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View Poll Results: What data communication gear do you have on the mast?
I have both a cellular booster and a WiFi system 13 12.04%
I have only a cellular booster 6 5.56%
I have only a WiFi system 21 19.44%
I have a cellular booster or a WiFi system but I never use it (or it doesn't work) 4 3.70%
My mast is free of internet clutter 64 59.26%
Voters: 108. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 21-02-2019, 13:57   #1
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2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Communications options evolve over the course of years. This is the 2019 edition.


Do you have some type of mast-mounted WiFi access point? How would you characterize the quality of WiFi service in marinas, mooring fields, and anchorages? Do you find that having WiFi on the mast makes enough of a difference to be worthwhile -- in other words, is it often the case that the mast mounted system has a good, solid connection while a deck-level PC or phone otherwise cannot connect?


Do you have a cellular booster or extender? Where do you use it most? In what areas do you find that it makes the difference between a useful connection and a marginal one?


Do you find that these systems work well once installed and configured, or do they require constant fiddling?
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Old 21-02-2019, 14:25   #2
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

I bought and set up a WiFi booster but found it to be worthless in my case. In harbors where there was free internet I was typically too far away to gain comtinual reliable reception or I had to pay to log on. Got rid of it and got an unlimited cell plan and now use my phone as a hot spot.

Greg
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Old 21-02-2019, 15:35   #3
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2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Same here, cell phone as hot spot. Someone cruising near me suggested a a clever way stretch access, at least in cell coverage areas like the Bahamas. Put your phone in a case that can be tethered and hoist it up the mast as far as you are comfortable. There are obvious risks and limitations but it worked well for me when I needed a couple of hours of Internet and I was only getting sketchy 3G down below.

Almost like Green Acres and climbing the telephone pole to make a call.

Harry
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Old 21-02-2019, 15:46   #4
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

I just recently researched this for my boat in Asia

I found the articles from this cell extender consultancy /adviser /reseller very useful

https://www.sea-tech.com/product-cat...-and-cellular/

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Old 21-02-2019, 15:48   #5
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Bullet and Mikrotik router, sort of up the mast a bit but intend one of these fine days to move it all the way up to the top when I can be bothered to run some waterproof ethernet up the mast. Converts unreliable/flaky marina wifi to reliable-but-not-lightning-speed wifi, but most importantly means I can connect with any device. Tethering a phone is a pain in the **** as soon as you have several devices. I want one Wifi network on board containing all traffic and NMEA data. For example, navigation ipads need to be on the same network as the XB8000 in order to get all data wherever they are, but they would need to be disconnected in order to tether to a hotspot if that was the only internet supply. This way everything is logged in at all times and can do everything.
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Old 21-02-2019, 16:07   #6
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Having said that, I then spoke with a local US expat who supplies IT & Com equipment in SUBIC

He recommended the unlocked Huawei b525-65s which has the 700Mhz band that is used in Palau by their cell provider.


http://www.ltemobilebroadbands.com/h...pe-router.html

So knowing what is being used in your cruising area can be better verified by a local supplier.

Installed it on Wednesday without the external antennae (which are enroute)
Speed tests are about 60% higher than via my smart phone and I have full strength wireless through the 65 ft steel boat
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Old 21-02-2019, 16:12   #7
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Gave up on wifi as so many networks are now locked down, though in the past the Alfa type antenna was useful and offered a low price solution.

Today we use a Aircard 790 with its own sim card picking up reliable 4G even offshore up to about 10 miles. The price for low usage is fine buying prepaid cards off Amazon rather than topping up. However, we don't stream media very much. Also added the extra mimo antenna which makes a difference. It just works without any faffing around.

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Old 21-02-2019, 16:22   #8
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Pete, what is a mimo antenna?
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Old 21-02-2019, 16:26   #9
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

I had an antenna to mount and ditched it. It's easier to pull a portable 4G modem up to the mast in a waterproof bag for those times extreme reception range is required.
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Old 21-02-2019, 17:46   #10
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Very rarely use WiFi these days. It used to be the go to method with an Alpha high power unit. Everything is done via the cell system using a phone as a hotspot now adays for us. Sometimes I stick the unlocked phone in a waterproof bag and hoist to the first spreader if we are in the marginal area of the signal. Buying mast head boosters might help in a particular area, but once you go to forgeign ports the active frequencies varies a lot and your expensive booster might be a brick. Plus 5g is coming, requiring all new equipment. Getting a cheap, unlocked smartphone means you don't have a lot tied up when it gets obsolete or you decide to wash it with an ungraceful dinghy mounting.
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Old 21-02-2019, 18:11   #11
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Pete, what is a mimo antenna?

MIMO = multiple input, multiple output.


Essentially it's a technique for improving the signal by having two or more antennas that are around a wavelength apart. It is widely used at microwave frequencies, such as those used for WiFi and for some cellular services, because the antennas and spacing are both small.
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Old 22-02-2019, 09:09   #12
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

In the PNW, the signal strength of cell and WiFi are both good in most places. The problem is limited bandwidth, especially on marina WiFi or in ports with cruise ships. We found good service from 4 to 6 AM but not much beyond that. Within our flotilla of boats, unlimited Verizon was the most reliable plan in USA and Canada on our trip to Alaska last summer.
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Old 22-02-2019, 09:25   #13
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

I have nothing. Have thought about it, but not found sufficient need to get serious about it.

Most marina wifi I’ve experienced has been poor. Cell coverage where I travel is often sketchy or non-existent. No biggie…
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Old 22-02-2019, 09:50   #14
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hlev00 View Post
Almost like Green Acres and climbing the telephone pole to make a call.

Harry
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Hey... this is what we still use now.

It keeps our 3 adult snowflake children at bay since they do not even know what a land line is. Not being able to receive "Mom/Dad, please send money" texts is heaven on earth!

Good one Harry!
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Old 22-02-2019, 12:40   #15
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Re: 2019 edition: Are you using a mast mounted WiFi or cellular extender?

A word about cellular changes: Both Verizon and AT&T have tombstoned their 3G services. One promises to shut them down this year, the other next year, whether that happens is anyone's guess.

But it is also peculiar, since "4G" in the US is actually 3G with an enhanced backbone (tower to tower to system) speed, so shutting down 3G would also mean shutting down 4G. Which is not the same as LTE, which is different in the US from the global standards.

Just to complicate things, AT&T has announced they have deployed 5G "now" but another competitor points out that is not true 5G yet, but rather "5Ge" which is apparently LTE with enhanced backbone...like the 4G kludge we have.

It looks like 4G LTE will be the only reliable cellular service in the US for the next few years, as kludges and prototype 5G get all the rest of the attention. Business as usual.
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