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Old 18-12-2007, 04:23   #1
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Question Internet Browsing & Emails - Australia

Hi everyone,
I have read through some of the forum posts but can't find an answer to my question, so please accept my apologies if this answer is out there somewhere in the forums and I just haven't found it yet !

90% of the work I do is on computer. Does anyone know of a sensibly priced option for accessing the internet in order to upload files to a server and to access emails?

We plan on cruising along the Aussie coastline so should be within range (? shouldn't we?? eeeek - go without my internet access to the world!!).

Thanks heaps for any input.

Deb
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Old 18-12-2007, 04:50   #2
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I'm sure there will be other yachts out and about - cruising who can tell you exactly what system they use - up and down the coast.

I am using 'Unwired' with a wireless modem (that costs about $200). But I'm sitting at the dock in Botany Bay - surrounded by Sydney shoreline suburbs & only 5 km from the International Airport - on the other side of the Bay.

So needless to say - I've got pretty good reception - and a perfect signal.

It costs from $30 to $100 - depending on the monthly download limits/plan you want. I'm on 6Gb - because I do a lot - and it costs nearly $60 a month.

Using a wireless modem connection - we should be able (I hope) to get reception within proximity of any of the main eastern Australian coastal cities and towns - but we won't really know until we are outside and on the go.

I thought the cost of accessing the net via the mobile phone - which I have was ridiculously expensive and dismissed it - and I don't know anything about Satellite services - sorry.
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Old 18-12-2007, 05:15   #3
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There is some info on this forum on the SSB/Modem option, perhaps one of the moderators or admin can advise on thread names?
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Old 18-12-2007, 07:39   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debath View Post
90% of the work I do is on computer. Does anyone know of a sensibly priced option for accessing the internet in order to upload files to a server and to access emails?
Hi Deb. I can't help with the geographic availability there, but I can run down the technological options.

1. Wifi
2. Cellular
3. HF radio (SSB)
4. Satellite

What works for you depends on how often you need to connect and your bandwidth needs. There is a load of difference between moving code around and uploading images. Similarly, plain-text e-mail is easier than e-mail with lots of bloated attachments. Do you have to have telnet, SSH, and FTP access or will e-mail alone work?

Remember to consider the power requirements of your computer(s) and work that into the operating profile.

1. Wifi -- I'm sure you are familiar with this and it's range limits. You can extend those limits significantly by putting a bridge (I use a Linksys WET-54G) at the masthead with power-over-Ethernet and running Ethernet down to your computer. In theory you should be able to put a wireless router in the boat, but I haven't gotten that working yet (I just plug the Ethernet into my laptop). An alternative many use with success is a USB connected external Wifi adapter to get the antenna higher than your laptop. Wifi issues: good bandwidth, limited range, some increase in power consumption if you use the bridge approach, depending on your cruising grounds you may go several days at a time without access, some cost depending on availability (or lack) of free access points.

2. Cellular -- You can connect an existing phone to your computer or get a separate PC-card. Data rates are generally good but not great. There is GPRS in Australia that works well; I don't know the 3G build-out there, but if you have access to that upgraded cellular infrastructure the transfer speeds are darn good. If you move images you'll notice the transfer time, but not for most e-mail. Works fine for telnet and general web access. Range is much better than Wifi. There are wireless routers available that accept a cellular data card so you can put them high(er) up for extended range. Cellular issues: good bandwidth, reasonable range, some increase in power consumption if you use an access router, there may be some coverage gaps but less than wifi, definitely a cost (60 USD per month here for unlimited data -- I have no idea what is available there).

3. HF radio (SSB) -- With a new(ish) ham HF radio or marine SSB radio (both of which use shortwave frequencies), a specialized radio-modem, and a little software on your computer you can send and receive e-mail over shortwave radio. The radio needs to switch between send and receive fast enough to support the mode and some older ones don't. Range is global. Reliability is good but not great -- sometimes propagation doesn't let you connect. I used this technology to stay in touch by voice and e-mail while crossing the Atlantic. I exchanged e-mail two or three times a day and maintained a sporadic voice contact schedule (interestingly the digital e-mail was much much more reliable than voice). There are two commonly used e-mail service providers: Winlink is free and uses ham radio frequencies which requires a license (Australia no longer requires morse code for a ham license, but there is an exam - ham radio cannot be used for commercial purposes); Sailmail is 250 USD / year and uses marine frequencies (you can use it for commercial purposes and e-mail attachments are supported). Both Winlink and Sailmail have connect time limits, although how they are imposed differs. In theory, you can make a telnet connection over HF radio but to my knowledge there is no one providing that service. It would be pretty awful. If I recall correctly the effective bandwidth is 30 - 100 bps (yes bits, only bits). Initial equipment cost runs 2000 - 5000 USD plus antenna (not expensive) and installation. HF issues: awful bandwidth, global range, significant increase in power consumption for the radio and modem, incidental cost, e-mail only.

4. Satellite -- This breaks down into satellite phones and satellite terminals.

4a. Satellite phones -- Iridium and Globalstar are the available services. Other names in the business are resellers. These are big clunky phones (like the original car phones). Built-in or fixed station equipment is much better on a boat as they allow for better antennas and therefore faster and more reliable connections. I think connect speeds run around 9600 bps. Satellite coverage is an issue; I don't know what the coverage is in Australia, but you should be able to Google it. Globalstar is having real reliability problems. Satellite phone issues: acceptable bandwidth, range limited only by satellite coverage, some increase in power consumption for the phone, significant cost for equipment, significant cost for connection.

4b. Satellite terminals -- Inmarsat is the main player here. I think there are others. These have all the advantages and disadvantages of satellite phones on a grander scale: more cost, more bandwidth, better coverage. Satellite terminal issues: broadband speeds, range limited only by satellite coverage, increase in power consumption for the terminal and the antenna, very significant costs for equipment and service.

Most of the people I know or know of that are trying to work while cruising and need communications regularly and reliably use Iridium phones. Those that need continuous contact use wifi and/or cellular phones and limit their cruising areas to those with coverage. Some hardy souls use HF radio, but most are authors who only periodically need to send content and receive edits.
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Old 18-12-2007, 08:22   #5
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I concur with Auspicious, with a couple of additions:

1. Only WiFi and Cellular will give you the speed you need for the Web.

2. All 4 are OK for email, but HF Radio and Satellite are too slow for large attachments - you're pretty much limited to text only email

3. The current generation of "client bridges" is too complex for most non computer geeks to get working, so I recommend a high power USB adapter on an extension cable that can be placed outside when needed.

I've published articles on these subjects in the SSCA Cruisers Guide, Latitude 38 and given seminars on the subject at venues like Zihua's Sailfest. The articles and handouts are available on our website at
Blog of the Sailing Vessel Raptor Dance: Using Wireless Internet - WiFi - While Cruising - Update
and
http://raptordance.com/sailfest.pdf

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Old 18-12-2007, 13:15   #6
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Don't discount WiMAX

You can lump it it with "cellular", as WiMAX (IEEE 802.16) is based on fixed base stations, but you generally get much higher bitrates than traditional cellular-based (2G/3G/3GPP) data services. Think 1-5Mb/s upstream, 2-70Mb/s downstream - although that 70Mb/s is a theoretical max unlikely to be seen in the real world for anything other than specialized backhaul connections.

Bigair is offering service in New South Wales and Victoria, but I'd bet that coastal coverage is spotty at best. There's probably other service providers offering it also. Look for it to expand world-wide, as the technology is much cheaper than rolling out a GSM or CDMA-2000 kind of system. Think of it as WiFi on steroids.

Sprint is leading the push here in the US, and there are lots of small players looking for a foothold. Korea and other Asian nations are also coming online (or should that be "untethered"?).

It may not be viable today, but in two years? Most laptops will incorporate the chipsets (Intel's a big backer), as will most PDAs (look for an Intel handset in the future).
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Old 18-12-2007, 13:26   #7
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WiMax may someday be viable, but I would not count my chickens before they hatch...

We'll have to see if it ever gets built out as "announced"... Sprint in the US is running "years" late. Yes, it's officially part of the 3G cell phone standards, but that doesn't mean that it will be rolled out soon if ever...

Was anyone around when Teledesic from Craig McCall was going to provide world wide, cheap, high speed Internet using low earth orbit satellites? WiMax could wind up the same way...

Having said that - I'd love to have it and wished it was here!
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Old 18-12-2007, 13:40   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorDance View Post
2. All 4 are OK for email, but HF Radio and Satellite are too slow for large attachments - you're pretty much limited to text only email

3. The current generation of "client bridges" is too complex for most non computer geeks to get working, so I recommend a high power USB adapter on an extension cable that can be placed outside when needed.
Satellite is not too slow. On satellite phones, you can get as much as you are willing to pay for. With Inmarsat you pay a lot, but get broadband speed. Both are expensive.

I agree that the client bridge is complex. I'm pounding on Linksys (since I already have a bunch of their equpment) to make it easier.
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Old 18-12-2007, 13:47   #9
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If your the kind of boater who can afford broadband on Inmarsat, you could also afford to fly to the Internet Cafe in your helicopter you keep on your top deck!
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Old 18-12-2007, 13:57   #10
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If your the kind of boater who can afford broadband on Inmarsat, you could also afford to fly to the Internet Cafe in your helicopter you keep on your top deck!

Have you price JP5 lately? mini-M is much cheaper! <grin>
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Old 18-12-2007, 19:50   #11
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Auspicious's post - with maybe the couple of additions added, should be made a sticky somehwere in the forum.

That was a great concise listing of the current options.

Thanks!
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Old 18-12-2007, 19:58   #12
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2. Cellular -- You can connect an existing phone to your computer or get a separate PC-card. Data rates are generally good but not great. There is GPRS in Australia that works well; I don't know the 3G build-out there, but if you have access to that upgraded cellular infrastructure the transfer speeds are darn good. If you move images you'll notice the transfer time, but not for most e-mail. Works fine for telnet and general web access. Range is much better than Wifi. There are wireless routers available that accept a cellular data card so you can put them high(er) up for extended range. Cellular issues: good bandwidth, reasonable range, some increase in power consumption if you use an access router, there may be some coverage gaps but less than wifi, definitely a cost (60 USD per month here for unlimited data -- I have no idea what is available there).
I use telecoms new Rev A Broadband aircard. It is around $59 per month plus gst for 2GB of traffic. Pretty fast and works good down the Sounds.
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Old 19-12-2007, 02:14   #13
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Wow - Information Abounds, Thank You :)

Thank you all so much for your responses. At least I know there are many options and that the internet will be accessible (cost dependent).

I will be uploading audio (.mp3, .wav and .aif) via ftp, along with images and text (for websites). For the audio uploads (voice overs for clients) I would need to have very reliable access so the upload didn't drop out part-way through and cause loss of any data in the file transfer (which has happened in the past when I was on ISDN {cable} connection and that was on land!).

Emails - more likely to be text, very occassionally images would be attached. Most likely I would upload images to my website for viewing by family members.

So - now I sift through all this information to decide what is going to be the most reliable, least expensive and most fun!
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Old 19-12-2007, 04:49   #14
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would need to have very reliable access so the upload didn't drop out part-way through and cause loss of any data in the file transfer (which has happened in the past when I was on ISDN {cable} connection and that was on land!)
Close to shore the cell phone is cheapest and at sea you are looking at expansive satellite charges. SSB/HF radio is not a choice for those types of transmissions but perfect for text. Think text as far as what you really need as a ship at sea. Trying to conduct business is not easy or cheap unless ytou can negklect customers for a few weeks at a time. You need to determine what type of service you really need and can afford. If you can minimize the amount of the transmissions at sea then near shore or shore based solutions are cheaply available.

Satellite charges will not be getting cheaper any time soon. The demand is far greater than the bandwidth available. Prepurchase of minutes can reduce the cost a little bit too but this is not cheap stuff in any case.

ISDN class service at sea is at best what the large commecial ships have. The US Navy have a little better service than that. The gear is about $25,000 - $40,000 USD plus minutes. They usually duplex voice and data. Using Sat phones your bandwidth drops and the coverage area needs to be looked at as well. The minute rate is only a bit higher since you won't be prepurcahsing that many minutes. One 4 MB file might be $10 USD.

The alternative is to quit working! It might be cheaper.
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Old 19-12-2007, 23:56   #15
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The Telstra Next-G network is the most extensive 3G network in Aus and offers rates up to 7.2 Mb/s. I use it in SE Tasmania and regularly get 800 kbps in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, also up the East Coast of Tas. I use a data cable to my mobile phone as a modem but dedicated data cards are available. Check out the Ericsson W25, which provides a WiFi access point on board using Next-G as backhaul; it also provides a telephone handset port. The mobile phone option which I use is $29 per month for 80 MB, which is enough for email and weather charts and limited internet browsing for a 3-week trip. You can subscribe by the month.

Andrew Boon.
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