Good Sam Camping Blog

What is Wi-Fi? (part 1)

Remember the old record player/radio systems we called Hi-Fi’s? It meant High Fidelity, and some people say that Wi-Fi means ‘Wireless Fidelity’. Although the term ‘Hi-Fi’ may have provided inspiration, Wi-Fi doesn’t mean anything. It is just a marketing term so people don’t have to call it ‘802.11’ — which is the technical specification. We also refer to it as ‘hotspot’ technology, because it only covers a small area, a ‘hotspot.’ You must be within range of the hotspot’s antenna, also called the ‘Access Point’, in order to use it. The range is usually a couple hundred feet.

Wi-Fi is the most popular way for travelers to connect to the Internet. No contracts, no commitments, you just connect to the hotspot’s signal and start browsing! Many RV parks are Wi-Fi hotspots. Most all laptop computers sold within the last 3 years come with the necessary wireless equipment built in.

You can also find hotspots in coffee shops, airports, rest areas, and libraries. To find a hotspot near you, try www.jiwire.com. Just enter a city and state and you’ll see several choices. If you just want to see just RV parks, you’ll find a listing provided by RV.net users on the locations forum. Realize that all these lists are compiled by people – there is no such thing as a definitive list of all Wi-Fi hotspots.

Some of these hotspots are free, some charge a few dollars a day. Or, if you’re going to be in one spot for a while, you can get a better deal by signing up for a week or a month. I know lots of people who would like to sign up once, pay a monthly fee, and be able to count on a Wi-Fi hotspot wherever they go. It just doesn’t work like that. Every hotspot makes their own arrangements. The best way to find out if a given campground has Wi-Fi is to look in a directory like Woodall’s. Each campground will have an indicator if Wi-Fi is available as well as an indicator if there is a charge, or if it is free. Of course, this information is out-of-date very quickly, so a phone call to the park is a good idea if it is important to you to have Wi-Fi.

You might also want to ask if the Wi-Fi is available at your site, or only in the clubhouse. If you want to use the Wi-Fi at your site, the wireless adapter built in to your computer may not be good enough. I’ll tell you why in next week’s post.

Join the discussion on this topic by viewing this thread on RV.net forums.

Chris Guld
www.GeeksOnTour.com