|Checking internet speed using Fast.com|
"Let's make campgrounds who say they offer wifi to actually provide wifi. I'm so tired of seeing "connected, no internet" or just not being able to connect at all, all the while that I'm looking at a campground's wifi information that I got when I paid them for it at check in...information that is useless."
So complained a full time RVer recently on a social media site. They have a point, but it isn't always the campground's fault. That internet connection has specific data restrictions and it is shared by many users.
We run into the issue frequently when trekking. I bit the bullet some years ago and got a jetpack on a Verizon plan. I saved my bandwidth (4 GB as I recall) for those times when I needed to get email, etc. and the campground internet connection was slooooow or non-existent. Back then I had a flip phone and it could not connect via the cellular network to the internet.
Today there are many "unlimited" plans available via cellular carriers, or at much better prices than a couple of years ago. So I now have a plan for 24 GB per month. Cellular isn't perfect, however. I had dual smart phones for a few years; one on Verizon and the other on AT&T. There were areas where I could get a good AT&T cellular connection but 0 Mbps internet! Just like at some campgrounds.
For one thing, connecting to wifi simply means one has connected to a wi-fi hotspot or router. That device is a bridge to the internet. Everyone who connects shares that internet pipeline. The more who connect, generally the slower the connection as those Mbps are parcelled out to all of the users. Eventually the internet connection slows to a crawl, or even 0 Mbps.
Sometimes disconnecting from the wireless network connection and then reconnecting will restore some bandwidth, but more usually this trick doesn't work. When the pipeline is down it is down!
I've been in campgrounds which seem to get throttled by the ISP after using all available bandwidth for a period of time. The connection works for a while in the morning, then as users connect it slows. Eventually it just stops (0Mbps). I have noticed the connection may not be restored until the wee hours. Then suddenly the Mbps return. I suspect the campground used it entire daily allotment of bits.
This doesn't happen everywhere. Some larger "resorts" have more sophisticated technology. This is affordable when there are hundreds (or a thousand) RVers who will share the technology cost. In such situations there is a dedicated login and password for each user. Of course, there is usually a seperate fee for this service. Some campgrounds or resorts offer a two-tiered service. Everyone connects via a single login and shares that data pipeline. However, there will also be a "wifi" room with special connection privileges for as many people as can fit at three or four tables. When within the room the speed is much faster, even if outside the room the wifi internet is creeping. And finally, some resorts offer a computer service area with volunteers and fast wifi within that room. One can even use the resort computers for about $1 an hour or so and there may be printers available and so on. Color and B&W.
Many campgrounds offer free wifi. That can be confusing because they don't promise unlimited internet connectivity. If you go to a campground in which everyone shares one login, then you and your neighbors also share bandwidth. In other words, that "free" wifi internet pipeline has only so much capacity. Get a bunch of streamers on it and it will choke as the pipeline fills with Netflix watchers, gamers and so on.
If you want dedicated internet access there are several ways to get it.
- Go to campgrounds which offer specific bandwidth to all users, or those who are willing to pay for it. You will find that you get your own login name and password. We pay about $30 a month for this at certain campgrounds with a 4 Mbps download speed or higher.
- Carry a Verizon jetpack with a 20+ GB monthly plan, or via the service provider of your choice. Then you can have your own internet connection.
- Go to a nearby coffee shop and log in from their "free wifi."
- Some campgrounds have the camp wide system but also have have a dedicated Wifi room, which offers higher speeds and dedicated login limited to about 8 users in that room.
BTW, I dropped AT&T last year because their cellular system did exactly what some complain about; I could connect but the download speed was near 0 MBPS in some locations. "The internet is not free."