Jump to content

WIFI Ranger or ?


Recommended Posts

I'm trying to figure out what to do for computer internet access while on the road. I have a limited budget so using my smartphone to create a hotspot will be done rarely due to my limited data plan.

 

Will the WIFI Ranger Elite hook me up to free internet or is there something else I should be looking at?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 82
  • Created
  • Last Reply

When staying in RV parks, you won't be too likely to pick up open wifi signals other than the park's wifi. Park wifi does tend to be variable. It may be slow, it may be fast It may be fast at times and slow at other times. It may not be free. There may be a weak signal. There may not be wifi or if there is it may be out. You will see it all. In our experience, there weren't that many parks where the Wifi Ranger made the difference between getting signal and not but there were some. It was nice for its wifi as WAN capability so you only had to change one device -- the Ranger-- to the new signal, but that may or not be important to you. There are other routers which can give you wifi as WAN as well. If you don't need wifi as WAN, I would suggest that you save your pennies and up your cellular data plan a notch (keep in mind that you may need an antenna/amp to get decent cellular signal) and supplement your data plan with park wifi if it is good and library, restaurant, bar or other public wifi as needed to get you through the month. We liked good beer so the more wifi we needed the more good brews we got to drink -- but then it wasn't exactly free at that point. :) Good luck working through your plan!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We like the WiFi Ranger particularly because we can easily hook all our devices (2 laptops, 2 iPhones, 2 Kindles) to one WiFi source and not have to constantly reset password or look for weak signals. As BooneDocks said though, there are cheaper solutions. One would be a Bear Extender which boosts RV park WiFI for individual devices that have a USB connection.

 

We have found that with the WiFi Ranger OR Bear Extenders we can survive pretty well with park WiFi and public WiFi. Rarely use the iPhone hotspots.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are looking for free Internet that is reliable you are going to be disappointed. It simply does not exist. As others have stated, RV Park wifi can be a frustrating experience. As the Technomadia folks and I both advocate: you need an "arsenal" of solutions available to you if connectivity is IMPORTANT.

 

If you only occasionally connect to the Internet then RV Park free wifi, Starbucks/McDonalds, etc may work for you. Supplemented by "pay data" from your phone hotspot. It also depends on how many devices you want to connect inside your RV. If only an occasional computer or tablet then that is a different scenario altogether than many people have with many devices connected through a mobile router. (Mobile router: a router that will handle a cellular connection as an Internet source, vs DSL or cable; and a wifi connection like park wifi which is called "WiFi as WAN") All mobile routers can handle cellular and external wifi sources of Internet connectivity. The benefit is - as others have stated - a single source of connectivity for your (many) devices in the RV. They never have to change who they connect to. But this is only of great value if you have lots of devices.

 

Bottom line: there is no free ride that is consistent and works well. IF you NEED connectivity then you need multiple ways of getting it, and most are "pay".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't feel like I need a lot of speed per se. I'm looking for a way to access the internet to check email and maybe on occasion, skype with the kids.

 

So do y'all feel that the WIFI Ranger is just a waste of money?

 

Please advise,

Phil

That is a hard question to answer, Phil. YOU have to decide if the features/functions of the WFR (WiFIRanger) are worth it to you. If you don't need or want what is does then, sure, it is a waste of money. IF you decide to go the WFR route I'd advise you to just buy the Go2 to start with. Or, if you DON'T need any hardwired connections and are satisfied with your phone hotspot connecting wirelessly with the router then the Sky2 may be a good lower cost solution for you. But you have to decide if you need the capabilities first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a hard question to answer, Phil. YOU have to decide if the features/functions of the WFR (WiFIRanger) are worth it to you. If you don't need or want what is does then, sure, it is a waste of money. IF you decide to go the WFR route I'd advise you to just buy the Go2 to start with. Or, if you DON'T need any hardwired connections and are satisfied with your phone hotspot connecting wirelessly with the router then the Sky2 may be a good lower cost solution for you. But you have to decide if you need the capabilities first.

Hmmm... I appreciate your input. I'm trying to make an informed decision but I just don't know enough about WFR to do so. I'm hoping that folks who already have it, or know someone who does, will share their thoughts and experiences with me so that I can decide if it's right for me. I don't mind a one time purchase even if it's expensive but I'm trying to get away from recurring costs. I really don't like the idea of giving more of my money to a cell phone company to buy more data.

 

Phil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm... I appreciate your input. I'm trying to make an informed decision but I just don't know enough about WFR to do so. I'm hoping that folks who already have it, or know someone who does, will share their thoughts and experiences with me so that I can decide if it's right for me. I don't mind a one time purchase even if it's expensive but I'm trying to get away from recurring costs. I really don't like the idea of giving more of my money to a cell phone company to buy more data.

 

Phil

 

As someone who works for WFR, I can tell you that our systems make it far easier to connect to campground wifi and enable you to switch your entire network from your cellular connection to the wifi with one keystroke. That being said, what Jack says is true. There are a lot of unreliable campground wifi systems out there. No amplifier/repeater, regardless of who it is made by, can turn a slow, overloaded wifi system into a good one. Whether or not a WiFiRanger is right for you depends on whether or not you plan to try to use campground wifi when it is available. If you plan on using it when it is good then owning a WFR will improve your overall experience. IMO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

As someone who works for WFR, I can tell you that our systems make it far easier to connect to campground wifi and enable you to switch your entire network from your cellular connection to the wifi with one keystroke. That being said, what Jack says is true. There are a lot of unreliable campground wifi systems out there. No amplifier/repeater, regardless of who it is made by, can turn a slow, overloaded wifi system into a good one. Whether or not a WiFiRanger is right for you depends on whether or not you plan to try to use campground wifi when it is available. If you plan on using it when it is good then owning a WFR will improve your overall experience. IMO.

Thank you for the information. I'm not particularly interested in campground wifi since I don't plan to spend a lot of time there... maybe once a week at the most. Most of the time we will be boondocking. That being said, will this work for us provided we are within a 2 mile radius of an "open" wifi? What about Xfinity wifi? will it hook up to that?

 

Please advise,

Phil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

As someone who works for WFR, I can tell you that our systems make it far easier to connect to campground wifi and enable you to switch your entire network from your cellular connection to the wifi with one keystroke. That being said, what Jack says is true. There are a lot of unreliable campground wifi systems out there. No amplifier/repeater, regardless of who it is made by, can turn a slow, overloaded wifi system into a good one. Whether or not a WiFiRanger is right for you depends on whether or not you plan to try to use campground wifi when it is available. If you plan on using it when it is good then owning a WFR will improve your overall experience. IMO.

Doc, is there a hardware firewall built into the wifi Ranger? I ask because I had the big ski installed on my unit from the factory. How far can I pull a signal from with it? I know trees and things can effect the signal. Is it line of site or is it a better unit? Also how do I tell if I have the most up to date firmware? I'm picking my new unit up in a week. Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the information. I'm not particularly interested in campground wifi since I don't plan to spend a lot of time there... maybe once a week at the most. Most of the time we will be boondocking. That being said, will this work for us provided we are within a 2 mile radius of an "open" wifi? What about Xfinity wifi? will it hook up to that?

 

Please advise,

Phil

Phil, I would think Free wifi is just that. I have Xfinity and i just saw an add about how they have so many wifi spots across the US. My guess is that you would have yo log on to verify that you are a subscriber, have a current and paid account. Any details you can post up about it would be great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the information. I'm not particularly interested in campground wifi since I don't plan to spend a lot of time there... maybe once a week at the most. Most of the time we will be boondocking. That being said, will this work for us provided we are within a 2 mile radius of an "open" wifi? What about Xfinity wifi? will it hook up to that?

 

Please advise,

Phil

I have owned a WFR since pretty much the beginning and now have both a Go and a Go2. In my experience, neither will capture Wifi from 2 miles away. In addition to the WFR router, I use a Ubiquity NanoStation which works in the original boost configuration of the WFR devices (It is not supported or warrantied by WFR but costs a lot less than the Elite and should continue to work as long as WFR continues to support their Original Boost hardware which were Ubiquity Bullets and Picostations). I do not know how the NanoStation compares in signal capture with the WFR Elite, Sky2 or Rogue Wave, but I have never been able to connect to a wifi access point 2 miles away. It seems that more and more hotels and such are password protecting their systems. Recently, I have encountered more access points that the WFR says are "Open", but really are not. In a recent communication with the WFR staff, they said they are working on better identifying what are termed filtered sites (they require a log in, not a WEP or WPA key).

 

Phil, I would think Free wifi is just that. I have Xfinity and i just saw an add about how they have so many wifi spots across the US. My guess is that you would have yo log on to verify that you are a subscriber, have a current and paid account. Any details you can post up about it would be great.

If you are an xfinity customer, you can use your xfinity user name and password to gain access to their WFI hotspots. My understanding is that unlike the Verizon free hotspots, the xfinity hotspots are transmitted by customer/home owner equipment. I doubt that you would even detect one from 2 miles away. If you look at the Xfinity Hotspot map you will note that they are clustered around population centers. Several western states do not appear to have any. I recently encountered a few and was unable to get to the login screen with the WFR. I was able to connect successfully with my computer when I got close enough to the source. From numerous discussions with WFR and others, there are ways to block access to wifi systems by devices like the WFR that retransmit the Wifi signal.

 

Verizon no longer provides access to its hotspots to mobile internet customers. If you are a Verizon high speed internet customer, you can set up a username and password to access their wifi hotspots. I do not know if the WFR will connect to these hotspots or not. When they allowed mobile users access, the modem had to be in the computer. I could not access the system with the modem in a WFR and numerous discussions with WFR staff and on this forum did not result in a solution or work around. A good number of the Verizon hotspots are co-located with Tango installations sometimes at campgrounds. The Verizon system is always free and often has less throttling than the private systems. I could not find a link to a map, but the Verizon hotspots are much more widely distributed than the xfinity ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phil, I would think Free wifi is just that. I have Xfinity and i just saw an add about how they have so many wifi spots across the US. My guess is that you would have yo log on to verify that you are a subscriber, have a current and paid account. Any details you can post up about it would be great.

I do have a Comcast account at my sticks and bricks. The wifi modem I have for internet through them broadcasts an Xfinity signal. I'm not sure but I think that all of their new modem/routers do that automatically. I have hooked in to it a few times to see how it performs and it seems to work just fine. If all of their routers are doing that then there will soon be Xfinity wifi available in all of the areas where they provide service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

TCW is correct in his assessment of wifi range. It is the 1-2% case where you are going to have usable wifi at more than a mile. The 98-99% case is the capture range is under 2000'. For reliable wifi in the "wild" - eg. where YOU do not control both ends of the connection. Can the equipment we are discussing capture at 2 miles? Yes, it can, under specific circumstances that fit into the 1-2% case. This is my opinion based on years of designing, installing and selling this type of capture equipment.

 

If you have the expectation that you will routinely capture free wifi at a mile or more you are going to be very, very disappointed. No matter who's equipment you use. Period. Anyone that tells you something different is either misinformed, misleading you intentionally, or talking about a specific set of circumstances that fits into the 1-2% case. If you want to delve into the reasons why this is true then I'd be happy to have a separate discussion on it.

 

The bottom line is that if you NEED Internet connectivity to be reliable and always available then you should provide that yourself via cellular methods. And use wifi as a "supplement" to that primary connection method. Cellular may limit where you park to some extent. But if you have the two major providers then that limitation is not that restrictive and services the needs of almost everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do have a Comcast account at my sticks and bricks. The wifi modem I have for internet through them broadcasts an Xfinity signal. I'm not sure but I think that all of their new modem/routers do that automatically. I have hooked in to it a few times to see how it performs and it seems to work just fine. If all of their routers are doing that then there will soon be Xfinity wifi available in all of the areas where they provide service.

The customer can opt out and the xfinity signal is unavailable from their wifi modem. It shows up as "other network", but neither the xfinity customer's usename and password or the WPA key for the modem will provide a connection and access to the internet. You don't say where you are planning to boondock, but take a look at the hotspot map, I linked to in post 15 and you will see very large areas in several western states where there are no hotspots at all. Cable is not nearly as universally distributed as phone lines and cellular.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've experienced the evolution of internet connectivity beginning with a Pocket Mail device and pay phone, thru a big Satellite dish on a tripod, to USB sticks in laptops. I had one of the first WIFI Rangers. It's performance to obtain free wifi worked from excellent to useless in a totally unpredictable way as others have already described. When Millennicom came on the scene I went that route, sometimes using it to feed the WIFI Ranger if I wanted a firewall. After a year of health constrained travel we're again going out for a few months this summer, and I have to start over internet connectivity wise. I found a half dozen mifi type options at Wal Mart. They require an investment of $45-75 for the device and then you choose the data plan that is closest to your data needs and resources to apply. Not one will be useable 100% of the time!! Over the last 16 year I have always had to supplement whatever system I had with an occasional visit to McDonalds, Starbucks, a library, or some similar facility.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Doc, is there a hardware firewall built into the wifi Ranger? I ask because I had the big ski installed on my unit from the factory. How far can I pull a signal from with it? I know trees and things can effect the signal. Is it line of site or is it a better unit? Also how do I tell if I have the most up to date firmware? I'm picking my new unit up in a week. Thanks

 

There's no specific hardware firewall other than the NAT translation that occurs using any router. However, you can use the SafeSurf capability to encrypt all data flowing between your network and the WiFiRanger server in Boise. That makes it virtually impossible for anyone local to get into your system.

 

We don't quote specific distances because every situation is different. We have no interest in getting into a "distance war" with companies that seem to think that advertising connections over long distances is a way to gain business. Not only are such claims meaningless because they depend on specific circumstances, but distance is simply not the limiting factor in most situations.

 

All wifi is line of sight. It is sometimes possible to detect signals that are non-line of sight, but you're not going to have a stable connection trying to use them. Trees, rain buildings, other RVs all affect the range over which you can maintain a stable wifi connection.

 

If you're getting a new unit it will have the latest firmware which is version 7.0.1. At any time you can click on the Check for Update link in the upper right corner of the onscreen control panel and the Cloud will let your system know if an update is available.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I routinely survey available wifi signals as I travel. I have NEVER SEEN an Xfinity signal. Not one time. I guess I don't go to places where they are popular. Depending on Xfinity for access would not be a good strategy in my mind, although if you have it and it is present then fine....

 

The only dependable access in today's environment is cellular (or satellite if you have the bucks). Other than that, you will spend a lot of time in libraries, Starbucks and McDonalds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...I routinely survey available wifi signals as I travel. I have NEVER SEEN an Xfinity signal. Not one time. I guess I don't go to places where they are popular. Depending on Xfinity for access would not be a good strategy in my mind, although if you have it and it is present then fine....

Most of my experience with the xfinity hotspots comes from when we stay in the driveway of a relative that has it. The hotspot signal is broadcast by the standard Comcast/xfinity wireless modem. In order to get a good connection in the RV, I have to put the Go or Go2 on a window sill on the driveway side of the house to repeat the signal. I suspect that Comcast doesn't want to provide a signal strong enough that one account holder could share the password with several neighbors or an entire apartment building. In my experience you have to be pretty close to the building the router is in to detect it or get a connection. I have not tried to log in on the public channel using the same username and password on two devices at the same time so do not know if that is possible or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

RVers Online University

campgroundviews.com

Our program provides accurate individual wheel weights for your RV, toad, and tow vehicle, and will help you trim the pounds if you need to.

Dish For My RV.

RV Cable Grip

RV Cable Grip

All the water you need...No matter where you go

Country Thunder Iowa

Nomad Internet

Rv Share

RV Air.

Find out more or sign up for Escapees RV'ers Bootcamp.

Advertise your product or service here.

The Rvers- Now Streaming

RVTravel.com Logo



×
×
  • Create New...