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Old 21-04-2008, 14:29   #1
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Computer/Internet access

This is my first post so I don't know how it will play out.
I am planning to take my sailboat from Connecticut, USA south along the east-coast to Florida next fall, 2008. I may be 50-100 miles offshore for some of the trip and I may use parts of the intercoastal water way.
I need to have internet access for a laptop computer. I would like to have continuous access, not limited to hotspots.
I am considering cellphone companies, but I would like to hear from anyone with satalite service.
thanks
Edson Bourn
4/21/08
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Old 21-04-2008, 14:42   #2
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Hi Edson,

I think you may be limited to access while close to shore - if you have line of sight to shore, you should be able to use a standard 3G internet access card to connect. I don't think it's going to work without land on the horizon however. Can any one confirm that?

You can get email access via SSB as well, which would give you a much longer range that a 3G card.

There are products that give you satellite access to the internet on boats, but as far as I know they are very expensive.

Hope that helps.
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Old 21-04-2008, 18:43   #3
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I also find that you need to be within sight of land to get cellular reception. I feel lucky when I can get reception more than two miles out from the cellular transceiver.

Sat phones such as Iridium can be used for basic email (no pictures) but of course that is expensive but not nearly expensive as the gyro stabilized units which can run thousands of dollars just for the hardware not to mention the dollars per minute charges.

Surfing the internet offshore is not feasible yet unless you have some serious money.
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Old 21-04-2008, 18:48   #4
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I was sailing this past Sunday some 15 miles off the South Georgia coast. No problem with my Alltel cell or my friend's iphone (AT&T) cellphone.
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Old 21-04-2008, 19:23   #5
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Verizon has the best East Coast coastal coverage...but forget 50-100 mile connectivity and consider yourself lucky if you get 15-20mi as most transmitters are optimized for land based coverage.
There is only ONE way to get full internet access at sea....a dish like KVH...figure $5k for the install and a minimum of $1k per month for the slowest connect speed.
If you just need e-mail at sea...get a globalstar or iridium sat phone as their data rates support e-mail and other text based data (weather) and are far less expensive than SSB based solutions for a short cruise. You can even RENT the phones.
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Old 21-04-2008, 20:23   #6
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Quote:
I would like to have continuous access, not limited to hotspots.
Sorry not within this technology. Actually for "continuous coverage" could you afford $6.00 per minute? If you could then you probably don't really need it.
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Old 23-04-2008, 00:26   #7
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I was wondering why a person would need internet access 50 to 100 miles ofshore? Do you really need it or is it an addiction to the internet that makes you needs it?
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:23   #8
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Jiffy I was wondering the Same thing but now I have an answer that makes sense.

As a professional engineer, so long as I have a laptop, cell phone and internet connection I can conduct business and make a living. That means if I can get coverage anywhere, I work off the boat in the middle of the Bahamas without having to go back to an internet connection every couple of days. Or even better, I work from atoll's in the South Pacific.

Ahhhhhh, Can you picture the photo of the office on the beach?

So yes, While I'm coastal, Wifi seems to have the advantage as it it a lot cheaper. But once I start traveling, it would be nice to be able to complete and sign plans for submittal to a City back 'home' in the middle of an Atlantic crossing or on a small island in the middle of no where.

Hey it pays the bills and I can write off the cost as a business expense.

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Old 06-08-2008, 13:57   #9
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Unfortunately sat systems like the KVH are going to be limited geographically so an atoll in the south Pacific may not be realistic.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:01   #10
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For real coverage you need to be part of the US Navy. They have the communications system that really is what you need. They are funny about access to it though.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:35   #11
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Hey!

I think most of the equipment has been covered. You could do it with an Inmarsat C or Fleet 33, but the equipment is expensive (around 20k) and the cost of the traffic is also sky high and speed is limited. You could also use V-sat, which supports speeds of up to 2 M-bit and the subscription is flat rate. But unless you have 100k to spend on installation and a vessel the size of a tanker to carry the equipment, forget it. You could use a Mini C or Mini M. The cost for the equipment is about the same as for an SSB, but installation is easier. It let's you send and receive e-mails and receive EGC information. The Mini M let's you make phone calss, send/receive fax, send receive e-mails and it gives you internet access with the stunning speed of 2.4 kbps. Pretty much all you options are listed on Welcome - Corporate - Thrane & Thrane they are not however the only manufacturer.

As for a 3G card or GSM. It works within normal GSM coverage. The coverage is if I'm not mistaken around 23 nautical miles. It's limited by the time between two timeslots. The phone sends out something like a "hello, is there a base station around" and the station responds "yep, I'm here and my name is ....." The time between two hellos is a timeslot. If the station is too far away for the signal to get back to the phone before the next "hello", you're out of range. The phone can still show full coverage, but if you are between timeslots you can't use it.

For the inmarsat services (sat C, sat M, Fleet 33, 55, and 77) you have coverage between 70 degrees south and 70 degrees north. I.E. worldwide.
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Old 06-08-2008, 15:04   #12
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Best coverage with decent data rates is by inmarsat(expensive). for use at sea you need a tracking aerial (expensive). If you are content for coverage in harbour, you could probably manage with a BGAN.

Globalstar provides a cheaper satellite alternative, but coverage is limited. If you are cruising within their coverage, this is a good option.

Iridium is the next best option, but slower data rates.

3G as you get close to most shores (but I think there is a problem with some of the islands.
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Old 14-09-2008, 15:55   #13
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RadioLabs has some great solutions for your WI FI needs, these antennas boost the power to 400-500mw and will boost your range to 1 mile line of site.

¤RadioLabs || WaveRV - Motorhome Wireless System

I purchased this one
¤Wave Magnum || - USB WiFi Adapter

With these antennas you dont even need a home internet connection, I get about 7 full signals with open connectivity from my living room.

At the marinas we usually get many free connections.
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Old 14-09-2008, 16:01   #14
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I have heard lots of negative feedback on Radio Labs and especially failures to respond to customer problems and equipment failures.
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Old 14-09-2008, 17:21   #15
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well, the equipment is so inexpensive that you can just buy a new one if it breaks, its well worth the $150 for a years worth of free high speed internet.

We have had no issues with ours and feel that it is worth its weight in gold.
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