Answering WiFi Complaints
May 22, 2020
Some time ago I wrote a post about terrible WiFi service at parks and asked Jim Ganley of CheckBox Systems to help answer the technical side of the question.
The intent of the post was to provide you with a document that you could provide your guests explaining why your WiFi may not be on the same level as what they have at home.
I thought that this might be a good time to repost that same article and offer a PDF for you to distribute. If you would like a copy of the PDF, just drop me an email with WiFi PDF in the subject line and I will get one mailed out to you
Here is the post:
As a park manager, one of the toughest issues that I had to train my staff on was answering questions about the WiFi service in the park. Recently I worked with Jim Ganley of Checkbox Systems to create a FAQ sheet that can be posted on your website, handed out to your guests or put into your Guest Guide. Here is the FAQ sheet:
Why isn’t the WiFi in the park the same as the WiFi at my house?
Several factors can affect the speed and responsiveness of the WiFi in the park that may not be a factor, or as big of a factor as it is at home.
The WiFi in the park is shared among many users and devices. You may have a dozen WiFi enabled devices at home, but there may be hundreds of devices online in the park.
At home you may be fortunate to have very fast cable or fiber Internet service, however in many rural and semi-rural areas slower DSL or satellite based service may be all that is available. This slower service must be shared among many users and dozens or hundreds of devices.
Why can’t I download movies and music?
Movies, music and videos consume a lot of data bandwidth. Since the WiFi system in the park is shared by many users, downloading movies and videos can seriously impact other users in the park. How much bandwidth is consumed by different actives? For comparison:
(total, not per second)
Sending or receiving an email (no attachments)
Sending or receiving an email with a picture attached
Downloading a 3 minute song
Using a social networking site for 10 minutes (i.e. Facebook)
Downloading a 3 minute movie trailer in HD
Using Zoom or VoIP for a 20 minute voice chat
Using Zoom or other video services for a 20 minute chat
Watching a streaming 30 minute TV show
Watching a streaming 2 hour movie
A two hour movie can be the equivalent amount of bandwidth of over 4 million emails!
The RV next door to me is getting a stronger signal than I am. Why?
WiFi is based on radio signals, and just like the radio in your car the signals can be affected and blocked by both physical obstacles and interference from other devices. Some WiFi devices have better quality radios and antennas than other devices.
You may have something physically blocking your reception such as another RV, a building or vehicle. Or there may be some other electrical or electronic device in or near your RV that is causing interference.
Or your neighbor may have a WiFi enabled device with a really good quality radio in it.
Or your neighbor may be closer to the WiFi access point.
Often it is a combination of all of these factors.
I can’t get the park signal to show on my device. What should I do?
If no WiFi signals are showing on your device ensure that the WiFi is enabled on your device – sometimes there is a physical button on your device to turn off the radio to save battery, or there may be a software setting to enable WiFi, some phones and tablets feature an Airline Mode to turn off all radios (WiFi & Cellular).
If you can see other WiFi signals but not the park WiFi on your device, check to see if other devices on your site or near you can see the park WiFi. If you can’t see the WiFi signal on any device on your site or near you be sure to mention this to the park staff. You may be in an area that they have not extended WiFi into, or the system may be having issues.
Why is WiFi in an RV park different than at a hotel?
RV parks & resorts face all of the same issues as hotels in providing WiFi to guests and have some additional unique challenges. RV parks & resorts are often in rural or semi-rural areas where Internet speeds are slower and more expensive, electrical supply to the system and access points may be less stable and links between access points is usually wireless instead of wired. Add exposure to elements such as rain, wind and lightning and the equipment is subject to more wear and needs attention more often.
Why do I keep getting dropped?
Getting dropped can mean actually losing the radio signal connection, or it can be maintaining the connection but the flow of data stops or slows to a point where it is not usable for what you want to do.
The radio signal connection can be dropped for several reasons:
You are too far from the WiFi system access point.
There are other electrical or electronic devices nearby causing interference.
There are physical obstacles such as RVs, buildings or vehicles.
There are too many users on the WiFi system and it is overloaded.
You may be able to maintain the radio signal connection, but the flow of data stops or slows to a point where it is not usable for all of the reasons above, and additionally there may be to many users on the Internet connection shared by the park, the Internet Service Provider for the park may be experiencing issues (common on Satellite based systems) or the website you are accessing may be experiencing high volumes.
What can I do to improve the WiFi reception at my unit?
Sometimes just moving a few feet or moving outside of your RV is all that is needed to make a big difference. If that does not work try plugging your device into AC power, as some devices reduce the power to the radio and screens when unplugged to extend battery life.
For devices such as laptops, tablets, phones or streaming devices with internal WiFi cards, if the range is not good consider investing in an external WiFi adapter. These devices plug into a USB port and have external antennas that are often better than the internal antennas manufactures build into their devices.
Avoid “Signal Boosters” and “Range Extenders”. There are device sold by different manufacturers that allegedly increase the range of WiFi by picking the signal up off the air and rebroadcasting it. Generally these devices create more noise than usable signal, and will not help you get better WiFi. Oddly, some WiFi enabled devices will misinterpret the noise as signal, and report better signal strengths, but at the same time the speeds will decrease or stop altogether.
If you would like to have a copy of this FAQ sheet that you can post or hand out, just email me with WiFi FAQ sheet in the subject line and I will send you a PDF with the content.
Does this answer the main questions you are asked?