Campers take advantage increased WiFi availability

It used to be that campers would take their RVs or tents and head into the woods to be rid of the electrical devices that distract and occupy our daily lives. However, as technology has become more mobile, it has become increasingly difficult to disconnect, even in the woods. Today, more campers request that campsites offer WiFi so they can stay connected and campground owners have accommodated this request.

About 72 percent of privately owned and operated campgrounds, RV parks and RV resorts offer wireless Internet service, according to a 2010 campground operations survey by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Eric Stumberg, founder and chief executive officer of TengoInternet, an Austin, Texas-based company that specializes in providing wireless Internet service to private campgrounds, said the trend started to take off about five years ago. Similar to hotels, campgrounds needed to offer WiFi as an amenity.

For his company, the number of unique connections has increased 50 to 75 percent each year, he said. This has been driven by more people connecting and families using multiple devices to do so.

Sandy and Ralph Christman owners of the Old Mill Run Park in Thorntown, IN added WiFi about five years ago because campers were requesting it, Sandy said.

Although the cost to install WiFi was initially expensive, Sandy said it’s been worth it.

“Everyone uses the WiFi, kids, everybody with all the iPhones, iPods,” she said.

Jeff Crider, association spokesman, said there are multiple factors fueling this trend.

One simple reason is that mobile technology enables us to stay connected.

“The reality of 21st century-America is that most people want to be connected most of the time, people want to be in touch with their kids, extended family, employers and employees,” he said.

The work day also has changed. It used to be that employees were off limits after an eight-hour workday. Now, employers expect workers to be available at any time, Crider said.

Also, given the use and access of technology today, many people choose to work from home.

Sandy said many of the campers who visit Old Mill Run work from home, so offering WiFi access enables them to camp.

“They can be here and enjoy their family with a few hours of working,” she said.

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