One Fee for Nationwide Wi-Fi

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September 11, 2008

I just received an email “Boingo announces the addition of NomadISP to the Boingo Roaming Network, giving Boingo members access to close to 300 new hotspots located at RV parks across US and Canada.”

If RVers could pay one monthly fee and have access to Wi-Fi hotspots at RV parks all over the country, they’d be signing up in droves! Boingo’s ad claims “Connect any time you like, for as long as you want, at thousands of North American hotspots for just $9.95/month for 3 months!”

Campground Wi-Fi signSo, what’s the catch?

The main thing is simply that RVers are not Boingo’s target market.  Most of those ‘thousands of hotspots’ are hotels, restaurants and McDonalds.  Boingo is servicing the traveling business person.

If you found yourself in the campground with the sign pictured here, a Boingo membership would do you no good.  They’ve never heard of Boingo and you need to pay $9.95/day to get online here!

NomadISP, the subject of their press release IS for RV parks. But many, if not all, of the parks listed on their site offer Wi-Fi as an included amenity.  So, once again, you would not be using your Boingo account.

What Boingo is doing is admirable.  They are providing a backoffice system for Wi-Fi hotspots that allows ‘roaming.’  Think of Wi-Fi hotspots like the early days of cell phones when there was no roaming among the different carriers.  And Wi-Fi hotspots today are a lot more scattered than Cellular providers ever were.  Many hotspots at RV parks are even homegrown systems.

I don’t think roaming among RV park Wi-Fi hotspots is ever going to happen.  My husband, Jim, and I used to do contract work for Coach Connect (now MatrixRV) who installed Wi-Fi in RV parks all over the country.  It was Jim’s job to support those parks.  At on time, we were part of a aggregator similar to Boingo, and it just didn’t work.  If you’re paying Boingo, for example, and you have a problem; you’re going to call Boingo for help.  But they don’t have a clue how the Wi-Fi is set up where you are!  They just do the billing.

Luckily for RVers, we really don’t need roaming with Wi-Fi hotspots.  So many RV Parks offer Wi-Fi as a free amenity now.  And most of the ones that charge are very reasonable, $2 – $5/day.  If you need Internet more reliable than the ‘catch-as-catch-can’ Wi-Fi hotspots, you can get a data card from your cellular provider.  The coverage from cellular data has improved immensely in the last couple years.

The bottom line is, don’t sign up for a national Wi-Fi plan, it’s not a good deal for RVers.  The only exception would be if you know, ahead of time, that you will be staying all in parks that are covered by the plan.  If anyone has done this, please leave us a comment.

Chris Guld
Computer Education for Travelers

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  6. John Shelton

    I have traveled quite a bit through the southeast and midwest and I have a Verizon aircard for internet access. I have had a couple of instances (locations) that the connection was intermittent, but far-and-away more reliable than wi-fi. I have internet access at rest areas, supermarket parking lots, remote campgrounds that use dial-up for their own internet connection. Most of these remote areas do not now, and never in the foreseeable future will, have wifi. Granted, $60/mo. is a stiff fee for no more internet time than the typical RV’er will use, but it is gratifying not to have to tolerate the down sides to anything else available today.

  7. R.M.(Rip) Fletcher

    I have read the posting above regarding WiFi for RV’ers. My problem is I don’t stay in regular RV parks. 90% of the time I’m in a state park (in the bush) you might say.Does anyone know of a good reliable WiFi system out there that I can connect up to.

  8. Dan Johnson

    RV Satellite Internet, while an interesting concept and can provide internet service where none is available by any other means…. Will be a very frustrating experience.

    My aunt has that service installed at her rural home, which is miles from anywhere.

    Hughes Satellite Internet is the ISP. She is constantly frustrated with the system bogging down at peak hours. Let a little bit of dew form in the clouds and it is all over. The speeds they quote are “best possible” under ideal conditions which almost never exist. You can check it out from their mouth at

    I have been studying her system a lot, because I am retiring next year and want to have 24/7 ISP service. But, I think that staying with my current cellphone ISP, Verizon Wireless is going to be much better, faster, and more dependable. It just won’t work in the bottom of a canyon 150 miles from a cell site.

  9. bill moses

    Joining A national wifi would not be beneficial to most rvers who do not travel full time. we just completed a 30 day trip and most cgs offered free wifi with one charging $2 per day. Some have tickets with pass codes on them that were good for up to 4 hours use from the time you signed on. but they were free. more than enough time.

  10. vernon triche

    We traveled from Louisiana to Alaska and back around to New Hampshire, and then home, this year starting around the end of March and found internet access almost everywhere we went.
    Some spots in Canada were without but if we found a RV park most had some form of service.
    Also most all towns have a library and they all seem to have internet access. you may have to go inside but most can be picked up in the parking lot.
    Most all free. We did not pay extra that i know of,
    Some towns we passed thru had coverage for the whole town.

    Vern & Pat
    Been there done that.

  11. Keith

    I agree that wi-fi is going to get better & cheaper in the future. RV parks now are at the points motels were at 4-6 years ago with ethernet connections — they began charging for access, but realized its value as a marketing tool and it soon became available for free, much like coffee & continental breakfasts. The cost of providing these is just built into the pricing system.
    However, right now, I think that if you have a cell phone (& most people do), and they offer an aircard (Sprint & Verizon come to mind), I don’t think it would be much more, after you purchase the device, to use the aircard for internet access. It’s fast enough for most of us and usable anywhere you have cell service.

  12. James York

    Well, I was Googling RV Satellite Internet – I was looking for dependable high speed internet connectivity from my RV. There are lots of these services, but, the one I really liked was found at: <– this little device fits on top of RV and deploys at the push of a button. It raises, and then seeks out its satellite for best signal and then is “ON” for your internet connection. All automatic. This is nice. A little pricey, but, if you want your own dependable internet via satellite, then this is the easiest looking device. Now, can it double as a TV satellite connector too?? I asked and await the answer.

  13. Chris, you bring up good points. We try to provide our customers with Wi-Fi service at locations around the country, and are proud to have NomadISP in our network. Our customers tell us we are a great tool for the road warrior, the windshield warrior and the person always in a new city on another plane.

    We’re continuing to expand our network to be there for the RV community, for the digital nomad and for anyone that wants to have a high-quality, reliable connection with one account. With places like Starbucks and McDonalds in our network, on the road and on the way to the RV park, you can pull over and get connected and get what you need done.

    As for customer service, we have 24-hour support and numbers to our partner networks to help out our customers. We want you to have a great experience with Boingo and its network.

  14. Given the many complaints I hear from people who use RV park WiFi, even paid WiFi, with poor results, I really don’tr see this plan working. Besides there are just too many free WiFi hotspots available these days.

    With air card service getting more relaible every day, and costs of about $60 a month, RVers, especially fulltimers and snowbirds who are serious about internet access, don’t care much about WiFi anyway.

  15. Jon

    The days of Wi-Fi for a fee are numbered. The entire internet is becoming advertiser based, and Wi-Fi will soon be free everywhere, from every provider. I wouldn’t pay for Wi-Fi now, just look for the parks that offer it free. Soon they all will, with park owners negotiating the best deal with providers who will pay the park for access to its customers.

  16. Gypsy John (Christman)


    I’m with you–the likely-hood of ever seeing a National Wifi system is about as clear as a single nationwide ISP. However, the RV park I’ve been in for the last year now is offering the closest thing to a “National Wi-Fi system as one could get. When I first arrived here at Lake Pleasant in Bothell WA I was in space 213, then they moved me to space 42. Still had wi-fi. Now I’m up close to the front entrance of the park in the 100 series and still have wi-fi. Only now they have just installed a new system and service is much better than it ever was before and still FREE. Oh BTW this park, while it has only 190 sites (72 of them for permanent year-round units) it covers just over a mile and most sites have a lake view.

    Gypsy John (reporting in for a change)

  17. Carol-Leah Loran

    I use NomadISP when I am in my home park because they are the provider there and it is good in all the parks on that system (7) We pay a flat fee for 6 months and can use it as we move through the system. I find that most parks have free wi-fi as we travel so have never thought of signing up with a traveling provider. My experience with things such as that is that I am never where the thing I signed up for is. (poor English that) Anyway, If I really needed the internet and wi-fi just wasn’t available I would just use my phone. The plan is reasonable and I’m not locked in.