any results with range testing on your wifi outfit?


    I have not tested it in campgounds yet, but have taken it out in my truck using my portable inverter testing it around the area and it appears to triple the length of ability to receive WiFi. I have set up a Rube Golberg type system with a paint roller extention pole that I can velcro to my awning stantion and put the antenna up above the level of the roof with a 360 degree view. I also bought a 10 foot extention to the antenna cable so I can run it through the window into the coach. We are leaving Thursday for a 4 or 5 day mini camping trip and I will be giving it a better test. I will post the results.
     
  4. pianotuna

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  5. BigDadDogg

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    I can't leave the technology at home....my whole life is online!! :lol:

    Seriously though, since I've retired I usually do two 3-4 month trips around the country...one in summer to get away from the Georgia heat and one in the winter to get away from the cold. The question then becomes "How do I stay in touch with everyone, pay my bills, and do the part time consulting work (helps pay for fuel...LOL) in Georgia while I'm away?" Going paperless was the first step...I get all my bills by e-mail and pay them online through my bank. Most of the bigger commercial banks will provide online banking at no charge if you have an account with them. My bank will even mail a check to those businesses that don't have any way to get an Electronic Funds Transfer..the lead time for those is just a little longer.

    Obviously, internet connectivity is a must for me. I traveled for a year or so doing the WiFi thing, so staying at a campground with WiFi was the deciding factor when it came time to stay someplace. On the road, I used the Flying J monthly WiFi access (I think it was about $24/per month), but that was only good at a Flying J. I've been to CG's that provided both free and paid WiFi access and, while it really burned me to have to pay for it, I found that the paid ones were usually better connections (especially when you scream and yell for a refund when they didn't work... :D )

    My solution? I went with Verizon Broadband Wireless. When I added it to my two existing Verizon cell phone accounts, the cost for unlimited service wasn't too bad. I use it both when I'm on the road and at home. The network is great....you know, that goofy looking guy with all his friends following you around. In the two years I've been using it, I've never been without internet connectivity. If you're within 15 miles or so of an Interstate (depending on the terrain) you're just about guaranteed to have a broadband signal (speed is comparable to DSL.) Near big cities is no problem either. If you get off the beaten path though, you can usually get what Verizon calls "National Access", basically cellular phone service....even most small towns have this. Speed is faster than dial-up, but not nearly as fast as DSL or cable.

    The end result is that I can stay at some of the less expensive CG's that don't have WiFi, and even most State and National Parks and still be connected. When you factor in the "hidden" costs for "free" WiFi, it turns out to be about a wash at the end of the year.

    Now if I can just figure out a way to get around the cost of diesel fuel...... :lol:
     
  6. RV Camper1

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    The fact is that not all customers of the RV park have any use for the "free" service. It may well be true that if every visitor pays the cost would only be $2/day or so, but why should we who have our own satellite dish, or those who own a cellular service air card, or the ones who do not travel with any kind of computer, have to pay for your internet access?

    In a survey that I recently read in one of the RV magazines it states that the average cost per night of RV parks with "free" internet access is nearly $5 more than for those that either charge extra for it or who do not have it. There are rapidly getting to be as many internet users who have either a dish or an air card and who don't want to pay for you to have access. We do not stay in parks that combine the cost of amenities that we have no use for, into the price for a night's stay.
     
  7. pianotuna

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    Hi Kirk,

    So are you suggesting that toilets have a coin activated lock on the doors? Fees for walking dogs? And about that pool I rarely (if ever) use? Metered electricity and a charge for the number of hours the TV is watched? Oh yeah--the fire ring--the picnic table. I would far rather the campgrounds included all these with a flat rate fee.

    Wifi is among the cheapest "upgrades" a campground can offer. I checked recently and in British Columbia more than 50% of the campground offer it.

    QUOTE(Kirk @ Aug 16 2008, 04:41 PM) [snapback]12789[/snapback]

    The fact is that not all customers of the RV park have any use for the "free" service. It may well be true that if every visitor pays the cost would only be $2/day or so, but why should we who have our own satellite dish, or those who own a cellular service air card, or the ones who do not travel with any kind of computer, have to pay for your internet access?

    In a survey that I recently read in one of the RV magazines it states that the average cost per night of RV parks with "free" internet access is nearly $5 more than for those that either charge extra for it or who do not have it. There are rapidly getting to be as many internet users who have either a dish or an air card and who don't want to pay for you to have access. We do not stay in parks that combine the cost of amenities that we have no use for, into the price for a night's stay.
     
  8. Texasrvers

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    I really can see both sides of this issue, and I doubt it will ever be settled. On one hand there is the group that wants a flat rate for a spot which includes all the amenities. This means some of us (me included) constantly pay for services we do not use. This group also tends to feel that charging separately for every little thing is nickel and diming you. Then there is the other group. They want a lower rate for a basic spot and then they will pay for the amenities they actually use. While pianotuna took it to the extreme, he makes a good point. Where do you draw the line for what is included as basic, and what should be add on. And if a campground does offer an a la carte menu of amenities, how can that ever be enforced? A while ago another poster jokingly (I think) mentioned colored bracelets for the pool, the restrooms/showers, the laundry, etc.

    Well as I said there are two sides to this. We could go on and on, but I don't think they will ever come together.
     
  9. RV Camper1

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    QUOTE(pianotuna @ Aug 17 2008, 02:05 AM) [snapback]12800[/snapback]

    Hi Kirk,

    So are you suggesting that toilets have a coin activated lock on the doors? Fees for walking dogs? And about that pool I rarely (if ever) use? Metered electricity and a charge for the number of hours the TV is watched? Oh yeah--the fire ring--the picnic table. I would far rather the campgrounds included all these with a flat rate fee..

    I am suggesting that such issues are a business decision, just as the choice of a pool or not is one. Fire rings are getting to be very rare in commercial RV parks in the US and there are many reasons, the cost of maintaining them being a major one. There are also RV parks which state "self-contained RVs only" and that usually means that they do not have a public restroom and clearly no showers. It just depends upon what amenities that an owner wishes to supply and who he is seeking for customers.

    Travel a bit and you will discover that there are many parks in the deep south which cater to snowbirds and fulltimers that state 55+ only, or no children. Then there is the Jelleystone Park group where you are a bit of a misfit if you have no children. We vote with our money and I will choose to stay in the parks which offer a combination of the amenities that I want with a price that I am willing to pay. If more customers visit the park with fewer amenities, it will prosper. If more visit the one who charges what he must and supplies everything, that park will prosper. In areas of high RV use, there is a market for both lines of thought.

    At the top of the amenity list are parks that offer things like maid service, room service, and other very special services. Perhaps you feel that too should be included? There are parks which have that and they only cost in the $80 - $100 per night range. For some reason there are not a lot of them, but the handful that I know of are all doing very well. Of course, they mostly have RVs that carry a name like Marathon or Newell, but they too have their market and will survive or not depending upon market share.

    You are free to choose whatever type of RV park you prefer, but please forgive me if I happen to choose a different one with different prices and amenities.
     
  10. pianotuna

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    Hi Kirk,

    I have traveled a bit as you may see from my "map". I find both your posts a bit aggressive and tried to lighten the tone with an exaggeration. I'm sorry you didn't get the joke.

    I am a Canadian and broad band via internet is very difficult to arrange at anything like a reasonable price in USA for me (try on $10.00 per megabyte for size!). That is why I much prefer wifi (which is a minimal cost compared to most amenities) to be included.

    By all means stay where you will. (My first choice is boondocking at COE and similar facilities with low fees and few neighbors).

    QUOTE(Kirk @ Aug 17 2008, 03:42 PM) [snapback]12808[/snapback]

    I am suggesting that such issues are a business decision, just as the choice of a pool or not is one. Fire rings are getting to be very rare in commercial RV parks in the US and there are many reasons, the cost of maintaining them being a major one. There are also RV parks which state "self-contained RVs only" and that usually means that they do not have a public restroom and clearly no showers. It just depends upon what amenities that an owner wishes to supply and who he is seeking for customers.

    Travel a bit and you will discover that there are many parks in the deep south which cater to snowbirds and fulltimers that state 55+ only, or no children. Then there is the Jelleystone Park group where you are a bit of a misfit if you have no children. We vote with our money and I will choose to stay in the parks which offer a combination of the amenities that I want with a price that I am willing to pay. If more customers visit the park with fewer amenities, it will prosper. If more visit the one who charges what he must and supplies everything, that park will prosper. In areas of high RV use, there is a market for both lines of thought.

    At the top of the amenity list are parks that offer things like maid service, room service, and other very special services. Perhaps you feel that too should be included? There are parks which have that and they only cost in the $80 - $100 per night range. For some reason there are not a lot of them, but the handful that I know of are all doing very well. Of course, they mostly have RVs that carry a name like Marathon or Newell, but they too have their market and will survive or not depending upon market share.

    You are free to choose whatever type of RV park you prefer, but please forgive me if I happen to choose a different one with different prices and amenities.
     
  11. drmcleod

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    QUOTE(RLM @ Jul 21 2008, 09:43 PM) [snapback]12354[/snapback]


    What I found interesting in the poll questions is one of the choices relating to "Deluxe" sites. First, how does one provide Wi-Fi to a deluxe site and not the rest of the park? The system is predicated on radio reception and transmission. Secondly, if that were even possible, does that mean that the extra cost of a deluxe site includes "free wi-fi?" If there is an extra cost for a deluxe site, then again nothing is free.

    Drmcleod> Please understand that I absolutely don't mean any disrespect, but you made several conflicting comments: It does not cost more.... The only additional expense ... Consider it a marketing expense .

    And since you are a business owner, I suspect that you know that when McDonalds puts in Wi-FI it represents budget dust. Not even a blip on the P/L statement. Therefore, a private Scampground and Mickey Ds is not a good comparison.

    If anyone believes that campground marketing tool of free Wi-Fi is true, then I've got a used car for sell that only my grandmother drove to church on Sundays.

    Put me down for RELIABLE Wi-Fi. Free or not.



    First, let me say that I am writing this post from a campground in northern Michigan which does have Wi-Fi, but it is not free (pay an outside agency for usage). I decide not to pay each time I check in to a c/g so I too have Verizon Wireless Unlimited Data access. This is a good option for those who are fed up with the Wi-Fi game at c/g's. When a c/g offers free Wi-Fi, I opt for this over my verizon as it is usually slightly faster and more convenient (don't have to hook up additional phone/modem).

    Second, it is obvious that there are two types of posters... campers and c/g owners. To the owners, let me say "listen to what the campers are saying". They are your income. Look at the survey. Yes, I know that there are only 36 responses (as of this post), but the overall majority vote if for free Wi-Fi.

    Next, to RLM, I don't take offense. In fact I appreciate your input. As far as the conflicting comments, they weren't intended to read that way... I apologize. "does not cost more" and "additional expense" were two separate statements. What I meant was, if you already offer Wireless Internet Access, then it should not cost more to open it up to the campers (shop around your internet service providers to ensure this. At the most, (if you aleady have the hardware set up) you might have to increase your bandwidth which could cost slightly more. However, this would fall under the "marketing expense" comment.

    As far as the McDonald's/campground comparison, it is an acceptable comparison for two reasons. First, if you run a business, who do you want to copy? Me? I want to copy the success habits of the highly successful businesses. Second, cost. Each McDonalds which offers free Wi-Fi is done so by the individual franchise owner. They eat the cost also (no pun intended). If you have a small campground, then stick a wireless router on your computer and let all who get into range use it. You'll find that campers will appreciate this more than if you don't. As you're able to, then add on additional antennas and boosters, etc.

    Finally, it is possible to offer deluxe sites Free Internet. How? Make your wireless connection secure and assign it a password. Upon check in, give the the access codes to the deluxe sites only. Passwords can be easily changed on a periodic basis to prevent abuse.

    As for me, I agree with the posters who have stated that "we vote with our money". Good business owners realize this and will campaign for the business they want. Owners... campaign. Campers... Vote!!
     
  12. kcmoedoe

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    I agree McDonalds is a bad example. Very few people would tie up large amounts of Bandwidth at a Micky D's. In an RV park, there will be multiple people uploading video, downloading photos, streaming video and using internet phone service. This uses large amounts of bandwidth and requires considerably more investment in equipment than would be required at McDonalds. Also, RV parks must cover acres of ground instead of a few thousand square feet. This again requires more and better equipment than a McDonalds would need. I don't really care if WiFi is free or available for an extra cost at an RV park, as long as it is available. I am smart enough to realize any free Wifi is built into the rate I am charged for the site. I just look at how much I am going to be charged for my stay and then decide if it is a deal or not. I can't believe that anyonw would cross an RV park off their list because WiFi was an extra charge. What if Campground A charged $40.00 Wifi included and Campground B charge $36.00 with a $3.00 daily fee for Wifi? You can't tell me Campground A offers a better value. Campground B would be cheaper for both users of Wifi and non-Wifi users. Many posts on this thread complain about being nickeled and dimed, however I can see where offering a variety of options for the RVer may allow us to pay only for what we want and need and save a little money in the process. P.S. I stopped at a McDonalds a couple of days ago and the wifi was available for a "nominal charge". That charge?, $9.99 per hour.
     
  13. pianotuna

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    Hi,

    A $75.00 omni directional antenna would allow a range of over 3/4 of a mile from the office. If they put that on a mast I'm sure one mile would be quite possible. As to bandwidth That can be managed by choosing wireless B rather than G or N standards. It limits users to 11 meg/second. A common garden variety Linksys wifi router from Walmart will accept up to 100 connections. If it is limited to wireless B then a dsl connection could handle over 60 campers without slowing on the download side and over 20 on the upload side.

    If going to Wireless G the numbers get *low* very fast. It could only accommodate 14 on download and about 4 on upload.

    The real problem is that campground owners are very much kept in the dark about what is and is not possible.

    This is not a "huge" expense to a campground owner. Not like water or electricity.

     
  14. Florida Native

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    I usually try to talk with the owners or staff about WiFi as I started a WiFi thread months ago and am interested in the subject. Frequently I am amazed at how little the owners know about the process. Lots of times I see a very long password with number, upper and lower case letters and ask the owners about it and they day they get complaints, but don't know how to change it or even that it is possible to change it. The main complaint I got was that neighbors used their WiFi. Changing a password is usually very simple and can be taught to anybody who knows how to type in minutes. Several owners said they had to get the "guy" to come change the password and they got charged a service call. One trick I use on the 25 diget passwords is type it into a word processing page and cut and past it into their startup page. I just had to replac my router at home and it required a 10 diget all numeric password. I like somethig I can remember easily
     
  15. RV Camper1

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    pianotuna,

    I don't understand why a different view is agressive? :huh: I have no problem with truely free wifi, but I don't see the need for me to help to pay for yours. It is a fact that more and more people are going to services from the cellular phone carriers so the demand could be effected. It may not, but only time will tell.

    I really do understand that those who rely on RV parks or other open wifi links for internet clearly would prefer to find it free. But it very seldom is actually free. I read an article in an RV magazine recently in which the author claimed that his survey showed that the average cost for "pay to use" wifi was $4/day and that the average increase in nightly fees for parks that claim to have it for free(actually it is built into the price of a stay) is more like $5/night.

    By way of example, two years ago we were in Nashville and stayed in an RV park which had wifi but was charging $3/night to use it. I used it as the lazy way since my dish is a portable and it was easier than putting up mine for one night. We ran into folks who we knew that were next door in a park that supplies wifi for free and they chose that park because of that added benefit. But they were paying just over $6/night more than we, so our cost after paying for wifi was $3 less than they paid.

    My point is that it generally is not free. And there is added cost to the RV park even when it is included in the cost per night. Good equipment which will cover all sites in a park is expensive to buy and far from free to keep working well. In addition, the links that such places use to supply this service do cost extra because the contract always limits the number of users unless you pay extra for services and they need a much wider bandwidth in order to supply a large customer base than to use for just themselves. One of the reasons that so many parks have such poor service is that RV park wifi use is mostly in a very limited time period and sits idle or near idle the rest of the day. A large RV park with more than 100 sites, must have many access points because you can't have more than 15 to 20 users per access point.

    Add to that the fact that while there are theoretically 16 channels, they all over lap and to have totally clear channels with no overlap, there are only three. All of this means that there is additional cost to a quality service and it is far from free. Now add to that the cost of antennas that cover the park, even with trees fully leafed out you then complicate the problem even more.

    It may well be that the parks with the most amenities will do best over the long term, but the bargain parks are also doing pretty well. If I were to build a new park I would either go with the full service park which had things like swimming pool, game room and wifi. On the other hand, if budget is limited I would go with the bare bones park that has little more than full hook-ups and perhaps a restroom/shower. There is a good market for both.

    The survey was about which you would choose to use. I'm not the only RVer who will choose the bare necessities type of park.

    On the other hand, if you park near me and take the time to introduce yourself, I often share the password with a neighbor or two who need access to the internet. Many dish users do this.
     
  16. pianotuna

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    Hi Kirk,

    I believe there are not 16 channels in use in USA but rather only 1 through 11. Of those, 1, 6, and 11 do not overlap at all.

    Each channel can handle up to 253 connections with a common garden variety Lynksys wifi router (The default setting is 50 connections) Transmitter is set at 28 mw but can be "turned up" to 80 mw safely (max setting is 251 mw *not recommended for long life*). Good equipment for a large area need not be expensive. A single omni directional 15 DB antenna will effectively boost that 28 mw to around 700 mw (allowing for cable and connector losses) covering a 1/2 of mile radius (and that is from inside an RV). Put it on the roof and the radius would be larger. If more connections are required the campground could get a 2nd router and set it to channel 1. If still more are required a third router could be added set to channel 11.

    My local telco provides 1.5 meg access for $19.95 per month. 10 meg access is $54.95 per month. I do not see why this would be considered a huge expense for a campground. The Antenna cost is $75.00, the router about $65.00, Antenna cable $2.00 per foot (for the very best low loss cable). I suspect the largest cost is installation. Even allowing for equipment for 3 routers and 3 antennas the out of pocket costs may be as low as $4.00 per day for the entire campground.

    The problems with reception have more to do with the signal path to the antenna. RV walls are not very radio transparent--particularly for Class A units with their metal studs. If the campground puts the Antenna on a twenty foot mast it would do wonders for reception inside campers.

    My neighbors are all on channel 6--so I've jumped to channel 8 this works very well for me. After doing some research for this email it looks as if I would be even better to jump to 11 or 1.

    It's very nice of you to share your signal with others. Perhaps one day our paths will cross and I'll come knocking on your door and ask to share your signal.

    I prefer the campgrounds I find at http://freecampgrounds.com/ which are extremely low cost and often have excellent facilities. :D

    QUOTE(Kirk @ Aug 23 2008, 06:04 PM) [snapback]12875[/snapback]

    pianotuna,



    My point is that it generally is not free. And there is added cost to the RV park even when it is included in the cost per night. Good equipment which will cover all sites in a park is expensive to buy and far from free to keep working well. In addition, the links that such places use to supply this service do cost extra because the contract always limits the number of users unless you pay extra for services and they need a much wider bandwidth in order to supply a large customer base than to use for just themselves. One of the reasons that so many parks have such poor service is that RV park wifi use is mostly in a very limited time period and sits idle or near idle the rest of the day. A large RV park with more than 100 sites, must have many access points because you can't have more than 15 to 20 users per access point.

    Add to that the fact that while there are theoretically 16 channels, they all over lap and to have totally clear channels with no overlap, there are only three. All of this means that there is additional cost to a quality service and it is far from free. Now add to that the cost of antennas that cover the park, even with trees fully leafed out you then complicate the problem even more.



    The survey was about which you would choose to use. I'm not the only RVer who will choose the bare necessities type of park.
     
  17. Florida Native

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    On the other hand, if you park near me and take the time to introduce yourself, I often share the password with a neighbor or two who need access to the internet.

    This is something that I have never done or asked to have done. Just doesn’t seem right and not worth the $3. I am still of the opinion from talking to many campground operators that the actual cost is not as much as stated. I did talk to a installer of system in the redwood forest that had gone to extreme lengths to get WiFi to the park including miles of microwave type systems and lots of fiber optic cable. Mostly we have found inexpensive systems. We have countered this with our WiFi antenna.
     
  18. kcmoedoe

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    Sharing a password that you obtained for a fee is stealing. If you had a full hookup RV site, would you feel it is ok to pass a power cord under the fence to the neighbors who needed a save a little money on the electric bill so they could run their window AC? Would you pass a hose to the people living in the house next door so they could water their lawn? Maybe just add a splitter to the Cable TV system and the apartment complex next door has cable for free. Just because you paid for internet access does not give you the right to provide it to everyone else. You may also unitentionally lock yourself out of the system. Many Hotspot passwords are managed by software such as Sputnik or Antamedia and only allow one computer to use the password at any given time. If you give out your password, that person may be on the system and you will be locked out. Report the problem to the office and they might access their Wifi management system and see your password is being used by someone else. It is attitudes like this that cause RV parks to have laundry lists of rules and why we so often run into surly owners that act like we are trying to pull a fast one, it appears some of us are.
     
  19. pianotuna

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    Hi kcmoedoe,

    Kirk has his own internet system and he chooses to share his wifi signal with others, if they ask him. This has nothing to do with sharing the password for a campground system.

    QUOTE(kcmoedoe @ Aug 25 2008, 03:12 PM) [snapback]12917[/snapback]

    Sharing a password that you obtained for a fee is stealing. If you had a full hookup RV site, would you feel it is ok to pass a power cord under the fence to the neighbors who needed a save a little money on the electric bill so they could run their window AC? Would you pass a hose to the people living in the house next door so they could water their lawn? Maybe just add a splitter to the Cable TV system and the apartment complex next door has cable for free. Just because you paid for internet access does not give you the right to provide it to everyone else. You may also unitentionally lock yourself out of the system. Many Hotspot passwords are managed by software such as Sputnik or Antamedia and only allow one computer to use the password at any given time. If you give out your password, that person may be on the system and you will be locked out. Report the problem to the office and they might access their Wifi management system and see your password is being used by someone else. It is attitudes like this that cause RV parks to have laundry lists of rules and why we so often run into surly owners that act like we are trying to pull a fast one, it appears some of us are.
     
  20. Texasrvers

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    kcmoedoe,

    You are absolutely right about someone giving out a campground's password. That is cheating and stealing and whatever.

    However, I did not take Kirk's comment to mean that. He had mentioned that he had a dish and since the whole post was about WiFi access I thought he meant he had WiFi access through the dish. This would mean he has his own network which (if he is smart) is passworded. So the password he gives out is to his own network which is neither cheating nor stealing. In fact it sounds pretty neighborly.

    Now I don't know kirk, and I could be completely wrong, but that is just how I read his post.
     

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