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Author Topic: Looking to install a WIFI system on one of our buses!  (Read 7264 times)
Busted Knuckle
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« on: December 17, 2010, 07:40:40 PM »

Hello ya'll!
Those of you that know me know I'm technology challenged!

Well today I put a bid in on some sport team travel at a local university.
And they want the bus to be WIFI equipped so the students can study while traveling.
I know little to nothing about things like this and really get confused easily when people who do know it start talking about funny stuff involving it !

SO I'm looking to see f we have anyone here that has any knowledge of a system that won't break the bank or drive me nuts tying to figure it out!

Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2010, 08:14:10 PM »

WiFi is coming from the factory.

Greyhound has it in the Prevost XL II

MegaBus has it in the double deck Van Hools.

My guess is REI has something "coach priced"....?

happy coaching!
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2010, 08:16:22 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/education/12bus.html

Will this help ?
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2010, 08:25:49 PM »

Hi Bryce,

Simple.. If you have an air card, a wireless air card router will be the most cost effective way

to supply your customers with on the road wireless.

Check this one out on the bay.. Simular to what I have..
http://cgi.ebay.com/CradlePoint-MBR1000-N-band-Air-Card-Router-MBR-1000_W0QQitemZ290506416775QQcategoryZ170600QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp4340.m444QQ_trkparmsZalgo%3DCRX%26its%3DC%252BS%26itu%3DSI%252BUA%252BLM%252BLA%26otn%3D10%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D5727286755650154060

I have been using this brand on the road for 4 years now and never had any problems.. It will work

on 12v dc too.

Good Luck
Nick-
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2010, 08:41:10 PM »

I presume the objective is to have all the students using the same connection on the bus, not each student connected individually outside the bus (if the students typically had personal WiFi or 3G coverage, the school wouldn't be asking you to provide a system on the bus).

Setting up a 'private' WiFi hotspot on the bus which each student could log-in to would be relatively straightforward - the difficulty I think would be getting an industrial-scale connection to the bus from outside. Worse case scenario - imagine 50 kids all surfing YouTube - that's a lot of bandwidth. No doubt there are commercial packages available for the kind of connection you would need, but it's likely to be in a different league to anything which any of us uses personally.

Jeremy
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2010, 08:53:41 PM »

... some sport team travel at a local university ... want the bus to be WIFI equipped so the students can study while traveling.
...
 a system that won't break the bank ...


Sorry, but no, there is no such system that will not "break the bank."  The hardware itself is not expensive; I would figure less than a thousand bucks for the router, antennas, cabling, and installation.  However you should figure to spend several hundred per month on the service.

You can "roll your own" or buy the system from Autonet that is mentioned in the article linked by pipes.  The Autonet system has the advantage of one-stop support.

...
Simple.. If you have an air card, a wireless air card router will be the most cost effective way to supply your customers with on the road wireless.


Well, it's not actually that simple for Bryce's application.  For one thing, a simple wireless aircard comes with a contract that explicitly prohibits using it for this kind of application.  Same goes for "MiFi," Overdrive, and similar solutions, which are essentially what the Cradlepoint is but with the aircard built in.

In practice the hardware will be very similar.  Autonet's system is little more than a more robust and higher-end version of Cradlepoint's unit.  However the service contract will be very different, and Bryce will likely need more than one cellular modem active at a time.

A Cradlepoint, MiFi, OverDrive, or what have you will support perhaps 5-7 users "comfortably."  More than that, maybe, if they are just doing Facebook on their iPods.  But even two or three users with laptops downloading videos will bring a single 3G device to its knees, and you know if these kids are not paying for the service themselves and have no restrictions that's exactly what they are going to do.

Lastly, even if Bryce could somehow squeak in on a personal or family contract (as opposed to the commercial multi-user one he needs) and make it all work on a single 3G modem, the monthly usage is limited to 5GB.  A busload of college kids can use that amount of bandwidth in a matter of a few days.  after 5GB you are charged by the MB -- the second 5GB ends up costing $200, whereas the first only cost $60.  Depending on how many days per month he would be operating this service his bill could easily rise to well over $500, and that's if he stays in "home" coverage.  If he roams at all onto another network it can be an order of magnitude higher, and the news is rife with reports of people getting surprised by multi-thousand dollar data bills.  Note that on a moving coach, it is almost a certainty that the service will be roaming some of the time.

Your solution probably works well for you precisely because you use it only to support one or two people and you are within the terms and limits of a personal plan.  That's not the situation Bryce is facing.  He needs a commercial account, higher-bandwidth hardware, and some kind of access and usage control system to ensure that his customers don't drive him into overage charges and that random folks who happen to be near the bus when its parked can't pirate his service.

FWIW.

-Sean
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2010, 10:28:43 PM »

WiFi is coming from the factory.
Greyhound has it in the Prevost XL II
MegaBus has it in the double deck Van Hools.
My guess is REI has something "coach priced"....?
happy coaching!
buswarrior

Yes it may be coming as a factory option. But I don't like the idea of buying a new bus just to get WIFI! And my fleet is SETRA not PRAVOST or VAN DROOL. Wink

Pipes I've sent the company in your link an email asking for info.

Nick while I like your idea, I'm really afraid that Sean is right on the $ about the amount of band width and the commercial use!

Jeremy you hit my fears on the nose! But in reality it'll be 20-25 girls max (at least on this first venture!)
The bid we submitted is for the girls softball team.

Sean you hit my fears on the nose too! I don't need or want any hassles for try'n to do something "illegal" or against the rules. Just looking for a straight forward  solution that won't be too outrageous on the wallet!

While I have sent request to about 4 different companies asking for info, I thought some of our techno friendly members might be able to steer me in the right direction. (also once I start getting answers I'm sure some of it will sound like "Swahili" or something of that nature to my techno challenged mind!)

Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2010, 12:38:00 AM »

are you looking to supply a whole separate system or just boost the capability of receiving a signal from the one they already have? I have a booster on bus that lets my Verizon internet connection work going down road and in remote areas. really boost speed also. Again Greek to me.I'm totally challenged here.  Bob
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« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2010, 05:07:29 AM »

Brice,

Check with Tom. He's a member & advertises here too!

http://www.manasst.com/

TOM
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« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2010, 06:19:55 AM »

I spoke yesterday with Verizon, and they have a thing called MyFi, that might do what you need. Talk to them, as I am installing multi-computer Internet access in my conversions.
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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2010, 06:25:37 AM »

Mifi will not work for BK's application. Only 5 users can connect at once, also they have the bandwidth restriction now that Sean mentioned in his post.

We have a Mifi, and love it, we are some of the lucky few that are on the old "unrestricted" plan. Can download as much as we want without going over.

They are a good cheap way of having internet on the road for private use.
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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2010, 06:47:46 AM »

hey Bryce,

What do these kids need to do? Projects on their laptops? or simply check e-mail & FB?

If the students are checking e-mail & FB, well... what teenager don't have that on their cell phones anyway?


Sean,

5 years ago i purchaced an unlimited air card plan through Verizon for $60 a month. They no longer have that plan

but they have to still honor it. What they did do, is slow my card up after 1000 mb/mo. usage. It drops to about 3/4

speed. With 4 users on my card, it usually stays at full speed for 2-3 weeks of the month. Sad


Nick-

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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2010, 08:01:01 AM »

... Sean, 5 years ago i purchaced an unlimited air card plan through Verizon for $60 a month. They no longer have that plan but they have to still honor it. ...

Sure, but that doesn't help Bryce.  As you note, that plan is no longer available to new subscribers.

FWIW, all the carriers who are stuck with "grandfathered" accounts such as yours are using every means at their disposal to move those customers off their unlimited plans.  Want a new phone for free?  Just agree to these here new contract terms.  Add another phone?  Same deal.  How about adding international roaming?  Yup -- agree to the new terms.

If you have one of these unlimited data plans like Nick's from days gone by, be very, very careful about any promotions your carrier offers you.  You will likely find buried in the fine print that you will need to agree to the new terms, and once you've given up the unlimited data, you can never get it back.

Again, none of this is applicable to Bryce's situation, as I said earlier.  He needs a commercial multi-user contract and those don't look anything like the personal data usage plans we are all familiar with.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2010, 10:55:31 AM »

Bryce -

Based on Buswarrior's comment, and a few minutes with Google, I really think this is what you're looking for:

http://waav.com/Bus_Coach.php

There's a contact number in the upper right corner of the screen, give them a call.

If Blue Pooch is using it. . .

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink

PS:  Check your PM mailbox.
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2010, 11:10:37 AM »

Many smartphone users like to use WI-FI when available as it is often faster, but in this case a bus system would probably use the same 3G/4G connections as the phone.  New cell phone contracts often have data limits, but how many can use 2GB on a phone?
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2010, 11:28:19 AM »

... but how many can use 2GB on a phone?

Umm, I did not read the question as limited to the students using their phones.  What Bryce wrote was

Quote
... they want the bus to be WIFI equipped so the students can study while traveling.
(Emphasis mine.)

To me, that suggests these students will be using laptops or maybe iPads and will potentially be downloading course content up to and including streaming or downloadable video.  I teach regularly via the 'net and it is a bandwidth intensive process; learning materials often contain high-res graphics, video, or even applications.

That's not to mention the ones who don't have any homework or studying to do on the bus -- they'll be using the 'net to watch the latest episodes of their favorite TV shows with their headphones on.  If these kids live on-campus, they are used to extremely high bandwidth connections and will expect, or at least try, to do the same things on the bus as in their dorm rooms.  Only a professional access and usage control system (such as that provided by the Waav system that RJ linked) will keep them from using every last byte they can get.

A single cellular modem on a 3G network going all-out can potentially use a third of a gig or more per hour.  A three-hour bus trip could consume a whole GB, and the 2GB you cite could easily be used in such an arrangement on a single away game.  If Bryce's contract calls for, say, a game a week, he can easily be into 10GB per month or more.

FWIW.

-Sean
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« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2010, 05:16:28 PM »

They will want you to provide 110 outlets for them also. The kiddies will probably want to catch netflix and the like so they will drain the batteries pretty quick on a laptop.
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2010, 07:30:04 PM »

I'm looking to put a "real" WIFI system in. And I'd ideally like it to be content censored just like the public schools & McDonalds do where certain content may not be viewed (adult natured stuff mostly).

I'm like the rest off you, these days most people have more and better access on their phones than I do in my office. (and really more than I plan to put in the bus, sorta)

The contract states the bus must be WIFI equipped! SO I want to put in a reasonable system that will allow the girls to study. Most of the trips are 3-4 days away from the school which is why the school is requiring the WIFI in the first place. (They've never required it for any other sports/teams before. But I have no doubt it will be a requirement for all of them as they come up for re-bids!)

James the contract only says WIFI nothing about 110 outlets! (if the laptops are dead it will limit the amount of bandwidth they use! Wink)

We do not plan on providing 110 power at this time for them.  Yes I'm sure next bid will require it and by then I will be in a better position to make it available! (at this time I only plan to abide by the current contract if I get it! If it works out to be a viable venture I will look into providing it on all or most of my buses with A/C power to go with it! But not at this time!)

Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2010, 07:39:11 PM »

Bryce...not trying to tell you how to run your 'bidness'...however...you may want to ask the school exactly what they are looking for.  Might save a lot of grief down the road.
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« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2010, 08:07:27 PM »

Bryce...not trying to tell you how to run your 'bidness'...however...you may want to ask the school exactly what they are looking for.  Might save a lot of grief down the road.
Jack

I hear ya Jack, and I sorta did. And the lady in purchasing "only knew that the school wanted the buses to be equipped with WIFI so the girls could study while on those long trips!" (8 trips total 4=3 days, 3=4 days and 1- 1 day! go figure)

To be quite honest it ain't about the studying, or even that they'll use the WIFI and I know this, but the lady in purchasing doesn't know that I know it!

It's all about keeping a certain vendor out of the bidding process! (I know the guy that won the basketball travel for men & women basketball and he is like us a small family run business with older but nice buses. So immediately they started finding things to bitch about, and try to pull out of the contract on him on way or the other. But he went and "leased a couple H3-45's just like what they rode on last yr and is now 100% in compliance of his contract with them, and making them follow their end to a T! But for this bid they went and added the WIFI requirement {after he and them had an argument, that the buses they had last yr had it! And he told them he didn't give a da**, it wasn't in the contract and he wasn't putting it in for their sorry cheap butts with out charging them extra for it!} They also upped the age limit 2 yrs newer than the H3's he leased, and made a stipulation that the buses must be owned/operated by the company that wins the bid and not be sub-leased like his are now! It's their way of pushing him off the bid list without admitting what they are doing!) 

I'm providing our '05 Setra's which they've ridden on before and love and going to have the WIFI as asked for. But I'm not going over board on it just for this one venture. (if they want to do an exclusive bid for all sports for a whole school yr like they used too, instead of letting 5 or more different companies split up the 11 different teams that use buses I'll be more than happy to go all out and install a top notch set up with mega bandwidth available and A/C power and maybe even some "work stations" to make it easier to "study".
But every since they split it all up instead of bidding it all at once, they keep coming up with little things to eliminate this carrier or that carrier and before long the only ones that can or will comply will be the big boys and then they will go sky high on the price!)

Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2010, 08:35:59 PM »

Bryce, if you want content filtering you're probably better off finding a carrier that can provide content filtering on their end.  Otherwise, you'll probably need to have a PC on the bus to handle the filtering.

I manage the content filtering server at my work and we pay over $2,000 a month for the service plus we have a $4,000 server running it.  There are certainly cheaper ways to do it.  I work at a newspaper so our filtering is very minimal.
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« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2010, 10:14:57 PM »

... And I'd ideally like it to be content censored just like the public schools & McDonalds do where certain content may not be viewed (adult natured stuff mostly).


Trust me on this, Bryce, you don't want to get into content filtering.  Never mind the fact that it is expensive, requiring not only additional hardware but also a monthly service contract, but, frankly, it is a legal minefield.  The minute you start doing it you become responsible for all the content on your network.  If you don't do it at all, you have no responsibility and are immune from legal action.

Remember that public schools are government entities and follow different rules and laws; they don't have the same liability issues.  And McDonald's has deep pockets and lots of staff attorneys.

Implement access control, and limit each user's bandwidth if you need to.  Those features come with the two systems we've already mentioned, and have virtually no legal ramifications.  But content filtering puts you into a whole different arena.  Remember, these are college students, and thus are adults.

-Sean
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« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2010, 05:47:01 AM »

It occurs to me to wonder whether you could just equip your bus with the Wi-Fi hardware (a relatively low one-time-cost), and have the school themselves pay for the bandwidth used - or even have them own the whole connection contract, so content filtering becomes their problem as well.

It sounds like they have added the 'Wi-Fi' requirement in a fairly casual manner, so it may not be clear exactly what is required (ie. hardware, or hardware+bandwidth). Worth examining exactly what you need to do to be a compliant bidder - for instance, if they do require you to supply a working connection, have they specified how big it should be? Maybe you could negotiate a 'bare minimum' connection contract, and write into your quote proposal to the school that any bandwidth usage above 'X' will be added to your invoices (at a rate which generates extra profit for yourself, naturally).

I have no doubt that Wi-Fi availability will rapidly become a basic requirement for all bus operators, so it's worth thinking about how you can get a jump on your competitors now by offering the service to all your customers, and in a way that makes - rather than costs - you money.

Jeremy
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« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2010, 07:37:31 AM »

Best to consider that these school types know not what they are asking for.

They do know that they read about this in the recent educational trade publications and want to climb aboard the wave.

Do not make the mistake of charging too little for this complicated bit of BS that will appear to relieve the school of properly preparing ahead of time for the girls to keep up with their studies while away.

That being said, I wonder what usage rate is being experienced by the big boys on the line runs?

happy coaching!
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« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2010, 09:00:48 AM »

You might consider a full bandwidth test and see just how much actually gets consumed.  Then price your service accordingly.  Like you mentioned; all of the groups on one contract (full service) or,  Basic WiFi ( free, but limited bandwidth) or,  Enhanced ( extra $$ for watching movies, downloading music )

You will probably end up with some kind of bandwidth limitation.  I would suggest getting a separate  aircard USB account and put it in your pocket.  In case you limit out on the bus bandwidth and the coach wants to use her laptop, simply tell her the kids used up all of the airtime and hand her your 'personal' account and you will be a hero! 
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« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2010, 12:38:35 PM »

Bryce -

Buswarrior made the comment:

"That being said, I wonder what usage rate is being experienced by the big boys on the line runs?"


It's my guess that if/when you talk to WAAV, that they will be able to give to rough averages of bandwidth usage for the carriers they're currently servicing (w/o naming names, of course.)  Based on that info, then follow Hobie's suggestion, write the contract with a couple of levels of service, one free and the others enhanced w/ the school paying extra for the upgrade.

Hobie's suggestion of the little "extra" for the coach is a good one!.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2010, 01:12:35 PM »

 Are you sure you want this contract?...Cable
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« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2010, 01:31:05 PM »

Are you sure you want this contract?...Cable

Sure he does.  As Sean said it's not that much $$ for hardware but the service is the nut to watch and as mentioned, they don't know what they are asking for otherwise there would be specific bandwidth details noted in the contract.  

So get the bid by stating "All Busses WiFi equipped".  He will get a jump on his competition with this new added value service.  I would use it as a lever to get the other team work as he already mentioned.  Then BK can feel out the groups and their 'expected' level of service.  I'm sure he will be able to explain, "that this is new technology for busses and will keep upgrading new equipment comes along".   Then it is easy to add bandwidth, probably with a phone call while en-route ( if need be ).  

« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 01:43:54 PM by Hobie » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2010, 03:29:31 PM »

I think it going to be pretty much expected on any charter bus in a very short time.
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« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2010, 03:30:12 PM »

Cable -

Not only that, but BK can also use this as a marketing tool for any other charters he might be selling.

Especially if none of the other carriers in his area have it.

Smart marketing move, actually!

GO FOR IT, BK!!


FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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