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Company Unveils Simple Wi-Fi Option

February 10, 2014 by · Comments Off on Company Unveils Simple Wi-Fi Option 

Whotspot, a Canadian company that provides managed Wi-Fi equipment and services, announced a new, “idiot-proof, wireless mesh networking equipment Wi-Fi hotspot with setup in about five minutes,” according to a press release. “After years of real-life testing and feedback from clients, all complexity has been removed. If you can plug in a lamp, you can install Wi-Fi anywhere.”

The company is marketing the devices for campgrounds, RV parks and marinas.

Expectations of campers are high, according to the company. “These computer junkies need their fix of daily email, even while on vacation or camping. Whotspot now offers an amazingly simple solution for finicky customers. Starting with only a $99 WiFi Gateway connected to your exiting broadband (cable, DSL, fiber or satellite) modem, you can instantly offer branded, free or paid, controlled Wi-Fi to your campers. Need greater coverage, just add more $99 access points as you like,” according to the press release.

When campers are unable to access the Wi-Fi from their sites, campground operators can add a repeater to the main network as fast as they can plug it in. Each device can act as a gateway, router, access point, bridge, repeater creating a self-healing, self-aware true mesh network — in a few minutes, according to the press release. Best of all, the commpany argues, Whotspot manages it all in the cloud.

“This is the lowest-cost, smartest campground solution available”, said Terry Fagen, president of Whotspot. At only $99, each device connects to the cloud where Whotspot manages the network. A network can have geographically diverse gateways — all managed from one location — perfect for multiple locations or applying a national brand.

Fagen continued, “What can be simpler? Plug it in and it works. We have experienced a 100% success rate.”

The company’s site is www.Whotspot.com.

Chicago Adds Free Wi-Fi to Five City Beaches

July 19, 2013 by · Comments Off on Chicago Adds Free Wi-Fi to Five City Beaches 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Frank Gruber

Along with sun, sand and water, add Wi-Fi to the list of free things at some of Chicago’s most popular beaches.

Free Wi-Fi access will be available starting today (July 19) at Osterman, Foster, Montrose, North Avenue and Rainbow beaches. Chicago-based broadband provider Everywhere Wireless LLC set up the networks, using gear donated by Cisco Systems Inc., Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

“We built it over the last 60 days,” says Collin DeMeritt, head of business development at Everywhere Wireless LLC, a four-year-old company in River North that provides broadband service to multifamily buildings using microwave. “The concept is to give something back to the community and build up the infrastructure for the city.”

Cisco donated $75,000 to $100,000 worth of equipment, primarily wireless access points.

The city is trying to expand broadband access across the city as part of an economic development strategy. Last fall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered up access to city-owned fiber-optic lines and rights of way, such as sewer and water easements, for companies willing to expand low-cost broadband to businesses and residences in underserved areas. Part of the “broadband challenge” also involves providing free Wi-Fi to the city’s parks, starting with Millennium Park last fall.

“In the coming months, we will build off of this initiative (at the beaches) and the free Wi-Fi offered in Millennium Park by identifying additional partners and public spaces for free Wi-Fi services,” a City Hall spokesman says.

DeMerritt says, “We’d love to be able to expand this to all the beaches,” though Everywhere Wireless doesn’t have any firm plans for other locations.

 

 

TengoInternet Lands West Texas Wi-Fi Deals

June 13, 2013 by · Comments Off on TengoInternet Lands West Texas Wi-Fi Deals 

A springtime photo take at the Custom Touch Village in Snyder, Texas, one of 12 workforce housing projects in the Cline Shale region in west Texas where TengoInternet will install Wi-Fi service.

TengoInternet, the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry, announced today (June 13) that it is providing high-speed, wireless Internet capability for 12 workforce housing projects in the Cline Shale in West Texas.

The developments are a joint venture of South Dakota-based Custom Touch Homes, Larson Ventures and Turn Key Solutions, according to a news release.

“We are excited to provide the infrastructure for high-speed Internet in these important workforce housing developments,” said Eric Stumberg, CEO and co-founder of TengoInternet. “Workers in this booming region can now enjoy top-quality Wi-Fi to do such things as communicate with their families over e-mail and Skype, watch live-stream video content and play online games. We bring powerful wireless Internet to remote regions around North America to enable a connected experience.”

The Snyder location, known as Custom Touch Village, is holding a grand opening event at 6pm today while groundbreaking at the Sweetwater location occurred on Wednesday. Snyder is located about 230 miles west of Ft. Worth. Custom Touch Village will include accommodations for up to 1,000 workers living in lodges, mobile homes and RVs.

“We want to provide the best living accommodations possible so the employees and their families can have the same quality of life as they have at their homes,” said Dave Ferguson, CEO for Turn Key Solutions, the site’s project management firm. “Providing a top-notch internet experience is part of that excellence and we are pleased to partner with TengoInternet to provide the very best for Custom Touch Village inhabitants.”

In addition to professional network design and installation, TengoInternet will provide Custom Touch and Turnkey Solutions with a branded guest authentication and online network management system, bandwidth management, complete staff training, marketing support, liability management, and 24/7 guest support including a VIP line for the staff at each facility.

The remaining 11 Cline Shale workforce developments are expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months.

 

 

Park Operators Brace for Increasing Wi-Fi Cost

May 7, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Eric Stumberg, TengoInternet

Bruce Bridgewater, Coba Systems

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.

 

Survey: Parks’ Wi-Fi Service Rates ‘Poorly’

April 15, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Survey results

More than half of RVtravel.com readers (54%) who responded to an April 13 survey in the website’s weekly newsletter reported that they regard Wi-Fi service in RV parks as “poor” or “terrible.”

Less than 7% consider it excellent or very good. About a third labeled it “good,” according to an RVtravel.com news release.

More than 1,400 RVtravel.com readers participated in the survey which asked, “Overall, how would you describe the performance of the Wi-Fi in RV parks where you’ve stayed?”

“In one way or another, most of the readers who left comments said that RV park Wi-Fi was hit and miss,” said RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury. “Some also mentioned that poor security of many networks kept them from using the service.”

Woodbury said he has stayed at least 100 nights in the last two years in RV parks with Wi-Fi and has found a mixed bag. “Once in awhile it’s great, but that’s the exception,” he said. “More often than not, I found connections so slow they were worthless. Other times the signal was not strong enough to reach my campsite, and many parks provide an unsecured Wi-Fi network, which means personal information is vulnerable to thieves.”

Some readers who commented on the survey noted that instead of relying on RV park Wi-Fi, they use wireless air cards, which are available from most major cellular carriers. The devices allow a high speed, secure connection in most areas where cell phone coverage is available. “I’ve used my MiFi card from Verizon for years,” said Woodbury. “For anyone who travels a lot with an RV who needs to get online on a regular basis, a device like this is critical.”

Up-to-the minute results of the survey can be viewed here.

TengoInternet: Bandwidth Crunch Irks Parks

February 11, 2013 by · 6 Comments 

Eric Stumberg

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.”

TengoInternet

Location: 106 E. 6th St. Suite 900, Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 322-3959

Website: www.tengointernet.com

 

Wi-Fi Service Has Become A Park’s Critical Amenity

June 29, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

Just over a decade ago, when private parks first began to invest in Wi-Fi systems, wireless Internet service was widely considered to be more of a luxury than a necessity.

After all, there weren’t that many RVers traveling with laptop computers, and if parks offered Wi-Fi service in the campground office or an open computer with a dialup modem that guests could use, that was sufficient for most campers.

Of course, that state of affairs didn’t last long.

While in the old days it was hard to imagine a single laptop computer inside every RV, today’s RVing couples and families are not only likely to have a laptop for every family member, but an assortment of iPhones, blackberries and other handheld electronic devices as well.

All of these devices have dramatically increased the need for park operators to offer Wi-Fi service, and have made Wi-Fi service one of the most critical amenities parks can provide.

Wi-Fi Trumps Pools And Even Restrooms

“It’s absolutely an expected amenity,” said Jim Ganley, co-owner of CheckBox Systems LLC in Gray, Maine. “For some folks, it ranks higher (in importance) than a swimming pool or restrooms.”

In fact, people have become so accustomed to using Wi-Fi at home that they expect to have the same kind of Wi-Fi experience when they travel. And they increasingly want to be able to use their electronic devices in the comfort of their RV. It’s no longer acceptable or convenient to go to the front office to use a computer

Today’s RVers not only want to check e-mail, but play games, watch movies and make voice over IP phone calls using Skype, said Eric Stumberg, president and CEO of TengoInternet in Austin, Texas.

Even cellular phones are more dependent on Wi-Fi now.

Remember the days when people were hoping or predicting that cellular networks would overtake Wi-Fi?

It didn’t happen.

The reason, according to Stumberg, is that it’s become too expensive for cellular companies to handle both the voice and data requirements of iPhones and other devices that are used to access Facebook and other websites at least as often as they are used to make actual phone calls.

AT&T alone experienced a 5,000 percent increase in mobile data traffic in the three years ending in 2009, Stumberg said.

As a result of these dramatic increases in mobile data traffic, Stumberg said cellular phone companies are now programming their phones so that they automatically search for local Wi-Fi connections, while saving the cellular connections for voice phone calls.

Campground Wi-Fi systems are feeling the impact. In fact, half of TengoInternet’s campground customers are now accessing the company’s Wi-Fi service with mobile devices, Stumberg said.

Bandwidth Requirements Grow Exponentially

Meanwhile, the continuing proliferation of Wi-Fi dependent cellphones and other mobile devices continues to increase the bandwidth requirements of campground Wi-Fi systems.

“A (Wi-Fi) system that could handle 100 campsites five years ago is now having to service five times the amount of demand,” Ganley said.

Parks are responding by purchasing more bandwidth from their local Internet service providers that are capable of connecting to the lower-powered Wi-Fi on mobile devices and transmitting higher bandwidth levels of wireless Internet service. Some parks are also adding more hotspots to make sure they have sufficient coverage throughout their parks.

But while Wi-Fi systems are available to transmit higher volumes of bandwidth, parks in remote locations sometimes have trouble obtaining enough bandwidth from their local Internet service providers. “The biggest challenge is being able to pull in enough bandwidth,” said Jimmy Small, TengoInternet’s director of engineering.

Meanwhile, the rising demand for Wi-Fi is creating growing business opportunities for Wi-Fi companies that specialize in the campground industry.

Ganley said CheckBox Systems now has provided Wi-Fi systems to about 1,200 campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada. “We’ve been having a busier year this year than any prior year,” he said. “Lots of parks that didn’t have Wi-Fi before are saying they can’t put if off any longer.”

This is largely because more consumers are demanding Wi-Fi service. But even among parks that already have Wi-Fi, consumers are paying close attention to the quality of that service and they will not hesitate to voice their opinions if improvements to the park’s Wi-FI service are needed.

“In reviewing written comments, I frequently see Wi-Fi issues, and the grades for overall satisfaction with Wi-Fi are the lowest rated of all amenities,” said Bob MacKinnon, president and CEO of Murrieta, Calif.-based GuestReviews.com. “Two-thirds of guests use Wi-Fi and they give it a ‘B’ average rating. All other amenities rate half a grade higher at ‘A-.’ ”

MacKinnon said the two most frequent comments involve the price and reliability of Wi-Fi service. “My interpretation of the reliability issue is that guests are expecting strong, reliable service with bandwidth just like home, and that may not always be the case in a campground,” he said.

CheckBox gives its customers the ability to order Wi-Fi equipment and install it themselves, which Ganley said is appealing to park operators who want to minimize costs. CheckBox also provides 24/7 customer service support as an additional option if parks want it.

Airwave Adventures uses a similar business model and has provided Wi-Fi systems for more than 200 parks, while providing 24/7 customer service support for about 75 parks.

TengoInternet, for its part, offers custom solutions including network design, equipment, installation, network management and or guest support and has a national customer base of about 1,000 parks, most of which receive 24/7 customer support from the company.

 

 

RV Park and Campground Briefs

June 6, 2012 by · Comments Off on RV Park and Campground Briefs 

ARIZONA

From KMXV-TV, Phoenix:

The following fire restrictions will be in effect for the entire Prescott National Forest starting June 8:

  • The use of campfires, charcoal grills, and stove fires (wood, charcoal, and coal burning) are prohibited on all Prescott National Forest lands. This now includes developed campsites and campgrounds.
  • Use of explosives is prohibited.
  • Smoking is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
  • Operating a chainsaw, or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, is prohibited between the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. During acceptable hours, please have 5-foot to 10-foot clearance around your generators and other internal combustion engines.
  • Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame is prohibited.
  • Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun is prohibited except while engaged in a lawful hunt.

MISSOURI

From The Associated Press:

Eleven Missouri state parks are now offering free wireless Internet access at campgrounds. And more could come online this summer.

State Parks Director Bill Bryan says parks have long been great places to get away from a hectic schedule, but campers also have been asking to stay connected to the online world.

The wireless Internet access was added after a 2010 survey showed people would camp more often, and stay longer, if Internet connections were available.

Park campgrounds with wireless access include: Bennett Spring near Lebanon; Montauk near Salem; Roaring River near Cassville; Table Rock near Branson; Meramec near Sullivan; Baker near Patterson; Babler in Wildwood; Johnson’s Shut-Ins near Middlebrook; Onondaga Cave near Leasburg; Long Branch near Macon; and Finger Lakes near Columbia.

MASSACHUSETTS

From Yahoo Sports:

Writer Killeen Gonzales has identified what she calls her picks for the top five state run campgrounds in Massachusetts for tent camping. They are: Mount Greylock State Reservation, Wells State Park, Pearl Hill State Park, Boston Harbor Islands and Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

 

 

Alabama State Parks Host Notable Wi-Fi Network

April 23, 2012 by · Comments Off on Alabama State Parks Host Notable Wi-Fi Network 

Blue pins mark locations of the 22 state parks in Alabama. Map courtesy of Google.

With free wireless Internet now available at select Alabama state park campgrounds, roughing it no longer means disconnecting from the modern world.

Currently Lakepoint, Gulf, Wind Creek, and Cheaha state parks have Wi-Fi Internet in the campgrounds. Lake Guntersville, Joe Wheeler and Oak Mountain are in the final stages of establishing their Wi-Fi systems, bestofboating.com reported.

The Wi-Fi network provides guests with a reliable Internet connection to enhance their visit to the parks by allowing them to stay connected with friends and family back home as well as conduct essential business such as school work, financial transactions and social media.

According to Alabama State Parks Acting Co-Director Tim Wishum, the wireless Internet program is one of the largest wide-scale Wi-Fi deployments of any United States park system. The Alabama program will provide more than 20,000 park guests with free Internet access while camping.

“We started the program at Gulf State Park in 2010,” Wishum said. “Since then, we have deployed more than 600 radios, routers and relays, utilizing 92 miles of wireless networks to provide Internet to more than 1,200 campsites.”

Rather than create a few localized “hotspots,” Alabama state parks have turned entire campgrounds “hot” allowing guests to stay connected while in the comfort of their own RV. Since implementing the program, improvements have been made to ensure problem areas and outages are resolved quickly.

Free Wi-Fi is also available in or near the park office or store in select parks that do not have the campground systems. Those parks include Blue Springs, Monte Sano, Buck’s Pocket, Florala, Frank Jackson, Lake Lurleen and DeSoto.

For more information about Alabama state parks, visit www.alapark.com.

Cable Companies to Resell Verizon Wireless Service

December 2, 2011 by · Comments Off on Cable Companies to Resell Verizon Wireless Service 

Cable companies Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks are giving up on their dreams of creating their own wireless network, opting instead to resell Verizon Wireless service.

The companies said today (Dec. 2) that they will be selling their wireless licenses — which they haven’t been using — to Verizon Wireless for $3.6 billion, The Associated Press reported.

Cable companies have long had ambitions to get into wireless, and some of them have linked up with Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. to offer service. Lately, there has been speculation that the cable companies would invest in ailing No. 3 and 4 carriers Sprint or T-Mobile USA to gain access to the wireless market.

The link-up with No. 1 carrier Verizon Wireless and the sale of the spectrum appears to preclude that kind of deal.

“It’s really hard for a cable company to expect to compete in a highly competitive wireless market,” said Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley. He pointed to Cox Communications, another cable company, which this year shut down its plans to build out a wireless network.

“We got a good price for the spectrum,” Dudley said. “An arrangement like this makes a lot of sense.”

Time Warner Cable currently resells access to Clearwire’s wireless data network as “4G” service. Dudley said it could continue to provide service to existing subscribers, but the arrangement with Verizon Wireless is exclusive, so it will stop selling to new subscribers.

Comcast, the country’s largest cable company, owned the majority of the spectrum holding company, and will get $2.3 billion from the sale. Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable company, will get $1.1 billion. Bright House, the sixth-largest, will get $189 million.

The three companies and Verizon Wireless will resell each other’s services, so it will be possible to sign up for cable service in a Verizon Wireless store. Billing will be separate.

Verizon Communications Inc., the New York-based phone company that owns 55% of Verizon Wireless, resells satellite TV service from DirecTV Group Inc.

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