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Old 13-05-2017, 12:05   #1
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Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

how far off US East Coast can I expect to get cell phone service? I am considering using a smart phone's "hot spot" to connect ipad to internet and get real time weather, tides, currents. What would be the best service provider for this?
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Old 13-05-2017, 12:15   #2
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

I believe that depends on the area, I have gotten service a mile out on many occasions, but, had none in the ICW in the Carolinas. I believe that the largest harbor entrances have shoreside antennas facing seaward , improving coverage out to sea.

I would not rely on cellular service for weather, get a shortwave reciever.
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Old 13-05-2017, 13:47   #3
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

Only a fool would rely on an iPad or iPhone for anything important on a boat. You are talking about using one for your only source of weather info offshore? Seriously? Are you joking? You are putting your own life and the lives of your crew at risk by sailing offshore without even the most basic equipment. Are you not bringing any life jackets either? No charts? No compass? No EPIRB? For the price of a USED IPAD you could get an older but working HF radio on ebay or any ham swap meet. You can get weatherfax with a cheap SDR receiver.

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Old 13-05-2017, 13:49   #4
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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I believe that depends on the area, I have gotten service a mile out on many occasions, but, had none in the ICW in the Carolinas. I believe that the largest harbor entrances have shoreside antennas facing seaward , improving coverage out to sea.

I would not rely on cellular service for weather, get a shortwave reciever.

Offshore is not a mile out neither is the ICW. Even SF bay has no cell coverage in a lot of areas! Both shortwaver receivers and SDRs can receive weather fax.
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Old 13-05-2017, 13:53   #5
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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What would be the best service provider for this?
The truth is: Carnival Cruise Lines. The only ship you have any business being on offshore with an ipad for navigation or weather.
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Old 13-05-2017, 14:11   #6
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

I get spotty cellular data up to about 10 miles out, more or less depending on towers.

PS- Sail Steam, lighten up.
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Old 13-05-2017, 14:17   #7
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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how far off US East Coast can I expect to get cell phone service? I am considering using a smart phone's "hot spot" to connect ipad to internet and get real time weather, tides, currents. What would be the best service provider for this?
Pay no attention to the Troll!
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Old 13-05-2017, 15:58   #8
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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Only a fool would rely on an iPad or iPhone for anything important on a boat. You are talking about using one for your only source of weather info offshore? Seriously? Are you joking? You are putting your own life and the lives of your crew at risk by sailing offshore without even the most basic equipment. Are you not bringing any life jackets either? No charts? No compass? No EPIRB? For the price of a USED IPAD you could get an older but working HF radio on ebay or any ham swap meet. You can get weatherfax with a cheap SDR receiver.

All very credible advice, even though hidden behind your questions. BUT YOU FORGOT TO MENTION THE ONE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO HAVE ABOARD!!!
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Old 14-05-2017, 10:03   #9
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

10 miles give or take
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Old 14-05-2017, 11:50   #10
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

My last trip down the coast we would always lose cell service 4-5 miles off the coast. This was consistent all down the east coast and with three of us onboard, one with Verizon, one ATT and one Sprint.

Odd thing, I could see 5 bars on my phone but could not connect. I guess the little 1/8-1/4 Watt transmitter in the phone just couldn't make it that far.

A marine VHF radio will get you reliable weather reports for 25-50 miles. Much better option.

We also lost all service in a couple of spots on the ICW, especially central NC.
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Old 14-05-2017, 15:20   #11
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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My last trip down the coast we would always lose cell service 4-5 miles off the coast. This was consistent all down the east coast and with three of us onboard, one with Verizon, one ATT and one Sprint.

Odd thing, I could see 5 bars on my phone but could not connect. I guess the little 1/8-1/4 Watt transmitter in the phone just couldn't make it that far.

A marine VHF radio will get you reliable weather reports for 25-50 miles. Much better option.

We also lost all service in a couple of spots on the ICW, especially central NC.
Maybe haul the phone up the mast and shout?
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Old 14-05-2017, 15:35   #12
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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Maybe haul the phone up the mast and shout?
We tried that and it didn't help.

There are companies that sell cell phone boosters that could help but the good ones aren't cheap.
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Old 14-05-2017, 16:06   #13
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

Cell coverage for your purpose is fine but variable as others have said. 10 miles at best, none at worst.
SSB HF radio is overkill for cost of install. Slow too.

Solution I found: delorme (garmin now) InReach. You can buy the SE unit for $200-$300. I buy the message service by the month. Unlimited messages $69, or you can purchase a limited number of messages at various price points. I use it only when i am on passages, otherwise i suspend the service.

Iridium service is worldwide, fast, robust - not weather or ionosphere dependent. You can also leave a track on a website (free) for family to watch your passage. There is a weather service too- $1 per report. Medium accuracy in my experience.

I also use www.FastSeas.com free weather routing service. I send a query with my position and where i am headed and receive wind prediction as well as headings to steer. There is a unlimited routing subscription too- $30 annually (I think, anyway it is cheap).
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Old 14-05-2017, 16:25   #14
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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We tried that and it didn't help.

There are companies that sell cell phone boosters that could help but the good ones aren't cheap.
Wilson make a range of boosters. I have an older one that help. I assume technology in newer units is improved.
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Old 14-05-2017, 16:27   #15
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Re: Cell phone service E. Coast Offshore?

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...

PS- Sail Steam, lighten up.
Yeah, lighten up. OP never said it was his only source. And these kind of over the top manic responses dont help the community here.

Near coastal cell phone coverage sure can be handy. Ive used it many times to do Google Earth overlays of charts while underway...helps to confirm whether charts have land masses in the right place.
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