- WiFi captive portals are increasing in RV parks.
- Captive portals can create issues for WiFi boosters.
- There are several troubleshooting methods to help you connect.
There is a trend that is growing rapidly in RV parks across the United States, and that is the implementation of something called captive portals. You have probably encountered these before and just may not have known the official name for it.
What is a Captive Portal?
Have you even been to a RV Park or hotel that provided WiFi, but before you used the internet you were directed to a web page that asked for certain credentials? This is a captive portal, or some people call it a splash page. A captive portal is technically just a web page that you must interact with before being given access to the internet. Many RV parks are going to this type of system because it allows them to manage their system in a lot of different ways. Just 3 or 4 years ago I rarely ran into parks with this type of system, but now they are much more common.
WiFi boosters can sometimes have an interesting time accessing captive portals. All brands of WiFi boosters deal with random issues relating to captive portal systems. The good news is there are many trouble shooting techniques you can use to access these captive portals should you encounter a problem. In this article I will be specifically talking about the WiFi boosters that we sell including the Alfa Camp Pro 2 Kit and our Alfa Desktop Booster kit. If you have purchased these units from us then you can use these techniques if you ever run into a captive portal issue.
In most cases, captive portal access points are open networks, which means they are not password protected to connect wirelessly. Once you are connected, then you are taken to a captive portal web page where you will usually have a password to enter at this point. The Alfa WiFi boosters will in most cases recognize the captive portal page and take you right to it, but if you find yourself in a place that the Alfa WiFi booster is not taking you to the captive portal page then use the following trouble shooting techniques to gain access:
How To Troubleshoot Connecting to a Captive Portal
- Bookmark it! With a phone or computer, login to the campground wifi directly (in other words, use your phone, tablet or computer to connect to the park wifi, NOT the wifi booster). When you get to the splash page, bookmark it. Now, using that same device, connect to the wifi booster, enter your password, then pull up the internet and find that splash page that you bookmarked. Hopefully you can login this way. Note: If you only have a limited number of devices that the park allows then this may account for one device, but the good news is that the Alfa repeater only counts as one device, but multiple users can connect to the Alfa repeater.
- Keep googling! Well, basically just try to go to about 5 different websites in a row. In some cases we have seen that by continuing to enter websites into the URL line, that the repeater from the WiFi booster will magically realize that it needs to go to the captive portal page before serving you the website. I am not sure of the science behind why this works, but in some cases it certainly can be the answer.
- Use a different device! This one is pretty easy and can be the answer. Each device can be a bit different, and sometimes we have found that by just going through the WiFi booster set up with a different device will bring that captive portal page right up. In other words, if you completed the booster set up with a laptop, just try to do the set up with a smart phone or tablet.
- Direct connect! This method is only possible on a Windows computer or PC. Disconnect the USB from the Alfa repeater, but keep it plugged in to the booster. Connect that USB directly to your computer’s USB port. Go to your network options (bottom right) and click to see available networks. You will see a drop down menu at the top of the network options (Windows 10), and the first option will be the devices internal WiFi adapter and the second option will be the booster. Choose the 2nd option. Now keep your network connections open and choose the RV park's WiFi network, click connect and wait for it to connect. With the USB still plugged in to your computer, get onto the internet and go let the splash page come up. Go ahead and complete the splash page to login. Now plug the USB back into the repeater. Go through the WiFi booster setup again and once you are connected the captive portal page should come right up.
We have found some cases, where it is just a mystery as to why these captive portals will not show up, but in most cases we can help you figure things out. If you ever need more assistance, you know we are always here to help, just shoot us a email at firstname.lastname@example.org.