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Old 08-31-2012, 08:59 AM   #1
NN5I
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Default Getting better Internet service

I'm frustrated. I use excellent equipment to maximize Wi-Fi service wherever I am. But I have found that Wi-Fi provided in RV parks could extract ionized hydrogen efficiently in intergalactic space. That is, it really sucks.

For example, there's a new map update available for my Magellan GPSs. I can't get it, though, because at the speed available in the RV park I'm in, at $30 per month, it would take eight hours to download, and the service usually doesn't stay up for eight hours at a stretch. Also they double-charged me a month ago, and I couldn't get them to do anything about it. Finally got the credit card company to get it back for me, which they did readily.

Once I parked in front of a branch library of Leon County Public Library (Tallahassee, FL) and had 10 Mb/second on my wi-fi; and it was free. If I were there right now, I could download the new maps in about 15 minutes. Here, eight hours.

Not only is it slow here, it disconnects at about 5:00 every morning. Every morning, and I have to log back on. This, too, can pull a laboratory-quality vacuum of about a microtorr, which is a very good vacuum indeed.

So what else could I do? Are there other services I'm ignorant of? Satellite internet? Internet through cell-phone providers? Someone out there knows much more than I do. Help!
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:47 AM   #2
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Carl, when I'm travelling (most of the time) I use Verizon mi-fi. Works just about everywhere I travel. I use the 3g version, as it works better for now than the 4g version. I share your pain with rv park wi-fi. That's what finally drove me to mi-fi. I tried Sprint and ATT, but they seemed to only work in metro areas and I'm rarely in a metro area. The little Verizon mi-fi card has solved most of my internet access problems.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:03 PM   #3
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Right now, where I"m parked, downloading a file more than a few K would by like watching grass grow, Digging it up, planting seed and watching some more.

In about 12 hours it will be greased lightening by comparision

That sir is the secret, do your downloads at like 2am when you get up to visit the smallest room in which you sit and think a while.

I have a file qued for download even as we speek.

NOTE: there are some "robotic" downloaders that will do that for your automatically (Schedule a download) I do not have one, I will just hit RESUME after midnight.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:06 PM   #4
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Thanks, Doc. What speeds do you get -- try speedtest -- and how much does it cost monthly?
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
do your downloads at like 2am
Tried that already. I'm almost always up at 2 am and usually playing on the PC, and -- here, anyway -- it's still far too slow.
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:18 PM   #6
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I work part time for a local camp ground and I just moved a bunch of repeaters around to improve the WiFi. Now here is the deal may camp grounds use a service that tracks WiFi use some will kick you off if you are using too much band width some will charge you for the service. If there are may people using the system and if you try to down load a movie the rest suffer it is a trade off. I would be nice if camp grounds could afford to provide the type of cable service people a used to at home but it just is not possible. WiFi is only 54mbs and repeaters maybe 11. If you stick to email and browsing there should be no problems. We are using 5 repeaters our service is free but people still complain don't forget we also are at the mercy of our IP. as far as band width.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:31 PM   #7
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Thanks, N3LYT. Some comments, though. Modern WiFi is 802.11n, which is considerably faster than 54Mb/s (about six times as fast). 54 Mb/s is 802.11g, obsolescent. Here where I am, they offer only 802.11b, which is 11 Mb/s and utterly obsolete.

Multiple repeaters are a very el cheapo way to go. It would be much better, and not much more expensive, to use multiple access points (APs) instead of a single AP and repeaters. Purchasing used equipment and configuring it myself, I could install several APs and the necessary cabling for an equipment cost well under $1,000 total (for five APs) and (at $30 per month per user) pay the whole cost within six months. I have four APs in storage here in the motor home, and one that's in use -- two of which are 802.11n, and not one of which cost me as much as $40. Commercial power levels and outdoor antennas would likely only quadruple this cost. But if it were ten times as much it still wouldn't be much.

If the service is free, there's some justification for going the cheap way. Here, they charge $30 per month, which for 25 users is $750 per month and can buy a whale of a lot of bandwidth, enough for many users to get excellent service.

"Limitations of the technology" and ISPs are disingenuous and transparent excuses for doing things on the cheap and overcharging for poor service that could easily be good.

What would I do, to put 5 APs in a campground on a small budget? I'd likely use a single 802.11n router running DD-WRT, configured as an AP. Then I'd scatter five 802.11n routers around, configured as client bridges (also with DD-WRT), to each of which was wired a single 802.11g router configured as an AP, also with DD-WRT. This would give me about 300 Mb/s total, with 54 Mb/s available at each of the scattered 802.11g APs. If each of these served five users, then each user could have about 10 Mb/s service simultaneously, divided by four if the routers were all single-radio routers, but divided only by two if they were all two-radio routers.

That's best-case, of course. Divide it by two again, and each user could have at least 1Mb/s during busy times, and maybe three times that during sleepy times. And I'd do it for perhaps a couple thousand bucks, with no ethernet to string around the campground. Of course, I'd have to pay the ISP for about 30 Mb/s service, perhaps a couple hundred bucks per month.

Don't like DD-WRT? Use Tomato, or Open WRT.

Objection: my client bridge with an attached AP is -- gasp! -- a repeater, essentially. But it's a repeater with twice as many radios, running in twice as many channels, so it doesn't extract the speed penalty of a repeater with multiple clients.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:05 PM   #8
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After all that, I'm still looking for other solutions, since I doubt I'll persuade the campground or its WiFi supplier to do it right. Probably they wouldn't know how, and certainly they don't really care.
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:24 PM   #9
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Where I used to live the only option we had was dial up or satellite, so when I had a big file to download I went down to McDonalds and bought a cool drink and sat in the truck and downloaded the file on there wifi.
Worked for me

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Old 09-01-2012, 05:45 AM   #10
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Carl, I just ran the speed test and my down was 2.26 and the up was 720. I'm out in the boonies outside of Southfork, Co and have no idea where the tower is. Probably not in Southfork since I only have 2 bars service on my cell. I pay $59/month and I'm grandfathered on unlimited usage. Now, I think there is a limit on monthly usage. Works for me.
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:55 AM   #11
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Thanks, Doc. 2.26 down and 720 up is pretty good. I'm going to have to give that serious consideration despite the higher cost.
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:44 AM   #12
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I've noticed traveling around Florida, there is a company that has installed equipment in many parks and charges the RV'er like $20 a week, $5 a day and there is also a monthly rate. Some places we've been, the service has been better than others, but still the same company and I cannot remember the name.

Most of the places we've been, where the wi-fi is free, the campgrounds will tell you, it's for checking e-mail, paying a bill or browsing the internet. They discourage users from using Skype, Echolink or other VOIP programs. I can understand that.




My wife jokes about me enjoying taking my toys with me. That includes computers and the internet. She know when she's searching for a new campground to ask if they have wi-fi, full hook-ups, etc... Hi Hi.. I enjoy RV'ing but if I can be more comfortable at home, I'll just stay home. I'm getting too old for this roughing it stuff.

"Doc", are you a Full Time RV'er ? I'm very interested in Verizon's Mi-Fi. I've considered going to it. My understanding is I can get on for about $50/month, but that would limit me to 5gb's of data. I'm an old Verizon customer and been with them since they were AT&T or whomever they bought out. I'm grandfathered in under the old unlimited data usage. My wife has a BlackBerry and I have a Droid-X. They get a lot of use. All our family and friends are on Verizon. We use them for e-mail, texting and I have EchoLink on my Droid. I don't use EchoLink much because of the battery drainage. I've also got FaceBook and Twitter accounts on the Droid.

Many places we camp and/or would like to camp have NO Wi-Fi, but cell phone service is available through Verizon. I can do things on my laptop that I can't do on the Droid, so I'm looking for a better way to get internet on my laptop. I pay about $100/month here at home for DSL and phone service. Our landline phone is hardly used. The cellular phones are used much much more for calling friends and relatives. I'm considering dropping the home DSL and phone service and just signing up for Mi-Fi. Would I be happy ?


I've used a program to make my Droid a "Hot Spot". Cannot recall the name of it. I think I paid about $15 for the app. It's not real dependable though. I used an app with my old Black Berry that worked very well. It would work for the internet service when you could not even make a cellular phone call due to the weak signal. I know Verizon has it's own app for making the Droid a "Hot Spot" but never tried it. I think it runs about $30 a month. I understand that you can turn it off and on and they will only bill you for the time in use. Maybe charge you by the week or semi-monthly. Like I say never tried it. You can ask the same question of 4 Verizon reps and get 12 different answers. Once you start changing things around on your account, one thing effects another. I've done my best to leave well enough alone. Since we are not full timers, using Verizon's Droid Hot Spot would probably be my best bet. I fear if I add that, they will change my unlimited data usage and I do not want to do that. I figure one day, they are going to drop their promise about some of us being grandfathered in under the unlimited use.

All this stuff gets expensive. Satellite TV, cell phones and internet gets to be some high priced stuff for us old retirees.




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Old 09-01-2012, 07:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NN5I View Post
Thanks, N3LYT. Some comments, though. Modern WiFi is 802.11n, which is considerably faster than 54Mb/s (about six times as fast). 54 Mb/s is 802.11g, obsolescent. Here where I am, they offer only 802.11b, which is 11 Mb/s and utterly obsolete.

Multiple repeaters are a very el cheapo way to go. It would be much better, and not much more expensive, to use multiple access points (APs) instead of a single AP and repeaters. Purchasing used equipment and configuring it myself, I could install several APs and the necessary cabling for an equipment cost well under $1,000 total (for five APs) and (at $30 per month per user) pay the whole cost within six months. I have four APs in storage here in the motor home, and one that's in use -- two of which are 802.11n, and not one of which cost me as much as $40. Commercial power levels and outdoor antennas would likely only quadruple this cost. But if it were ten times as much it still wouldn't be much.

If the service is free, there's some justification for going the cheap way. Here, they charge $30 per month, which for 25 users is $750 per month and can buy a whale of a lot of bandwidth, enough for many users to get excellent service.

"Limitations of the technology" and ISPs are disingenuous and transparent excuses for doing things on the cheap and overcharging for poor service that could easily be good.

What would I do, to put 5 APs in a campground on a small budget? I'd likely use a single 802.11n router running DD-WRT, configured as an AP. Then I'd scatter five 802.11n routers around, configured as client bridges (also with DD-WRT), to each of which was wired a single 802.11g router configured as an AP, also with DD-WRT. This would give me about 300 Mb/s total, with 54 Mb/s available at each of the scattered 802.11g APs. If each of these served five users, then each user could have about 10 Mb/s service simultaneously, divided by four if the routers were all single-radio routers, but divided only by two if they were all two-radio routers.

That's best-case, of course. Divide it by two again, and each user could have at least 1Mb/s during busy times, and maybe three times that during sleepy times. And I'd do it for perhaps a couple thousand bucks, with no ethernet to string around the campground. Of course, I'd have to pay the ISP for about 30 Mb/s service, perhaps a couple hundred bucks per month.

Don't like DD-WRT? Use Tomato, or Open WRT.

Objection: my client bridge with an attached AP is -- gasp! -- a repeater, essentially. But it's a repeater with twice as many radios, running in twice as many channels, so it doesn't extract the speed penalty of a repeater with multiple clients.
Yes you a quite right and I agree with you if you are being charged you deserve better. Ours are clients and yes they are old it is a good system but a little long in the tooth the next issue is Fairpoint telco we have no cable here in the woods of Maine and 3Megs is about tops from our IP. Our system has the ability to charge for use but it works better for us to raze our camping fee slightly and give our customers free access.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:39 AM   #14
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Been known to visit McD's too.

That file I downloaded last night 170 Meg I fired it up at 12:25 am and the next time I looked at the computer was 3:15 am. The file was on disc and the computer was doing the virus scan (Which on big files takes forever) I killed it since i know the file is clean (Trusted source) converted it (the ocnverter would c rash on a virus) and am ready to finish processing,,, That will take about 2 minutes when I get to it right after I post this and open the final program.. Then I can watch the show. ham nation www.twit.tv/hn
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:13 AM   #15
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Jim, I'm not a full timer, but I do spend a lot of time in my rv. About 9 months a year. We are presently in South Fork, Co. and from here we go home to the sticks and bricks for a couple of months and then on down to South Texas. We'll be on the coast, off and on, until May and then back to the high country. Probably Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and then back to Colorado for the remainder of the summer.
Verizon mi-fi has worked everywhere we have been except a couple of spots where there was absolutely no cell service. Most of the time the speed is good and we use the internet a lot. Our mi-fi is a hotspot that allows up to 5 users. We have 2 laptops, a printer and a neighbor presently on ours. The range is pretty good. Our neighbor is in the adjoining campsite and gets great service. Campground wi-fi sux, so we let him on ours. We've been very satisfied with the service. We also use it when we are at home. I used to travel to Japan a lot and it worked great for the DW and I to have daily conversations. DW uses it for Skype with the grandkids.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:40 PM   #16
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Doc, I appreciate the information and advice. I went by the Verizon store while in Panama City (FL) this afternoon. I am connected via a Mi-Fi module as I type. They don't have 4G here at my QTH, but so far 3G is very fast. I'm satisfied so far. I have a couple of weeks to decide. I'll be putting it through the paces,but looks good so far. I may also go with their local home phone system. Keep my home phone number and we can travel with it.

Getting rid of my DSL, landline phone and going all wireless via the Verizon cell system should actually save me near $50 a month. Making the change is one of those head things though. I've had a landline phone and DSL so long it's difficult making the descision. Hi Hi....

I've loaded Echolink a couple of times and it seems to work as well via the wireless system as it did on DSL. It would be nice to not have to worry about campgrounds having wi-fi and being able to connect to the internet while running down the highways.




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Old 09-02-2012, 09:24 AM   #17
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Ok, what are your options:
1: Park Wi-Fi,, you already use it so you know all about it.

2: Hughes Net et-al (2-way Sat Internet) Bandwith limits on most of them, long lag times (1/2 second ping) Slow DSL speeds, however fairly reliable. Also expensive.

3: Cellular 3G (Slow) or 4G (Fast if you can find it) Expensive, however there are some plans that let you tether a Cell phone for less. Coverage is not 100%, Many companies, I believe Virgin Mobil, T-Mobil and AT&T all have a "Buy when you need it" plan, again bandwidth may be limited.


NOTE: on Sat: There is a service "Via-Sat" they bought out Wild Blue it seems.. (I know their hardware carries the W-B label) Now, Wild Blue was all spot beams, (not suitable for RV use) but one subscriber says they are planning on a portable service.. I do not know how true this is, or how far in teh future, or if it will ever come to pass. But the one Via-Sat user I know of braggs big time about the quality of their service.

For more, check out www.twit.tv/hn One of the hosts (Bob Hiel) started using Via-Sat about 20 episodes ago, NOTE, he's been "Spotty" the last few episodes (Meaning he's on the road, not at his studio, and thus unable to participate) He was not there last week or about 3 weeks ago, but you can check out episode 61 for the quality of his uploads.
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:35 PM   #18
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I took the Mi-Fi back to the guy at Verizon yesterday. It cost me a $35 re-stocking fee. At least I got to try it out. I came very close to keeping it and going totally wireless. The bottom line was DSL out performed it totally. If I had stayed on the road as much as Doc, I would have gone with it. When they get 4G here at my QTH I'll swap over more than likely. In my rural location I'm not sure they provide enough bandwidth for all the users in the area and during the evenings when a lot of users really tax the system, things slow even more. Anyway, we'll check it out again when they get the 4G system going here. Meanwhile I did have them turn on the 3G Mobile HotSpot. I tried it and it seemed to work better then the Mi-Fi. I can turn that on and off and they are suppose to pro-rate the usage for billing. $20/month is not bad. That's less then I pay when having to buy service in some campgrounds.



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Old 09-05-2012, 11:07 PM   #19
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Did you run any speed tests on rhe 3G, Jim?
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:59 PM   #20
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Did you run any speed tests on rhe 3G, Jim?
Yes I did. I don't recall what they were but all DL speeds were less then 1 mbs.... Most of the time the upload speed was faster then DL.




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