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Old 09-08-2010, 16:38   #1
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Cell 3G Router Aboard

We just installed an Ericsson 3G broadband router aboard to work with our cellular 3G internet connections. We currently have WiFi aboard with an amplifier (Ubiquiti Bullet2hp) and antenna. About a year ago, we also added 3G capabilities for times when Wifi was not available, but cell coverage was available. Because we're in Mexico, we use TelCel's Banda Ancha system, but our system will work outside of Mexico (with a new sim card).

Once you insert your sim card into the Ericsson router, it receives the signal from the cell tower (better than our original modem) and will transmit the signal to the computer either via an ethernet cable or via WiFi (the unit has a built in WiFi transmitter) which will allow any computer aboard (with WiFi capablity and proper security code) to access the 3G signal. The unit also has phone and fax capabilities.

We have our unit connected to a dual band cell amplifier (which allows for data transmission) and an external marine cell antenna. We're hoping that will give us decent range and signal.

We purcased our unit (and info is available from) Powertec USA, GSM Gateways, 3G Routers, Phone Systems, Mobile Antennas, Repeaters Home page We have no association with them except as a new customer.

Here's a pic of our installation:


Steve
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Old 09-08-2010, 16:51   #2
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Wow that's pricey. There are other such devices available for 1/5th the cost. Here is one (haven't used it) Amazon.com: Netgear 3G Mobile Broadband Router (Black): Electronics

Also, if you're in the US you can get a Verizon MiFi -- a credit-card sized device that supports up to 5 devices on a WiFi connection using Verizon wireless broadband. (I'm using that and it is fantastic. Right now they're selling it with a rebate, so your net price is $100 (plus wireless contract).

I have no affiliation or financial interest in any of these.
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Old 09-08-2010, 16:54   #3
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We have a very similar system to yours -- WiFi through Bullet; cellular data through router. We use the Ubiquiti Globesurfer; same functions as the Ericsson and about half the price. I am making this post using it right now.
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Old 09-08-2010, 17:13   #4
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Dang... I hate it when I find a new product that will do pretty much the same as what I purchased.... at a significantly less cost. I think the primary difference between the two units is that the Ericsson re-transmits the 3G signal via WiFi... but I guess a cheap Linksys system would do the same. I'd be interested in hearing more about the Ubiquiti system. So far, I've been impressed with what they do.

As more and more boaters think about 3G aboard, this info could be valuable.

Steve
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Old 10-08-2010, 13:26   #5
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For 3G, we use an aircard, a Cradlepoint, and a Wilson electronics signal amplifier and marine antenna. It works OK. The aircard with the Cradlepoint together do essentially the same thing as the Ericsson W35, Globesurfer or a MiFi but without as many features. The aircard gets the 3G signal, the Cradlepoint creates a hotspot.

I'm not sure how to measure speed, but with a good signal it's pretty fast, but not as good as DSL or a good WiFi connection. With a weak signal it works, but it's slow. Maybe a little better than dial up. The amplifier and antenna help some, but not a lot.

We'd be interested in hearing what anyone else is using for 3G, especially if you're happy with it.
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Old 10-08-2010, 13:41   #6
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You can do this with an iPhone or Android Phone

I just used jailbreak on my iPhone and then installed an app called MyWi. It turns the iPhone into a wireless access point that lets other devices connect to the Internet using 3G.

I tried the apps PDANet, iPhoneModem, and Tether as well, but MyWi was the simplest and the only one that works with OS 4.0.1. It was $9.99.

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Old 17-08-2010, 16:26   #7
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It would be interesting to compare the features, performance, and intended applications for each of these products.... especially since (I believe) more folks may be adding 3G capabilities to their on-board communications systems.

I'm not an electronics person by any means... but I'd be surprised if a $100 device performs the same as a $500 device. I guess it could, and the Ericsson could be grossly overpriced. But I also suspect that there are differences in capabilities and how each works.

For comparison sake: The Ericsson takes a sim card directly, then amplifies a signal to the computers... as opposed to taking info from a computer and then amplifying it. It also has the capability to attach directly to a cell phone amplifier and external marine antenna.

For those with the other systems that are working well for them, are the features and set-up basically the same as the Ericsson? I'm not trying to justify our costs or decision.... just trying to understand the other systems that are available.
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Old 17-08-2010, 20:44   #8
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I'm hacking out this message right now on my iPad that's tethered to my htc mytouch thats been rooted and now running froyo (android 2.2) and the built in tether app. Range is spotty away from cities...but then I just read in iBooks :-)
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Old 17-08-2010, 23:56   #9
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Like Zydeco, I use a Cradlepoint (MBR1200) with Sprint EVDO as well as upstream WiFi via a Pepwave Surf. It can fail-over between them, and on the LAN side is a capable hotspot and Ethernet hub. Our two boats use this as the ISP, basically, with laptops and other devices only needing to connect to the mothership's router.

One of the nice things about this is that it becomes easy to access on-board resources from anywhere on the Net, using a free dynamic DNS service and port forwarding. The boat has web cameras with motion detection, as well as a little server that collects data from various subsystems... basically looking like a website.

Having a router that supports secure remote admin is very useful, allowing you to peek in on things when you're not aboard...

Cheers,
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Old 18-08-2010, 01:03   #10
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Why don't you use an iphone and 'tether' it to your laptop to share the phones 3G internet connection???
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Old 18-08-2010, 02:16   #11
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I love the original posters phone directory on the nav station wall

Great one, Steve

Is there a story to it?


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Old 21-08-2010, 04:11   #12
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Am now using WalkingHotSpot on my Symbian S60 phone - see here for compatible devices which include most Windows Mobile phones. Note that my Nokia N97 although not listed, works fine with this app.

Like apps mentioned above it turns your mobile phone with Data connection into a WiFi access point - in this case allowing up to four devices to be connected with full WEP key security.

Note that most smart phones come with dedicated software to allow your PC to connect to phone via USB lead or Bluetooth and share data connection. However using Wifi allows phone data connection on any & more than one laptop, with added advantage of greater range.
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Old 21-08-2010, 07:25   #13
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My Droid X functions as a wireless router. Verizon also still allows unlimited 3g usage at no extra charge above the data subscription. It can also be teathered directly to the laptop using PDAnet.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:01   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailabel View Post
I think the primary difference between the two units is that the Ericsson re-transmits the 3G signal via WiFi... but I guess a cheap Linksys system would do the same. I'd be interested in hearing more about the Ubiquiti system. So far, I've been impressed with what they do.

As more and more boaters think about 3G aboard, this info could be valuable.

Steve
The Globesurfer does exactly the same thing. It is functionally identical to the Ericsson as far as I understand. It connects to cell phone towers with 3G or 3.5G (HSPDA) and then distributes the connection over WiFi or Ethernet, allowing anyone on board to connect.

It also allows you to connect a hard-wired handset for voice calls. And you can send and receive SMS messages. It makes a great ship's comms center (as does the Ericsson).

The Ubiquiti Bullet has a difference function. It connects to WiFi base stations. You connect your computer to it over Ethernet. We have it hooked up to the Globesurfer so that both connections are distributed through the Globesurfer.

We don't have the Ubiquiti fully integrated into the system yet. It has a very wonky web interface which I have not yet mastered, plus we have not mounted it yet -- still haven't finally decided whether or not to put it on the pushpit or have an antenna pole made for the boat.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:26   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailabel View Post
I'm not an electronics person by any means... but I'd be surprised if a $100 device performs the same as a $500 device. I guess it could, and the Ericsson could be grossly overpriced. But I also suspect that there are differences in capabilities and how each works.

For comparison sake: The Ericsson takes a sim card directly, then amplifies a signal to the computers... as opposed to taking info from a computer and then amplifying it. It also has the capability to attach directly to a cell phone amplifier and external marine antenna.
Whilst amplification may be involved the main purpose & function of your Ericsson device is to extend a mobile broadband data (3G or 3.5G) connection to a built in WiFi access point (AP) allowing Wifi capable devices to connect & use the Internet connectivity.

Since my Nokia mobile phone also allows 3G & 3.5G connections, I can install a free app that also turns it into a WiFi AP, allowing several devices to connect with security encryption if needed, just as the Ericsson does.

I have tested a hook up with phone to laptop 40 feet away through wall in my house & still get good signal (-60dBm). I even conducted a broadband speed test on laptop with 3.5G connection on phone & got well over 1Mbps download. Many homes have phone line broadband service that only equals that at peak times.

Obviously the Ericsson's WiFi range, connectivity & flexibility would be greater, but have to ask are these needed on a boat? Remember also you are comparing $500 with 0$ expenditure.
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