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Old 12-10-2010, 17:39   #1
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General and Infinite Internet Access Anywhere ? Suggestions, Experiences . . .

I did some research on it, but nothing in depth of anything, I kind of just skinned the surface of a lot of different way to get internet out on the water.

If you read my introduction thread, then you know that I one day wish to have an occupation linked to technology. Of course- I will need internet on a boat whenever I may need it.

I looked at HAM Radio, apparently (I doubted this from the start) you can hook HAM radio up to a computer and get free e-mail acess. I doubt this. But if it really is true, then it's nice to know, but as someone linked with a technology-based occupation, e-mail alone wont suffice.

I thought of sattelite recievers. But many things came into conflict, the biggest two things were 1. Wouldnt I have to adjust the sattelite endlessly? And 2. Wouldnt the speed be RIDICULOSULY varying?

I looked at something that used a cellphone data plan to acess internet, but from what I've seen- reception on a smartphone is PATHETIC, and I'm not sure if I'd get reception really everywhere in the world. Even if Rogers slogan is "World Ready"

I looked at a new technology inclusively held by Rogers, something called MiWi if I believe- It seemed to be like the data plan thing with the cell phone, but with a bigger amount of memory to use, a faster, more reliable speed, and I would assume, a non-pathetic reception. But again. Would I really get reception EVERYWHERE???

So, after my research, I gave up (well, I gave up searching for the time being) and just came to ask a very general question.

What are your experiences/suggestions/succeses with trying to get internet everywhere you go? (At a reasonable speed... 000.1 BPS is not gonna cut it for me... I'll have one web page loaded in the time it'd take me to go do some fishing and sail-adjusting... and napping)
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Old 12-10-2010, 17:54   #2
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Experience: In developing countries, such as Mexico and Malaysia you can get usable or excellent 3G connectivity all along the coasts. Better than California...far better..far cheaper.

Suggestion: You re-arrange your plan. You will not get a good connection worldwide unless you own a satellite company or a major military power.

What you seek is not going to happen any time soon for any reasonable price.

The Sailmail and Winlink SSB email systems work great. Very usable in the usual cruising grounds. Serviceable over 100% of the globe (except maybe in a crowded marina near a big noisy city).
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Old 12-10-2010, 17:58   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle View Post
Suggestion: You re-arrange your plan. You will not get a good connection worldwide unless you own a satellite company or a major military power.

What you seek is not going to happen any time soon for any reasonable price.

The Sailmail and Winlink SSB email systems work great. Very usable in the usual cruising grounds. Serviceable over 100% of the globe (except maybe in a crowded marina near a big noisy city).
But Rogers says I can

Yeah. Like I believe them.

I'll take a look into the Sailmail and Winlink SSB email systems, but like I said, e-mail just wont be enough- and I've still got about 6 years (Im only fourteen) until I start getting into the nitty gritty of the sailing and live-aboard lifestyle.

Thanks, I guess I have something reliable for e-mail... Now to get at the "full use of internet" area of things. That is what I'm trying to get at you see.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:07   #4
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The limit on ham radio/SSB Sailmail etc. is the "sipping data through a very small straw" issue; besides e-mail you may be able to get weather, but that's about it. A powered cell-phone booster antenna will buy you a little more range for WiFi/cell-based access.

On the other hand, there are probably five fingers -- and in that many years technology may evolve further to where people figure out more cost-effective ways to use satellite-based technologies.

And then there will always be a few folks who want to escape the Internet.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:13   #5
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I'm out here in Borneo (Google earth this: 6d53.5N 116d51.5E ) and have excellent 3G service for USD30 per month, no stupid contract. I'd guess this is very common for cruisers these days. There are cell towers everywhere I go around here. Most cruisers spend the vast majority of their time at anchor or near shore vs. at sea.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:17   #6
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We run our entire internet-related/software development business from our boat. By internet, I don't mean email - that's pretty easy to do everywhere. I'm talking about megabit-plus-per-second connectivity for running web sites, video, audio, development, etc., all from the boat. I'm replying from my boat right now at anchor.

The reality is that it's way, way too expensive to do it except along a coastline where there's enough population to support cellular connectivity. In the US, that's the entire east coast from Maine to Key West. I believe there is also great connectivity along the major inland rivers and great lakes. The populated areas of Canada will have pretty good coverage also although they are generally more expensive. Cellular connectivity is fairly inexpensive in the US and generally more expensive elsewhere.

WiFi connectivity is often hit-or-miss. It's obviously only good when we're not moving (unlike cellular that works great even when underway). With very good WiFi equipment, you can get a few miles of range. This often allows you to grab someone's WiFi for a little use. It's not reliable and often not very safe to do either.

When we have a lot going on business-wise, we are forced to stay along the US coastline. It's not a terrible sacrifice but it's one that we have to make.

I'm looking forward to inexpensive global access so we'll be less constrained. I don't see that for quite a few more years.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:23   #7
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I took a very brief look at SailMail. The pricing is decently reasonable and the "No-charge per data" sounds quite swell- the only problem I find is the limit. 90 Minutes per week? Maybe this wont be my primary internet source, but it could be my "back-up" if I find something better.

I also took a look at Iridium. World-Coverage, reasonable baud rate (for world wide coverage. If I were on land and only got 2400 baud, I'd kill myself waiting for the web page Dx) but the price. WOAH o.o That's a little unreasonable considering that the only way I'd be able to work is through internet, and on a salary of a technology worksman, I most-likely would not be able to get enough done for what I'm paid...

Good suggestions, yes. Primary uses? Defientely not by no means at all whatsoever. Back-ups? Most definetely.

rgscpat,

Like said, you're right, the data rate is slow, but for world-wide coverage, I dont know what else to do really.

A powered cell-phone booster? Sounds brilliant! Now, to go see what the prices for those look like. I suppose if it comes down to 3G/WiFi reception in 6 years, then I guess I'll just take a look at which cellphone company has the biggest, most highly powered, and massful sattelites, but like said, I'm looking for something in the now- but maybe things might pop-up in the future. Never know I guess. Heck, maybe I'll be the man to discover a way to get high-speed internet anywhere. But probably not. Thanks!

daddle,

It looks like I'll have no choice in the future but to get a nice big data plan deal with a cellphone company, then buy the best cellphone-reception booster I can really afford... While that may cover 100% my needs at anchor, what will I do for my job the month I'm crossing the Atlantic? Nothing but e-mail them over sailmail... for 90 minutes a week...

Still, very good info to know that even in Australia you are getting good reception (I am assuming you're from USA, or Canada... right?)

ActiveCaptain,
Thanks for that info, and I am almost at a guarantee that I wont be using WiFi by then (unless I visit ma and pa in Toronto) but 3G has almost as much coverage as cellphone reception does (THAT I'VE SEEN, I dont know, I could be wrong!!) and of course, 3G is alot more extensive than WiFi is, and I'm so far, rather happy with the speed of 3G on my iPhone (when my iPhone reception doesnt jump from 6 bars to 1 bar to 2 bar to no service and tends to stick at No Service [thanks Rogers, I appreciate]) and of course, in the years to come, I'm sure 3G will extend into the waters, but until then, I'd best keep my research on all these things going actively, as I must have primary, then back ups, then back ups FOR my back ups, then back ups for my backs FOR my back ups.

Thanks all, I guess for all these answers, looks like I'll be using SailMail and a cellphone booster to squeeze the living daylights out of 3G... Still looking for those "underway in the Atlantic" solutions though :/ I suppose those answers ARE the most valuable though...
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:33   #8
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Actually from all reports you can get a reasonably fast, reliable satellite system that will connect you anywhere in the world, from the middle of the ocean to the middle of a crowded marina. Will not need constant adjustment, will be totally automatic.

Just be prepared to spend thousands of dollars for the hardware and dollars a minute for the connection.

Ham/SSB can work but pretty low bandwidth. Text email is about the best you can hope for.

Coastal cruising 3g/4g networks are available some places.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:36   #9
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skipmac,

Like said, I think you're talking abour Iridium, or the other company that did the same thing with less coverage but its cheaper.

Already visited Ham/SSB. It'll probably be a backup or a primary if there is no other way whatsoever. But in 6 years. There probably will be a way.

I cant pay that much simply, and I will definetely be using 4g/3g when I'm close to ports/in marinas/underway when I can get reception.

But thank you anyway : )
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:37   #10
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I took a very brief look at SailMail. The pricing is decently reasonable and the "No-charge per data" sounds quite swell- the only problem I find is the limit. 90 Minutes per week?
SSB email is email and certain weather products only. It is not an Internet IP thing. It's a gateway for short simple emails only. That 90 minutes a week is plenty for that.

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what will I do for my job the month I'm crossing the Atlantic?
Heh. You have much to learn grasshopper. Unless you have a large paid crew, you will be sailing, sleeping, changing sails, cooking, mending things, drinking beers. You will not be working at your day job while crossing the Atlantic.

The Internet is so 1990's. I would think a 14 year old would have their eyes set on something not so horse-and-buggy. Seriously. I'm 55 and the Internet is my generation's game.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:44   #11
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daddle,

:/ Well tech will still be needed in the future. There is no way it wont be needed, and if there is something at all, it will need to be maintained and advanced.

I will NOT be trying to advance anything in the internet at all. As far as my understandings in career goes (still havent done the career course in highschool. Thats next year) I'll most likely be coding something for some company or coding my own program for no company.

One thing is for certain though- I will need to be able to communicate and exchange things at all times, no matter how slow.

I suppose you're right, I will be doing quite a bit of things to maintain my boat while she is underway, but from what I've seen, the lengthy trips have very constant winds... Pacific Ocean > Prevailing Northerly wind... Atlantic Ocean > Prevailing South Western Wind...

Looks like I wont be doing much sailing...

Edit: Maybe I'll cut the whole job itself... It has been in the back of my mind... "Get a job, pay off all debts, get a fishing line and water purifier. Your set for life bud, go getem."

Then marina fees, taxes, and insurance comes... AKA reality.
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Old 12-10-2010, 18:49   #12
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Winlink and Sailmail will allow you to send and receive text and GRIB but not pictures. The cost is higher up front but over the long run, probably cheaper.

Satphones work just like cell phones. You dial a number and the software does the rest. You can get a 80% world coverage satphone for between $500 and $1500 and many will throw in some "free" air time. Generally, satphone data rates are higher than SSB (cost per minute/MB) but nothing approaching DSL. You can expect 9.6kbps native/56kbps emulated data rates.

Still not fast enough? Then you need a Fleet or Inmarsat system. BGAN IDSN (64Kbps) will run you $5.99/minute plus your monthly base charges. Need even more speed? BGAN IP streaming @128kbps will cost you $9.15/minute plus base rates.

You can rent a BGAN IDSN Inmarsat for $40/wk plus base and connect charges. That may be a solution.

Many cruisers update their web pages/blogs at sea or in remote areas, most probably by paying for satphone data (generally charged by the MB). Others upload text updates and head to an internet cafe when they're in more populated areas.

Wifi frequencies are well defined and a wifi box will probably work about anywhere. There are "world phones" that work on the 4 common digital frequencies. You simply buy a SIM chip and air time for your location and connect. I've heard of reliable 3G speed but that may not be fast enough for you or meet your inflexible demands.

Then there's the area you want to cruise. If it's along the US Coasts, or have a business that requires high speed internet, then I'd suggest reading ActiveCaptain's comments. I don't cruise the US Coast, preferring locales further off the beaten path. I can generally find good moderate speed internet access in areas with a modest population. No, I can't upload my entire web site at one sitting, but I can upload one page at a time, use Skype quite well and read the newspaper, if a bit slower than back home.

As for staying in constant contact while crossing the Atlantic, you can: get/rent a satphone and big data charge card; get/rent an Inmarsat unit and pay the rates; tell folks you'll check in at certain locations; or take that big silver bird and let someone bring your boat over. Or you can turn the damn thing off and enjoy the passage. Your choice.
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Old 12-10-2010, 19:07   #13
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capt_douglas,
Firstly, I want to say your post was VERY helpful!!

Sattelite phones? Heard of em, looks like I'll be using them in with the 3g/4g! Thanks for the suggestion, I'll take a look at it.

Ah, no... I wont be relying too heavily on my salary much, it's not like I'm paying property taxes or anything (OHHH!!!! I win.) so while I may need internet, I like your idea of "letting people know that I'll check in from here and there." Fact is, I probably wont need to check in more than once a week, and if I wont need to be transferring 900 lines of code and graphics to my company's server, I'll only need to e-mail (or transfer 12 lines of code. Not a bad thing)

If I need to check in urgently, I guess I'll be using SnailMail- er... SailMail or SSB... So I wont really have a need to be paying out of the nose for them Fleet or Inmarasat services, no thanks.

Ah, I may have implied it unintentionally somewhere, but I really dont need that much speed, more coverage than speed (but now that you suggested the "why dont you just tell them you'll check in here and here" suggestion, I wont need as much coverage) and of course a reasonable speed (I'd say 5 KBPS is ideal... I'll settle for 3 KBPS if the price is right)

WiFi Box? Like said, I wont be home that much, I guess I'll be "world-travelling" instead of just going around America. I wouldnt mind seeing Portugal... Or Alaska... Or the French Polynesia. But anyway- WiFi to me is useless in the future.

Looks like "sattelite phone" was just added to my vocabulary. I wonder what the rates are for those :/

Big silver bird? Let someone ELSE handle my boat?! My baby :'( No thanks.

Edit: Oh yeah, you posted twice.

Edit: Wooooaah waiiit.. World phones? What should I google... This intrigues me.
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Old 13-10-2010, 01:20   #14
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Elemen...Since you're 14...looks like you'll have time to check all this out.

Capt Douglas...thanks for all the info. There's lots to think about....We will be taking the less travelled route ....Mexico, Fr Polynesia, cooks, Samoa, Fiji, Etc en route back to the land of Oz (Aus), in a few years and so far it seems the on viable (reasonably priced) option seems to be SSb and an ICOM type set-up....although I am hoping to learn more from these forums. Thanks for the larger array of options.

As Elemen says...I too am hoping some new/better options come along.
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Old 13-10-2010, 03:03   #15
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The question is poorly formed. But in any case, different types of Internet access are more or less useful (or economically viable) for different uses.

I think they are:

1. Mobile phone coverage in coastal areas. There is 3G or 3.5G (HSDPA) now in most places. That is fast enough for most things you would do at home (maybe not Youtube), and in most places in the world you can get a cheap data plan.

By far the most useful type of internet access for the cruising sailor in my opinion. Equipment required: minimum a GSM/3G multiband phone (just Bluetooth your laptop to it); maximum a fixed terminal like a Globesurfer or Ericsson with external antenna.

Note to Americans: The whole world except us (and maybe the Japanese) uses GSM phones with SIM cards. Throw away your Verizon or Sprint phone before you go cruising internationally and sign up for AT&T or T-Mobile. Pick a quad-band phone to go with your new service (be careful about the UMTS band, though -- many quad-band phones sold in the U.S. only have one 3G/3.5G band and so will only do 2G and 2.5G overseas -- they're fine for voice overseas, but you need the multiple 3G and 3.5G bands for fast data). By a local pay-as-you-go SIM card for your new phone when you get to a new country.

2. WiFi coverage in ports. Often as fast as what you have at home and billed by the day or month. But very limited coverage, and whatever built-in WiFi equipment you have in your laptop may not be enough. Equipment required: often some kind of external system like a Bullet.

3. Satellite. Works in the open ocean so works where the previous two don't. Very slow (2400 to 9600 baud except some commercial type services like Inmarsat Fleet) and extremely expensive (billed by the kilobyte or minute of connection time). Not good for ordinary surfing but very useful for text e-mail, weather, other high-value low-intensity uses. Equipment required: fixed or portable terminal.

4. SailMail and WinLid (oops I mean WinLink). Former is paid service for regular SSB users and can be used for commercial purposes (your office e-mails for example). Latter is free but you must be a ham and you may not use it for commercial purposes (like your office e-mails). Not actually Internet; just text e-mail. Equipment required: SSB and expensive Pactor modem. Like satphone, works in the open ocean.


We have variants 1 (with fixed terminal), 2 (ditto) and 3 on board our boat. Although we have a paid up subscription for WiFi which is supposed to work in most of the ports and marinas of the UK, 90% of our Internet usage is by mobile phone network (through Globesurfer fixed terminal). We get coverage even out of sight of land. I can use the Globesurfer on most of a typical 8 or 9 hour Channel crossing; it's amazing.
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