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Old 12-09-2013, 06:57   #1
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Best options for internet.

We are in the final stages of completing a 60ft catamaran and are looking at the best solutions for "reliable" and affordable wireless internet. The yacht will be based primarily in the Caribbean and cruising the east coast of the United States.

also what are the best solutions for amplifying WIFI signals?

Can anyone shed any light on systems they have used or systems I shouldn't use?

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:04   #2
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Re: Best options for internet.

Do a search for "ubiquiti bullet" and you will find numerous discussions. The Ubiquiti Bullet seems to be the accepted standard for long range wifi. Some people set it up themselves. Some people buy a packaged system. Really depends on how confident you feel in setting it up yourself, though my suggestion would be that if you DON'T feel confident setting it up yourself you should probably learn.

The other option is a 3g/4g "mifi" type of setup through a cellular carrier.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:23   #3
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Re: Best options for internet.

here in mexico-i use banda ancha, thru a cellular provider. i also use wifi when i am in range and have the key. minimal pricing but also minimal signals---so far, it has worked for me--so i cannot always post pix--i CAN get weather
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:41   #4
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Re: Best options for internet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daryndalton View Post
also what are the best solutions for amplifying WIFI signals?
I like the solutions based on ubiquiti units (Bullet, Nano, Pico, etc) and the prepackaged marine solution I am most familiar with is the Xtreme + Unleashed from bitstorm. I've installed this system on two boats; they go in and they just work.

On the ultra-cheap end, I've also played with USB wifi boosters like this one, and they actually work well. But obviously they are not as robust and hassle-free as a mounted weatherproof solution.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:10   #5
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Re: Best options for internet.

Thanks for your help all. anyone have any experience with satellite providers? Tracphone V7 and Sailor 500 seem to be coming up in a lot of searches
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:01   #6
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Re: Best options for internet.

Have researched satellite and looked at replies from cruisers that have used it, tried or researched it. Comes down to choices; slow and expensive OR faster and more expensive OR high speed and extremely expensive.
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Old 12-09-2013, 19:43   #7
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Re: Best options for internet.

satellite is silly if you are within cell range. are almost always in cell range. it's crazy money
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Old 12-09-2013, 19:56   #8
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Re: Best options for internet.

If you can afford satellite coverage while at sea, try offsetting the very high subscription cost by "leasing" to fellow boaters; 15 minute time blocks for those who are less fortunate. A low cost "dome" starts at about $7K USD + subscription.

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Old 13-09-2013, 00:25   #9
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Re: Best options for internet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
satellite is silly if you are within cell range. are almost always in cell range. it's crazy money
If you are sailing throughout the Caribbean do you know how you would change to different cell networks as you traveled?
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Old 13-09-2013, 05:33   #10
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Re: Best options for internet.

Two options to connect to the local cell networks when traveling, get a roaming plan with your home carrier which can be expensive but easier if you move around a lot or go local if you plan to stay in one country for a while and want to save.

Cell phones will transmit by one of two methods, CDMA or GSM. CDMA is the most common in the US but some companies do use GSM like ATT. Around the world GSM is more common. Europe uses GSM exclusively as far as I know but in the Caribbean I believe varies depending on the island.

GSM phones can change the number and company easily by purchasing a new SIM card and plugging it in. CDMA phones have to be reprogrammed to change numbers.

So purchase a global, quad band phone and have it unlocked IE reprogrammed so it is not locked only to Verizon or whichever company that originally sold the phone. Then if you stay a while in one country you can buy a SIM or account with the local carrier.
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Old 13-09-2013, 07:08   #11
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Re: Best options for internet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daryndalton View Post
If you are sailing throughout the Caribbean do you know how you would change to different cell networks as you traveled?
when i was there with sprint coverage, i was advised in bvi i would be paying a nice hefty international roaming fee when i was in bvi and other non usa locales. the phone lets you know when you cross into expensive-ville, aka roaming.
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Old 13-09-2013, 11:32   #12
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Originally Posted by daryndalton View Post
Thanks for your help all. anyone have any experience with satellite providers? Tracphone V7 and Sailor 500 seem to be coming up in a lot of searches
I thought global star as relatively affordable?
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Old 14-09-2013, 12:59   #13
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Re: Best options for internet.

Dary n Dalton,
You've asked some common questions and have been given some good answers....
Perhaps I can give you some more direct/detailed answers, as well as point you to some discussions with a LOT more details....



1) First off, there are two VERY important things to understand...
Quote:
Originally Posted by daryndalton View Post
We are in the final stages of completing a 60ft catamaran and are looking at the best solutions for "reliable" and affordable wireless internet. The yacht will be based primarily in the Caribbean and cruising the east coast of the United States.

also what are the best solutions for amplifying WIFI signals?

Can anyone shed any light on systems they have used or systems I shouldn't use? anyone have any experience with satellite providers? Tracphone V7 and Sailor 500 seem to be coming up in a lot of searches.
a) There are WORLDS OF DIFFERENCE between "internet" systems on-board (web-surfing speeds/bandwidth of 64k - 500k, and up to 1.5M) and "data connection" systems on-board (VERY low-speed "sat-phone" or PACTOR-modem data of approx. 2.4k)....

These days, many/most 1st world land dwellers would consider even "dial-up" speeds (30-60k) to be too slow for most web-surfing/internet, but using decent compression and being cautious of what sites you use when on-board, you CAN get by with these low speeds, however most desire at least "basic DSL speeds" of 250-500k....



b) There are also WORLDS OF DIFFERENCE between the costs of on-board "internet" access (both up-front equipment and on-going monthly access costs), when in-port and/or in areas covered by Wi-Fi and Cellular Phone data access, vs. when off-shore and/or in remote areas....

As examples, you can put together a very nice hi-perf Wi-Fi system on-board for about $300 and only have whatever "access fees" that you may encounter from paid Wi-Fi networks (typically < $ 50 per month)....giving you Wi-Fi access from as far away as a few miles...
And, you can also incorporate an external cell antenna and/or "booster", for about the same price, and gain decent cellular phone / data range of 5 - 10 miles (or more depending on where the cell towers are).....and your monthly fees would be whatever the various Caribbean data plans charge...

But, for "internet" access when at sea and when in remote areas (areas not served by a cellular network nor Wi-Fi system), the costs are astronomical!!!
Figure $5000 - $10,000 for a "basic" system (giving 128k - 250k speeds), $15,000 for a FB500 system, and $20,000 (or more) for a VSAT system, typically giving you speeds from 1M to 1.5M...
Plus substantial monthly costs (based on your usage) of at least $500 per month, typically $1000/month....and some use as much as twice that!!!






2) Secondly, taking the above into consideration, it's easy to see why most cruisers (even those with extra $$$ to spend) do NOT have "internet" at sea nor in far remote areas....and instead use "internet" when in port and/or when in areas with good cellular or Wi-Fi coverage!!!
And we all survive just fine at sea without the internet when offshore or off-the-beaten-path...
But...
But, everyone has a slightly different definition of what "affordable" is, so use the figure above as guidelines and read these other threads for more info/details...

Has anyone experience running TracPhone Vx or Inmarsat FleetBroadband ?
Satellite Broadband ?
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - Satellite Internet Service?
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts
Internet at Sea
Satellite Email / Internet / Phone
Global Internet / Satellite - Numbers, Perspective, No Hype






3) With your intended cruising areas,
Quote:
Originally Posted by daryndalton View Post
The yacht will be based primarily in the Caribbean and cruising the east coast of the United States.
as others have pointed out, you can have a decent "internet" system with a good external Wi-Fi system, such as those based on the Ubiquity Bullet...and a decent 3G/4G cellular plan...

Check out Islandtime PC, Bob is a real nice guy, and knows what he's doing....
Marine WiFi Systems
I've been a very satisfied customer for years....

And, the few days a year that you're offshore / moving between the Caribbean and the US East Coast, you can survive just fine with voice comms and very low-speed data (SSB and/or satphone)....
Have a look at this thread for details....
SSCA Forum &bull; View topic - Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts





4)
Quote:
Originally Posted by vtsailguy View Post
I thought global star as relatively affordable?
vtsailguy, yes Globalstar is affordable to most (costs < $1000, and about $1 - $1.50 / minute of airtime), BUT....
But, Globalstar is a handheld sat phone / service provider, which has decent voice comms and low-speed data comms (4.8k to 9.6k) with coverage in areas within approx. 500 miles of land...
And, this is NOT what the original poster (daryndalton) was asking about





There is much more to all of this...but that's the brief overview, and the links to threads with more details...


Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 15-09-2013, 03:58   #14
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Re: Best options for internet.

Thanks all for the help
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Old 16-09-2013, 07:02   #15
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Re: Best options for internet.

One other option that I have used with great success before is to get an Iridium Sat Phone, then subscribe to UUPLUS for 35 dollars a month and use the sat phone to send and receive e-mails. The sat phone has a vehicle mount magnetic antenna, so I just mount it and run it inside and hook the phone up. It won't let you surf the web, but for critical communications it works great.
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