TengoInternet: Bandwidth Crunch Irks Parks
Staying ahead of the technology curve is the lifeblood of Texas-based TengoInternet, the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry. President and CEO Eric Stumberg talked with Woodall’s Campground Management writer Barb Riley about what’s coming up for TengoInternet and the industry in 2013.
The most pressing conundrum for campgrounds providing guests with Wi-Fi service will continue to be bandwidth crunch, according to Stumberg. “There are tons more and new types of devices on every network,” he explained. “Outside of improving networks to support volume, devices are smaller with lower-power antennae, so we have to bring the signal source closer to the guests.”
Another burden on bandwidth is how guests are using Wi-Fi. “What we’re seeing now is a huge shift to Internet-based entertainment – Netflix, Hulu, ESPN. Everything is video, which really taxes networks,” Stumberg said. “Then you have Canadian customers who get around international phone tolls by using Skype and FaceTime. All those applications are data-intensive.”
Stumberg said that’s more problematic now that people expect Wi-Fi to be as plentiful as it is at home. “After the network’s built, it’s like a utility; we just need to turn up the water. The problem is, we need more water.” Fortunately, providers like AT&T are finally ramping up efforts to increase the pipeline of available bandwidth; but, he said, “that will be an ongoing thing.”
TengoInternet itself has several items on the agenda for this year. One will address what Stumberg says is one of the biggest drivers of Wi-Fi equipment: clean power. “In a brown-out, a power strip may put itself to sleep to save itself,” he said. “Our new power strips have IP addresses, so if there’s any power to them and they can connect to the Internet, we can remotely reboot them.”
Another service TengoInternet will offer is traveler review monitoring. They’ve found negative campground reviews posted on a site like Trip Advisor by a guest who had Wi-Fi problems – but hadn’t asked for assistance. Now, TengoInternet will watch for such reviews and take care of the problem directly. Stumberg said, “We’re not waiting for someone to call in. We’ll monitor and manage these situations.”
Next is a virtual network design tool that uses Google Earth to build the plan around a campground’s specific layout. “We can co-develop it with you, or give us a site map and we can do our magic behind the curtain,” Stumberg said. “And when you build a network, it’s yours. If you want to pick up our services after that, fantastic, but otherwise, it’s yours and you can use it.”
Add a website revamp coming this spring and a new wireless device that’s “a little better, a little cheaper, and it looks nicer too,” and you’ve got what TengoInternet has in the queue for this year – all on its bedrock foundation of customer service.
“The fact is, it’s challenging to provide great service right now, but I love it because I think we can provide a lot more value to our customers than ever before,” Stumberg related. “Most of our customers just want their guests to have a great experience, and I can help them do that. That’s good for us, good for the customer, good for their guests.”
Location: 106 E. 6th St. Suite 900, Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 322-3959