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Old 08-05-2007, 07:36 AM   #1
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WiFi and The Internet

I had an interesting conversation with an acquaintance who is leaving his job for a new venture. The venture involves providing wifi connections at interstate highway rest stops. Apparently there will be two ways of accessing the web: by using your wifi-enabled laptop directly or by using special kiosks set up at each rest stop. I'm told that so far Minnesota, Iowa and Nevada are interested in this. A way cool idea.

This got me thinking about internet usage while on the road. We have a laptop which we use to access the web when wifi is available. Access is spotty for us since we spend a fair amount of time in barely accessible locations. There isn't a rule of thumb one can use to anticipate where you'll be able to find a wifi connection: you can find any number of them in remote Moab, Utah (one of my favorite experiences in Moab is sitting outside on the shady lawn of the public library doing my internet thing), but can't find any in one of Michigan's major tourist destinations, Makinaw City. Our experience with wifi at restaurants and campgrounds is such that I don't expect much. I think we get reliable connections maybe half the time. I understand that an alternative to wifi is connecting to the web via a cell phone. It sounds handy but is probably very expensive.

I'd be interested in knowing what other folks do web-wise. Do you find the internet a waste of time while on the road or is it an integral part of your travel?
Don
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:39 AM   #2
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Hi Don
This will be our first time to try WIFI on the road. We leave for a long trip west on Mon. morning. I can say though that my older brother Pete who lives in Florida travels in an A Class a lot and keeps in touch with clients while traveling. I am not sure how successful his connection rates are but he seems satisfied with what he does. I look forward to seeing how it works out for us. I do know there are some camp grounds listed on the net that suggest they have WIFI. When we return in three weeks we will give an up date of how it went.
Have a great day and Happy Camping to all
Ted
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:19 AM   #3
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Internet

We've been traveling for six years, always with a laptop. It is vital to us since we're gone 6-7 months a year. We connect to WiFi when we can. Some campgrounds have it for free, some charge a dollar a day, many much more. We rarely pay.

Frequentlyt we find we can jump on someone's wireless connection and we carry a repeater for this purpose to boost the signal.

When there are no other sources we use our cell phone, Verizon in our case. It's free after 9PM. I find I can get on my cell phone virtually anywhere in the United States and the speed has gotten to a 1/3rd of basic DSL, not fast enough to really surf but more than adequate for email. We also carry a phone external antenna for our cell phone.

In Canada we usually go to the local town hall or library, even the smallest town has an available computer, very often thanks to Bill Gates.

Norm
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:18 PM   #4
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You might want to enquire with your cell phone provider, the "air cards" can achieve some decent speeds.

If you want REALLY basic web browsing, your phone might even do some basic web browsing itself.
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Old 08-08-2007, 02:19 PM   #5
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http://hotspot.live.com/web/SearchView.aspx is a good locator for wi-fi hotspots.

Panera Bread locations usually provide free service. Connect from the parking lot if you are feeling frugal.

Wobbly
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Old 08-08-2007, 03:00 PM   #6
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Once in Brentwood TN I needed to get on line in a hurry. Cell phone call told me I needed to repond to an e-mail. Got off at an exit and pulled into a office building complex parking lot. I had my choice of two unsecured access points. Works in a pinch. Although companies are getting a little more security minded these days.
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Old 08-08-2007, 07:52 PM   #7
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I think Wi-Fi at rest areas would be great! I tried to get on on the way to the M&G at a couple truck stops, but they charge like $4.99 a day just to use it. There was no way I'd spend that just to use it for 5 minutes.

I've tried the phone thing, but I can't do anything more than e-mail from a cell phone. It won't even bring up SunlineClub, so what's the point of having the internet thing on the phone!!!

Jon
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Old 08-09-2007, 05:03 AM   #8
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Cell Phone

There may be a difference from cell phone company to cell phone company. I'm on my cell phone and writing this email. Verizon's cell service is at a rate of 230 Kbps.

Definitely not as fast as my normal internet connection but adequate for looking at Sunline and writing this email.

We've use it for 7 years and it's speed has increased from 14.4 Kbps to 230Kbps in that time period.

Equally significant, places we traveled in year 2, like costal Oregon where there was no service had service in year 4.

Norm Milliard
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:52 AM   #9
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Norm, are you using one of those air card things? I think I didn't clarify myself very well. I was referring to the internet browser built into cell phones, not the little attachment that goes into a computer.

Jon
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:16 PM   #10
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Cell Internet service

I use my cell service through my cell phone and not an "air card". I plug my cell phone into my laptop via a USB cable.

The cell phone is about one third the speed of an air card but there is no charge for minutes used beyond my normal cell service minutes charge. Of course after 9 PM and on weekends there is no minute charge, simply totally free. The air time charge for an air card is significant.

I also carry a normal wireless card and use that to hop on to free networks. Free networks are every where. In Washington state many state rest areas provide wireless, some campgrounds do, most libraries and very often in about 1/3rd of the campgrounds I can hop on someone's unsecured network.

I hardly ever pay because I know I can use my cell phone practically everywhere.

We travel about 7 months of the year and would have a difficult time without the net via our cell phone.

Norm Milliard
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:29 PM   #11
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Cindy and I use a Broadband Wireless Card that just slides into the PCIA Slot on our Laptop. If we are in a area that has faster connection speed from a WI-FI connection, then we can just switch over to that.

In the past 7 months, we have been very happy with it. Usually when ever near a major city, we have very fast speeds. Sometimes near Cable Modem speeds!!

I'm actually typing this while she's driving on our way up north for the weekend. She worked on the CPU all the way to the M&G and we never lost a connection. I dont think any of our trip would be possible (at least the Webstie part of it) without a Broadband card.

Ours is only $40 a month, and while we lived at home, we cancelled our Cable due to it being $90 a month and the Broadband card was just a tad slower. WI-FI is too spotty, and if we only wanted to update our site at rest stops or campgrounds, it would be to hard and take way too long. With this card, we can be working on the cpu while just driving.

I'd recommend it to anyone.

Pat
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:45 PM   #12
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Broadband wireless cards

I think a broadband wireless card is a very good solution except for two things, one the coverage is limited 'for us' because we travel in a lot of out of the way places where cell phones work and no broadband is available and than there's the $40 per month.

When the coverage matches or approaches cell coverage I will spring for th $500 a year.

What brand of broadband wireless service do you use?

Norm Milliard
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Old 08-13-2007, 01:30 PM   #13
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RIght now we use Verizon Broadband. We're thinking of buying one of the amplifiers they keep advertising in different RV publications that say they'll boost the signal by a few watts. This way I figure we'll get the Brain Cancer kicking in the cab of the truck a little quicker then it already is with all the other RF Signals going on in there.

I only say this because as Cindy and I were driving home from Norhtern Michigan yesterday, we heard a program about Brain Damage caused by Cell phone signals. The guy was talking about how many electronics have come out in the past few years and no one will know the damage for generations to come. We looked at the dashboard with the Satelitte Radio we were listening to, the GPS beside that, the laptop with the broadband card running while she was working on that, and the two cell phones plugged into the various outlets that were running off the inverter.....all in this small space.

We both laughed thinking it wont be long. I think I was also complaining of a headache

Pat
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:11 AM   #14
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I looked into the cell phone connection thing, but thought it was too expensive for us, once you add that to the other household bills. But it is my understanding that you can surf the web while (someone else is) driving down the road? That could come in handy...
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