- Consider Both Coverage & Capacity when Determining the Number of Access Points Needed It is important to create a balance between Wi-Fi coverage and user capacity when doing your Wi-Fi site planning. Consider that each camper, on average will bring approximately 2.5 mobile devices with them to your campground. These may include smartphones, smart watches, tablets, gaming devices and laptops, so having the right balance of coverage and capacity is critical. Access points must be powerful enough to provide complete coverage, and offer enough bandwidth to handle multiple devices without compromising quality.
- Supporting Guests’ Entertainment Applications with the Latest 11ac Wi-Fi Technology Providing Wi-Fi access within your campground means your customers will not be paying data charges on their cellular devices, and are more likely to use the wireless network for their entertainment applications. Today’s newest smartphones, tablets and laptops now support dual-band wireless capabilities. Deploying dual-band access points that operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies provide support for both older and newer wireless devices, and allow the AP to handle more users, while helping to balance/offload higher levels of network traffic through band steering. High-bandwidth intensive applications such as video and audio streaming services will take up a majority of your bandwidth. Installing access points with the latest, high-speed 802.11ac technology will provide support for these frequently-used higher bandwidth applications. Utilizing dual-band 11ac access points will greatly improve your campers’ experiences, supporting positive online site reviews long after their stay.
802.11ac access points offer faster wireless speeds and greater device capacity than previous wireless standards such as 802.11n. Introduced in 2013, 11ac access points operating at their maximum data rates can reach theoretical speeds that are more than double that of existing 802.11n access points. In addition to the increase in speeds, the biggest benefit of using 11ac technology is its ability to handle the high-density requirements driven by the growing number of mobile devices used per person.
- Industry Standard Security Measures Secure and control access to your network by protecting and blocking important business office assets and sensitive guest information located on the network from unauthorized access, while still allowing staff and campers to get connected. Use only hardware and utility software that adheres to network industry security standards and accepted network security protocols such as Wi-Fi Protected Access Encryption (WPA Personal & WPA2-Enterprise) and 802.1X with RADIUS for user authentication. Wireless standards and protocols protect and encrypt data as it moves across the network ensuring you business and guests’ sensitive information stays protected.
Establish a secure network segment that blocks access to administrative computers and servers while allowing campers and staff to access the Internet and other network resources. Create and utilize secure, virtual LAN segments and assign them to single or multiple access points while regulating network bandwidth based on the needs of specific virtual network segments, such as surveillance cameras; and isolate campers’ devices to keep them secure from other campers’ devices while on the network.
- Utilize Wireless Hardware Specifically Rated for Use in Harsh Outdoor Environments Access points that are specifically designed for use in outdoor settings have different Ingress Protection Ratings (IP Ratings). Typically you will find ratings from IP55 to IP68 for outdoor access points. An IP68-rating is one of the highest IP ratings available for outdoor access points with a waterproof and dustproof casing. Most outdoor-rated access points will perform well in harsh conditions, but APs with stated IP-ratings should be considered when installing wireless in an outdoor application.
- Provide a Clear Line of Site Between Wireless HardwareIn order to maximize your wireless connections between access points and bridges, it is important to consider your outdoor landscape when planning your Wi-Fi deployment. Wireless signals degrade when they travel through obstacles or are met with interference. Trees, hills, power lines, RVs, bathhouses and neighboring campsites can result in differing levels of Wi-Fi signal degradation, and can even become complete signal barriers. Weather conditions can also be a factor in the environment. Heavy rain and wet pine trees can cause reflection and refraction leading to diminished wireless signals. Identifying a clear path from one access point to another will ensure wireless signals get delivered to the specified area. If you are planning to deploy your access points in the winter months, you may have an initial clear line of sight, but with the new foliage growth in spring and summer, this could end up blocking that once clear line of sight. Consistently maintaining the foliage to keep a clear line of sight may be required; if this is not possible, consider an alternative site plan.
Understanding the challenges of your outdoor environment will help determine the quantity and appropriate placement of your wireless access points and or wireless bridges. Knowing the approximate coverage area, or the distances from one point to another point where trees are not an obstruction is also beneficial. This will be helpful in determining which product(s) will be powerful enough to best meet these requirements.
- Utilize Wireless Bridges Instead of Wireless Repeaters to Extend the Network Wireless repeaters or wireless range extenders may seem convenient, but they can be challenging to run and in reality, they cut the available wireless speed in half every time the signal is rebroadcasted. This ultimately slows your network performance and will likely leave your campers frustrated. Instead of repeating the signal, a better option to extend the wireless network signal is to implement a secure wireless link using two wireless bridges. This method of carrying the signal to a designated location avoids major speed loss and frees up the access point to exclusively send and receive data to and from client devices.
- Offer Wireless Adapters for Laptops to Improve RV Owner’s Wireless Experience and Potentially Add RevenueThe metal and fiberglass construction of RV campers can block or weaken the Wi-Fi signal potentially resulting in an overall bad customer experience. In addition, the Wi-Fi technology built into some laptops can be older Wi-Fi technology or a weak or non-existent Wi-Fi adapter signal that contributes to connectivity issues. Campground and RV park owners can offer newer technology via a high-powered wireless USB adapter or a wireless Ethernet bridge that plugs into the laptop to pull the signal and direct it to the RV user, improving connectivity. This creates a stronger, faster wireless connection to the deployed access point nearest the RV, leading to a significantly improved wireless experience. Wireless USB adapters are small, portable and can be used at any campground or RV park that offers Wi-Fi, making these devices versatile and highly desirable to the end user. By providing wireless USB adapters to campers, site operators can create a new revenue stream through the sale or rental of adapters, while greatly improving the RVer’s experience and enhancing their customer service.
- Plan for Power Underpowered access points or brownouts can cause intermittent connection problems such as rebooting or disconnections. It is recommended that you consult with a local electrician to install weatherproof electrical boxes in the areas where you will be deploying access points and/or other devices that need power, if they are not already in place. An electrician can determine the appropriate solution for supplying the right amount of power, equipment, grounding and surge protection to each location. Be sure to consider any future expansion plans and have the electrician quote or build out to those areas as well. Powering up IP cameras and/or access points using Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) is highly recommended. PoE adapters and switches deliver data and power simultaneously to these PoE-capable devices and can save money and time by eliminating extra cable runs and power installations. Additionally, using PoE allows device installation in areas where there is no power source to plug into such as on light poles or rooftops. There are many PoE options available to meet varying needs like single-port PoE injectors and adapters or 8-port to 48-port PoE switches that can supply PoE to one device or many.
- Mounting Height, Type & Surfaces Most outdoor access points and wireless bridges include pole- or wall- mounting hardware. These devices can be mounted on existing light poles, galvanized poles or outbuildings. Access points need to be mounted at a height that makes their signals accessible to a majority of your users. Typically, the higher an AP is mounted the better. Access points deployed near RVs, should be installed an estimated 12 feet above the standard RV roofline. Remember, wireless bridges connecting to other wireless bridges are communicating at farther distances and need a clear line of sight to ensure the best performance, so the higher the mounting point the better.
- Consult with Experts for Site Surveys and Network Designs Outdoor Wi-Fi network design can be complicated due to its high-density needs and varying outdoor considerations. Be sure to work with wireless experts to perform a campground site survey. A qualified expert will ask a series of questions designed to gain a deeper understanding of your existing network and any issues you currently have, as well as any future technology, building or coverage area expansion plans you may have. Once your survey is complete, a network design and deployment plan will spell out the hardware needs and deployment locations for access points and other hardware in order to achieve the best wireless coverage and network connectivity available.
Contact Us Today to see what we can do for your resort or campground by Calling: (218) 297-0992 or Email: [email protected]