Park Operators Brace for Increasing Wi-Fi Cost
Editor’s Note: The following news release was provided by the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) and pertains to a presentation made during TACO’s recent spring meeting. PowerPoint presentations from speakers making presentations at TACO’s Spring Meeting will be posted this week on www.Tacomembers.com.
Park operators are increasingly being contacted by cable companies that are seeking to step up their collection of fees for providing wireless Internet service.
“Based on their public comments and some private actions, cable companies want to have the same kind of revenue model for Wi-Fi service that they have with cable TV,” said Eric Stumberg, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet, the nation’s largest provider of Wi-Fi products and services for private park operators.
That increasingly means cable companies are seeking to enforce the terms of service of their Internet agreement with park operators, which may prevent park operators from operating private Wi-Fi networks and offering cable Wi-Fi service or increase the cost of their service.
Some park operators are using residential rather than commercial Wi-Fi accounts to provide Wi-Fi service to their guests. Others may have commercial Wi-Fi accounts, but do not have agreements in place that allow them to redistribute their Wi-Fi signal to their guests.
“Park operators need to make sure that the terms of service agreements they have with cable companies allow them to do what they are doing with their Wi-Fi signal,” Stumberg said. He added that cable companies are stepping up their enforcement of “terms of service” agreements as they seek to generate more revenue from their Wi-Fi services.
TengoInternet ensures that its customers’ contracts with cable companies are appropriate for the type of Wi-Fi service they provide for their guests. But even with these contracts in place, Stumberg anticipates cable companies to be seeking higher fees for the Wi-Fi service they provide during the coming year.
Stumberg talked about Wi-Fi during a presentation to park operators attending the Spring Meeting of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). He was joined in his presentation by Bruce Bridgewater of Coba Systems, a McAllen, Texas-based provider of cable television and Wi-Fi services for RV parks and campgrounds.
While the potential for increased Wi-Fi service costs was a key area of focus in their presentation, Stumberg and Bridgewater also talked about rising consumer use of Wi-Fi dependent devices and the need for private parks to increase the capacity of their Internet line strength for their Wi-Fi signals.
Stumberg noted that there has been a 25% increase in the number of devices using Wi-Fi networks, primarily in mobile devices, during the past year. In addition, TengoInternet also documented a 42% increase in Wi-Fi data consumption from 2011 to 2012.
These rising Wi-Fi demands pose significant challenges for park operators.
Bridgewater noted that 20 guests making a Skype or VOIP phone call can potentially consume a park’s entire Wi-Fi signal. That’s not even counting the growing number of Wi-Fi dependent devices that guests are likely to have with them, which could include computers, tables, smartphones, X-boxes, printers, televisions, cameras and kindles.
Stumberg also noted that many guests are immediately reporting problems they have with Wi-Fi service on RV park review websites rather than reporting the problems immediately to the RV parks or their Wi-Fi service providers so that they can take corrective actions.
Based in Crowley, TACO represents nearly 400 private campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas. The association was established in 1972 by a group of five campground owners who felt there should be independent marketing and advocacy for the private park industry in Texas. In addition to its legislative advocacy, TACO publishes the RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas, a significant consumer magazine with a distribution of 250,000, and it hosts www.TexasCampgrounds.com, the most widely used website for RV parks and campgrounds in Texas. The association also promotes Texas campgrounds in over 25 RV shows in the U.S. and Canada.