Outdoor Wi-Fi – Planning, Installation and Recommendations
March 13, 2023
Wi-Fi has become an essential amenity at RV resorts, but campers often find the Wi-Fi offered is slow, unreliable, or unusable. Some reasons for the poor performance include too many people for the bandwidth available, signal degradation from the number of metal RVs within the Wi-Fi router signal zone, or technologies used to deliver the signal, such as satellite internet or DSL, not providing enough speed.
NTS Optimizes an Existing Outdoor Wi-Fi Setup
One of our client’s corporate leadership team requested NTS perform a detailed in-person site survey to diagnose their current RV park Wi-Fi setup and provide recommendations for improving performance and optimizing the capabilities of their network. NTS was all too happy to assist our client with the reported issues. We worked with them to create new outdoor Wi-Fi solutions and visited the remote site to review the hardware, topology, and configuration for the resident Wi-Fi system. In conducting the field work, our team identified several necessary hardware and infrastructure updates as well as these challenges:
- No access credentials to any of the existing equipment.
- No access nor any communication with the original installer of the RV park Wi-Fi equipment.
- The wet outdoor environment left a rusty film on devices exposed to the open air.
- The pole placement was detrimental to delivering proper signal strength.
- Areas not identified in the original project scope needed Wi-Fi coverage.
- Located on an island, isolated from access to resources, required meticulous planning and specific outdoor Wi-Fi solutions.
The assessment identified the following requirements:
- Replacement of all outdoor hardware, including ethernet cables and RJ45 connectors that were housed within the wooden enclosures that house the Wi-Fi & network equipment near the RV sites.
- Replacing/updating network infrastructure at both the outdoor Wi-Fi wooden housing structures and in the main office network rack, including network loops, improper cable termination, old Cat5 ethernet cable, and unmanaged ethernet switches
- Adding additional RV park Wi-Fi poles & Access Points on the opposite side of the road for better signal coverage to the RV sites.
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Careful Planning Is Essential for Objectives
The location’s remoteness, the climate’s uniqueness, the physical working environment, and the lack of information available before the site visit required us to plan for this job carefully. The following is a list of recommendations we compiled in preparing and performing this work:
- Additional Equipment – Plan to bring additional Access Points, Switches, and other network devices and supplies as spares. Hence, they are available to deploy as discoveries are made in the installation process. We used almost all of the spare devices we brought to this RV park for this Wi-Fi job. You never know what to expect until you start the physical installation and test the performance of our outdoor Wi-Fi solutions in real time.
- Job Completion Time – With all the unknowns, we thought additional workforce would be required to complete the deployment, and we were correct in that assumption. Thus, we increased the expected scope and got leadership sign-off. Our team achieved the target goal by extending our time onsite via long days and late afternoons, working diligently to complete the work in the allotted time.
- Site Challenges – We needed to extend the height of the access point mounting to allow for better coverage of the RV sites, especially along a particular road where the existing infrastructure for the equipment is spaced too far apart to provide optimal signal strength. Note: the materials used in certain RVs, combined with their height, can block Wi-Fi signals in an RV park.
Goals Accomplished within the Budget and Timeframe
Despite this job’s challenges, we enjoyed the camaraderie and teamwork it required and the invaluable experience our team gained. Working in such a unique environment with the isolation of the rural area, the high winds, the humid climate, and the decaying infrastructure (including rusty metal hardware, older wiring standards, and outdated network technology) called for more planning and precise execution, but we were able to accomplish our goals on time and budget and have some fun while enhancing the signal strength of the RV park Wi-Fi equipment! If you are looking for efficient outdoor Wi-Fi solutions, you can schedule a consultation today and we will work with you to achieve optimal results.