Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We were recently at a commercial RV park in Arizona with terrible Wi-Fi reception. We specifically chose this park because it advertised Wi-Fi. We paid for a week before we realized the Wi-Fi was only available if you sat on the bench outside the office.
My husband spent a hundred dollars on some crazy device that was supposed to reach out and grab the signal. It worked to some degree, but I would rather have the hundred bucks than mediocre Wi-Fi.
The park had many permanent residents with a separate internet service. Near the end of our stay a guy came over to talk to my husband. He was trying to figure out if we were getting on their internet and if we had their password. My husband was trying to help him with the password that was given to us by the park office and told him about the receiver thingy he had bought. As the conversation continued my husband finally figured out the guy knew more than he did about this techie stuff. He was actually one of the residents on the separate service and thought we were stealing their Wi-Fi.
I thought it a bit rude for him to come over and pretend he needed help. We can hardly spell Wi-Fi let alone hack into someone else’s signal. I’m sure I had smoke coming out my ears when I realized what was going on, but I held my tongue.
When we left we felt like people had probably been watching us suspiciously for days and treating us like criminals, when we were actually the ones who paid for a service we never received.
I don’t really have a question, I just wanted to let off steam.
--Smoke Signals in Sedona
Many parks have discovered that Wi-Fi is very important to customers. Putting in an adequate system to cover a park and supply the data is not cheap, but many parks are investing in better coverage. There is no such thing as a “free lunch.” You will often pay more for this service, cable or any other amenity.
Like your husband and many other readers I have tried several signal boosting, long-range adapters such as those produced by Alfa Networks. They work to some degree, but often the park is putting out a weak signal and it is only meant for guests to use at the clubhouse or near the office.
It can be frustrating for those who share a connection with others. If someone is streaming video it can throttle everyone else.
Your guy should be looking at members of his own group. I assume they have their network password protected, so someone in his group must be giving it out.
You might want to call ahead or ask more specific questions when you reach a park, before you reach for your wallet. Some parks will use language like, “Wi-Fi Available.”
Sometimes that means you can buy short-term service from a nearby provider. Sometimes that means you have to be parked next to the office pointing SE, up on one wheel and hold your computer over your head next to the slideout window.
A Long-Range USB Adapter will only let you see a signal and sometimes tell you its strength. It will not let you access data if it is protected, as most are.
Those little "receiver thingy’s” are great in certain situations, but you can’t count on them all the time.
I met a guy who hooked one up to a Pringles can. It wasn’t working so I told him to try two soup cans and tie them together with a long string. He just gave me the stink eye.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink